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This article is about the comic book antihero.  For one who punishes, see punishment.

The Punisher (Francis "Frank" Castle, born Castiglione) is a fictional antihero appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character was created by writer Gerry Conway and artist John Romita, Sr., with publisher Stan Lee providing the name. The Punisher made his first appearance in The Amazing Spider-Man #129 (cover-dated Feb. 1974).

Welcome Back, Frank


Issue #1

Punisher (Thinking): I caught a glimpse of heaven once. The Angels showed me. The idea was I'd kill for them. Clean up their mistakes on Earth. Eventually redeem myself.
Tried it. Didn't like it. Told them where to stick it. So they brought me up to heaven, to see what I'd be missing. A wife. A son. A daughter. I hadn't seen them since they bled out in my arms. Then I was cast down.
Back to a world of killers. Rapists. Psychos. Perverts. A brand new evil every minute, spewed out as fast as men can think them up. A world where pitching a criminal dwarf off a skyscraper to tell his fellow scum you're back is a sane and rational act. The angels thought it would be hell for me.
(Said dwarf hits the ground with a splat)But they were wrong.
Welcome Back, Frank. Says New York City.

Issue #2

Punisher: Dodged a bullet. But not thirty.
Punisher: Hide in plain sight. Try it. It works.
Punisher: When you're on your own, behind enemy lines, no artillery, no air strikes, no hope of an evac, you don't fight dirty. You do things that make dirty look good.

Issue #12

Punisher: You're a monster, and I'm killing you. It's not complicated.

Punisher MAX

"You work for the devil, you better be ready to die for him." -Issue #13, "Mother Russia"
"If the thought of it seems crazy - you weren't crazy enough to begin with." -Issue #14, "Mother Russia"
"Don't take the money if you don't like the job." -Issue #14, "Mother Russia"
"I'm twisting his leg off like a drumstick when I realize I'm frightening the kid." -Issue #17, "Mother Russia"
"Up is down and black is white." -"Up Is Down And Black Is White"
"You go to war in Afghanistan - and everybody dies." -Issue #38, "Man of Stone"
"'Two things you can do for me', she said. One was be there, so she didn't take her last breath alone. The other was a thing I'm good at." -Issue #42, "Man of Stone"
"There are times I'd like to get my hands on God." -Issue #44, "Widowmaker"
"There is no God. There are no souls. All that we are is meat and bone. These are certainties I learned long ago."-Issue #6, "Bullseye"
"Some people would tell you that I'm crazy. They would be wrong. It's not crazy when the state of the world makes you want to kill everyone responsible. It's crazy when it doesn't."- Issue #9,"Bullseye"

In The Beginning (The Punisher MAX)


Issue #1

Punisher(Thinking)::[At his family's gravesite, recounting their deaths] They hated that old man so much they shot him through my family. The world went crazy on a summer's day in Central Park, In the time before uzis and berettas, before nine millimeter popguns ruled the streets. It was a Thompson, like the ones our fathers carried, and I recognized its rattle even as its big, man-stopping forty-fives punched blood and breath from my lungs. I hit the ground besides my daughter. She's been gutshot, badly, and when she saw the things that boiled and wriggled from her belly the expression on her face was not a little girl's. My wife bled out later on the operating table, her heart a gaping hole her life drained through. Whenever i get careless, that yearning in her eyes creeps up and brings me to my knees. Right then the old man's soldiers started strated shooting back. My son dropped wordlessly, without a mark on him. I took a breath that cut like glass, spat blood, rose to my knees, picked up the boy and searched in vain for entry wounds. The bullet had entered through his open mouth. That was our picnic in the park. And now every night I go out and make the world sane.

[While keeping surveillance on The Punisher]
Roth: We shouda done it this morning when we had the chance, we shoulda done it at the cemetery...
O'Brien: Fat Boy said no. You know, he is in great shape for a guy his age. I wonder if he's got a big dick?
Roth: HA! O'Brien, why--
O'Brien: In case I get the chance to fuck him. I like big dicks.

Issue #2

Roth: His old buddy The Punisher wipes out 42 wiseguys and puts, what is it, seven more on the critical list, and now fat boy's giving us a lecture on the fucker's M.O.! With a fond little twinkle in his eye! And what did fatboy assure us he could do? Take down The Punisher. And here we are, we've known where the guy lives for the last five days, and how far has our tubby hero gotten? Well? He's scared. He's fucking terrified. He's seen his pal in action again and all of a sudden he's not so fucking sure of himself, so he plays for time and he dicks us around--
[Microchip then grabs Roth's testicles]
Roth: What the fuck are you doing?
Microchip: I'm taking hold of your balls.
Roth: What--get--get the fuck--
Microchip: Stay still. I haven't done anything to you yet. We're still cool. And that's the way we want to keep things: Nice and cool. I think you've gotten the wrong idea about me, Roth. First of all, I'm not what I look like. But that must be all too apparent right now. Second of all, my name is Micro. Not fat boy. The Third thing is that I worked with Frank Castle for ten years. I helped him kill over 800 people. Anyone knows him better than I do is long since in their grave. I hacked computers to find him targets. I customized guns and ammunition. I put him in the right place at the right time to kill the maximum number of people; without me the body count for those ten years would be a third of what it is. I turned a lone gunman into a machine that runs at optimum efficiency. Because of me, what he does can truly be defined as war. So when I watch him rack up 42 dead and 7 wounded--a ratio that tells you everything you need to know, by the way--yes. You're goddamned fucking right I'm scared.

Microchip: Frank.
[The Punisher turns his head]
Microchip: Aren't you going to ask what I'm doing here?
[Before the Punisher pulls his Uzi out, Micro shoots him with a Shotgun with stun shells, then shoots the uzi out his hand]
Microchip: In the end I guess It's easy after all.
[Micro then shoots The Punisher in the face]

Issue #3

[Micro and The Punisher in a dark interrogration room, with The Punisher's family pictures spread on the table.]
Microchip: After that, all It would take a catastrophe of some kind, just to drive you over the edge. And now you use your family as an excuse for something dreadful.
The Punisher::[Referring to the family pictures] Put them away right now. Or I guarantee you'll have to kill me.

O'Brien: What you've got in that room is not to be fucked with.

Microchip: I'm going to take my shot now, Frank. You hear me out and say yes or fuck you.

Issue #4

Microchip: Be like It used to be, except we'd be doing something good. What do you say?
The Punisher: Yes or fuck you?
Microchip: Yeah.
The Punisher: Fuck You.

Microchip: Why?
The Punisher: I don't work with or for anyone. Eventually they let you down.
Microchip: I had to give it up, I told you why--
The Punisher: You, I could care less about. Fighting for the people the people who run the world gets you stabbed in the back. You fight the wars they start and feed. You kill the monsters they create. You die from handling depleted uranium while they get rich on oil. I'm not going back to war so Colt can sell another million M-16's. I had enough of that in Vietnam.
Microchip: That's not the way it is...!
The Punisher: There are 60,000 guys in D.C. who'd say different. Except they can't say anything because they're nothing but names on a black wall.

The Punisher: Bob Garrett.
Microchip: Who...?
The Punisher: Used to be a neighbor of mine. Had the place next door to me and Maria. Average guy. Ran his own business. Married, no kids. After Central Park, I didn't talk to anyone for a long time. The first hour was pretty much what you'd expect.

Punisher Vol. 12

I'll say this once, we're not the same. You took an oath to uphold the law. You help people. I gave that up a long time ago. You don't do what I do. Nobody does. You boys need a role model? His name's Captain America, and he'd be happy to have you.... If I find out you are trying to do what I do, I'll come for you next. ~ Matthew Rosenberg
  • I'll say this once, we're not the same. You took an oath to uphold the law. You help people. I gave that up a long time ago. You don't do what I do. Nobody does. You boys need a role model? His name's Captain America, and he'd be happy to have you.... If I find out you are trying to do what I do, I'll come for you next.
    • Matthew Rosenberg, Punisher Vol. 12 #13, (July 2019)

Year One (mini-series)

"Para bellum. Sic vis pacem, para bellum. Every dawn, the boot camp sergeant made them recite it like a prayer. A litany. A declaration. Sic vis pacem, para bellum. The hitman's name is Billy "The Beaut" Russo. The Costas love him so dearly, they've made him fireproof. But there's fireproof and fireproof. Sic vis pacem, parabellum."
"*hem!* uhh... Journal... first entry. I've no idea how things will end up. Chances are, I won't be around to explain myself later. So I'm making this journal, starting here, as a declaration of intent, so that no one will be in any doubt. Point one: Frank Castle is dead. However, the message has yet to reach his body, and so it continues to twitch. Who can say what it might do before it stops moving?"
"Point two: Sometimes the law is helpless to act, even when it identifies the guilty. It follows, therefore, that sometimes it is necessary to act outside the law, to shame its inadequacy, to pursue a natural justice. I'm not talking about vengeance. Revenge is not a valid motive. It's a tawdry, emotional response no better than the act that provokes it. I'm talking about... punishment."
"McTeer wouldn't approve, but I tried it his way. I tried it Laviano's way, too. I trusted in systems and promises that were not up to the task. I tried it everyone's way. Everyone's except mine. In the service of this country, I trained as a marine. I am very good at my job. Camoflauge, preparation, combat, intimidation. So point three: I am up to the task. When I do my job, it gets done. No screw-ups, no errors, no mistakes."
"Point four: Consider the motto, 'Sic vis pacem, para bellum: If you want peace, prepare for war.'"

About Punisher

To me, it's disturbing whenever I see authority figures embracing Punisher iconography because the Punisher represents a failure of the Justice system. ... The vigilante anti-hero is fundamentally a critique of the justice system, an example of social failure, so when cops put Punisher skulls on their cars or members of the military wear Punisher skull patches, they're basically sided with an enemy of the system. ~ Gerry Conway
[U]nlike Matt Murdock, Bruce Wayne or Clark Kent, Frank doesn't have the skills, influence or education needed to interact with the legal system in any substantive way. Instead, he's just very, very good at killing people, and very, very motivated to do so. ~ Susana Polo
  • I was fascinated by the Don Pendleton Executioner character, which was fairly popular at the time, and I wanted to do something that was inspired by that, although not to my mind a copy of it. And while I was doing the Jackal storyline, the opportunity came for a character who would be used by the Jackal to make Spider-Man's life miserable. The Punisher seemed to fit.
  • Heidegger, who took Kierkegaard's philosophy further, comes even closer to describing the Punisher: 'Since we can never hope to understand why we're here, if there's even anything to understand, the individual should choose a goal and pursue it wholeheartedly, despite the certainty of death and the meaninglessness of action.' That's sure the Punisher as I conceived him: a man who knows he's going to die and who knows in the big picture his actions will count for nothing, but who pursues his course because this is what he has chosen to do.
  • Frank Castle has spent years exacting vengeance for the deaths of his family by punishing criminals everywhere. His skull insignia inspires fear throughout the underworld. But Punisher's appeal rests on more than his ability to do what the rest of Marvel's heroes won't. He's a tragic figure – even a profoundly selfish one in some ways. The sad truth is that Frank Castle can't survive without killing, and his new job fulfills him in ways his family never could.
  • Gerry Conway was writing a script and he wanted a character that would turn out to be a hero later on, and he came up with the name the Assassin. And I mentioned that I didn't think we could ever have a comic book where the hero would be called the Assassin, because there's just too much of a negative connotation to that word. And I remembered that, some time ago, I had had a relatively unimportant character ... [who] was one of [the cosmic antagonist] Galactus' robots, and I had called him the Punisher, and it seemed to me that that was a good name for the character Gerry wanted to write—so I said, 'Why not call him the Punisher?' And, since I was the editor [sic; Lee had been named publisher in 1972], Gerry said, 'Okay.'
    • Stan Lee, "Stan Lee's Amazing Marvel Interview!". Alter Ego. 3 (104): 32. August 2011. (transcript of 2005 interview)
  • Like Batman, he's motivated by direct personal tragedy, but unlike Batman (most of the time), the men that destroyed his family are alive, known and active criminals. Like Daredevil, Frank Castle looking to clean up the streets of Hell's Kitchen. But unlike Matt Murdock, Bruce Wayne or Clark Kent, Frank doesn't have the skills, influence or education needed to interact with the legal system in any substantive way. Instead, he's just very, very good at killing people, and very, very motivated to do so.
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