Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Discuss: the Punisher*

* What, did you think we'd get all lovey-dovey on you because it's Valentine's Day?


david_b said...

I remember purchasing Spidey 129 back in the day, I actually sold it a few years back to someone going to a con to get it signed.

In hindsight, I suppose I should have kept it to keep my ASM collection (from that period) complete, but the Punisher didn't mean much to me, so I figured 'give it to someone who will love it more than it sitting in my basement..'

As for the character, I was somewhat surprised he rose in stature when I came back to collecting comics briefly in the 80s, thinking he would have fit better in the 70s, but as you all know, some characters seem to hit 'that niche' with the right drawing/writing and marketing. The 'Age of Rambo' was upon us, so wih 'Nam and the other Vietnam-era comics around, it made sense.

Does any one recall whether, sales-wise, he outsold Wolverine or not..?

Chris said...

When I think of the Punisher, I think of two things.

1. Giant-Size Spidey #4 by Conway & Andru. I loved this issue when I was 11. It still makes me smile that Pete diguises himself in such a pathetic way. If you've read the issue you know what I mean! Great issue otherwise!

2. The cost of Amazing #129! Unfortuntely I hadn't got a copy before the Punisher became so popular and the cost of that back-issue hit the roof! Aaargh! It's so annoying to have that gap in the collection! LOL.

So not much to say on Frank himself. Just the impact he had on the Spider titles. I would say he made a fine anti-hero(?) back in the day and was quite different to Spidey. Which was the point.

Doug said...

Jeez, Chris, there's a post topic in and of itself: characters who began as one idea/incarnation/purpose and drifted to something quite different.


Anonymous said...

For some reason he made much more impression on me in Miller's hands. I guess he's a pretty Miller kind of character.


pete doree said...

Really liked him when he began in ASM, and you're right Chris, Giant size Spidey 4 is one of his finer moments.
Really enjoyed the Garth Ennis stuff too, an example of a character being brought into the modern day properly ( especially like that one where Nick Fury cons Frank into doing a covert mission in Russia: the scene where Frank returns from the mission and they just unsmilingly greet each other with: 'Fury.' 'Castle.' is spot on )
But never really cared for anything inbetween those series or after, certainly not as he was in the '80's.
He's a great character, but only when done by a good writer, I guess.

Anonymous said...

The Punisher was so similar to the paperback series Mack Bolan/the Executioner that I've sometimes wondered how Marvel avoided getting sued. Maybe Pinnacle Books and Don Pendleton were tied up in their legal dispute with each other and both were too busy to sue anybody else. Besides, by 1974, there were more executioner/vigilante/punisher clones than you could count. You can't sue everybody.

Inkstained Wretch said...

I liked the Punisher as an occasional guest star in Spidey's mags and elsewhere in Marvel Universe. He was an interesting foil to the more straight-laced heroes, representing as he did the darker side of vigilantism. I liked the first mini-series too but beyond that, I never liked him as a solo star.

I just couldn't see the appeal of wall-to-wall shoot-em up violence. Comic sales on the other hand indicated I was in the minority there. The character just seemed representative of broader negative trends in comics where adult concepts (i.e., "grim and gritty") were done in a thoroughly juevnile way.

humanbelly said...

As an early teenager (13? 14?) I thought he was sort of an interesting, different kind of character for Spidey to cross paths with-- but man, he never grabbed me the way he did the rest of the greater comic-reading public. I always wondered what I wasn't getting, and I'd pick up the occassional issue or annual. . . and still not understand.

Yep, his backstory is tragic and truly heartbreaking-- but vendetta-driven (or even vendetta-based) characters are almost by definition one-dimensional. Their exploits can certainly be engaging and gripping and thrilling in themselves, but even as a youngster I think I felt like there wasn't a lot of "there" there whenever I checked in on Mr Castle. He just seemed too damaged to be sympathetic. And too deeply violent to qualify as entertaining.

TO ME, mind you. I'm fully aware of course that the Punisher's had a legion of loyal followers for years & years, so he certainly struck a chord that resonated with an unrealized need in the fan-base.

My favorite portrayal of him is actually a parody character in the Tick's original run (and in his animated series), who is BONKERS OFF HIS NUT early on, having incoherent, tearful meltdowns w/ guns a-blazing--

". . . Why didn't you love me, Mommy. . . ??? *SOB*"

--and eventually gets therapy, and becomes a sensitive, turtle-neck-wearing, Alan Alda-esque sensitive nice guy. . .


Anthony said...

I like the Punisher but as others have said I think he's better as a guest star. I have sampled most of the different Punisher series over the years but none have kept my interest for too long. The only series that really didn't work was when they tried to make the Punisher a supernatural force. I didn't read the Frankencastle arc but I think they jumped the shark there as well.

I do like the Punisher from Amazing Spider-Man 129, 174 and 175 ( against the Hitman ) and I really like the mini series by Steven Grant and Mike Zeck and their follow up Return To Big Nothing.

My pet peeve is Marvel's use of the Punisher. There are different versions of the character for different audiences. Besides the most obvious signature traits there doesn't seem to be any consistency.

I believe the Punisher should exist in a Marvel Universe but on the fringe. I know there are some Punisher fans who would rather he not exist in a universe with super heroes ( except perhaps for an occasional Wolverine appearance ) even though that is how the character was first depicted. I believe a good balance was struck in his early guest appearances. I also really liked his role in Civil War when he saved Spider-Man but before he killed the 2 super villains in cold blood as well as the Mother Russia storyline. But he doesn't belong within 10 city clocks of the Sentry. Again he probably works better as a guest star. I guess it all comes down to judicious use of the character or meting out punishment in small doses.

starfoxxx said...

I liked the Punisher as more of the vigilante/anti-hero type. On the fringe of hero and villain.

I also liked Wolverine and Boba Fett alot more when they had more "mystery" to them.

Anonymous said...

My first experience with the Punisher, oddly, was not with Spider-Man or Daredevil, but in Marvel's B&W one-shot, Marvel Super Action. That was quite a head-turner to this youngster, having never really seen much like that before. I always wondered why they didn't go the B&W route with him more often.


Fred W. Hill said...

Like a few other posters here, I found the Punisher an interesting occasional guest star in Spider-Man, DD, etc., but not so much that I got into the mags he starred in. Even if I hadn't mostly quit buying comics by the time he became such a big thing in comics, comics that seemed to be primarily about people shooting at one another and hellbent on vengeance didn't particularly appeal to me. But then I didn't get all that much into Wolverine as a solo star either. I did, however, get my hands on the Amazing Spider-Man #129 -- cost me 21 cents at the neighborhood mini-mart. I think it cost me a nickel more to get that first appearance of Wolverine about a year later.

vancouver mark said...

21 cents? They jacked the price up a penny at the mini-mart?? Bastards!!

Rip Jagger said...

I'm really of two minds about Frank Castle.

On one hand I really rather enjoy some of his stories, the gritty nature of the crime he deals with has a real noir resonance I respond to.

But within the confines of the Marvel Universe he is a villain, and that's gotten blurred over the years. He started out as a baddie, but then his warped worldview became normalized somewhat and we have to now accept him as a "hero".

He's a crazy gangster powered by vengeance who can't ever seem to satisfy his craving for blood. That's a villain in anyone's book, but not in the Punisher universe.

I do like the movies however, all of three of them. The most recent was to my mind the best, but has gotten all too little attention.

So as you can see, I disapprove of the Punisher, but I find him fascinating.

Rip Off

Edo Bosnar said...

Rip, as a child, my initial impressions of Punisher based on his appearances mainly in Spider-man in the late '70s was that he was basically a villain. It was only with the sharp rise in the popularity of vengeance-driven action heroes in other, more mainstream media (i.e., the movies), like Rambo and the various characters played by The Governator and, to a lesser extent, Chuck Norris, that led to more sympathetic portrayals of the Punisher. It was a trend I really did not like, and I agree with some of the others above who didn't like the idea of the Punisher having his own ongoing series and basically becoming a hero. (As a sidenote, one of my favorite parts of the Busiek/Perez JLA & Avengers is when Batman, on the Marvel Earth, comes across Punisher about to kill a bunch of drug dealers so he beats the crap out of him. The best part being that we don't actually see it happen, it's just recounted by another character later...)

MattComix said...

I liked him better as a Spider-Man antagonist. Otherwise he's usually just a generic grim n' gritty posterboy.

Chris said...

21 cents? 21 CENTS!?

I am turning a Hulk shade of green with envy.

Being a UK based collector I'm never going to get an opportunity like that particularly as ASM#129 was never sold on the newstands in the UK. Would you believe that newstand sales (patchy as they were)finished with issue #120.

Funny what happened in the book in the next issue!

21 cents? I'm weeping at my desktop...

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