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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Punisher Key Comics Part 5

When it comes to Copper and Modern Age Punisher key comics, there are some that are somewhat valuable or recognized. We shall see some of them in this Part 5.

As for the end of the Punisher War Zone with issue #41 and the regular on-going Punisher titled series that ends with issue #104, the last few issues are assumed to have low print runs or distribution. Don't know about that.

While most of these aren't exactly in high-demand or really cared for much currently, there are a few that are definitely on the radar of some collectors out there. As usual, if you missed any of the previous parts, you can navigate your way with the links below before venturing forward with these.

PART 1 | PART 2 | PART 3 | PART 4 | PART 5 | PART 6 | PART 7

Last issue to series
Death of Carlos Cruz

The real Punisher meets and battles Micro's replacement Punisher, Carlos Cruz. The fight doesn't last long as Stone Cold emerges when Carlos Cruz and Frank Castle get split up.

Stone Cold finds Carlos Cruz first and admits to killing Microchip and then guns down Carlos. He dies in this issue, and this story is Part 3 to the Countdown event and the very last issue of the 1st Punisher War Zone volume.

The last few issues may have a low print run or distribution. Punisher War Zone #41 has the cover date of July, 1995.

Last issue to 1st Punisher on-going series

I usually do not feature last issues of any titled series, and in terms of this issue being a major or minor key issue, there is not really much to talk about. Although the cover dates of Punisher War Zone #41 and this comic are the same, this is Part 4 of the Countdown event and the story in this comic comes after Punisher War Zone #41.

Despite the misleading cover of Punisher and Bullseye figthing, this issue does not feature the actual fight between the two or them even coming face-to-face. Like most comic series that lasted quite a bit, this issue is assumed to have a low print run or distribution.

Actually, the last few issue are assumed to have a much lower print since the interest of readers have definitely declined by this time. As for actual numbers, I have no real solid information concerning that, but the Suicide Run and Countdown story lines are actually decent Punisher reads.

So last issue to series, a Punisher and Bullseye cover showing them in a fight that doesn't take place in this issue, and the cover date to the last issue of this titled series is July, 1995.

Last issue to series
1st meeting & battle of Punisher & Bullseye?
Death of Stone Cold

Is the 1st time Bullseye shows up in a Punisher comic is in issue #101? Kinda hard to believe. However, despite the cover to the last issue of the volume 2 series, Punisher #104, the two don't meet until this issue and I believe it's the conclusion of the Countdown story line.

It's obvious by this time that the Punisher's popularity was waning. All three on-going Punisher titles were cancelled after this issue here.

Although Bullseye and the Punisher know who the other is in this issue, I believe this might be the first time they meet and have their first published battle. Maybe it was retconned later by another writer, but I could not find the two meeting or duking it out prior to this issue here.
Stone Cold meets his end in this last issue. Punisher War Journal #80 has the cover date of July, 1995.

1st appearance of the Geraci Family
1st Don Marlo Geraci & Vinnie Barbarossa

Not really sure if the Marvel Edge Punisher series is seen as a volume or not. Don't see why it wouldn't be. Overstreet has the Garth Ennis Marvel Knights 2000 series as the Punisher volume 3 series and not this series. I'll just name it the Punisher Marvel Edge series then.

Marvel Edge is obviously an imprint of Marvel and they published Marvel's more edgier characters, much like the Punisher. Jon Ostrander (Suicide Squad) scripted this series and it did come after the 2nd series and the other spin-off Punisher titles were cancelled prior. This Marvel Edge series only lasted 18 issues though.

The series was a precursor to the Marvel Knights stuff. As for key issue goodness besides this being a #1 issue, it also has the 1st appearance of the Geraci Crime Family, and they do seem like a mafia family that the Punisher battles with in most of this Marvel Edge comic series.

With Netflix, it's going to be interesting to see which crime families the Punisher takes on live-action. Not having any other than the Kingpin would be pretty ridiculous.

So the Punisher's popularity declined during this time and all three on-going titles were cancelled and merged into this one. Even the Punisher 2099 titled series was cancelled during the end of year.

The stories in the Marvel Edge series does take up after the events of The Punisher War Journal #80. Punisher is electrocuted for killing Nick Fury, and a mob boss fakes Frank's death so he can be the head of his family.

Crazy stuff and Bullseye and the Punisher go at it again in this comic Punisher #1 volume 3 has the cover date of November, 1995.

1st Garth Ennis Punisher story
1st Garth Ennis Marvel work

Like most of the British comic writers and even artists have stated that they never really bought into the superhero genre of comics and thinking they were ridiculous, Garth Ennis can also be thrown into that group who think that way. Ennis has remarked that he always liked the more grounded characters, and is admittedly a Punisher fan.

Bringing the two together, it's no surprise that Ennis would write this one-shot that deals with the Punisher killing every major superhero and super villain in the Marvel Universe. I do think this is the first Punisher story written by Garth Ennis, and it appears to be his first work or script for Marvel Comics.

Before this Ennis was making a name for himself writing for such titles as Judge Dredd, Hellblazer, the Demon and Preacher. As most fans know, Garth Ennis is a fan-favorite writer of Punisher and had the longest run writing and developing the character.

I did not grow up on his stories involving the Punisher, but many did. A lot of the movies and even Netflix stuff were inspired by his contributions to the character no doubt.

This is obviously not canon or part of mainstream continuity, but it is a fan-favorite one-shot and one of the more sought-out Punisher issues from both the Copper and Modern Age. Punisher Kills The Marvel Universe has the cover date of November, 1995.

1st appearance of Leslie, Joey, & Mary Rose Geraci
1st appearance of Horace Halftree
1st appearance of Kim Sung Young

More Geraci crime figures make their debut in this issue. While the Geracis were prominent in the early issues of this comic series, I don't think they ever spill into any of the other volumes.
So Joey, Leslie and Mary Rose are Don Geraci's grandchildren. Leslie and Joey are involved in the Family's affairs and both Leslie and Joey aspire to be capos. 

Frank has accepted Don Geraci's offer and joins his family as the head. Obviously that Leslie and Joey don't trust him, but Mary Rose has no problem with the Punisher joining the Family.

Jigsaw becomes the Punisher, or dresses up like him? Yep, and a bit weird. Jiggy is pissed because others got to kill Frank Castle, and that was his job.

Tombstone, Daredevil and later S.H.I.E.L.D. show up in this comic series. Rosalie Carbone also shows up in the series and both her and Tombstone are not happy with Don Geraci's decision (Punisher #5 Marvel Edge).

I must admit, the most interesting part of the entire series is Frank taking over the Geraci Family. The series is a bit weird, but I still like the issues that deal with the Punisher as a mobster.

Cover date is December, 1995 for The Punisher #2 Marvel Edge series.

Death of Rosalie Carbone

This comic series is actually considered part of mainstream continuity, and Rosalie and the Carbone Crime Family are perhaps the longest running crime organization created in his actual comics. As an actual Punisher villain, she lasted four years without getting whacked by Frank.

That's a pretty impressive feat. Leslie Geraci is the one who finally kills Rosalie in this issue, and even mentions how Frank's betrayal to her as Johnny Tower had sent Rosalie over the edge with hate for him. Apparently Leslie and Rosalie went to high-school together and were friends once.

Even though Frank genuinely wants to save this family due to the guilt of not being able to save his own, nothing lasts forever. In issue #9, Jigsaw and Tombstone team up against the Geraci Family and Frank resumes his war on crime once again.

It turns out that there's betrayal from inside the Geraci Family, and they are snuffed out with the exception of the Geraci grandchildren. In issue #10, Punisher goes after Tombstone and Jigsaw to save the kids, which he does. 

I don't think the Geracis ever show up in an actual comic story after issue #10 of this comic series. Punisher #5 of the Marvel Edge series has the cover date of March, 1996.   

1st meeting of Punisher & Iron Fist?

I am not sure if this is the first meeting of Punisher & Iron Fist. They both appeared in the Code of Honor comic series, but I am not sure if they actually meet face-to-face in that series or not.

If they do not, then this issue just may have their 1st ever meeting. Not too sure though. Iron Fist seems to know Punisher and recognizes his fighting skill and prowess.

So a bit confused since the two don't seem to appear in any comic prior to this one except for Code of Honor. In comics, Iron Fist and Punisher aren't really all that connected or aren't two heroes that are often teamed up.

However, with the Punisher being added to the Netflix series, that could change in actual comics or it could garner more interest in the comics that the two actually appear in together. Key word is "could", but I would be highly surprised if it did.

Heroes for Hire #8 has the cover date of March, 1998.

1st issue to 1st Punisher Marvel Knights limited series

Known as Punisher Purgatory, this is the 1st Punisher titled series under the Marvel Knights imprint. It's not recognized as volume 4 in Overstreet.

I have no idea why some series are disregarded. To make it clear, this four issue limited series was not written by Garth Ennis. 

Tom Sniegoski and Christopher Golden wrote the series with pencils and inks by Bernie Wrightson and Jimmy Palmiotti.

So the Marvel Knights Punisher begins, and this is a weird Punisher series that brings in demons and angels an stuff. It was a supernatural retcon of the events that took place in Marvel Super Action #1, where the Punisher takes revenge on the Costas for killing his family.

Punisher doesn't do the slaying of the Costas in this re-imagining. This series was not received well by fans, and it is pretty out there no doubt.

Garth Ennis would write the Marvel Knights Punisher series next though and bring back the Punisher to his more grounded roots. While the events of this story line was recognized in the 1st Punisher series by Ennis, it did not heavily incorporate elements from this comic series.

November, 1998 is the cover date for The Punisher #1 Marvel Knights limited series.

1st appearance of Spacker Dave
1st appearance of Nathaniel Bumpo 
1st appearance of Joan
1st Garth Ennis Punisher run begins
1st Gnucci Crime Family

The writing talents of Garth Ennis would be brought in to help revitalize the character of the Punisher who continued to decline in popularity. Actually, given the choice on which title he wanted, Ennis specifically chose the Punisher.

This comic series was part of the Marvel Knights imprint, which did take place in mainstream continuity. If you remember the 2004 Punisher and Punisher War Zone flicks, those movies were influenced by Garth Ennis' contributions to the character.

The Punisher's neighbors Spacker Dave, Joan, and Bumpo are in the movie and are actually supporting characters for the Punisher in this comic series. The lovely Rebecca Romijn played Joan, Ben Foster (Angel in X-Men 3 The Last Stand) played Spacker Dave, and John Pinette played Bumbo.

Garth's work on the Punisher are fan-favorites, and like mentioned before, the two Punisher movies and even Daredevil season two were influenced by his stories for the character.

This is another limited series for the Punisher under the Marvel Knights imprint. There was the four-issue limited series before this, but it was not written by Garth Ennis.

Punisher #1 of the Marvel Knights 2000 series has an estimated print run of 71,551. There is the Dynamic Forces variant cover that's limited to 5,000 copies. Dynamic Forces also has an exclusive "chrome" variant that's limited to 3,000 copies. There's a DF signed edition (Jimmy Palmiotti) that's limited to 2,500 copies as well. 

I'm wondering if the the original print run of the "chrome" variant was 5,500 copies since the DF signed edition is the same cover. Both come with a C.O.A., and I'm assuming they just chopped up the print run to make the cover seem more "exclusive" with the signed edition.

There are other variants to this issue, but not sure about how limited they are or if the print run was split with the regular cover. Punisher #1 has the cover date for this comic is April, 2000. It lasted 12 issues.

1st appearance of Martin Soap
1st appearance of The Holy

Martin Soap is the detective that becomes an ally of Frank Castle in this comic series. His character was in the movie Punisher War Zone starring Ray Stevenson. 

With no Microchip, the Punisher could use an ally to give him inside information, and that's what Martin Soap does. He has had bad luck as a Detective and almost all of his cases had been botched by some sort of strange circumstances like a judge being declared insane.

He is assigned to the highly pointless Punisher Task Force. Soap's character is comic relief to an extent and is pretty much a sad character who is treated like shit by mostly everyone.

Another short-lived character in this limited series is the Holy. Once a priest who heard one too many sinful and horrific confessions, father Hector Ridondo snapped and became a vigilante.

In this series, he would help to form the Vigilante Squad with Mr. Payback and the Elite and try to get the Punisher to lead them. Instead, ole Frank wastes all three of them in issue #12.

Estimated print run for this issue is around 67,365, and May, 2000 is the cover date for Punisher #2 volume 3. I still think it's the 5th Punisher series.

1st appearance of Molly von Richtofen
1st appearance of Ma Gnucci

I remember Ma Gnucci in the video game that came out after the 2004 Punisher movie. I played that game over and over like it was the secret to the universe or something.

The Gnucci Family was not in the movie, but the game definitely had scenes that were based on the comics that involved the Gnuccis. This family are major villains for the Punisher early in this series, but not really over-all.

Ma Gnucci is the head of this family, and a long with her sons, she eventually gets whacked by the Punisher pretty early in this series. No surprise there, but the Gnucci family are still pretty memorable.

Molly von Richtofen is a pretty minor supporting character for the Punisher over-all. When this limited series was done and then moved into the 2001 on-going series, Ennis did not use the character of Molly von Fichtofen, but Martin Soap was still kept in the loop. 

Molly is another NYPD officer and one of the few in the department who genuinely wants to put an end to the Punisher's killing spree. In this twelve-issue limited series, she does team up with Detective Martin Soap.

Two more short-lived characters, The Punisher #4 volume 3 has the cover date of July, 2000.

1st appearance of Mister Payback
1st appearance of Elite

The Vigilante Squad members Mister Payback and The Elite both make their debut in this issue. Mister Payback is a vigilante who despises corporations and the corrupt. He is a vigilante for the working class and is the enemy of any of disregard the well-being of them.

This badass gunned down the entire Board of Directors of the World-Wide Investment Corporation. Punisher has his war, and Mister Payback has his.

The Elite is a racist and fascist vigilante who kills gang members and drug dealers who "lower" his upper-middle class neighborhood. Along with The Holy, these two form the Vigilante Squad who seek the Punisher to lead them.

In their last moments on Earth, Punisher calls The Elite a "Nazi" before ending all three. Estimated print run is around 73,524. August, 2000 is the cover date for Punisher #5.

1st full appearance of The Russian

Most every Punisher fan remembers this character. If you didn't read about him in the actual comics, you definitely saw him in the 2004 Punisher movie, in which the Russian was played by big guy WWF, WCW and WWE wrestler Kevin Nash at 6'9".

Although pretty intimidating even in the comics, I thought the red striped shirt just looked goofy. Yes, I do mean the comic character, and his look was translated from the comics to the screen pretty accurately.

While the Russian is in issue #8, he is not really shown. At the end of that comic, you see his shadow on a wall and his hand hanging up the phone, but that's about it.

He does speak in that issue, but this issue definitely fully shows the character. Ma Gnucci offers this character 10 million dollars to eliminate the Punisher. Yowza!

Although the Russian does die in issue #11 of this series, he does reappear in the next Marvel Knights Punisher series in 2001.

Estimated print run is around 67,738, and The Punisher #9 of the 2000 series has the cover date of December, 2000.

1st meeting of Punisher & Deadpool

The Punisher appears in a cameo on the very last page of issue #53, but he is no where around Deadpool in that scene. The two actually first meet and have their battle in this issue here. 

While no one should be expecting these two to duke it out live-action anytime soon, Deadpool is ridiculously hot. Punisher is heating up as well, and this comic is a definite must-have for fans of both characters.

This comic is one of the more valuable Modern Punisher keys and on the radar somewhat. It's not ridiculously hot or anything. Bidding auctions still land under the $100 mark although a very few Fixed Priced have sold over that mark recently.

Punisher & Deadpool will have their 1st battle in issue #55 of this comic title. Pretty low print run and it's estimated at around 25,904, and July, 2001 is the cover date for Deadpool #54.

The 1st Marvel Knights Punisher series, Punisher Purgatory, is perhaps the oddest Punisher titled series that deviates the farthest from any previous elements that previous writers already established prior. The concept of an Angel Punisher was not just criticized by fans, but also criticized by prior Punisher writers.

Chuck Dixon remarked about the series, "I don't think origins like Batman's or Punisher's should be visited over and over again with everyone adding their two cents until the sum of all added details don't fit any more."

Alright, gonna add another video from Ed that features his latest returns from ole CGC. 

Part 6 is ready. See ya there!

PART 1 | PART 2 | PART 3 | PART 4 | PART 5 | PART 6 | PART 7


  1. Hey M.,

    thanks for pickin' up some of my honorable mentions. Almost forgot the Deadpool/Punisher crossover. Good choice! Plus I remember the first ongoing Garth Ennis series with awesome Tim Bradstreet cover art. Still have my copies signed by Garth Ennis himself. Met him in a comicshop in Frankfurt once, where he was doing a signing.


  2. Oh my good. Them Grades Ed got back from CGC are awesome!!! We seem to have the same taste. First Infinity Gauntlet, First S. Platt art on Moonie and first app. Moonie are all in my collection. Gotta pass on the unbelievable Spiderman 129 and Giant Size X-Men 1. These two really play in another league...

    Max Rebo

  3. Hey old warhorse, what' s cookin'? I recently stumbled upon Agent X Nr. 2 (2002 book) which also has a Punisher appearance. Don' t know if it is noteworthy, just wanted to ad this. By the by, terrific list!

    Speculation Jones