The Punisher is one of those comic book characters that jumps out off the page and demands attention. Also known as Frank Castle, the Punisher is an incredibly nasty antihero that does whatever it takes, including torture, extortion and violence and even murder, to get criminals to do what he wants. He is like Batman on crack, two men with the same directive, fight crime, but two severely different methods. Whereas Batman will not mill anyone, even someone that deserves that, Punisher has no qualms at all about doing what he needs to get the job done.
His origins are the stuff of nightmares. For any parent, the idea of losing both your child and spouse is the worst thing imaginable. For Frank Castle’s Punisher, both his two children and wife were murdered by the organized crime syndicates operating in New York City, happening in Central Park during a shootout. He becomes the Punisher and goes nuts, waging his war against crime in an all out slugfest, using whatever weapon he can use, including guerilla warfare, guns, knives, whatever it takes to punish the guilty. The people responsible for his family’s death are the first killed by him.
His crawl into mainstream comics was a development due to the slew of antiheroes from various crime films that came about during the early 1970’s, such as Dirty Harry and Popeye Doyle. The Punisher was an outgrowth of that change in the squeaky clean version of the regular hero that most fans were accustomed to. The Punisher is not very likable character and this is perhaps why he is not considered a top tier character for Marvel but that is missing the point. His emergence was important to make all of us think differently towards what constitutes a hero.
His depiction is usually that of a man who is obsessed with personal vengeance and violence against those he considers worthy of punishment; i.e., the wicked and the criminal element that normally preys on the weak and innocent. The Punisher is the protector of the innocent and uses whatever means necessary to make them pay. He sees the world in very simple, black and white terms. It’s either right or wrong and that’s just the way it is.
He believes in finishing things with complete finality, one way or another. Usually, it’s his way that overcomes his enemies and it does not matter how it happens, as long as it happens. He is not a stable individual by any means, often running into serious conflict with other superheroes. He has no super human powers and must use his rage and skills to win and perhaps Castle uses that as a way to justify his sometimes extreme actions against criminals. No matter what, the Punisher does what he must. He hits hard and doesn’t think twice. He is a straightforward killing machine.
Former US Marine, Castle has gained serious skills over the years. And not just with the Marines but also tons of cross training with both the US Army and US Navy, plus some action with an Australian special forces unit during the Vietnam War. So believe it when I say this guy knows how to fight, hand to hand, with any kind of weapon you can imagine. He can also disguise himself in order to infiltrate criminal organizations, observe their activities undetected and more or less cause major havoc.
When the Punisher enters stealth mode, look out, because it’s lights out time for the bad guys. This is the most heavily trained and skilled Special Forces operative you can imagine, with strength, ferocity and the ability to shrug off the worse injuries imaginable. Other superheroes have commented high incredibly high his pain tolerance is, in fact. He never takes pain killers because he is tough enough to withstand the pain but also because he feels the side effects of drowsiness are not worth it.