Variant incentive cover to PunisherMAX #1 (January 2010).
Cover art by Steve Dillon.
|Publication date||January 2010 – February 2012|
|Number of issues||22|
|Main character(s)||Frank Castle / The Punisher|
Garth Ennis, also writer of the 2000 and 2001 Punisher series, wrote issues #1-#60 of the first Punisher series under the MAX imprint. After that series was canceled after issue #75, the new creative team of writer Jason Aaron and artist Steve Dillon (well known to Punisher fans for his previous work on the character with Garth Ennis) came on board for a series relaunch with a new #1 issue. Unlike the concurrently running Marvel Universe-proper series featuring the Punisher, the MAX imprint allows the creators the freedom to write more realistic and hard-edged stories that cannot be seen in regular mainline Marvel Universe stories. Also unlike the previous MAX series, which focused mainly on Frank Castle's war against the mob, this series has Frank squaring off against MAX versions of popular Marvel super villains. The series came to a conclusion with issue #22.
Interrogating a mobster, the Punisher discovers a meeting place where many of them will be in the same place. After the meeting with the mob bosses, the men determine that the mythic "Kingpin of Crime" should be fabricated by them in order to throw the Punisher off their trails. One of the bosses bodyguards, Wilson Fisk, is apparently chosen as this new figurehead. When the Punisher crashes the meeting, Fisk gets the bosses to safety and has a chance to kill the Punisher, which he does not take. He goes home to his wife and sleeping child, when he receives the call that will seat him as the Kingpin. Smiling, hinting at an ulterior motive, he accepts.
Immediately after Wilson Fisk becomes the "Kingpin of Crime," he cancels all of the former boss' appointments. However, Fisk's secretary calls and informs him that one man refuses to have his appointment canceled. The man is known only as Bullseye, the world's deadliest assassin. Bullseye never misses his target, and has set his sights on the Punisher.
After the cruel fight against Bullseye, Frank gets arrested and sent to a high-security prison with a thousand people who want nothing more than to see him dead. Frank reflects back on his time during the war and immediately after returning home, while struggling to understand his Punisher persona and refusing offers from crime bosses. He contemplates a life of peace versus continuing his violent methods.
Frank escapes prison and goes into his final confrontation with Wilson Fisk aka The Kingpin, and his new bodyguard, Elektra.
"War's End" (#22)
The series concludes with issue #22, which covers the death, funeral, and burial of Frank Castle. At the very end, the Punisher's death sparks a public uprising, citizens purging New York's criminals.
- Punisher MAX, vol. 1: "Kingpin" (collects PunisherMAX #1-5), August 2010, ISBN 978-0-7851-4596-7 (HC), November 2010, ISBN 978-0-7851-4071-9 (TPB)
- Punisher MAX, vol. 2: "Bullseye" (collects PunisherMAX #6-11), May 2011, ISBN 978-0-7851-4755-8 (HC), November 2011, ISBN 978-0-7851-4756-5 (TPB)
- Punisher MAX, vol. 3: "Frank",(collects PunisherMAX #12-16), October 2011, ISBN 978-0-7851-5208-8 (HC)120 pages, explicit content, MRSP $24.99 Cover by Dave Johnson 
- Punisher MAX, vol. 4: "Homeless" (collects PunisherMAX #17-22)
- PunisherMAX at the Comic Book DB
- "#1 With a Bullet - Rick Remender Talks New Punisher Series". Newsarama.
- [dead link]
- "Max'ing Out the Future: Axel Alonso Talks Marvel Max". Newsarama.
- "Punisher War Journal #4 Review". ComiXtreme.
- Aaron, Jason (w). PunisherMAX 1 (November 2009), MAX Comics (Marvel)
- Marvel Previews (96). Marvel Comics. August 2011.