The Punisher (2004 series)

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The Punisher
The Punisher #1 (March 2004),
cover art by Tim Bradstreet.
Publication information
PublisherMarvel Comics
MAX Comics
ScheduleMonthly
FormatOngoing series
Publication dateMarch 2004 – October 2009
No. of issues75, plus 1 Annual
Main character(s)The Punisher
Creative team as of October 2008
Created byGarth Ennis
Written byGarth Ennis
Gregg Hurwitz
Artist(s)Laurence Campbell

The Punisher (re-titled Frank Castle: The Punisher 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 and antihero 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 Born, and several one-shots.

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 re-titled Frank Castle: The Punisher, 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 Punisher MAX in late 2009, with writer Jason Aaron and artist Steve Dillon.

Plot[edit]

Differences from the mainstream Marvel Universe Punisher[edit]

The series explicitly does not use a floating timeline like the mainstream 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. 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), 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' 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 comics, which indicated that it did happen in the mainstream Marvel Universe at some point:

  • "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]

Many characters are past or current intelligence and military operatives from governmental agencies like the American CIA, the Soviet KGB and the British SIS and SAS and militaries and militias from the Balkans, the Middle East and the IRA, all with agendas rooted in past conflicts like the Cold War or the Yugoslav Wars.

Prints[edit]

Issues[edit]

No. Story arc Cover date Comic Book Roundup rating Estimated sales (first month)
#1 In the Beginning March 2004 8.0 by one professional critic.[10] 56,350, ranked 20th in North America.[11]
#2 March 2004 49,197, ranked 24th in North America.[11]
#3 April 2004 46,383, ranked 34th in North America.[12]
#4 May 2004 47,096, ranked 32nd in North America.[13]
#5 June 2004 34,236, ranked 57th in North America.[14]
#6 July 2004 48,533, ranked 31st in North America.[15]
#7 Kitchen Irish August 2004 48,126, ranked 30th in North America.[16]
#8 August 2004 47,477, ranked 31st in North America.[16]
#9 September 2004 6.0 by two professional critics.[17]
#10 October 2004 8.0 by one professional critic.[18]
#11 November 2004
#12 December 2004
#13 Mother Russia January 2005
#14 January 2005
#15 February 2005
#16 March 2005
#17 April 2005
#18 May 2005
#19 Up is Down and Black is White June 2005
#20 June 2005
#21 July 2005
#22 August 2005
#23 September 2005
#24 October 2005 9.0 by one professional critic.[19]
#25 The Slavers November 2005
#26 December 2005
#27 January 2006
#28 February 2006
#29 March 2006
#30 April 2006 9.0 by one professional critic.[20]
#31 Barracuda May 2006
#32 June 2006
#33 July 2006
#34 August 2006
#35 September 2006
#36 October 2006
#37 Man of Stone November 2006
#38 November 2006
#39 December 2006
#40 January 2007
#41 January 2007
#42 February 2007
#43 Widowmaker March 2007 9.0 by one professional critic.[21]
#44 April 2007 8.0 by one professional critic.[22]
#45 May 2007 7.0 by one professional critic.[23]
#46 June 2007 8.0 by one professional critic.[24]
#47 July 2007 10 by one professional critic.[25]
#48 August 2007 8.0 by one professional critic.[26]
#49 September 2007 8.0 by one professional critic.[27]
#50 Long Cold Dark October 2007 10 by one professional critic.[28]
#51 December 2007 8.6 by two professional critics.[29]
#52 January 2008 7.8 by one professional critic.[30]
#53 February 2008
#54 March 2008 9.5 by two professional critics.[31]
#55 Valley Forge, Valley Forge May 2008 8.4 by two professional critics.[32]
#56 June 2008 8.6 by two professional critics.[33]
#57 July 2008 8.4 by one professional critic.[34]
#58 August 2008 8.5 by one professional critic.[35]
#59 September 2008 7.0 by one professional critic.[36]
#60 October 2008 8.1 by three professional critics.[37]
#61 Girls in White Dresses October 2008 6.2 by four professional critics.[38]
#62 November 2008 5.1 by two professional critics.[39]
#63 December 2008 6.3 by one professional critic.[40]
#64 January 2009 6.1 by one professional critic.[41]
#65 February 2009 6.8 by one professional critic.[42]

As of issue #66, the series was officially re-titled Frank Castle: The Punisher.

No. Story arc Cover date Estimated sales (first month)
#66 Six Hours to Kill March 2009
#67 April 2009
#68 May 2009
#69 June 2009
#70 July 2009
#71 Welcome to the Bayou August 2009
#72 September 2009
#73 October 2009
#74 November 2009
#75 Dolls/Gateway/Ghoul/Father's Day/Smallest Bit of This December 2009

Collected editions[edit]

Trade paperbacks
Vol. # Vol. title Material collected Writer Artist Publication date ISBN
1 In the Beginning The Punisher #1–6 Garth Ennis Lewis Larosa 2004 978-0785113911
2 Kitchen Irish The Punisher #7–12 Leandro Fernández 2004 978-0785115397
3 Mother Russia The Punisher #13–18 Dougie Braithwaite 2005 978-0785116035
4 Up is Down and Black is White The Punisher #19–24 Leandro Fernández 2005 978-0785117315
5 The Slavers The Punisher #25–30 2006 978-0785118992
6 Barracuda The Punisher #31–36 Goran Parlov 2006 978-0785120230
7 Man of Stone The Punisher #37–42 Leandro Fernández 2007 978-0785121657
8 Widowmaker The Punisher #43–49 Lan Medina 2007 978-0785124542
9 Long Cold Dark The Punisher #50–54 Howard Chaykin (#50)
Goran Parlov (#51–54)
2008 978-0785128144
10 Valley Forge, Valley Forge The Punisher #55–60 Goran Parlov 2008 978-0785127550
11 Girls in White Dresses The Punisher #61–65 Gregg Hurwitz Laurence Campbell 2009 978-0785125204
12 Six Hours to Kill Frank Castle: The Punisher MAX #66–70 Duane Swierczynski Michel Lacombe 2009 978-0785131823
13 Welcome to the Bayou Frank Castle: The Punisher MAX #71–74 Victor Gischler Goran Parlov 2009 978-0785133780
Hardcovers
Title Material collected Publication date ISBN
Volume 1 The Punisher #1–12 2005 978-0785118404
Volume 2 The Punisher #13–24 2006 978-0785120223
Volume 3 The Punisher #25–36 2007 978-0785119814
Volume 4 The Punisher #37–49 2007 978-0785114178
Volume 5 The Punisher #50–60 2009 978-0785137825
Volume 6 The Punisher #61–65
Frank Castle: The Punisher MAX #66–75
2011 978-0785156567
Complete Collections
Title Vol. # Material collected Publication date ISBN
The Punisher MAX: Complete Collection 1 Born #1–4
The Punisher #1–12
February 2016 978-1302900151
2 The Punisher #13–30 April 2016 978-1302900168
3 The Punisher #31–49 October 2016 978-1302901875
4 The Punisher Presents: Barracuda MAX #1–5
The Punisher #50–60
Punisher: The Tyger #1
Punisher: The Cell #1
Punisher: The End #1
December 2016 978-1302902445
5 Punisher MAX Annual #1
The Punisher: Force of Nature #1
Punisher MAX Special: Little Black Book #1

The Punisher #61–65
Frank Castle: The Punisher MAX #66–75

February 2017 978-1302902742
6 Punisher MAX X-Mas Special #1
Punisher MAX: Naked Kill
Punisher MAX: Get Castle
Punisher MAX: Butterfly #1
Punisher MAX: Happy Ending #1
Punisher MAX: Hot Rods of Death[43]
Punisher MAX: Tiny Ugly World #1
Untold Tales of Punisher MAX #1–5
August 2017 978-1302907396
Omnibus
Title Vol. # Material collected Publication date ISBN
The Punisher MAX by Garth Ennis Omnibus 1 Born #1–4
The Punisher #1–30
May 2018 978-1302912079
2 The Punisher #31–60
The Punisher Presents: Barracuda MAX #1–5
Punisher: The Tyger #1
Punisher: The Cell #1
Punisher: The End #1
August 2018 978-1302912062

Reception[edit]

The series holds an average rating of 7.9 by 38 professional critics on the review aggregation website Comic Book Roundup.[44]

In other media[edit]

Film[edit]

  • The 2008 movie Punisher: War Zone starring Ray Stevenson is inspired by Punisher MAX, most notably incorporating characters from that series such as Gaitano Cesare, Carmine "Pittsy" Gazzerra, Ink, Cristu Bulat, Tiberiu Bulat and Maginty. The scene where Frank Castle/the Punisher kills Gaitano Cesare and the other mobsters is also taken directly from the storyline "In the Beginning", albeit cutting the head for the former instead of a headshot.

Television[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Brady, Matt (July 11, 2007). "Max'ing Out the Future: Axel Alonso Talks Marvel MAX". Newsarama. Archived from the original on May 19, 2009.
  2. ^ Creswick, Liam (February 24, 2007). "PUNISHER WAR JOURNAL #4 REVIEW". ComiXtreme. Archived from the original on February 12, 2009.
  3. ^ Punisher #61 (October 2008) at the Comic Book DB (archived from the original)
  4. ^ "Exclusive Preview: Punisher: Frank Castle #66". Newsarama. October 24, 2008. Archived from the original on February 10, 2009.
  5. ^ Richards, Dave (January 16, 2009). "Swierczynski On Frank Castle: Punisher". Comic Book Resources.
  6. ^ Richards, Dave (April 29, 2009). "Swamp Things: Gischler Talks Punisher MAX". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved May 26, 2010.
  7. ^ Rogers, Vaneta (June 9, 2009). "Welcome to the Bayou, Frank: Victor Gischler on Punisher MAX". Newsarama. Retrieved 2009-07-25.
  8. ^ Quesada, Joe (July 14, 2009). "Cup O' Joe: Thor, X-Factor, Punisher MAX". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved May 26, 2010.
  9. ^ Civil War Files #1 (2006), Marvel Comics
  10. ^ "PUNISHER #1". Comic Book Roundup. Retrieved February 5, 2021.
  11. ^ a b "January 2004 Comic Book Sales to Comic Shops". Comichron. The Comics Chronicles. Retrieved December 12, 2017.
  12. ^ "February 2004 Comic Book Sales to Comics Shops". Comichron. The Comics Chronicles. Retrieved February 5, 2021.
  13. ^ "March 2004 Comic Book Sales to Comics Shops". Comichron. The Comics Chronicles. Retrieved February 5, 2021.
  14. ^ "April 2004 Comic Book Sales to Comics Shops". Comichron. The Comics Chronicles. Retrieved February 5, 2021.
  15. ^ "May 2004 Comic Book Sales to Comics Shops". Comichron. The Comics Chronicles. Retrieved February 5, 2021.
  16. ^ a b "June 2004 Comic Book Sales to Comics Shops". Comichron. The Comics Chronicles. Retrieved February 5, 2021.
  17. ^ "PUNISHER #9". Comic Book Roundup. Retrieved February 5, 2021.
  18. ^ "PUNISHER #10". Comic Book Roundup. Retrieved February 5, 2021.
  19. ^ "PUNISHER #24". Comic Book Roundup. Retrieved February 5, 2021.
  20. ^ "PUNISHER #30". Comic Book Roundup. Retrieved February 5, 2021.
  21. ^ "PUNISHER #43". Comic Book Roundup. Retrieved February 5, 2021.
  22. ^ "PUNISHER #44". Comic Book Roundup. Retrieved February 5, 2021.
  23. ^ "PUNISHER #45". Comic Book Roundup. Retrieved February 5, 2021.
  24. ^ "PUNISHER #46". Comic Book Roundup. Retrieved February 5, 2021.
  25. ^ "PUNISHER #47". Comic Book Roundup. Retrieved February 5, 2021.
  26. ^ "PUNISHER #48". Comic Book Roundup. Retrieved February 5, 2021.
  27. ^ "PUNISHER #49". Comic Book Roundup. Retrieved February 5, 2021.
  28. ^ "PUNISHER #50". Comic Book Roundup. Retrieved February 5, 2021.
  29. ^ "PUNISHER #51". Comic Book Roundup. Retrieved February 5, 2021.
  30. ^ "PUNISHER #52". Comic Book Roundup. Retrieved February 5, 2021.
  31. ^ "PUNISHER #54". Comic Book Roundup. Retrieved February 5, 2021.
  32. ^ "PUNISHER #55". Comic Book Roundup. Retrieved February 5, 2021.
  33. ^ "PUNISHER #56". Comic Book Roundup. Retrieved February 5, 2021.
  34. ^ "PUNISHER #57". Comic Book Roundup. Retrieved February 5, 2021.
  35. ^ "PUNISHER #58". Comic Book Roundup. Retrieved February 5, 2021.
  36. ^ "PUNISHER #59". Comic Book Roundup. Retrieved February 5, 2021.
  37. ^ "PUNISHER #60". Comic Book Roundup. Retrieved February 5, 2021.
  38. ^ "PUNISHER #61". Comic Book Roundup. Retrieved February 5, 2021.
  39. ^ "PUNISHER #62". Comic Book Roundup. Retrieved February 5, 2021.
  40. ^ "PUNISHER #63". Comic Book Roundup. Retrieved February 5, 2021.
  41. ^ "PUNISHER #64". Comic Book Roundup. Retrieved February 5, 2021.
  42. ^ "PUNISHER #65". Comic Book Roundup. Retrieved February 5, 2021.
  43. ^ Brothers, David (September 8, 2010). "The Punisher Gets Road Rage in 'Punisher MAX: Hot Rods of Death' [Preview]". ComicsAlliance. Retrieved February 5, 2021.
  44. ^ "PUNISHER (2004)". Comic Book Roundup. Retrieved February 5, 2021.

External links[edit]