The Punisher (1986 series)
|The Punisher (Limited series)|
Cover to The Punisher #1.
Note the banner: "#1 in a four issue limited series".
|Publication date||January–May 1986|
|Number of issues||5|
|Main character(s)||The Punisher|
|Writer(s)||Steven Grant (plot only, 5)
Jo Duffy (script, 5)
|Penciller(s)||Mike Zeck (1-4)
Mike Vosburg (5)
|Colorist(s)||Mike Zeck (1)
Bob Sharen (2-5)
|Circle of Blood (softcover)||ISBN 0-87135-394-6|
|Circle of Blood (hardcover)||ISBN 0785123318|
The Punisher is a five-issue comic book limited series published by Marvel Comics in 1986, starring the fictional vigilante the Punisher. It was written by Steven Grant, and illustrated by Mike Zeck and Mike Vosburg.
In the early 1980s, Grant and Zeck proposed creating a Punisher miniseries. The company was initially uncomfortable with the idea of a protagonist who killed in cold blood. However, as crime increased nationally throughout the decade, Marvel responded by testing the market for such a character and then publishing, though not initially promoting, a miniseries that debuted in January 1986. The initial issue had a banner indicating that the series would be four issues long; however, the series had always been intended to have five issues, and the banner was an error that recurred throughout the entire run except for issue #2, which says "2 of 5".
In keeping with its hard-boiled premise, The Punisher included several events rare in Marvel Comics publishing in the mid-1980s: a suicide, the death of an innocent child, and the main character having sexual intercourse. In issue #4, the warden of Rykers Prison (who assisted in the Punisher's prison break) committed suicide when faced with the options of battling the Punisher or going to prison himself. In issue #3, Marcus Coriander, a small-time numbers runner used as a proxy crime boss by the Kingpin, accidentally kills an innocent girl while exchanging gunfire with the Punisher. In issue #2, the Punisher is nursed back to health by Angela, a plant by Punisher's enemies "The Trust". In one panel, Angela states that "everything I have is yours". In the next panel, the Punisher is shown walking away from a bed containing a nude Angela, indicating that they had sex.
Issues #1, #3, and #4 had banners promoting a four-issue limited series; and issues #2 and #5 promote a five-issue series due to a production error (the first and last issues were due to be double-sized, but the last one was split). Mike Zeck was the artist on the first four issues and Mike Vosburg was the penciller of #5. The splash page of issue #5 has a caption stating, "Special thanks to true pros Mike Vosburg (pencils), Jo Duffy (script), and Big John Beatty (inks)." The covers were paintings by Mike Zeck and Phil Zimelman.
"Circle of Blood" (January 1986)
The Punisher is sprung from Rykers prison by the Trust, a citizens organization whose purpose is to make America great by brainwashing criminals and making them part of their "Punishment Squad". This group wears uniforms similar to the Punisher's and kills criminals. A man named Alarec is in charge of this operation.
"Back to the War" (February 1986)
After being rescued by Angela, an operative of the Trust, the Punisher falsely tells Ben Urich that he has killed the Kingpin. The purpose of this is to start a gang war where the criminals will kill themselves. The Punisher then becomes concerned by the large number of innocent people caught in the crossfire.
"Slaughterday" (March 1986)
The Punisher forces mob leaders (at gunpoint) to have a meeting to stop the gang war. Force is necessary, because the Trust had previously used a purported gang meeting to kill a number of criminals.
"Final Solution" (April 1986)
The Punisher attacks Alarec's home and finds that Jigsaw has been brainwashed and become a member of the Punishment Squad. The Punisher defeats Jigsaw, but is captured by Alarec and placed in the conditioning room.
"Final Solution, Part 2" (April 1986)
The Punisher escapes the brainwashing room because his weapons and clothing were not removed when he was put there. The Punisher then forces Alarec to implicate the Trust in his prison break and the Punishment Squad's murders. While leaving the mansion, the Punisher is confronted by Angela. He defeats her and leaves her in her jeep, precariously situated on the railing of Alarec's mansion's bridge. The Punisher walks away as the jeep begins to slip.
The series has been collected into a single volume as a softcover (1989, ISBN 0-87135-394-6) and a hardcover (2007, ISBN 0-7851-2331-8). The complete series is also included in the black-and-white Essential Punisher, Vol. 1 (2004, ISBN 0-7851-2375-X).