The Punisher (2004 series)

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The Punisher
The Punisher #1 (March 2004)
Cover art by Tim Bradstreet.
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
MAX Comics
Schedule Monthly
Format Ongoing series
Publication date March 2004 – October 2009
No. of issues 75
1 annual (2007)
Main character(s) The Punisher
Creative team as of October 2008
Created by Garth Ennis
Written by Gregg Hurwitz
Artist(s) Laurence Campbell

The Punisher (titled The Punisher: Frank Castle after issue #66, sometimes referred to as The Punisher MAX) was a comic book ongoing series published under the MAX imprint of Marvel Comics, featuring vigilante anti-hero, the Punisher.

Publication history[edit]

Garth Ennis, also writer of the 2000 and 2001 Punisher series, wrote issues #1-60 of the series. Also like the earlier series, Tim Bradstreet provided the covers for those issues. Continuing his run on the character, Ennis used the freedom of the MAX imprint to write more graphic and hard-edged stories than had previously been seen.[1][2] Ennis also wrote two miniseries accompanying the main series, The Punisher Presents: Barracuda and The Punisher: Born. Several one-shots were also produced, some written by Ennis and some by other writers.

With issue #61, Gregg Hurwitz replaced Ennis as writer joining artist Laurence Campbell to do a five-issue story arc.[3] With issue #66 released on January 21, 2009, the series was retitled Punisher: Frank Castle, with writer Duane Swierczynski and artist Michel Lacombe coming to the series.[4][5] Victor Gischler came on board for the storyline "Welcome to the Bayou" in issues #71-74[6][7] before the title finished with issue #75, a double-length issue with stories by Thomas Piccirilli, Gregg Hurwitz, Duane Swierczynski, Peter Milligan, and Charlie Huston.[8]

The title was relaunched as PunisherMAX in late 2009, with writer Jason Aaron and artist Steve Dillon.

Differences with mainstream Punisher[edit]

The series explicitly does not use a floating timeline like the Marvel Universe, instead presenting a Punisher who ages in real time. Gravestones and other references indicate that his family was killed in 1976. The Punisher has been active for almost 30 years at the time presented in most stories, with issue #19 specifying that he has killed approximately 2,000 people. The Punisher: Born also establishes that the Punisher's service in the Vietnam War is still in MAX continuity.

Promotional art for the cover of Punisher #44 (March 2007),[citation needed] gives Frank Castle's birth date as February 16, 1950, but that was removed for the published issues. The story Valley Forge, Valley Forge corroborates this date, referring to Castle as "a twenty one year old Captain" in April 1971.

Another major difference is the complete lack of superheroes and supervillains in the series, although non-superpowered characters from the Punisher's past, most notably Microchip, do make appearances. Nick Fury also makes several notable appearances, with his characterization echoing Ennis's MAX-imprint Fury stories. However, the character Jen Cooke, a social worker, appeared in the Marvel Knights storyline "Hidden". She then appeared in the MAX storyline "Slavers". The character Yorkie Mitchell made appearances in both the Marvel Knights and the MAX Punisher comics.

In the Civil War Files comic, just before the "Civil War" storyline was published, Iron Man talked about events in the Punisher's past from the Marvel Knights and MAX comic:

  • "Captain Frank Castle, sole survivor of the Firebase Valley Forge massacre."
  • "Although recently Castle has escalated his war on crime even further, with record-breaking body counts, he is paradoxically now rarely encountered in the field by any super hero save Daredevil."
  • "It's almost like he inhabits two worlds, one where heroes can capture him and one where they can't, and he can slip from one to the other with ease."[9]

The MAX Punisher often focus on current events, ranging from corporate fraud to sexual slavery, and the War on Terror. Many characters are past or current intelligence and military operatives from governmental agencies like the CIA, KGB, Secret Intelligence Service, SAS, militaries and militias from the Balkans and Middle East, also including the IRA, all with agendas rooted in past conflicts like the Cold War or the Yugoslav wars.

Collected editions[edit]

Trade paperbacks[edit]

Title Material collected Writer Artist Year ISBN
Vol. 01: In the Beginning The Punisher MAX #1-6 Garth Ennis Lewis Larosa 2004 978-0785113911
Vol. 02: Kitchen Irish The Punisher MAX #7-12 Garth Ennis Leandro Fernandez 2005 978-0785115397
Vol. 03: Mother Russia The Punisher MAX #13-18 Garth Ennis Dougie Braithwaite 2005 978-0785116035
Vol. 04: Up Is Down and Black Is White The Punisher MAX #19-24 Garth Ennis Leandro Fernandez 2005 978-0785117315
Vol. 05: The Slavers The Punisher MAX #25-30 Garth Ennis Leandro Fernandez 2004 978-0785118992
Vol. 06: Barracuda The Punisher MAX #31-36 Garth Ennis Goran Parlov 2006 978-0785120230
Vol. 07: Man of Stone The Punisher MAX #37-42 Garth Ennis Leandro Fernandez 2007 978-0785121657
Vol. 08: Widowmaker The Punisher MAX #43-49 Garth Ennis Lan Medina 2007 978-0785124542
Vol. 09: Long Cold Dark The Punisher MAX #50-54 Garth Ennis Howard Chaykin (50), Goran Parlov (51-54) 2008 978-0785128144
Vol. 10: Valley Forge, Valley Forge The Punisher MAX #55-60 Garth Ennis Goran Parlov 2008 978-0785127550
Vol. 11: Girls in White Dresses The Punisher MAX #61-65 Gregg Hurwitz Laurence Campbell 2009 978-0785125204
Vol. 12: Six Hours To Kill The Punisher: Frank Castle MAX #66-70 Duane Swierczynski Michael Lacombe 2009 978-0785131823
Vol. 13: Welcome to the Bayou The Punisher: Frank Castle MAX #71-74 Victor Gischler Goran Parlov 2009 978-0785133780


Title Material collected Year ISBN
Volume 1 The Punisher MAX #1-12 2005 978-0785118404
Volume 2 The Punisher MAX #13-24 2006 978-0785120223
Volume 3 The Punisher MAX #25-36 2007 978-0785119814
Volume 4 The Punisher MAX #37-49 2007 978-0785114178
Volume 5 The Punisher MAX #50-60 2009 978-0785137825
Volume 6 The Punisher MAX #61-74 2011 978-0785156567

Complete Collection[edit]

Title Material collected Year ISBN
Volume 1 Born (#1-4)
In the Beginning (Punisher #1-6)
Kitchen Irish (Punisher #7-12)
February 2016 978-1302900151
Volume 2 Mother Russia (Punisher #13-18)
Up Is Down and Black Is White (Punisher #19-24)
The Slavers (Punisher #25-30)
April 2016 978-1302900168
Volume 3 Barracuda (Punisher #31-36)
Man of Stone (Punisher #37-42)
Widowmaker (Punisher #43-49)
October 2016 978-1302901875
Volume 4 Punisher Presents: Barracuda MAX
Long Cold Dark (Punisher #50-54)
Valley Forge, Valley Forge (Punisher #55-60)
Punisher: The Tyger
Punisher: The Cell
Punisher: The End
December 2016 978-1302902445
Volume 5 Punisher MAX Annual 2007
Punisher: Force of Nature
Punisher MAX Special: Little Black Book
Girls in White Dresses (Punisher: Frank Castle MAX #61-65)
Six Hours To Kill (Punisher: Frank Castle MAX #66-70)
Welcome to the Bayou (Punisher: Frank Castle MAX #71-74)
Punisher #75 (Dolls, Gateway, Ghoul, Father's Day, Smallest Bit of This)
February 2017 978-1302902742
Volume 6 Punisher MAX: X-Mas Special
Punisher MAX: Naked Kill
Punisher MAX: Get Castle
Punisher MAX: Butterfly
Punisher MAX: Happy Ending
Punisher MAX: Hot Rods of Death[10]
Punisher MAX: Tiny Ugly World
Untold Tales of the Punisher MAX (#1-5)
August 2017 978-1302907396
Volume 7 TBD TBD