[ENGLISH] This month: The Punisher. Since the inception of The Golden Age of comics in 1938, many heroes, and many villains, have splashed their battles across artistic pages, have endured their struggles in those same pages and have intrigued a readership which has loved their adventures for 72 years. This column celebrates such characters by taking a look each month at one of them. Some you will know and some are more obscure, but all hold a significant place in comics, for the world of stories in any medium is about the characters who populate it. The spectacular citizens of the universe who inhabit the comic book nation might be brave or sinister, bold or fearful, but all are characters who we can never forget. So, The Golden Age becomes the Silver Age, The Silver becomes The Bronze and so on, until today and until tomorrow. . . in The Endless Age of comics, and the beings who live inside them.
The Dark Quest of The Punisher
Frank Castle was a family man. He was living the life so many Americans enjoy with a loving wife and children. All that came to an end one day because of criminal crossfire in New York’s Central Park which took them from him, an event that would change him forever. His tolerance for the criminal element, one he had not considered so deeply within the cushy suburban life he had made for himself went down to zero and each day from then he would be judge, jury and executioner, ridding the world of outlaw vermin as the righteous hand of his own law.
As the Punisher, Castle has dealt some pretty heavy blows to the criminal world and an anti-hero of his caliber had some hefty birth-fathers. Gerry Conway put the concepts together while John Romita, Sr. with Ross Andru gave us his spectacular appearance, his skull symbolism probably one of the most recognized in the comic industry. Topping off the creation he was named by one of the greatest “namers” of heroes since the Silver Age was launched, Mr. Stan Lee. Thank you, gentlemen. Considering all that and Lee’s contribution it’s not surprising that our illustrious marksman would first appear in none other than Amazing Spider-Man #129. The cover (which you should go and find for yourself) depicts The Punisher setting his sights on our beloved wall-crawler because within its pages the anti-hero is under the impression (considering the great media encouragement of J. Jonah Jameson and the fact that the policealways have an attitude towards him that’s unfriendly) that Spider-Man is a criminal and needs to be exterminated.
The Punisher is a severe character. Everything about him is about death for criminals. Spider-Man ultimately survives his encounter with him because The Punisher’s methods include gathering incriminating evidence before he kills anyone. He finds Spider-Man suspicious but since he cannot prove anything there is an uneasy acceptance he’ll have to let the wall-crawler go unless he does find something. The Punisher is not as much a vigilante as he is a jury and an executioner. He finds out enough about his targets to be certain they are criminals and then he does his thing. He lives by a creed as well, perhaps to keep his kills in perspective, maybe even to honor his family in a way. He swears if he ever kills an innocent he will turn himself in.
The character has made it to the big screen a couple of times and both were decent movies. The first one was with Dolph Lundgren playing our bad boy and the movie did the job fairly well but it did not have the feel you got from reading the comics. The second movie starring Thomas Jayne was much more on the mark, including the skull shirt symbolism and the war on criminals. Basically an origin story it was quite entertaining and action packed with the deaths of his wife and child particularly sorrowful and transforming of the man he was and did justice to the original concept of The Punisher. The movie has the added plus of a likeable performance by Rebecca Romijn who fans have enjoyed throughout the X-Men movie trilogy. No special powers this time although once again she was involved with a dangerous lunatic (also with no special powers fortunately).
The movie is about Frank Castle coming to terms with his loss by reconnecting with humanity and of course, exterminating the men who killed his family. He is successful at both and The
Punisher is born.
The movie is fun but nothing can introduce readers to what he is all about better than that fateful Amazing Spider-Man issue. Right there you can see from cover to cover a legend being
born, molded and made.
Over time we learn Castle is ex-U.S. military, a martial arts master and an expert with several different kinds of weapons, but the deadliest weapons he has at his disposal are patience, diligent research into the criminal element, keeping records of his targets and monitoring the war he has chosen from his war van. He is The Grim Reaper of the underworld and all four horsemen of the apocalypse rolled into one and none deserving shall escape his sights.
Comic readers, if there are any left, who have not experienced this antihero should make their way to the nearest comic store and get into the war on crime. Missing it is a punishment none of us deserve.
James Parducci (www.jparducci.blogspot.com) is the creator of the comic series Nighthunter. He has been published in multiple periodicals and runs his own freelance writing business in San Diego.