Frank Castle aka The Punisher is a Marvel character who defines the term ‘anti-hero’. Created in 1970’s, The Punisher is a superhero with a twist. The character isn’t conventional in his crime-fighting means and sense of justice, but rather resorts to killing and fighting criminals there way. The Punisher is not the kind of character you’d expect to exist alongside the likes of Thor or Captain America.
The first story in volume 53 of Marvel’s Mightiest Heroes is The Amazing Spider-Man #129. This single-issue contains the debut appearance of The Punisher. Spider-Man’s later-to-be-revealed-long-time-nemesis-and-crazy-stalker, The Jackal, hires The Punisher to do his dirty work in killing the wall-crawler. The Jackal tries to convince the Punisher that Spider-Man is evil.
After their obligatory battle, Frank realises The Jackal’s trickery and parts ways with Spider-Man. It’s your standard Marvel 70’s story and there’s not much to say about it. The art is pretty decent though there is one panel where Peter Parker looks like The Jackal himself. It’s creepy.
The Punisher graphic novel’s main attraction is that of The Punisher: Circle of Blood. It is the first time the character is given his own mini-series and it’s bloody good – pardon the pun. Starting off on Ryker’s Island, the recently imprisoned anti-hero is just trying to do his time and show the inmates not to screw with him. He’s the typical take-no-nonsense type of character. Of course, most of the inmates were put in away by Punisher’s own hand, which means everyone is against him.
The true story begins to take hold as Frank escapes from prison, gains the backing of a mysterious organisation, is found by a gorgeous nurse, and is faced with other vigilantes dressed just like him. Circle of Blood takes many twists and turns throughout its narrative but stays an action-based story. Don’t expect an epic or game-changing plot here. It’s a good plot and I ‘ll give it that.
Circle of Blood’s artwork is interesting and fits the overall tone of the story. It uses artistic colours when addressing certain situations, such as a mob gathering. Yes, it’s from 1986, and not all of the inking is perfect.
Verdict: The Punisher’s two stories complement each other. If you’re a fan of the three movies — yes, three — then pick up The Punisher. In fact make a point of grabbing a copy due to The Punisher’s upcoming role in season 2 of Daredevil. Those of you who are fans of newer Marvel projects, such as the cinematic movies, may want to give this one a skip.