My mission: To protect the innocent victims of crime by punishing the criminals. That's why I'm called The Punisher.
-Frank Castle (aka The Punisher)
Who is he?
Italian-American born and bred, Frank Castiglione led the life of any kid growing up in a Catholic family in New York. Family-minded and devout in his beliefs, the young Frank was inspired by his local priest to follow a calling in seminary school and become a priest himself. But Frank found it hard to forgive sinners, very hard. He left the church and married the daughter of an old family friend, Maria Falconio. Seeing the best way to support his new bride was a career in the United States military, Frank signed up to the Marine Corps.
Enrolled on many tours of duty, Frank Castiglione was a born soldier, a patriot and a man who was unrelenting in his work. Shortening his name to Frank Castle while undertaking SEAL (Sea, Air And Land), UDT (Underwater Demolition Team) and LRPA (Long Range Patrol) training, he is an expert marksman, but also a brilliant tactician, able to read the play of his enemies well in advance. Frank earned himself a Bronze Star, a Silver Star, four Purple Hearts and even a recommendation for the Presidential Medal of Freedom while in service. He soon rose to the rank of Captain and was nicknamed by his comrades The Punisher due to his fighting spirit against any enemy.
A Family Tragedy
While on leave in New York with his young family, Frank Castle thought a picnic in Central Park would be a lovely idea. However, during the course of their day the family happened upon an vicious gangland killing. Fearing they would be identified, the killers opened fire on the startled picnickers, ruthlessly killing Frank's wife and young children in cold blood. Frank somehow managed to survive the incident, his army training coming to the fore. But it wasn't the physical scars of that day that turned him, it was the psychological anguish. From then on he vowed to hunt down and punish the men who had killed his family. AWOL (Absent Without Leave) from the Marines, Castle went underground for a time, training and equipping himself for his vigilante exercises. Taking on his old service nickname of The Punisher, he becomes a one-man war on crime - born out of revenge and the desire for justice.
Costume and Equipment
The Punisher wears an all black body suit, emblazoned strikingly across the chest with a brilliant white skull. This enhanced military combat uniform is a kevlar-weave, with body armour at chest and back. The skull is not only supposed to strike fear into enemies, but also acts as a target point, drawing fire to the Punisher's heavily reinforced body armour. With numerous pockets containing semtex, grenades and other various weapons, an ankle holster containing a .223mm Derringer pistol, a sidearm holster for a .9mm Browning Llama automatic pistol and an ammunition belt for an M-16 assault rifle complete the Punisher's murderous ensemble. However, any good soldier needs transport and the Punisher has at his disposal a 'Battle Van', a custom-made Ford Econoline. Disguised as a TV Repair Van, it has been modified tremendously with armour, armaments and communication systems that rival and perhaps even out-do anything the military has currently.
Revenge is a dish best served cold
The Punisher stands by his philosophy of lethal force and no mercy to criminals at every turn. After eliminating the men who murdered his family he continues to fight on, punishing every murderer, rapist and law-breaker he comes upon. He will always go out of his way to protect innocents, but is a ruthless killer when it comes to the guilty. The Punisher will find justice for victims, but will never stand in the way of the law and the police, unless they are wrong...
He has been the friend and enemy of many, particularly the mafia. His arch-nemesis is a crimelord known as the Jigsaw, but he also been known to run afoul of Captain America, Daredevil, Spider-Man, the Kingpin and the New York Police Department. While Castle has allied himself with some of his previous enemies, particularly other crime-fighters, he is a loner, a maverick, an assassin and some might say a cold-hearted killer. However, Frank Castle has chosen to punish not only the criminals he hunts down, but himself, for failng to save his family when they needed him most.
The Punisher made his debut in 1974 as a supporting character in Marvel Comics' the Amazing Spider-Man #129: 'Arrival of the Punisher'. Created by the then Spider-Man writer/artist team of Gerry Conway and John Romita Sr, the vigilante was hunting down Spider-Man as he believed him to be a murderer.
The Punisher then only really made appearances as a supporting role in other Marvel hero comics until Mike Zeck and writer Steven Grant thought that the character deserved his own title. The story was inspired by the novel War Against the Mafia, published in 1968 and written by Don Pendleton. The main character, Mack Bolan, was a Vietnam War veteran who after seeing his family slaughtered, takes up a war against the mafia. Calling himself the Executioner, Bolan keeps a 'war journal' about his activities against the criminal underworld.
The Punisher had a hectic time at Marvel, as the heads believed it wasn't appropriate to have a 'hero' killing people in cold blood. But after much persuasion The Punisher was given his own comic series. It was an immediate success, so much so that The Punisher often teamed up with other Marvel superheroes like Spider-Man, Daredevil and the X-Men and has even become the subject of novels, games and more recently a Hollywood movie1.