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Posts Tagged ‘Punisher’

  1. Have Gun, Frank Castle

    May 26, 2014 by Arch Stanton

    The only thing that can make Mike Zeck’s Punisher Limited Series covers any better is if they could talk to you.  Now, thanks to John Dehner and the Have Gun Will Travel Radio Show, they can.  Enjoy!

    Circle of Blood #1:

    Back to the War #2:

    Slaughterday #3:

    Final Solution #4:

    Final Solution Part 2 #5:

  2. Punishing Mails – The Man of Action

    November 28, 2013 by Arch Stanton

    “Punishing Mails”, the letters column from the late 80’s Punisher series, is widely recognized as the greatest comic book letter page of all time. Here, Marvelites struggled to find their voice as the letters column conversations shifted from trivial fantasy like whether Hulk or Thing would win in a nuts punching contest into a new, grittier world of Frank Castle with copious gun violence, murder, and general lawlessness straight from the headlines. Over in Captain America’s letter page, it’s patriotic to hang posters of Cap in your high school English classroom. Here in Punisher, a poster of Frank in schoolroom makes a bolder statement (true letter). Some fans struggled in this new writing medium, some failed, some succeeded, and through it all a whole lot of info on weapons calibers and proper knife serration for maximum jugular shredding was shared for wide-eyed kids to file away under ‘Important Street Corner Knowledge’. There were many all-stars of Punishing Mails, but one man stands tall above them all. That man is Clifford Mineau, the Man of Action, and this is his story.


    [FSD Note: I’ve included some commentary in the text in italics and brackets]

    Dear Editors, 

    My name is Clifford M.O.A. Mineau. M.O.A. stands for Man of Action – that’s what my friends call me after beating the c**p out of two drug dealers about three years ago. [FSD: And because a goddamned bold lead like this one can only be written by a true MOA] They were giving dope to two 17 year-olds. I’m very Anti-Drug. It was happening in a cemetary in my town. They said, “What the blank do you want?’ I said “Your blanken heads you lousy stinken son of blanked dope dealers.” I beat the living c**p out of them. I used Karate and other special skills, and said “get the bleepin’ h**l out of this town – if you come back, you’re dead! As long as I’m living here you’re not going to poison any more kids with your drugs”. [FSD: Special Skills including Killer One Liners and Dynamic Narrative!] I also stopped a dope deal in one of your parking lots. [FSD: Marvel parking lot? Was it Jim Lee?] You could call me a vigilante but I would just call me someone who cares. [FSD: Unless you prefer to call him vigilante since he brought it up. Or The Ware Street Sweeper.] 

    I’ve been reading the PUNISHER for about eight years, and I love him. He’s Action Violence, but I wish the writer, Mike Baron, would put more Drug stories in the book.  [FSD: I wish Mike Baron would put more Drugs in me] That’s the biggest problem in the U.S.A. but it seems like no one cares anymore. If all our towns would join together to fight we could push out the drug dealers. I’m 23 and never touched drugs. My family is all anti-drug and we live in a drug infested town (in Massachussetts) for 17 years. [FSD: Not anymore. I looked up Ware, MA it seems about as white bread as a Wonder Loaf. MOA must have cleaned house in the 90s] I don’t smoke or drink. I collect action-filled comics – Punisher is #1! He’s similar to my favorite action paperback hero the Executioner but you need a little more action. PUNISHER #3 has a car chase – alright – but why did you make those hoods blow up the police? They’re good guys. [FSD: Remember, this was before Rodney King] If you’re going to make a cover, put that part in the book, please. [FSD: Yeah, I hate it when they do that shit. Or if you’re going to have a closing sentence, put that part in the paragraph, please.]

    I’m a sucker for a good explosion. I wrote a book about 3 times three years ago and it still hasn’t been published.[FSD: That’s a crime we should vigilantize some publisher for right there] It’s called Knife Huntress, Destroyer of Dope Dealers. It’s about five women vigilantes that take on 80,000 dope dealers. [FSD: Sold. A book with more casualties than words is a Man Action Book] All gore and action – I’ve got a copy on tape. If you want to hear it let me know and I’ll send it to you so you can let me know if you want to use it. [FSD: Wait, what? Audio book before publishing? Multi-Channel Marketing is another sign of a true MOA] 

    I heard the PUNISHER might become an action show on TV. I’ve got the perfect actor – Sam Jones, from the HIGHWAYMAN TV series, now cancelled. [FSD: Fuck Yes] We need more shows about vigilantes, action heroes, etc. to show people how to fight back against drugs and crime. [FSD: I learned everything I need to know in life from The Equalizer] Make the Punisher fight dope dealers for two, maybe three issues and have him shooting the c**p out of a copter and have it crashing into a trailer full of crack sending them both into a deep canyon, turning the drugs into ashes along with the dope dealers and have him saving the kids of that town. [FSD: Don’t give this gold away, man, make ’em pay you first] You’d be surprised at how many issues you’d sell. [FSD: X-Men #1 sold like 7 million. Based on that info, this concept would sell at least 30.]  Well, thanks for reading my letter.

    Clifford M.O.A. Mineau
    Ware, MA 

    And that, my friends, is how a Punisher fan takes care of a letters column. Like a church social that turns into a key party, fast, loud,  and everyone’s going home a little sticky and scared, but safe in the knowledge that there’s at least one more c**p-whipping anti-drug dealer on the streets.  And he’s got the balls to whip out his tape deck and record all about it in his next audio book. Which may or may not be about a Knife Huntress lady, and every drug dealer in the entire population of Baltimore. Punisher making the world a better place, one person at a time.

  3. Forty Years of Mayhem!!!!!

    August 17, 2013 by Arch Stanton

    Forty years ago today was the origin of the greatest character to ever grace paper!


    Artwork by Marco Checchetto, news clipping from the Top Secret Files Punisher Source Book by Carl Potts from 1990.


  4. After Action Report: July 1987 – January 1988

    June 22, 2012 by Arch Stanton

    First up we take a deep dive on  Punisher Vol.2 #1-5.  Two short story arcs bookending a one-shot, this is the origin of the origin of the many layered onion known as the Punisher.

    Its like a cute little white baby alien.

    El Calavera
    The Many Faces of the Skull

    The trademark skull changed many times over the years.  In the beginning here we had the Klaus Janson version, in keeping with previous iterations it still had the big round eyes.  Best use of it would be Frank stopping for Arts and Crafts during his decimation of a Jungle Drug Complex and painting the white skully bullseye on a found bulletproof vest, thus proving to the DEA agent he just rescued that yes, Frank is fucking nuts, and no, you’re not going to get out of this alive.

    Who’s he fighting this round?

    Crackheads, drug dealers, South American narcotics manufacturers, a Vietnamese colonel, white supremacist revolutionary bank robbers, and a suicidal atheistic socialist cult led by siblings with touch healing and psychic precognition powers.  And a raccoon.  They decided to take it easy and keep things grounded by not breaking out any of the wacky shit for the first five issues.

    Medal of Survival Recipients –
    Characters who lasted more than one story arc (a select group)

    Panel Left is Micro Junior. Panel Right is Robert Smith of The Cure. Not Pictured is How This Happened.

    Two important characters are introduced here in the 4th issue: Microchip AKA ‘Lowell Bartholomew Ori’ (bet you thought his name was Linus Lieberman, didn’t you?) and his son, Microchip Junior, a young angsty computer punk with definitive choices in hair.  Microchip’s association with Frank Castle makes you question his fundamental concepts of parenting, and subsequently involving his son in vigilante murder hijinks pretty much answers that.

    Modus Locomotus
    It is better to travel well than to arrive

    First appearance of Battle Van, so point Battle Van.  It’s a twinturbo Ford V6 (no V8 at this trim level) with a police radio, infrared cameras, bulletproof windows, an escape motorcycle, self-destruct mechanism, and just to remind you this is the 80s, Frank also drops the astonishing tidbit that it can switch into 4WD without having to get out and lock the hubs. And it costs $500,000 in 1987 dollars (to put this in perspective, this is $1,012,698 in today money, or the cost of a Bugatti Veyron).

    In 1986, Ford debuted the Aerostar Minivan. In 1987, Frank debuted the Aerostar Battlevan.

    If you price out all of the individual features of the van except super 4WD, that works out to about $80,000.  Which means Frank spent ~$420,000 on the ability to not have to stop the van before he goes muddin’. This is a man with priorities.  As an honorable mention, in the 2nd issue there’s an Apache attack helicopter with some creative license taken with the seating arrangements.  The pilots sit side-by-side, a design choice which makes it easier for Frank to line them up to kill their asses after he jumps onto the chopper from a rooftop.

    Weapons Tech
    Guns you can find in Jane’s

    80s Punisher loves to sprinkle real weapons throughout their issues; it brought a broad gun-nut demographic of readers to the book, and more importantly, made the Punisher letters column the most disturbing collection of writing extant prior to the invention of  In issue 2, Frank is delighted by a Striker Automatic Shotgun, widely considered to be a total piece of shit by most of the poor South Africans who actually had to use it.  You know why Frank boners over it?  Because Frank fucking loves it when his guns jam, so we can move on to the more “non-traditional” weaponry in the next column…

    “Frank thinks its cute. Its cute.”

    Dumbass Weapons Tech
    Guns you can’t find in Jane’s

    Diamond tipped fake fingernails.  In the very first issue he proves his security in his manliness by choosing the most womanly of combat fashion accessories.  They show up several times over the next couple of issues ripping out a throat, opening a cardboard box really fast, and helping an old war buddy shuffle off this mortal coil by cutting his wrists (then throwing him out of a helicopter).

    Bowed but Unbroken –
    Obligatory Frank capture

    In the early days, before Ennis turned him into a bullet-absorbing universal force of unkillableness, Frank was dangerously easy to get the drop on.  In issue 1 he’s captured and tied to a chair for the very first time in what would go on to be a long and lucrative career of getting captured and tied to chairs.  His buddy the DEA agent is captured twice in issue 2.  Frank is temporarily captured in #3 when he’s outwitted by the old master bush tactic of ‘walking up behind him with a pistol’, and he’s nearly killed in issue 4 getting shot in the back the very same way.


    In issue 5 this works on him twice, first a girl splashes acid in his face, and then later the same issue she walks up behind him and smacks him in the head with a frying pan Tom and Jerry style.  These were truly exciting times, no one knew how long this book would actually last, and though he led the Marvel pantheon in murderistic enthusiasm, he was woefully short in situational awareness.  This dude could literally go at any minute.

    The Ladies
    Yes they are

    Plenty has been posted about Frank’s legendary kill counts, but there’s a far more interesting statistic we’re all missing here.  There are a grand total of 6 females in these first five issues.  And when I say 6, I’m including two who only appeared in a single panel, one in the background.  I’m not even going to begin to open the can of worms, implications, and innuendo about the characters, readers, or authors of this book.  I’m just sayin’, 80’s Punisher has been nothing but honest from the start: if you buy that Punisher t-shirt from Spencer’s, you WILL be walking around with 2 feet of white grinnin’ pussy repellent on your chest.  Of these few brave females who dare these pages, two of them try to sleep with Frank (neither while he’s wearing the skull).  He disturbingly chooses not to tarnish the chastity of the evil cult leader chick, but has no problem banging the brainwashed wife of the police officer who helped him infiltrate the cult in the first place.

    Dear Ann Landers: I’m interested in one of my husband’s friends; tall, dark, handsome, fashion forward, and a penchant for psycho-killery. Should I leave my family and children to end this marriage of lies?

    Clearly, this man is deeply confused when it comes to relations with the opposite sex, though I’m not sure if its in ways the author intended.

    Dress up Frank

    Several: Bill Messina-suave drug dealer; Arnold Groetsch-Fordem Industries Armored Cars; Agent Peterson-FBI; Frank Loomis-cuckolded husband; and Joe Rainey-homeless vet from Detroit.  All without any real effort other than wearing clothes without a giant skull on them.  He had identity skills like that old NBC show, ‘The Pretender’, with the added bonus of not being bullshit.

    Postcards from the Edge
    Letter column all-stars

    Issue #4 is where the letters column reveals the first appearance of a darker segment of the punisher audience that I don’t think the Marvel editors were truly prepared for, the Gun-Nerd.  These are the guys that considered the Punisher Magazine to be the Sunday Comics section of Soldier of Fortune.  I grew up around guns, family probably owned 25 or so, got my first BB for my 3rd birthday, and had several guns of my own by the time I was 10.  When I was a kid, I used to see these dudes at gun shows all the time, and even back then I instinctively ID’d the stench of “lose”.

    Before the age of google, in issue 4’s letters column ‘Craig’ is able to give a multi-paragraph lesson on the forestock configurations of the AK-47, the proper methods of clearing gun jams, and some mostly incorrect information on the details of the Striker assault shotgun.  What’s truly fascinating here is probably the earliest written foreshadowing of the internet, as four issues later he’s ruthlessly flamed by a green beret and some other random dude happy to explain how: Craig’s information?  Thats bullshit information.  And so the flame cycle begins, stoked, fired, and printed by the Marvel editorial staff.  Look forward to this section, readers, it only gets better over time.

    The Fall Guy
    Greatest Stunts

    Triple Lindy, Stick the Landing.

    Stunts = Many, including taking out foot soldiers with a handful of rattlesnakes, training brainwashed cultists and children how to use an M16, and being woefully incompetent at camping for someone who stalked the jungles of Vietnam (he was afraid of rattlesnakes crawling into his sleeping bag in the wilds of Missouri, and damn near shot a raccoon sneaking up on his camp).  By far the most impressive was identifying an incoming missile while piloting a helicopter, then quickly diving out to land safely on his feet in the jungle below.  Luckily, he remembers to do a couple of flips on the way down to break his fall.

    Notes n’ Quotes
    Quotes, ads, and random junk

    All the cool ninjas wear their shit upside their head.

    Few memorable early Frankisms: “I have no particular beef with the Rev.  But he smells like a stinker.”  One issue of note to English historians has the last recorded written use of the adage “A cobbler should stick to his last.”  And finally, I thought this book had cracked he Comics Code Authority when I saw “This shit is dangerously overloaded” at the beginning of issue #5, but closer investigation shows that the letterer was just messing with us with his ‘p’s and ‘t’s from way back when letterers actually lettered by hand and weren’t required to list the name of whatever lameass computer graphics company they work for in the book credits.  Two ads for honorable mention attached.

    Meat giving it to Special Olympians so hard he’s shedding tears of Giving It.

    Next up: Punisher War Journal Issues #1-5. See you in a couple weeks.

  5. Frank’s Wild Years

    June 21, 2012 by Arch Stanton

    “Frank settled down in the Valley, and he hung his wild years on a nail he drove through his wife’s forehead.” – Tom Waits ForNoMan

    Motherfuckin’ Frank Castle.  If comic books are bands, Frank is Black Flag, born in the 70s, dangerous by the 80s, focused to a fault, one-dimensional as a flatline, and by God somebody’s guaranteed to get fucked up by the end of the evening.  The embodiment of the worst fears of parents and social experts of what all music (and comics) would someday become, but never really came to pass.  And the fans never stopped coming back.

    Frank is legendary for his cool head, calm under fire, and progressive stance on complex urban social issues.

    As a kid I thought comics were great, I didn’t mind eating my Wheaties for Captain America as long as he threw a few punches around to make it interesting, Spider-man’s one liners were still funny because a cliché’s just a joke the first time you hear it, and Wolverine sure looked badass even with that goofy haircut.  This Punisher guy here with the all-black vibe is kind of cool, pirate flag on his chest, and HOLY SHIT he just blew that guy’s face OFF!!!  They make comic books all about the bad guys, too?  Waitaminute, this is a good guy?

    In the 1980’s in the US, boys were exposed to an unprecedented experiment in desensitization to violence.  GI Joe and Cobra blasted the shit out of each other every day for years on end, but everyone was still around at the end for their PSA spot.  Autobots and Decepticons ripped limbs from torsos and just plugged them back in.  Batman and the Joker go round, and round, and round, and the A-team cobbled together firebreathing tanks and rivet gatling guns; rest assured that all the baddies would surrender unharmed by the time the credits rolled.   Pretty much the only overarching message for 80s kids was “violence is freakin’ awesome, and everyone gets to come back tomorrow to do it all over again.”

    In Frank’s books, people didn’t get to come back tomorrow.  They didn’t get to come back at all, and if you were writing for Frank Castle, you weren’t recycling shit, Frank was the paper shredder at the end of comic character continuity.  You want your bad guys to still be around for the West Coast Avengers to pound on, you better keep them the hell away from a Punisher book.

    So Frank got his own strange little world, sometimes the rest of the Marvel cast would dip in and out, but they never wanted to.  EVERYONE hated him, the good guys, the bad guys, the thugs, the citizens.  Over in the other books, not even the worst villans were so lonely, Dr. Doom had a country, Galactus had the Silver Surfer, even the Sinister Six would occasionally team-up out of boredom.  All Frank had was a single fat computer programmer, a dead family, and you, the faithful reader.  What a wonderful little secret; never had a comic book reader had such a direct connect to a character, hey, this guy NEEDS me, if I don’t read this book, then no one will give a shit about Frank Castle.  And clearly, shits need to be given, because he’s going through all the motions that we grew to know and love with the other 80’s series, but the bad guy doesn’t trail off in the distance, shaking his fist over “To Be Continued…” at the episode finale.   Frank knows how to punctuate the end of his stories.

    Which is why we’re here.  The first Punisher continuous series debuted in 1987, and marginally-controlled chaos reigned for another 8 years.  In this book, all Story Arcs ended in tombstones, and Character Development meant finding novel ways for Frank to kill your ass.  Part goofy, a little campy, but 103% fascinating, there was literally nothing like it.

    There were some common themes to hold it all together, and no one reads anything on the internet that isn’t a List, so I’ve broken down the reviews.  If you want to hear about plot and all that bullshit there’s tons of websites of reviews that will oblige.  Here I’ve distilled it to the Shit That Matters. Up First, we’ll review Punisher issues #1-5.