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Friday, November 11, 2016

The Punisher Key Issues Part 1

I've had requests to "update" or expand on the "Top" Punisher key issues done prior to this. However, if we're talking about "Top" as in significant, best, or most valuable or maybe even all three, there honestly aren't or weren't that many at the time concerning this character.

Major villains created within the actual Punisher mythos are pretty few. After all, he does kill the majority of those he has in his sights, so many villains introduced in his comics are short-lived.

He also has very few lasting and enduring villains and most of those weren't even introduced in his titled comic series.

Therefore I decided to just do a character based key issues list and will go through as many worthwhile keys as I can. Trust me, Punisher does not have that many long-lasting, major supporting characters throughout his career in comics either. 

Sure, there are some, but many? Not really. I won't be featuring every little minor character that has 3 appearances or less and there are a lot of those when it concerns the Punisher.

This Punisher key issues series will start off looking like the Top Punisher Key Issues series, and it might look identical or familiar at first glance. However, I have added quite a bit more information to this, and as we progress further into the series, it will start to look a lot more different and cover more key comics (probably sleepers though) pertaining to the character.

1st appearance of The Punisher
1st appearance of the Jackal 

No doubt that this comic will top this list of Punisher key comics to get. I've mentioned this issue countless times on Total Comic Mayhem and for good reason, and I've admittedly been a fan of this character for quite some time

The Punisher a.k.a Frank Castle is one of the more important and iconic characters to come out of the bronze age, and this issue is one of the most valuable and sought after Marvel first appearances from that era.

It's no surprise that the Punisher would be introduced in the Amazing Spider-Man series since a lot of Marvel characters made their first appearances in this titled series. As we all know Frank Castle started out as an antogonist for the Webhead.

Amazing Spider-Man #129 also has the first appearance of the Jackal, and this is no sleeper comic by any account. It's been more highly sought out recently and definitely no cheap buy at higher grades.

The Punisher was one of the comic characters that came out when the anti-hero begin to infiltrate comics. Characters like Wolverine and the Punisher were definitely more violent and questionable heroes.

Sure, they did heroic deeds but their method or ways of doing things were not acceptable to those around him or seen as dangerous. Both Wolverine and Punisher had no problem of taking life, and the Punisher's willingness to kill was definitely seen as troublesome to others like Captain America, Spider-Man, & Daredevil

The extremeness of the Punisher has always been a theme for the character in how other superheroes in the Marvel universe see him. Creator Gerry Conway has expressed surprise in the Punisher's rising popularity and had intended him to be a second-tier or one-off villain.

The character of the Punisher was not intended to be a good guy in comics and started off as an antagonist to Spidey plain an simple. It wasn't as simple though.

Despite Gerry Conway's original intention for the character, fan reaction and interest was pretty quick and Punisher did evolve into an anti-hero. As for the Punisher's skull emblem, it was originally smaller.

John Romita Sr. blew up the logo to cover the whole chest. It was a move to make the symbol more iconic and to strike fear in the character's victims.

It also established the character's iconic symbol of a perverted breakdown of justice, no matter how misconstrued it would become to comic fandom. These kinds of characters did help to push comics into a more darker and grittier realm and even helped to birth the Dark Age of Comics that came about during the mid-eighties and lasted 'till present day.

Even though a popular Marvel character, the creation and evolution of the Punisher did make an impact on the actual history and eventual direction of comics. John Romita Sr. also co-created the character, and Archie Goodwin and Frank Miller and Garth Ennis would help to evolve the Punisher character and bring him into darker territory. You'll see what I mean about how these two did so when we get a bit deeper into these Punisher key comics.

I've always advocated this 1st appearance, and the cover date to Amazing Spider-Man #129 is February, 1974.

2nd cameo of Punisher
1st appearance of Tarantula

In the 2nd time that Spidey meets the Punisher, it is on the very last page of this issue. We as readers only really see the Punisher fully in the very last panel.

The character does appear in four panels. Well, two has his boots. The other has his leg, hand, and gun, and the very last money shot introduces us again to the character.

Overstreet and CGC just note this issue as a cameo and I don't think they'll really budge on that. Overstreet does note Amazing Spider-Man #135 as the Punisher's 2nd full appearance, so I'm gonna note this as his 2nd cameo appearance.

The Tarantula makes his first appearance debut in this issue as well, but he's not really a Punisher villain per say. Still, good stuff all around.

The end of Amazing Spider-Man #134 does continue the story in issue #135, and this comic has the cover date of July, 1974.


2nd full appearance The Punisher
2nd battle Punisher & Spider-Man
1st Punisher & Spider-Man team up  

Because many of the Marvel first appearances have gotten out of reach for most average collectors, 2nd appearances have been widely sought out in recent times. However, this 2nd appearance of the Punisher has been somewhat sought out for quite some time by Punisher comic fans, so it's no longer a sleeper and will cost you some ducats in the higher graded ranges.
With the Punisher Netflix series filming, demand for this comic has gotten more of a boost. The Punisher does have a cameo appearance in Amazing Spider-Man #134. A few people are regarding that as the Punisher's 2nd appearance but industry still does not.

Seriously, if you don't buy into the whole cameo or full appearance thing, then take it up with Overstreet, CGC, or whichever grading company. I don't control what they consider or don't consider how an "appearance" is determined and find it actually funny when some just want to really waste their time and debate that with me.
Not like I call these people up on my Mayhem phone and tell them what or how to note such and such. So, Spidey battles Punisher again for the 2nd time in this issue, and they even team up for the 1st time in this issue also. 

Amazing Spider-Man #135 has the cover date of August, 1974.

3rd appearance of Punisher
1st appearance of Moses Magnum
1st appearance of Punisher battle van

We've got triple key issue goodness when it comes to this issue here. Not only does this comic hold the 3rd appearance of the Punisher, it holds the 1st appearance of Moses Magnum and the first appearance of the Punisher's battle van.

Early Punisher appearances are hot right now in the market, and with the character making his way into the 2nd Season of Daredevil's Netflix series, things just may only get hotter for early Punisher appearances. 

April, 1975 was when this comic was published and it's a must-have for any fan of the Punisher.

First origin of the Punisher
1st Maria, Frank Jr. & Lisa Castle
1st Bruno Costa
First solo story

It wouldn't be long after the Punisher would have his 1st origin story told to explain his ruthless war on crime, and we first see it here in Marvel Preview #2. This comic is the first solo adventure of the Punisher and the first told through his perspective.

The whole War Journal entries are again seen in this comic, and it's a nice device that reveals just how much Frank Castle sees his fight against crime as a war. Once again, the device would further play out in later comics and add a nuance that would make the character distinct.

Of course, we also get the famous origin of Frank Castle's family being slaughtered by the mob has been retold several times, and is indeed important to the character.
Frank Castle and his family witnessed a mob execution in New York's Central Park. Because of this fateful discovery, the mob gunned down his family. Frank was the only sole survivor.

The incident is shown in flashback and so Punisher's family is also revealed in such a way. This issue does have the 1st appearances of Maria Castle and his kids Frank Jr. and Lisa very briefly, but they would show up in flashbacks quite a bit in later comics whenever the Punisher's origin was retold.

It also shows Bruno Costa of the Costa Crime Family, one of Marvel's New York mafias who are responsible for the murders of Castle's family. Bruno Costa would show up again in another Marvel magazine.

Marvel Preview was a series that was printed in magazine form and in black and white, and this was a way for Marvel to get around the Comics Code and tell more grittier or violent stories. Also, this is the first Punisher solo story in the world of comics as well. Not to mention that this issue also hold the first appearance of Domenic Fortune just to add a little more 1st appearance goodness.

Story is written by Gerry Conway with art by Tony DeZuniga, and it's still one of my top favorite Punisher key issue picks, Marvel Preview #2 has the cover date of August 1975.   

5th full appearance of Punisher
2nd Punisher solo story
1st & death of Frank Costa
Death of Bruno Costa

Continuing on building the character due to fan reaction for the character, the Punisher is once again placed in a magazine-size comic to go around the Comics Code Authority in order to tell a more gritty about our hardcore vigilante and his brand of justice.

Once again, the origin of Punisher is retold, and in this story, he goes after the Costa Family responsible for the murder of his family. Frank Costa makes his 1st and only appearance in this comic and Bruno Costa is once again seen.

Bruno, who was seen and called by name in Marvel Preview #2, also gets his just deserve at the hands of the Punisher.

So, 5th full appearance of the Punisher, 2nd solo story told in his viewpoint, and the first time the Punisher hands out the ultimate punishment that he'd be well-known for by fans and by other heroes and villains in the world of Marvel Comics.

Story is written by Archie Goodwin with art by Tony DeZuniga, and Marvel Super Action #1 has the cover date of January, 1976.    

First appearance of Jigsaw 

Although The Punisher has a few iconic enemies, many of them are also shared with other heroes. Bullseye is also a Daredevil villain, and the Kingpin is both an important villain to both Spider-Man and Daredevil.

Jigsaw may have made his first appearance in Amazing Spider-Man, but the villain became deeply linked to the Punisher more than any other hero in the Marvel Universe. The character Billy Russo has already been cast in the Netflix Punisher series, but it is not sure whether the character will end up becoming Jigsaw like his comic book counterpart.

I think the chance is quite high, and it would be strange to even have Billy "the Beaut" Russo not turn into the disfigured villain that we all know and love as Punisher fans. Ben Barnes has been cast as Billy Russo, and in the comics, the Punisher throws Russo out of a bar window.

Because of that simple act, Russo ends up shredding his face and swearing revenge on Marvel's most hardcore and extreme villains. I am extremely excited and anxious to see what they do with the character, but it does seem that Billy Russo has a pretty small chance of becoming Jigsaw in season one of the Punisher Netflix series.

It is not Jigsaw's first on-screen debut live action. The character was played by Dominic West in the Punisher Warzone film that came out in 2008. 

Amazing Spider-Man #162 has the cover date of November, 1976.

The Punisher has had 4 live-action appearances to date in both movies and TV. His first live-action debut was in the direct-to-video movie entitled the Punisher played by Dolph Lundgren.

No joke. I remember when this movie hit the video rental store back when VHS ruled and before Block Buster. I had to get it and after watching was pretty disappointed.

His next live-action appearance was in the Punisher movie starring Thomas and had John Travolta as the main baddie. He was then played by Ray Stevenson in the Punisher War Zone and finally by Jon Bernthal in the Netflix Daredevil series.

This is a testament that the character still has appeal to comic fans, and these fans still want to see more of the character live-action. I've been a fan for a while, but these comics here did not introduce me to the character.

I started collecting during the 80s, so I definitely backtracked to learn more about this character. See ya at Part 2 and hope you enjoy.   

1 comment:

  1. Giant Size Spider Man #4 is also the first time you see the Punisher kill someone.