On November 17th, Netflix will release The Punisher, its latest Marvel series. Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal) made his Netflix debut in Season 2 of Daredevil. A lot of people attribute the success of that season to the Frank Castle storyline. Because of that, viewers are looking forward to The Punisher. While we wait, there's one comic especially worth reading.
Punisher MAX is a comic book series that started with Garth Ennis and concluded with a run by Jason Aason. It's also probably the premier run of the Punisher catalogue. It showcased everything that the Punisher had to offer and did it in a universe with no super-powered people. Readers were able to see what goes on in the mind of Frank Castle as he planned his next move and when his plans were executed.
But not all kills are equal. Some of them have more meaning than most and serve to enhance the character and the overall story. Here are the most important kills in the Punisher MAX comic book series.
A Little More Pain Than Most
Story: Up Is Down. Black Is White
Nicky Cavella crossed a line. He figured in order to really get to the Punisher, he had to find a way to get him so full of rage that it would put Punisher off of his game. What does Nicky do? He digs up Frank Castle's dead wife and children, urinates on them, and sends the footage to the news. While Nicky got results, he ended up just like every other gangster that goes up against The Punisher. In the end, Castle does kill Nicky Cavella, but there was no torture. Castle shot him low in the stomach and left him to die. The Punisher's exact words before he executed him were, "You made it personal, Cavella. But all that buys you is a little more pain than most."
When I first read this story, I expected more than this. But I should have known better. In the end, Nicky was no different than any other criminal, and the Punisher treated him like such. This was the first time I realized that Castle really doesn't separate one kill from the next once his head is clear.
Story: In The Beginning
Microchip was the Punisher's partner for years. As Micro tells it, he was the guy who turned the Punisher into what he is today: a well-oiled killing machine. And he may be right. Eventually Micro couldn't take the blood on his hands and left Punisher. Later, Micro was approached by the U.S. government with a mission: recruit Frank Castle and talk him into killing who they said to kill.
After Punisher was captured, Micro explained the deal. Punisher obviously declined. He refused to fight the wars that someone else funded with drug money. After Punisher escapes, he tells Micro to run. Micro refused, and Punisher kills Micro for not only betraying him, but for siding with people who were no better than those he had dedicated his life to stopping.
This was the first Punisher MAX storyline. This let you know that NO ONE is safe if they were guilty. Micro wasn't a bad guy, but he did support things that got thousands of people killed. No amount of nostalgia was going to save Micro. This let everyone know that even friends would die if they were in Punisher's crosshairs.
Death of Barracuda
Story: Cold Long Dark
You'd assume after what Castle did to Nicky Cavella that people would be smart enough to not cross a line with The Punisher. Apparently, Barracuda didn't get that memo. 'Cuda found out a secret about Punisher that even Punisher didn't know about: He had a child. 'Cuda found the kid and kidnapped her and then used her as a tool to trap Castle into a fight, which was one of the bloodiest and most brutal ever. They literally took chunks out of each other.
Punisher eventually got the kill after chopping off Barracuda's hand and arm with an ax and then shooting him in the face and blowing his head off. It may have seemed like overkill, but with Barracuda, it was the only way to be 100 percent sure.
If Barracuda had never kidnapped Castle's kid, Frank never would have known that he had one. This was the first time in this series we see Punisher absolutely lose control. He looked like Wolverine in a berserker rage. When Barracuda was killed, Castle turned into a father for awhile, something he hadn't been in decades.
Death Of A Kingpin
Age had finally crept on him. Frank was old, tired, and was no longer healing the way he once did. But Castle was too stubborn to die, and there was one more criminal in need of punishment. Wilson "The Kingpin" Fisk had to die. His chokehold on New York was growing tighter every day, and Castle couldn't have that.
In the end, Wilson Fisk died in front of his building after Punisher shot him in the face. But the damage had been done. Frank Castle went through the ringer fighting off Elektra, Fisk's goons, and then FIsk himself. He'd been shot, beaten, and with tons of lacerations all over his body. Punisher died soon after. To make it worse, he died in front of the house where his family once lived.
Your War Is Finally Over
Story: War's End
One of the things people always said to Frank Castle was that his war was pointless. At the end of the day, more criminals would rise up to take the place of the ones he killed and no one would even notice the difference. After Punisher died, it seemed like that would be the case. Even Nick Fury believed Frank Castle's life would have no meaning or legacy.
But his death was not in vain. All over the city, citizens were rising up and taking their city back, burning down drug houses. On top of that, most of them donned skulls on their clothes. In the end, the most important and most influential death was Punisher's. Frank Castle left the world with some good. He gave citizens the courage to stand up and take their city back. The Punisher made a difference after all.
What was your favorite moment from Punisher MAX? Let me know in the comments below.