iFanboy Video Podcast

iFanboy #99 – The Punisher

Show Notes

What is it about Frank Castle and his violent ways that has kept fans reading the adventures of The Punisher for over thirty years?

This week, iFanboy takes a look at the many stories Punisher has appeared in over the years, and how he fits into the Marvel Universe. Frank Castle has come a long way from being a throw-away vigilante in the pages of TheĀ Amazing Spider-Man, to being the star of three different feature films, including the upcoming version, Punisher: War Zone.

This show looks at the notable comics from The Punisher’s varied history from his creation by Gerry Conway to the recent epic runs scripted by Garth Ennis, and many artists in between. He even had a crossover with Archie. You want to know more? Make sure your weapons are oiled up and loaded, and take aim at this episode of iFanboy.


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  1. You guys made the Punisher enjoyable for me!!  Kudos for you on an entertaining podcast.

    I enjoyed him in Civil War as well.  Perfect showcast to prove just how off he is compared with the rest of the heroes in the Marvel U.  Nobody loves him šŸ™

    Conor, you said MAX books aren’t incontinuity, but the Wisdom mini that came out a year or so ago is considered in continuity right?  Paul Cornell references it quite often in his Cap. Brit.  Is it just the Punisher book that is out of continuity?

    What are you doing for episode #100?!?!?!?!

  2. Don’t ask me why… but Conor’s slight pause between the syllables in "scrotum"?  Genius.

  3. @Drake – MAX books as a general rule are not in-continuity.  There are always exceptions.

  4. Nice show but out of continuity. The credits are for episode 66…

  5. I really don’t want to sound like a dick, but you used episode 66’s credits for this episode.

  6. @Conor-Cool, thanks for the heads up. 

  7. You win no prizes!

    I screwed up.  But not bad for one out of 99, is it?

  8. Conor is totally quotable lately.

  9. Ifanboy? Doing a Punisher podcast? *hallejueah plays*

    The MAX imprint of Punisher is the best version of the character. Not to say I didnt love the Ennis/Dillion run earlier, I absolutely loved it. But you guys said it best, it was more cartoony in ways then series. I just love the MAX run cause it’s serious, its badass, and it’s the best at what Ennis can do. War Journal turned me off immediately cause of the art. All the artists have been god awful and it really hurts the experience when your trying to read him. The Annual however, with him on psychodellic drugs, was amazing to read.

    Hopefully, at best the War Zone film is watchable. I’ve read advance reviews for it and thankfully the fight scenes are great…..The story and acting however, are not. Look I know we had an arguement on this the last time but: Why cant Garth Ennis have some role in this film, or future films? He has basically been the voice for Frank Castle for 8-9 years and he knows better then anyone else how to write him. I’m not asking him to be a head writer or anything, but why not producer or script supervisior or something.  If he had some leeway with the film I would think the story would improve 100 fold.

  10. is episode 100 going to be huge?


    will josh and conor finally kiss? 

  11. Way to give the love to Mike Baron, Steven Grant, and Carl Potts — they essentially created he character we know and love (?) today.

  12. I totally agree on the Vietnam aspect of Punisher.  I’ve always felt that the only thing that serperated Captain America and The Punisher was the war they were in.

  13. @jstump – The ONLY thing?  Really??

  14. @Conor-That and Steve’s golden locks of hair

  15. And he punched nazis. What has the Punisher done for you lately?

  16. I’m assuming what jstump means is being a product of the war and the times.  WWII came home heroes, Vietnam vets, not so much.  And that is a major difference between the two and how they’re viewed by the public (the public of the comics and us fanboys).  But then there’s the killing jaywalkers and being an Avenger and the greastest Marvel hero difference.  Also one’s dead and one is alive.


  17. @DarthDuck – By that logic, everyone who fought in WWI was a Steve Rogers and everyone who fought in Vietnam is a Frank Castle.  That’s certainly not true.  No, there was something inherently broken in Frank Castle that made him The Punisher.  This was explored in some Punisher stories.  It wasn’t his family’s death that made him The Punisher, it’s just what let The Punisher out.

    No, the difference between Fank Castle and Steve Rogers was not just the wars or the times in which they lived.  It was the men themselves and their character.

  18. @Conor – I like to think that if Frank was in WWII his morals would be different and how he was treated when he came back would create more of a Captain America persona for Frank.  Obviously the characters are different for many reasons, but I think one of the main contributors was the war and time they were in.  I could also see if Steve was in the vietnam war being similar to the Punisher, weird seeing that written out and I do feel a little dirty writing it.

    I would like to see a what if with to the tune of this.  I think it would be neat.  Also once again not having a proof reader got me in trouble… stupid words!

  19. If Captain America is the nazy ideals in a USA citizen, than what would his powers be if he was to be the vietnamese ideal in a USA citizen?

  20. I’ve never been the biggest Punisher fan, but The Slavers arc on Punisher Max is probably one of the best things I’ve ever read

  21. Crap, now I really want to read the Punisher angel/demon/whatever mini…against my better judgment.

  22. I heard Thomas Jane isn’t in this new movie because the script is really bad. That sucks

  23. Worse than the one in Punisher: Miami?

    David Caruso Punisher > Thomas Jane Punisher

  24. I’m thinking that if Jane thought the first movie’s script was good and he thinks this one’s is bad, then this movie’s script must be just god awful

  25. It’s not like Thomas Jane is the best actor in the world….and for him to say the script was that bad, then that’s a problem. Big time actors like Tom Hanks or Brad Pitt can probably do it all the time. But when a small time actor who’s biggest claim to fame was a Punisher film or The Mist…that’s saying something just how bad the script really is.

    Just get Ennis on a film and it’ll be bigger then 10 superbowls!

  26. idk going to see this friday and im hoping its worth my moneys

  27. The Credits said this was episode 66 Understanding Comics.

  28. I consider the MAX series equivalent to Ennis’ war stories, meaning that I think it is pretty damn good.

  29. Also, the Punisher offs Microchip in the first arc! 

    I also agree with Conor in that in BORN, there was an animal/serial killer already within Castle.  It was finally unleashed in the Battle of VAlley Forge.

    I also like the idea of him being in his 50-60s, a weathered still very much driven killer.

  30. To me The Punisher represents a missed opportunity.  There’s a chance for some real social commentary here, but instead he’s fighting with cartoonish mobsters and Russian super soldiers.  All that’s fine, but I’d like to see Marvel take more chances with this character.

  31. @Ultimatehoratio-I believe that is what the iFanboys talked about when they mentioned the Punisher MAX series.  It was less about mobsters, more about corruption and big corporations.  At least thats the impression I got from this podcast, I have to admit I have never read a Punisher book.

  32. This was very enjoyable.  I would love some more episodes walking us through the histories of some primary and secondary characters.  Josh (Hawkeye?), Ron (Darkhawk?), Conor (Alfred?)

  33. Has anyone else noticed that the ads for the new Punisher movie begin with a Marvel Knights logo rather than a Marvel logo? I hadn’t heard about that, but it made my eyebrows arch a bit.

    The only Garth Ennis Punisher I’ve read is "Kills the Marvel Universe" and "Confederacy of Dunces" (http://www.amazon.com/Punisher-Vol-Confederacy-Dunces/dp/0785113444), both of which turned out to be superhero comics about how much Garth Ennis hates superhero comics and sort of left me feeling like I’d just paid someone to pants me and laugh at my genitals. To be fair to Ennis, it was named "The Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe"; I can’t act like I got taken for a ride on that one.

    I knew one other person growing up who was into comics, and his tastes were usually the opposite of mine; while I clung to my Spider-Man, he bought into the grim ‘n’ gritty antihero movement wholesale. I can remember borrowing his early Punishers and flipping through them, thinking, "Really? He sets drug dealers on fire for three issues? How much mileage are you going to get out of something like this?" Apparently, quite a lot, given that it’s twenty years later and his third movie’s coming out.

  34. Punisher Max by Garth Ennis is all about over-the-top mob bosses and Russian super-soldiers.  I read about 30 issues of it.  It’s well done, but I just wish Marvel would take more risks with it.

  35. The problem with the Punisher is the same one with Conan and Wolverine (at least as he’s written now), he’s a one note killing machine. No character depth there.

    Though there were a couple of exceptions. In his first appearence (Amazing Spider-Man #129), he was very conflicted about what he did. And in Punisher War Journal #12-13, it was revealed Frank considered a life in the priesthood when he was a teenager. He confessed to his teacher that he knew you should forgive, but he felt sinners deserved to be punished. He felt shame for trusting god to punish evil doers in the afterlife.

  36. Maybe it’s a weird comparison but The Punisher is essentially Dexter (from the Showtime TV show). The only real difference is that Dexter realizes and understands his screwed up reasoning for killing everyone, and Frank Castle seems to genuinely feel he’s the good guy in all of this.

    I don’t particularly like him, but if he ever had to face himself I’d be sure to get on board. 

  37. I really have no opinion about Punisher but: 

    @AriesDog >The problem with the Punisher is the same one with Conan and Wolverine (at least as he’s written >now), he’s a one note killing machine. No character depth there.

    . . .what Wolverine books are you reading?

  38. Just to throw in yet another vague "You know who the Punisher’s like?" but you who the Punisher’s like?  Travis Bickle.  I always saw the Punisher as "What if Travis Bickle lived in the Marvel Universe?"

  39. Wolverine should be more of a killing machine. That would have made Wolverine: Origins more interesting. He gave away his samurai sword…

  40. @Tork — Yeah, Travis Bickle, but with the talents & training of the best soldiers alive. Scary.

    Punisher is an easy character to write off as lame, one dimensional or not living up to the potential of the character … for people who have never read Garth Ennis run on Punisher MAX. To me, Punisher in the regular Marvel Universe makes no sense, because the super heroes would take him down in a second … dude is a mass murderer. Also, Punisher shooting C-grade super villains is all kinds of stupid (IMO). This is why Punisher MAX worked. It’s set in a world that’s more realistic & closer to ours. A world without super heroes. That and Garth Ennis absolutley kicked ass on it.

    Anyone who thinks Punisher is lame or one dimensional or corny — go read any of Ennis’s MAX books (not the Marvel Knights version, even that was mostly tongue in cheek) & see if you still think the same. My advice would be start with Punisher: Born. One of the best origin stories I ever read.

  41. @Wade: The MAX Punisher definitely makes more sense then regular continuity Punisher. The (616) Punisher should’ve been killed or taken out by someone who has powers. At the very least you would think a major villain (like Bullseye) would kill him.

    MAX Punisher is smarter then the average man and it seems like the superheroes are no where to be seen. (Although Nick Fury appeare a couple of times)

  42. Sweet Christmas! The new movie is horrid. I don’t care what you think about The Punisher, this is just a plain awful movie. I didn’t really care that much for the Thomas Jane version, but at least it was well made. This thing…

  43. well… I loved "Punisher meets Archie". It’s one of those comics I’m glad to read on the subway or bus and draw people into comics like flies on my wall. 8)

    Interesting fact: I never really thought about the punisher in the sense you all had BUT i had a ton of War Journals and always considered War Journal to be like Batman Confidential. At any point in time if you let the character narrate the entire story from their point of view as the story is happening… I’m in… just so long as the character is a loner.

  44. Best Punisher was in Marvel Zombies… The mobsters tell him that all humans are in it together to take on the zombies, then he blows them away. No compromises, not even in the face of armageddon. 

  45. Punisher was one of the first comics i read, i found it cool that a guy with no powers can hang with marvels best

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