While his platoon are busy shooting blind, running for cover or shitting themselves during a Viet Cong surprise attack, Captain Castle stands tall, calmly asks for a Marine's M-60 and mows down the enemy force. PFC Goodwin says it best:
"The war has bred a saying oft-repeated: "Payback is a motherfucker." At Valley Forge we have another. "If you think payback is bad, you haven't met Frank Castle."
Finding one of his Marines raping a Viet Cong sniper, Castle's response is to shoot her in the head — to put her out of her misery, since there was nothing else he could do for her without losing the Marines' trust — and calmly explains, "No rape. We're here to kill the enemy." He later stalks the Marine and drowns him with his boot as punishment.
Finding that the firebase is on the verge of an attack of hundreds of NVA and VC troops, he simply asks for an M-60.
The Air Cavalry arrive in the aftermath of the assault to find everybody dead and Castle standing alone, bleeding from several gunfire wounds, holding the remnants of a shattered M-16 that he used to clobber half a dozen Viet Congs that lay dead at his feet. It is made all the more awesome/frightening by the smoke behind him forming an absolutely demonic version of his trademark skull.
The Punisher MAX / The Punisher: Frank Castle / Punisher MAX
In the Beginning
All you need to know about The Punisher is a part of the first issue of Punisher MAX, which has Castle wiping out scores upon scores of mooks gathered to celebrate a mafia boss' hundredth birthday. Castle begins by walking in through the front door, shooting the don through the head, then walking right back out. By the time the mooks are out of shock and pouring out for payback, Castle has already set up his trusted M-60 and let loose.
Depending on your political views, Castle's refusal of Microchip's offer to be recruited into the War on Terror is either this or massively out of character.
Some think it's supposed to be interpreted more as a neutral "works for everyone" moment with Frank realizing (A) this would derail his war on crime indefinitely, and (B) he isn't the kind of person to spend months or years hunting one specific low-level goon since they all presumably have different identities and passports. Essentially, the time spent chasing people who are being chased by the rest of the first world ANYWAY would take away from his locating and punishing bad guys who flirted with the law and got away every time. It would be a very poor usage of his skills and resources, and it would allow both more innocents to be hurt and more crime to be committed than if he wasn't there. It's the same reason you always see Superman return to Metropolis (or Spider-Man to New York): when they leave, villains in that part of town take it as a sign they have free reign to do whatever they want.
I read it as having more to do with the idea of being assigned targets and working for anyone. Ennis's Punisher doesn't really trust or believe in anyone in the human race. Remember, in the same arc Frank flashes back to nearly killing a neighbor who cheated on and dumped his wife; later, we see that he's got nothing but disdain for working with wide-eyed idealists like Jen Cooke *or* the police *or* the government. Frank would kill Bin Laden, but he'd do it for his own mission and on his own terms, not as someone else's assignment or agenda. That said, Ennis clearly has an axe to grind with both the government and corporations, who usually become Strawman Political in anything he writes. Really, Ennis hates large and powerful institutions in general: he doesn't like major political parties (see the Limbaugh and Garofalo Take That caricatures in a late arc of Preacher), and often goes after organized religion. He also tends to disparage most of the officer corps in any military: individual officers like Nick Fury or the guy from his last MAX arc who were once grunts can be good guys, but not the folks who become top brass. Cynicism about any big concentration of power is a running theme in all his work.
The Punisher: Fighting for the people who run the world gets you stabbed in the back. You fight the wars they start and feed. You kill the monsters they create. You die from handling depleted uranium while they get rich on oil. I'm not going back to war so Colt can sell another million M-16's. I had enough of that in Vietnam.
Microchip: That's not the way it is...!
The Punisher: There are 60,000 guys in D.C. who'd say different. Except they can't say anything because they're nothing but names on a black wall.
Frank doesn't go with Micro's offer because he knows that there's no way in hell a government agency like the CIA has the resources to fund such an operation. He knew the operation was funded by dirty money and would only serve to keep the Afghan heroin trade going indefinitely (basically only killing Bin Laden to keep up appearances).
Exactly. Frank didn't trust them so he didn't work for them. One or two arcs later Nick Fury pops up and Frank almost immediately agrees to help him. Because he trusts Fury and knows he isn't going to do anything against Frank's morals (even if he is lying).
This speech by Microchip:
Microchip: I worked with Frank Castle for over ten years. I helped him kill over eight hundred people. I hacked computers to find him targets. I customized guns and ammunition. I put him in the right place at the right time to kill the maximum number of people. Without me, the body count for those ten years would be a third of what it is. I turned a lone gunman into a machine that runs at optimum efficiency. Because of me, what he does can truly be defined as war.
This doubles as a CMOA for both Frank and the villain. The psychotic mobster Pittsy grazes Frank's side with a close range blast from a 12-gauge, completely disintegrating a rib, and Frank responds by lighting into Pittsy's face with everything he's got. He can tell it doesn't even hurt him, and as soon as he slows Pittsy punches him once, and Frank is seeing double. When Pittsy starts slashing him up with a nasty shard of glass, the Punisher decides he's had enough, catches the glass in his palm and snaps it in half, then picks up Pittsy, hauls him to the nearest window and throws him out...onto a spiked iron fence. Followed immediately by Frank using Pittsy to soften his own landing.
And does having several wrought iron spikes impaled through his chest slow Pittsy down? Fuck no, he just keeps going with the damn fence sticking out of him. Frank finally shoots him in the head with a shotgun, and he takes a few more steps. He collapses a second later, but he had Frank thinking "please just be a reflex".
While not as notable as Pittsy, his partner Ink is also pretty formidable as it was his mostly silent demeanor and his ultimate willingness to do what he was told that sold made him awesome. He even killed a whole squad of Special Forces by himself by sneaking into the elevator with a tool kit and tampering with the elevator cables, causing the Special Forces group to fall to their gruesome death.
And the way he got his nickname...
Larry Barrucci: "Your guy Ink over there. How come he's called that?"
Nicky Cavella: "First guy he killed was with a pen"
Larry Barrucci: "Stabbed him inna neck?"
Nicky Cavella: "Stabbed him inna eye. Just kept pushin' 'till brain an' beyond."
Pop Nesbitt's final "Fuck You" from beyond the grave.
To clarify, Pop Nesbitt hated all of the Irish gangs when he was in power, and constantly called them all cunts to their faces. Before he dies, he supposedly decides that he wants to make peace between the gangs and leaves them pieces of a code that will lead to the remainder of his fortune, hoping that they'd set aside their differences. After failed attempts to wipe each other out, the survivors do join forces and find it - only to find a block of C4, wired to go off three seconds after the container has opened, with the word "cunts" stenciled into it.
Nick Fury is a walking CMoA in this one, but the prize has to go to two moments:
Upon finding that he'd been used by a group of Army and Air Force Generals and made complicit to a terrorist plot, the general behind the plan tries to explain - but Colonel Fury is more interested in taking off his belt and literally whipping said general with it. The other generals are too terrified to call for help or intervene.
One of the generals does try to call for security while Fury is attacking the man. Fury intimidates the man into dropping the phone by simply yelling at him.
Upon his return to US soil, Castle is to be arrested for fucking up the generals' plan. Only Fury stands by his side, and the troops on location would rather be shipped to Iraq than cross the Colonel.
Fury: Just one moment General. [throws away cigar, goes and stands beside Frank] Whenever you're ready, gentlemen.
And the reason Castle was to be arrested? After all the little girl had been through, Frank wouldn't let the medics stick a needle in her because he promised her she wouldn't be hurt again.
It may not be related, but in the old Punisher arcade game, the 2nd player controls... Nick Fury, so this might be a homage of sorts.
Falling prey to a diminutive Mongolian super-agent who goes on to terrorize a six year old girl, Castle is roused by the memory of his injured daughter; he stands back up, grabs the agent's leg, and swings, battering the walls with the body of said Mongolian, only stopping because he realizes he's scaring the little girl.
Hell, he swung the Mongolian by his leg so much, it ended up twisting his leg off!
Frank fights off the Russian Army, then proceeds to launch a nuclear missile into the heart of Russia itself. The kicker? The missile itself is a dud with Frank Castle himself as the payload - he proceeds to HALO jump from the missile and walk to the extraction point.
Arguably a much more frightening payload, judging by body count alone.
A mobster desecrates the graves of Castle's family, trying to goad him into going on a roaring rampage of revenge and act stupid. Castle's response? He attacks every gang BESIDES the mobster's, and in higher numbers than usual, to force the city to rebury the remains. Only then does Castle make a move against the mobster.
"That...that guy is gonna go fucking berserk." Frank was behind the guy who said this. He gets a little CMOA for just staring at the screen rather than kill everybody there in a murderous rage.
Just how effective was his rampage? City Hall is discussing what can be done: they can't capture or kill him, nor bow to his demands, and even with criminals thinking they are just being fed to the Punisher the mayor and his aides know he just will not stop until he gets what he wants.
When said mobster comes across Castle, he grabs a passing child out of fear for his life and holds a gun to the kid's head, threatening to kill him if The Punisher doesn't leave. Castle calls his bluff, and calmly points out that beyond his veneer of psychopathy, he really is a coward, and that killing the child will result in a long, agonizing death, while letting him go gives him a chance (in the mind of the mobster). The mobster promptly backs down - and Frank drives him to the wilderness, death marching him through the woods, and eventually shooting him in the gut; the mobster suffers for days as the contents of his bowels poison his blood.
Punisher gets one off-screen as Nicky Cavella's men leave him when he needs them the most. When Cavella tells them they're disrespecting their boss and will all get whacked for it they reply that there is no one left for him to boss around. The Punisher killed them all, starting with the massacre that opened In The Beginning.
Best summed up by this monologue from Frank:
The Punisher: It was in that moment that I realized something. A dull, blurred feeling that I'd had since this whole mess began, all of a sudden crystal clear. It had been a long, long time since I hated anyone the way I hated them.
This quote was said soon after he'd disemboweled a man and wrapped his intestines around a tree, then threw another woman out a building and was followed by Frank capturing & binding the leader to a chair and setting him on fire. They're all Slavers though, so it's really hard to muster any pity for them.
Also, earlier in the arc, Frank puts an end to a rape attempt, but one of the guys is still alive.
Frank: "Whatever he was jabbering, it wasn't English. Pavla was Albanian, maybe he was too. But I'd know the Lord's Prayer in any language. Gave him a moment. Just before the line about forgiveness." *BLAM*
There's this house, see? It's owned by a sex slave ring and has both a bunch of Eastern European criminals (that Castle wants to kill) and a bunch of Eastern European prostitutes (that Castle wants to save). The usual tactics are not an option this time around. So what does he do? Dump a whole lot of drugs in a cooking pot through a window while the cook isn't looking. Later, when they're all passed out, he breaks in and shoots them all as they lie. He keeps the ringleader alive only so he can cut him open, pulls his guts out and drape them over a nearby branch.
Another of the ringleaders, a woman (if you can call her that), advised the previous ringleader to have his men rape the women they abducted over and over just to drive home the idea that they could do it because they couldn't be stopped. She meets a fate just as bad: Frank tosses her against a plate glass windows over and over as she begs for her life, the glass eventually breaking - but not before getting absolutely caked in the woman's blood.
"All that counts is that you can't stop me. I'm stronger than you, so I can do what I want. Isn't that the way it works?"
When it comes to the boss of the whole operation, a war criminal of the Balkan wars, he perhaps gets it worst: Frank ties him to a chair, covers him in gasoline, then puts a camera in front of him and offers a warning to his friends:
"Don't come back here." *tosses the match*
How Frank escapes from the man eating shark, after confirming the other man thrown in with him was a drug dealer.
Frank: What's your name?
Horace: It's Horace man, Horace!
Frank: Pleased to meet you, Horace. I'm the Punisher. [gives the shark a snack]
The fight between Frank and Barracuda is a CMOA for both of them but especially for Frank who shows a good use for barbed wire.
Man Of Stone
Frank taking on the Magnificent Bastard Russian general who he fought in "Mother Russia," who brings a Hind gunship, two squads of Russian Black Sea Marines, and a fuel-air bomb in an attempt to take the Punisher down. Frank not only kills the Hind and the Marines, but brings down the Russian general's helicopter by faking a claymore mine injury and concealing a razor shiv inside of it, letting himself be captured, and working the razor blade out of his wound without even flinching.'
The scene where the general unloads his arsenal is a CMOA for Frank even though he doesn't appear in it at all. "This is all for one man, General...?" "One man, Major. Let us hope it proves sufficient to the task." Whatever else you want to say about Zakharov, he knows what he's up against.
General Zakharov gets one after his Moral Event Horizon. After forcing the whole population of a Afganistani village off a cliff nearby Mujahideen fighters hiding in the across cliff open fire on him. Zakharov stands there calmly as bullets and RPGs slam around him and his men scatter for cover (earning his Red Baron "Man of Stone"). He then stands triumphant as Hind gunships come and and destroy the, now exposed, Mujahideen fighters and his Moral Event Horizon is revealed to be part of a cruel Batman Gambit.
Frank's simple statement to Depraved BisexualSmug Snake Rawlins at the end, when Rawlins is trying to use Kathryn O'Brien as a get out of jail free card:
The Punisher: She's dead Rawlins... right when I was starting to like her...
Frank Castle: A half hour's drive later I had the jump leads clamped to the skin of his balls and I'd been turning the key in the ignition for fifteen minutes and he'd shit all over himself and the world was a beautiful place. It was too bad he had a rag in his mouth, or he could've told me was ready to talk. As it was, I gave him another forty-five minutes.
The following day, the soldiers are dejected and describe the feelings he has as being like those of a civilian against a special forces hardcase such as they.
After a long series of fights Morgan Freeman, well his Expy anyway, finally captures the Punisher and recovers the evidence he had on the cabal of generals who launch terrorist attacks for their own ends. He won't betray the armed forces, nor can he forget Castle rescuing him in Vietnam. So his solution is to leave him with a gun as the corrupt generals come after him.
At the end of Ennis' run, Castle is left in a warehouse with nothing in the way or ordinance but a single .45 with a full magazine and a round in the chamber - eight bullets. Eight Army and Air Force Generals walk in, intent on killing him to protect their careers and their lives, each one armed with more ammo than Castle himself. We don't see how it all goes down, but the final page has Castle walking away, smoking gun in hand, and all eight generals in a pile on the floor, each with a bullet hole right between the eyes. It is all made better by an excerpt from a book that Nick Fury is reading about the Vietnam war and the role it played in Castle's eventual fate.
Wilson Fisk tackling Frank down some stairs after dodging a shotgun blast and a shot to the face from Frank.
The Fight between The Punisher and The Mennonite.
Bullseye shits out a gun and shoots the Russian mob with it.
Castle, killing several thugs on a rooftop after being shot in the neck by Bullseye.
Bullseye gets another as after weeks of trying to get into the mind of Frank Castle, he finally figures out how to "kill him." and tries it while in the middle of fighting Castle. While we can't tell what he says, till the next arc "Frank", whatever he said, it worked. For a short while mind you, but the fact it still worked earns Bullseye his ultimate CMOA.
Big Jesus' entire plan to get revenge against The Kingpin for the murder and rape of his brother and his brother's girlfriend, all by getting into Solitary Confinement by stabbing a guard in his crotch, hiding a blade under his fingernail and inciting a prison riot, just so he could break out Frank-fucking-Castle himself and hope to use him to strike back at Kingpin. It worked... Till Frank snapped his neck.
Frank finally killing The Kingpin. He does so after death marching all the way from Queens to his building in Manhattan, before blowing his brains all over the glass front door.
Frank: Your city. My world.
Having surrendered himself to the law, Frank is shipped to Riker's where the guards gleefully points out the most dangerous in the joint and tells him that's the guy they're sending after him. Frank breaks one guard's nose, steals the other guard's nightstick and beats his head in, then tells the guards to send him the next most dangerous man.
Two men enter his cell and start stabbing at the person sleeping in his bunk. Frank saw this coming and "convinced" his cellmate to switch bunks (he broke the guy's neck and put him in the bunk). While his cellmate was being stabbed he slid off the top bunk and walked out of his cell unnoticed.
After cornering the five men he got himself imprisoned to get to, he explains to them why he's after them: They're the ones who killed his family.They promptlyshit their pants and he tells them what exactly is going to happen next: "I'm going to start the killing now."
Frank's mysterious second tour in 'Nam, partially featured in this story. Frank and Nick Fury are on an intelligence mission in Laos. They're captured and Frank is recognized and respected for being the sniper who has killed forty people inside of two months. After a day of torture they escape, with Frank killing two guards with his hands tied behind his back. While Fury heads off to complete his end of the mission, Frank hunkers down on a hill with a rifle and shoots at least two dozen incoming enemy soldiers. On Fury's recommendation he made Captain.
Circle of Blood, a cabal of extremists who kill off criminals but have no regard for the civilians caught in the crossfire organized the "Punishment Squad", a army of gangsters brainwashed into being loyal executioners. One of said gangsters is Jigsaw. At the end, the Punisher is battered and bruised after fighting through a large number of mooks, but still beats the tar out of Jigsaw, and the rest of the Squad is so terrified of them the brainwashing fails and they run away in terror.
During the Daredevil arc "The Devil, Inside and Out," fellow vigilante and occasional ally Matt Murdock AKA Daredevil is slowly breaking down while imprisoned at Ryker's Island. Frank is sitting a diner reading about Murdock's almost Punisher-like activities in jail. Deciding that Murdock needs a reminder of who he is, Frank gets up, heads outside, and casually breaks the neck of a pimp beating on one of his prostitutes, advises the girl to get clean and out of the life, and surrenders to a nearby police officer. Just to go help Daredevil.
Later, during a prison riot intended to kill Daredevil, Frank calmly waits reading a book in his unlocked cell for DD to come get him...though any thug that dares take a run at him ends up in a pile of bodies outside the cell. He subsequently uses the riot to break himself and Daredevil out...by pretending to hold "helpless" blind lawyer Matt Murdock hostage at gun point, simultaneously springing them and creating a little more doubt that Murdock is Daredevil (which he's on trial for).
Frank jumping out of a plane without a parachute from 35,000 feet up.
Later in the same series, Frank goes undercover at an Auction of Evil. When, after allowing himself to be captured, he escapes and kills the overly-confident thug who was trying to beat some information out of him...
Dying Thug: ...who...who are you?
Frank: Die curious.
A commonly referenced (yet unsourced, but I'd guess part of Garth Ennis' mainstream run) example of Frank's badassery: after an entire story arc of being hunted by forces answering to the president himself, he breaks into the Oval Office of the goddamn White House to personally deliver an ultimatum - tossing a nine-millimeter bullet onto the desk in front of the President of the United States of America. You may not like the politics, may believe that the Presidency brings with it an Omniscient Morality License, may believe that anyone who dares disagree with the United States deserves to die screaming, but god-damn - the man blew through the most absolute security on Earth simply to tell the most powerful man on Earth tofuck off. If that's not badassery, Frank would have to pull the same stunt on Galactus(Warren Ellis' version) to top it.
"Most people involved in attempts to kill me die. Not you, you get a warning. Don't ever give me cause to visit you again. I can get in anywhere. Nothing stops me. The last people to try are vapor. (tosses bullet on desk) 9 millimeters... I'm never further away than that."Stealth Hi/Bye.
Welcome Back, Frank
To those who are sick and tired of Daredevil's self righteousness, Frank forcing Dardevil to make a Sadistic Choice could count. After K.O.ing the man without fear while he was making one of his "you have a choice not to kill" speeches, he chains up Daredevil, tapes a revolver with one bullet to his hand, and tells him that he can either kill the Punisher and have blood on his hands or let the Punisher snipe a mobster (basically turning his own speech against him). Daredevil decides to pull the trigger... but there's no firing pin in the gun.
Frank's monologue: Cuddly. Lovable. Docile. That won't do at all.
Dying of six bullets in his chest, Castle calls upon the help of a mob doctor to patch him up. Rather than taking an anesthetic like someone who isn't the walking image of badass, he instead opts for the old school solution of biting down on .45 ACP for the whole procedure.
Frank Castle, barely conscious, out of ammo, bleeding from a half dozen bullets wounds walking to an armed thug, taking one more shot in the chest, then breaking the thug's neck with his bare hands remarking that all the thug is is a "little man with a big gun," before collapsing and barely being able to drag himself back to his hideout, setting up the equally badass bullet removal scene mentioned previously.
In the 2004 film: Frank's entire plan for payback against Howard Saint, the man who ordered the execution of his family. First, he gets Saint's business partners angry by costing them a load of money via sabotaging drug deliveries and tossing laundered money into the streets from a high-rise. Frank later sets up Saint's bodyguard and best friend, Quentin, so it appears as if Quentin's having an affair with Saint's wife — all with the help of one of Saint's low-level mooks. Quentin is eventually killed by Saint, who also murders his wife — even though she tells her husband that Quentin's gay and there is no affair. After Saint kills his wife, he calls his son and a group of his closest associates to his nightclub — where Frank picks each one of them off one-by-one, leaving Saint's son for last. (His "punishment" is particularly amusing in its own right.) After taking care of Saint's entire operation, Frank nails him in the gut with a single shot as Saint tries to flee on foot — then he shows Saint all of the evidence of his setup.
Frank:tosses pictures of Quentin kissing another man I made you kill your best friend. tosses one of Saint's wife's earrings I made you kill your wife. And now, I've killed you.
After the big reveal, Frank sends Saint to a fiery death by chaining him to a car which he then blows up, along with a large number of other cars in the same parking lot. From the air, the resultant blaze looks like a giant flaming skull.
In Punisher: War Zone, Frank Castle and an FBI agent manage to overwhelm a pair of mobsters holding the Donatelli family hostage. The FBI agent orders the surviving mobster to sit down, reads him his rights, and is about to handcuff him when Castle promptly blows the mobster's head off.
As an addendum to the above, Castle kills said mobster's son by PUNCHING THROUGH HIS FACE.
Castle pays Maginty back for the tip on the hit on the Donatelli house by dropping him off a rooftop onto a spiked fence - and then uses said corpse as a cushion to get back to the ground.
There's a rare villainous example when the Russian mob boss walks in to 'help' Jigsaw's amassed criminal army. Jigsaw had his son arrested earlier in the film, he walked into the lobby of the hotel with his ENTIRE mob of enforcers, all armed with different forms of the Kalashnikov pattern, and proceed to tear the Yakuza forces in the lobby apart, it's later noted that said boss was "An old-school genocidal maniac."
Ironically, the Russian mob boss (and his son too), happen to be the movie versions of the same crime family who were the ringleaders of the human trafficking ring in what would become part of Frank most horrfic CMOA in Garth Ennis' "The Slavers" Punisher MAX story arc.