If you’re into comics, especially of the street level, not necessarily super hero variety, you’ve heard of Punisher. You may even have watched some (or all) of the new Netflix series. Everyone knows the storyline is dark and full of violence, but not everyone knows the character or motivations that, even though in a comic book setting, make some kind of sense.
The Punisher (Frank Castle) first appeared in 1974 in a Spider-Man comic. He was one of the first mainstream anti-hero vigilantes who was not only willing to kill, but it was his entire purpose. A Marine skilled in hand-to-hand combat, marksmanship and guerrilla warfare, he employs all kinds of brutal techniques to take out his enemies. He may be a veteran, but he treats getting vengeance like a war.
Castle is not a random killer though and his initial motivation is easy to understand. The mob killed his wife and two kids, so everyone involved has to pay for taking away everything that meant something to him. It’s not a spoiler to say that the job gets done. But the Punisher can’t rest and he continues his war on criminals in general. It’s all very black and white – if you’re a good person, you have no worries, but otherwise you’re on the hit list.
The stories Punisher is involved in are always very violent and intense, so they’re not for everybody. But he is a complex character at times and has been well-received from the beginning, not surprisingly having many fans among the military and veterans.