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Friday, November 11, 2016

The Punisher Key Issues Part 3

As we progress deeper into these Punisher key comics and issues, we're venturing deeper into sleepers and just some comics that aren't all that cared for by the current market. Some are desired, but most of these aren't really.

There are some more classic and early battles between Punisher and Daredevil and Kingpin. If you missed the previous parts prior to this one, just click the navigation link below to where you'd like to go. 

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

If you're ready for more Punisher, here's some more key issues below.

The Punisher #1 Limited Series comic coverTHE PUNISHER #1 LIMITED SERIES
1st Punisher solo self-titled comic

Much like Wolverine's career in comics, The Punisher would first start his self-titled solo adventures in a limited series, and both momentous events would come during the 80s. This limited series came out in 1986 and was a test run to see if The Punisher was ready for prime time to star in his own comic series. As we all know, he surely was.

This is a straight up copper age comic, and was in medium demand prior to all the Netflix stuff.  Copper age = super high grade only. You're wasting your time if you get anything below a 9.6, and if you are worried about rarity, a high grade 9.8 Newsstand copy might give you a bit more cushion than a Direct Market 9.8 copy

Especially for this book since there are quite a few 9.8s floating out there for sure.This series takes up directly after the events in Spectacular Spider-Man #83.

Remember the court room scene in Daredevil season two on Netflix, the one where the Punisher blurts out his conviction to his brand of justice and asserts that he's far from crazy? Well, in comics, that scene was played out in Spectacular Spider-Man #83.

This comic sees Frank Castle in Ryker's Island. Through the 5 issue series, the Trust is the Punisher's main villains, and although Frank Castle does escape from prison, the Kingpin is not involved like it plays out in Daredevil season two.

Kingpin is mentioned in the series, but he doesn't make a physical appearance. Jigsaw also appears in this limited comic series and the Punisher and him tangle with each other here and there.

Punisher #1 has the cover date of January, 1986. 

The Punisher #1 unlimited series pic
1st self-titled on-going series
1st appearance of Chris Hoyle

It would only be a year later from The Punisher's trial run in his limited series that the character would finally hit prime time and star in his very own ongoing series. This is the comic book that introduced me to the character as a kid, and this is the comic that made me a fan.

This book is not in high demand yet, but it's inching that way. When I first mentioned the book, you could still get a CGC 9.8 for under a hundred bucks, but at the time of this writing it's dropping either slightly below or around $150. How long that lasts I don't know, but this is a copper age key issue book

Don't bother with a 9.6 for this one. Besides, there might be plenty 9.8s for this comic in existence, and a newsstand copy in that grade is probably quite a bit more rarer in that grade

This is actually the comic that got me into the Punisher character. When I first saw the cover, I couldn't believe my eyes.

A guy outside a window with a bazooka? Crazy! How was this going to unfold?

I definitely snagged it off the rack and the rest is history. Looking back, not really a smart move to do - firing a bazooka into a room when you're less than a foot away from the window. 

To a kid, it was an impressive visual though. Chris Hoyle also makes his 1st appearance in this comic. The character has been cast for the Netflix Punisher series and will played by actor Jason R. Moore. Character's name in the Netflix series is Curtis Hoyle.

In the comics, the character of Chris Hoyle is extremely short-lived. Punisher #1 volume 2 has the cover date of July, 1987.

The Punisher #4 image
1st appearance of Microchip
1st appearance of Microchip Jr.

Gadgets, information, and most important - Weapons, Microchip has been one of the most integral and most recurring supporting characters in The Punisher comics. His absence in the Thomas Jane Punisher movie was one of the reasons I didn't like it all that much, and why I prefer the Punisher War Zone movie.

The movie barely gave the character a push in demand, but I'm putting it on this list regardless. The character will be in the Punisher Netflix series and played by Ebon Moss-Bachrach.

David Linus "Microchip" Lieberman in the comics was a legendary hacker. He retired when his activities got too close to some dangerous criminals. Actually, he was robbing mob-runned banks.

Micro was created by Mike Baron and Klaus Janson. They also created the character of Louis Frohike, who is the son of Microchip and helps to aid both his father and Frank Castle in a war on crime. Not that well-known of a character, and would appear less in the Punisher comics than Micro.

and the Punisher #4 volume 2 has the cover date of November, 1987. Yes, there are Newsstand Editions of this issue as well, and they have a UPC bar code.

2nd appearance of Microchip
2nd appearance of Microchip Jr.

Here we both have the 2nd appearance of Microchip and his son, and the pair help the Punisher go up against the Revolutionary Jihad, a terrorist organization. These baddies only have two appearances in the comic series and not all that surprising since the Punisher eliminates most baddies he targets. 

So, 2nd appearance of Microchip and his son is really all that this issue has going for it concerning key issue status. I personally always loved the cover to this comic.

February, 1988 is the cover date for Punisher #6.

3rd appearance of Microchip

Microchip makes his 3rd appearance in this comic. Although his 1st and 2nd appearance aren't exactly hot in-demand key issues currently, I figure I'll just throw this one in case.

Microchip Jr. does not appear in this issue. His 3rd appearance is in issue #8.

There are Newsstand copies for this issue as well issue #6, and the Punisher #7 has the cover date of March, 1988.

1st appearance of Tombstone

When it comes to actual recognizable villains in the Marvel Universe, the Punisher usually shares them with Spidey and Daredevil. Tombstone has been a villain that gets around and also tussled with Luke Cage.

I can actually see this character being in the Luke Cage Netflix series as Lonnie Lincoln is a baddie from New York's Harlem. However, in the comics, he has crossed paths with the Punisher on occasion.

I wouldn't call him a big villain for Frank Castle, meaning they've tussled a lot in comics. Not the case and Tombstone seems to get the attention of Spidey more than Daredevil or Punisher in the actual comics.

Still, I might as well put him in here just in case the character does end up in what Netflix and Marvel's got going on. If Sony has the rights to this villain...well, then I just wasted a couple minutes putting him in this key issues series.

So, 1st appearance of Tombstone. Daredevil and Punisher would run into this villain here an there. Web of Spider-Man #36 has the cover date of March, 1988.

The Punisher #10 comic cover image
3rd Punisher & Daredevil battle?

Not really all that sure why this comic is worth more than other comics in the Punisher volume 2 series, but for some reason it is. Is it because he goes up against Daredevil? All I know is that this issue has art from Whilce Portacio, and he is absolutely my favorite artist to draw The Punisher from this series.

This is a comic you can still get for well under a hundred dollars at CGC 9.8 grades. This book was once worth more than the first appearance of Microchip, but Microchip's 1st is starting to get more sought-out.

Still, this is a classic battle, and for me, I think it was the first time I ever saw these two go at it. Still got my well-read and not so great copy from back in the day.

There are Newsstand copies for this comic, and I don't see that many high-grade CGC copies for Newsstands in the market currently and at the time of this writing. If you're worried about rarity for a Copper Age comic, you might want to consider finding a Newsstand copy while they're still relatively cheap.

Punisher #10 volume 2 has the cover date of August, 1988.  

3rd classic battle between Punisher & Daredevil

Holy moly, man! Why are both of these issue the 3rd battle with Daredevil and how can that be? Well, I Punisher #10 and this issue is the 3rd time the two go at it, and both issues came out the same time and have the same cover date for one.

Also, both issues story are actually told at the same time and with the same happenings that lead to up to the Punisher vs. Daredevil brawl. This brawl is the same brawl in Punisher #10, but this issue tells a bit more of the events leading up to it.

Confusing? Well, let me try to explain.

So in Punisher #10, Frank Castle is on the hunt for a killer name Alfred Coppersmith. In Punisher #10, he eventually locates him and right before Daredevil comes in, Punisher is holding Coppersmith over his head and is about to toss the scumbag off a rooftop. Here's the panels from Punisher #10.

Scenes from Punisher #10 before Punisher & Daredevil battle

In this issue, we first see the Punisher know who Alfred Coppersmith is and is gunnin' for him. Then it cuts to Daredevil's investigation and how he finds out about the killer who was lacing Zum products with cyanide.

While Punisher #10 sees how the Punisher finds Coppersmith, Daredevil #257 reveals how Daredevil finds Coppersmith and then runs into the Punisher just about to hurl him off a roof. It cuts to this image below and the story turns into Coppersmith's viewpoint then.

This version of the fight is like the extended version. It starts and ends exactly the same way it does in Punisher #10.

Two comics basically telling the same story with events that overlap each other. Play on time in comic writing and pretty nifty. Both issues are definitely classic Punisher vs. Daredevil battles.

This one, though, is under the radar currently. Daredevil #257 has the cover date of August, 1988.

1st issue to titled series
Jim Lee inks

Back in the day when I just collected, read, and enjoyed comics, the Punisher was a pretty big character. He got his first titled limited series and then his first on-going titled series in the mid to late eighties.

However, this was his 1st spin-off comic series that ran consecutively with his regular and on-going titled series. It wouldn't be his last either as most already know.

He definitely was a fan-favorite, and yours truly did indulge himself in these stories. What I didn't know back then was that Jim Lee was inker on these issues and then graduated to penciling.

I thought the first time I enjoyed Lee's work and was introduced to the comic artist was in the Uncanny X-Men. After his work on Alpha Flight, Jim Lee was put on this title and it is his 2nd Marvel title that he worked on before his career really took off with the X-Men.

Despite this comic series running for quite a bit, there isn't really too many long-lasting villains nor supporting character that are introduced in the series. Microchip is basically the only one.
The Punisher War Journal #1 has the cover date of November, 1988.

1st Kingpin in Punisher titled series

The Punisher finally goes up against the Kingpin in his own titled series, and this marks the first time the Kingpin is in a Punisher comic. That pretty much means that the Punisher is once again going to try to tackle the Kingpin of Crime.

This story line would result in a classic Punisher vs. Kingpin battle, and there's two of them. One is an auto duel and the other is a classic one-on-one brawl.

So, 1st Kingpin in the Punisher comic series, and you know it will only lead to what fans are hoping will happen. That brawl is in another issue though, but we'll be getting to that straight-away.

Punisher #15 volume 2 has the cover date of January, 1989.

1st appearance of Colonel Ray Schoonover
Jim Lee pencils begin
1st appearance of Sniper 

Just like in Daredevil season two, Col. Schoonover was a commanding officer of Frank Castle's unit, but in the early Punisher comics, it was in Vietnam. Despite this connection, Shoonover in the comics ends up being a baddie and heading a drug smuggling operation.

Netflix did follow that Schoonover's villainy in the series and the character also became a drug lord. He was portrayed by Clancy Brown, the Kurgan from The Highlander!

Well, character already showed up live-action and died live-action by The Punisher also. His comic career as a Punisher villain was just as short-lived.

Story has flashbacks of Vietnam, but is not an entire story dealing with Frank's experience in the bush. While it's obvious that the Punisher in the Netflix series didn't serve in 'Nam and his service will be more relevant to the U.S conflicts in the Middle East, this issue has the 1st appearance of Sniper or Rich von Burian, another character connected to Frank's service.

Rich von Burian served in the same unit as Frank Castle, and in the comics, he became an enforcer for Schoonover and helped him smuggle cocaine out of Vietnam in body bags. Later, von Burian would become an enemy of Frank Castle as the Sniper, but he really didn't have many appearances in comics or against the Punisher.

Still, when the Netflix series reveals more about Frank's military service, which I highly expect they will, there's no telling which characters they bring over from the comics. Not a huge key issue comic for Punisher, but it sheds light on Franks Vietnam days and experience. 

Punisher War Journal #4 has the cover date of March, 1989.

THE PUNISHER #17 & #18
Classic Punisher & Kingpin battles

Okay, when it comes to the Kingpin battling the Punisher for the first time in his own comic series, one is a traditional brawl and the other is a bit different. So, in issue #17, the Kingpin actually battles the Punisher in an armored vehicle while Castle is in his battle van.

That actual driving duel started at the end of issue #16, and the two vehicles are shooting all sorts of bullets at each other while driving down the streets. Kingpin is in the vehicle but his cronies are doing all the gun play.

The Punisher is driving his battle van so his team are firing back at Kingpin's armored vehicle. In issue #18, the Punisher and Kingpin actually go at it mono a mono, and it should be a classic Punisher vs. Kingpin battle.

Once again, the Kingpin hands the Punisher his ass in this battle, and if it weren't for Vernon Brooks, Kingpin just may of K'Od Frank Castle. Here's how this battle goes down:

Punisher does get some good shots in, but Kingpin had the upper hand before Vernon Brooks breaks up the brawl. Brooks is another short-lived supporting character who first debuted in Punisher #14, and I think his last appearance is in this issue.

Kinda hard to believe, but it seems that this could very well be the 2nd meeting and brawl between The Punisher & Kingpin. The Punisher #18 volume 2 has the cover date of April, 1989. There are Newsstand copies for both issues.

1st & 2nd meeting Punisher & Wolverine
1st & 2nd Punisher & Wolverine battle 

Kinda strange that the Punisher would meet the Power Pack before this issue, but like the cover clearly states, this is the first ever meeting of Wolverine and Punisher. Although this comic has two of my favorite comic book characters in it, I remember not caring for it all that much back in the day.

I was actually a bit cynical, and thought it was a pretty uneven match, being that Wolvie would just wipe the floor with Frank Castle. The fight was pretty short as well and uneventful.

Back then, I remember hoping they would really go at it in the next issue, but the two have a very short-lived scrap. The Punisher somehow gets some licks in on Wolvie in that issue without hurting his hand like in this issue, and I remember being disappointed in the story line.

Of course, the two mistake each other for animal poachers, but like with most superhero meetings that end up in a fight, they don't really team up. By this time, Jim Lee is penciler of this issue and I think he started penciling the series starting with issue #5.

Don't think either issue #6 or #7 are highly sought-out at the moment or at the time of this writing, but there are Newsstand copies of both issues. Punisher War Journal #6 has the cover date of June, 1989. 

July, 1989 is the cover date for Punisher War Journal #7.

1st meeting Punisher & Moon Knight

Some sources believed that Marc Spector: Moon Knight #8 was the 1st meeting between Punisher and Moon Knight, but I believe that it's this annual right here. While it is an annual, this comic was released in May while Marc Spector: Moon Knight #8 was released in September of the same year.

Another thing except for the cover date and release date is that this comic clearly shows the two meeting and addressing a first meeting, which isn't always the case in comics. I mean, sometimes characters don't always address it, and sometimes they meet somewhere off panel or don't make a big deal about it.

Moon Knight is one of the Marvel characters who doesn't look down upon the Punisher and how he handles crime. If there really was a team up on the Netflix series, these two would make the most sense as Marc was once a mercenary and willing to do anything to complete the job.

However, whether a team up actually plays out live-action or not, this is the 1st meeting of Punisher & Moon Knight. If you're into that, might be one to consider.

September, 1989 is the cover date for The Punisher Annual #2, which was part of the Atlantis Attacks cross-over event.

THE 'NAM #52 & #53
Origin of the Punisher skull
1st Punisher in title
1st appearance & death of the Monkey

Due to decreasing sales for this war comic, the Punisher or Frank Castle was brought in to hopefully revitalize the title which had remained an all-and-out war comic prior. This comic would once again visit the adventures of Frank Castle's military service in the highly unpopular Vietnam War.

I think this comic might be the first fully dedicated or first full comic story purely about Frank Castle in Vietnam. During the time, I'm not even sure too many people knew about this comic. 

Despite that there are other origins of how the Punisher adopts the iconic death head symbol, I do believe this is the 1st one. The entire story is a flashback of Frank Castle on a particular mission to eliminate a Viet-Cong by the name of the Monkey.

The Monkey has a small skull pendant that hangs from his neck, and this is where Frank Castle gets the iconic symbol idea from. He is captured and fakes his suicide.

By issue #53, Frank Castle paints the iconic skull on his chest, on the chest of those he takes out, and even on some trees to taunt and mock the Monkey. Issue #52 has the first appearance of the Monkey and issue #53 has his death.

However, issue #53 has the birth of the Punisher and his iconic skull logo. Despite this origin being retconned later by later writers and being totally screwed up in my opinion, this here is the first told story of how Frank adopts the Punisher logo.

Is it strange that life would eventually imitate art. Famous war hero and U.S. Navy Seal Chris Kyle and his unit adopted the iconic skull and nicknamed themselves the Punishers. Now many other units are adopting the Punisher logo and even Iraqi forces.

In response to the character's popularity among the men and women of the armed forces, creator Gerry Conway said this, “I find it flattering, but also a little unnerving because I never actually felt the Punisher was one of the good guys. I don’t think the Punisher is a hero; he’s an anti-hero. He’s someone that rises up from our subconscious and acts on our behalf and is a symbol really of cultural breakdown.”

Maybe Conway has a point there. Due process of law or innocent until proven guilty? Nevermind these things. Like Judge Dread, the Punisher is judge, jury, and executioner.

If you like war comics and the Punisher, this one is definitely one to consider. Both have Newsstand Editions

January, 1991 is the cover date for The 'Nam #52 and The 'Nam #53 has the cover date of February, 1991.

Punisher meets Luke Cage

Alright, a little backtracking here. This story line in the Punisher comic series is the infamous tale of when Frank Castle turns black.

It is one of the most ridiculous Punisher story lines that begins around issue #53. So the Punisher ends up going to prison again because the Kingpin hires some young criminal to tear Frank Castle's life down.

In prison, Frank gets messed up real bad to the point where he looks like Jigsaw. A junkie plastic surgeon by name of Melinda Brewer ends up turning Frank Castle into a black man which is first seen in issue #59.

On the run and as a black man, Frank Castle meets Luke Cage for the first time in this issue here. Frank tells him that he is Frank Rook and the two fight crime. By issue #63 of this story, Frank's black face is magically fading off and by the end of the story line he is back to white Frank Castle.

This story has got to probably be in the #1 most ludicrous Punisher stories, but it does finally have the first meeting of Frank Castle and Luke Cage, who goes by Cage by this time. I seriously and 100% doubt this exact tale will play out in any Netflix Marvel series, but I'm pretty sure Luke Cage and the Punisher will meet live-action.

February, 1992 is the cover date for this crazy issue.

Bushwacker is a Punisher foe although the two have crossed paths which each other only on occasion. Still, you never know who they bring into the fold when it comes to live-action media.

So Bushwacker made his first appearance in Daredevil #248 and then appears in the next issue as well. 

That wraps up Part 3, and Part 4 to this Punisher key issues series is ready. Just click the link to continue onward.

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


  1. Got almost all of Punis top ten books except his first appearance and number one of his first mini. Gotta do somethin' about that. Meanwhile I got a Transformers 1 from 1984 in 9.8 for 15. Not to shabby when you think about the fact that you can' t get that franchise dead...

    Max Rebo

    1. Jeez what Transformer movie are they on so far? 10, 11?

  2. This is awesome, I actually found Punisher Vol.2 Issue 4 at of all places 5 Below. I also got an Issue #1 X-23 in the same packet. Got lucky I guess

  3. Amazing I have Punisher Vol. 2 Issue 4 from of all places a 5 Below store. Same packet had an Issue #1 X-23. Got lucky I guess

  4. My Punisher key issues are pretty much complete. There are only a few books I would like to still get. Punisher Kills the Marvel U (1st print) and Punisher #102-104.