Characters / The Punisher

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     The Punisher

AKA: Francis David Castiglione/Frank Castle
Debut: The Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1, #129 (1974)

"They laugh at the law. The rich ones who buy it and twist it to their whims. The other ones, who have nothing to lose. Who don't care about themselves, or other people. All the ones who think they're above the law, or outside it, or beyond it. They know all the law is good for is to keep good people in line. And they all laugh. They laugh at the law. But they don't laugh at me."

A traumatized former Marine turned brutal vigilante, Frank Castle lost his family in the crossfire from a Mafia conflict, and declared his own personal war on the criminal underworld using a vast arsenal of weaponry. He mainly works alone, his relations with the superhero community being strained at best.

  • Aesop Amnesia: In his first appearances in Spider-Man comics, he would repeatedly think that Spider-Man is a criminal, only to learn that he truly is a good guy that he says he is at the end of the story. But then again, this is Spider-Man we're talking about.
  • Anti-Hero: Varies between an Unscrupulous Hero and Nominal Hero in the Marvel Universe. He spends his days on two things: Killing the worst scum on earth and planning to kill the worst scum on earth.
  • Ax-Crazy: Depending on the Writer, he's a calculating killing machine or a nut who offs criminals for the sake of it.
  • Badass Beard: On occasion when it goes beyond his usual Perma-Stubble. He sported one for most of Greg Rucka's run.
  • Badass Longcoat: He frequently dons a black trenchcoat.
  • Badass Normal: Castle has no superpowers of his own, and typically most of his foes are either just mooks or other badass normals. However, he has gone toe-to-toe with various superheroes and villains in the past.
  • Badasses Wear Bandanas: A bandana was a regular part of his ensemble during the nineties, usually in stories drawn by Jim Lee.
  • Berserk Button: Hurting kids, for one. Insulting Captain America and the ideal he stands for, for another (just ask Hate-Monger, who got his throat crushed with a boot for daring to use a version of Cap's costume to spread racist propoganda).
  • Blood Knight: Why does Frank kill? 33% justice, 33% revenge, 33% because he likes it, and the other 1% is just plain Ax-Crazy.
  • Celibate Hero: Modern characterization; he used to border on Really Gets Around, though it was almost always nothing more than a fling, being caught up in the heat of the moment, or simply satiating an annoying biological urge.
  • Chest Insignia: The Punisher's iconic skull. Like Batman, it serves as a heavily armored target and in the earlier issues the teeth were spare ammo magazines.
  • Cold Sniper: Has the persona and was one in Vietnam.
  • Colonel Kilgore: Even though he was only a Captain in Vietnam, he still fits this trope
  • Combat Pragmatist: The following quote from "Welcome Back, Frank" sums it up:
    Frank Castle: "When you're on your own, behind enemy lines, no artillery, no air strikes, no hope of an evac, you don't fight dirty. You do things that make dirty look good."
  • Cool Mask: During Edmondson's run, Punisher sported a balaclava with his skull insignia on it.
  • Cruel Mercy: During the second chapter of Greg Rucka's run, the Punisher cornered Liam Malloy, a low level thug who recklessly shot up a wedding reception, and actually let him go. Predictably, Liam immediately went to the nearest Bad-Guy Bar and told his comrades about how he survived an encounter with the Punisher. They saw him as a marked man and refused to offer him asylum, and he was brutally executed by his bosses soon after.
  • Crusading Widower: He seeks vengeance then effects genocide on the American criminal element for the murder of his family during a botched mob hit.
  • The Don: Became briefly one for the Geracis, a minor crime family in New York, after they rescued him from an electric chair and convinced him that the best way to fight the crime is to control it.
  • The Dreaded: Every crook and mobster (and most "street" level supervillains) brown their trousers at the mere mention of Frank.
  • Empowered Badass Normal
    • When he was recruited to be an agent for Heaven, he gained an ability to summon weapons from his jacket and make them as lethal as he wanted them to be.
    • After his death at the hands of Wolverine's son Daken during the Dark Reign event, he was built into a Frankensteinian Mix-and-Match Man who was physically much stronger in undeath than in life.
  • Evil Wears Black: He's easily the darkest of Marvel's nominally heroic characters, and his all black costume (military-goth chic, as Spider-Man dubs it) is intended to contrast with the brightly colored outfits of the more traditional superheroes.
  • Eyepatch of Power: Sported one for most of Greg Rucka's run, after he nearly lost an eye during a battle with the fourth Vulture.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Among the Marvel super hero community Frank is easily the most reviled. Even Namor, post Phoenix Five, has a few other heroes that he can call friend. Frank has absolutely no support among the larger hero community because he deems himself Judge, Jury, and Executioner to virtually every criminal he meets. Even people that are willing to put up with that won't work with him because he point blank refuses to compromise, even for the sake of pragmatism. The closest thing he's had to a consistent ally is Wolverine, and even then it's a Vitriolic Best Buds (really Depending on the Writer) thing.
  • Friend to All Children: While not necessarily good with kids, Frank nonetheless is shown to have a soft spot for them.
  • Good Is Not Nice: He isn't a very pleasant individual, but he nonetheless hunts down the worst of the criminals.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Skirts the line here a lot.
  • I Work Alone: Repeatedly discussed. In his opinion, "no one should be like me."
  • Iconic Item: His skull T-shirt.
  • Immune to Mind Control: Once No Selled a sexuality-based mind control power from two villainesses who ordered Spider-Man to attack him (something about his using his reptilian brain more than other brain functions).
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Frank's a big fan of this.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He may be a violent, deranged sociopath and a jerk to almost everyone he meets but it's shown that Frank does genuinely care about the people he saves and his few friends.
  • Karmic Thief: He swipes the cash that he finds on his raids to finance the war.
  • Knife Nut: If Frank uses a close combat weapon, it'll be a knife.
  • Knight Templar: At his most brutal, he's this. He's still on the side of good, but his methods are way beyond what most people find acceptable and his moral absolutist tendencies generally don't help sway anyone.
  • Lightning Bruiser: What he lacks in straight heroic based powers (Super Speed, durability, strength) He makes up for in highly trained reflexes, sheer determination, and the upmost brutality he brings to the table in any bouts.
  • Mentor: To Rachel Cole-Alves. Might qualify as an Evil Mentor depending on how you want to look at it.
  • Mighty Glacier: As Franken-Castle, he was much stronger than in life but since he lacked the muscle memory of his old self, he was much slower and cumbersome in combat.
  • More Dakka: His solution to most problems
  • Never Hurt an Innocent: One of the reasons why the Punisher is an Anti Hero. Well, he won't kill innocents, and he probably won't give them any permanent injuries.
  • '90s Anti-Hero: The Ur-Example despite debuting in the '70s.
  • One-Man Army: Toyed with. So long as Frank remains within his own weight class (baseline human and just above), his Marine training, tactical skill, and vast arsenal will give him a significant edge, and enable him to mow down Mooks as if it were going out of style. Put him up against a superhuman adversary, conversely, and it's frequently all he can do to stay alive.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: This trope defines him.
  • Papa Wolf: The catalyst for his continuous Roaring Rampage of Revenge against criminals everywhere is his family being killed.
  • Perma-Stubble: Quite regularly.
  • Perpetual Frowner: Frank's default expression.
  • Powered Armor: He had to resort to using this against the Reavers, a pair of thugs hopped up on a kind of "super-PCP" and the Red Hulk.
  • Phrase Catcher: When Frank enters a room, the response is usually some variation of...
    Mobster: Holy shit! It's the fucking Punisher!
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: While Frank Castle hunts down, kills, and tortures every criminal he comes across, he has an extra hatred towards rapists and reserves the worst form of torture he can think of for them (particularly sex traffickers and child rapists).
  • Semper Fi: Frank was a marine.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Frank definitely fits the bill. After three brutal tours of duty in The Vietnam War, Frank Castle lost his wife and children to Mafia thugs and now wages a one-man war on crime. Various authors have toyed with Frank's mental state, and Garth Ennis has suggested that in Vietnam, Frank started to love combat and killing people, with the death of his family possibly being only the final straw that caused his killing sprees.
  • Sociopathic Hero: The comic book mascot of this trope. He was, by far, the most popular costumed "superhero" to kill his enemies rather than putting them to jail. And he's been doing it way before The Dark Age of Comic Books.
  • The Stoic: Frank is either calm, detached, and homicidal, or (much more rarely) pissed off and homicidal. That's it. To quote the 2005 videogame (written by Garth Ennis):
    *after blasting Bushwacker through a wall* I don't smile much. Don't smile ever. But if I did, this would be one.
  • That Man Is Dead: A favorite saying of his; Frank Castle died with his family. He's the Punisher.
  • Tragic Hero: Despite gunning down organized crime as fast as he can, it never ceases to exist, which condemns him to do it until the day he dies.
  • Torture Technician: Push one of his Berserk Buttons, and you'll wish he was just using the Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Rare 'heroic' version. If you aid the Punisher, even save his life repeatedly, don't expect him to show much gratitude if you're on his 'bad' list. Or his 'good' list either, as Yorkie has found out.
  • Vigilante Man: One of the ultimate examples in the Marvel Universe
  • Villain Protagonist: Sometimes, most notably in Greg Rucka's 2009 War Zone miniseries when he goes up against the Avengers.
  • Villainous Underdog: Given how underpowered he is compared to most superheroes, any story in which he's the bad guy is likely to make him this. Notable examples include his early Spider-Man and Daredevil appearances, and especially War Zone (2009) miniseries where he goes up against The Avengers with nothing but his guns and his tactical acumen.
  • Villainous Widow's Peak: When Frank was still an antagonist in his early appearances, he had a pronounced widow's peak.
  • Worthy Opponent: His relationship with a few heroes, most notably Daredevil. Matt thinks that he's a psychopathic maniac whose methods go well beyond what could even be argued to be justifiable, while Frank thinks that Matt is a self-congratulating moralist who needs to stay the fuck out of his way. Their encounters typically end with either Matt beating the hell out of Frank or Frank incapacitating Matt for long enough to give him a "mind you own goddamn business" lecture, but while both parties have had countless opportunities to kill or cripple one another over the years, the fact that they haven't indicates some kind of grudging respect.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Castle has no problems killing female villains.



AKA: David Linus Lieberman
Debut: The Punisher Vol. 2, #4 (1987)

"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 be truly defined as war."

A computer and engineering whiz, Linus "Microchip" Lieberman joined the Punisher's crusade after his nephew was murdered under orders of the Kingpin, and worked alongside the vigilante for years, becoming the closest thing Frank had to a best friend. Unfortunately, a series of tragedies and clashing ideologies led to the two butting heads, and becoming bitter enemies, which ultimately led to Micro's death at the hands of a rogue S.H.I.E.L.D. agent called Stone Cold.

  • Back from the Dead: He's Resurrected for a Job by the Hood. Micro is initially peeved, claiming he was fine with being dead, but is convinced to go along with the Hood's plans after the villain promises to also bring back Micro's son, Louis.
  • Killed Off for Real: He was first killed by a rocket launched by Stone Cold, and later had his throat sliced open by the Punisher.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Even people who didn't know about his activities usually just called him "Micro" or "Chip". Frank refers to him by his first name once during their entire partnership.

Mickey Fondozzi

Debut: The Punisher War Zone Vol. 1, #1 (1992)

Punisher: You know better than to lie to me, Mickey.
Mickey: You're nuts. You can't do this to me.
Punisher: That's where you're wrong. I asked you a question and you tell me you're not connected anymore.
Mickey: Buh-but you kill connected guys.
Punisher: Not ones I have a use for. Give me something big.

A low (almost subterranean) level criminal, Mickey was strong-armed by the Punisher into helping him infiltrate the Carbone crime family. After that misadventure, the Punisher reluctantly kept Mickey around as a source of information regarding the various goings-on in the criminal underworld.

  • Accidental Misnaming: Mickey referred to Frank as "Johnny", the alias he was using when they first met.
  • Adaptation Name Change: Fondozzi became Duka in the 2004 film.
  • Chronic Villainy: Despite being a main source of information for the Punisher, he tended to be embroiled in various petty crimes whenever Frank contacted him. Frank had to remind him of their arrangement. Often with extreme prejudice. Mickey at least once tried to use this to his advantage by ripping off counterfeiters with the intention of siccing the Punisher on them, but Frank was out that day, so Mickey ended up with Microchip instead.
  • Fauxreigner: He managed to become a made man despite the fact that he's not Italian. He's actually Albanian.
  • Heel–Face Turn: In the original Marvel Knights series, he got hit by one of Dagger's light daggers, which sometimes cure someone's criminal impulses. Seeing that he genuinely turned over a new leaf, Frank let him be.
  • The Informant: Whether he liked it or not.
  • Running Gag: Mickey's small-time criminal venture du jour (cigarettes, car parts, bootleg videos, counterfeit jeans, etc.) is shut down in an over-the-top violent fashion by the Punisher.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: The Resurrection of Ma Gnucci saw the introduction of Charles B. Schitti, a similarly downtrodden and low-level mob affiliate who the Punisher agrees to spare in exchange for his aid against a crime family.

Martin Soap

Debut: The Punisher Vol. 5, #2 (200)

"You know how they say it can't rain all the time? They're lying through their teeth. Really. I should know, I've been getting rained on my whole life."

Martin Soap was dropped on his head seconds after being born, and things just went downhill from there, from being abandoned as a child to becoming the New York Police Department's biggest joke, and the sole member of the pointless "Punisher Taskforce". After the Punisher dismantled the Gnucci crime family, the hapless Soap became his informant within the NYPD.

  • Bigger Is Better in Bed: Apparently. At the end of the series he's left the force and found a career in porn.
  • Butt Monkey: He's the biggest joke in the NYPD.
  • The Chew Toy: Some of his highlights include getting dropped on the head as a newborn, finding an ax murderer by getting drunk and sleeping with him, going out with an obvious crossdresser, and accidentally dating his own mother.
  • Childhood Brain Damage: A variation of the trope occurs: We see the nurse dropping him on his head just after being born, but he doesn't end up with any mental handicap for it (it's just there to show the crap life shoves on him started very early and never let up).
  • Interrupted Suicide The first time he tried to commit suicide, the Punisher talks him out of it and convinces him to be a mole for him. The second time, he Ate His Gun in the restroom of his favorite bar, but the bartender stops him, though only so he wouldn't have to clean up the blood. This leads to...
  • Took a Level in Badass: He threatens the cruel bartender, breaks the nose of a snitch, and even shoots the Punisher and almost arrests him. Then subverted almost immediately as the Punisher just gives him a mean look in the middle of his attempted arrest and Soap breaks down whimpering.

Colonel Yorkie Mitchell

Debut: The Punisher Vol. 6, #18 (2002)

"He's going to kill you. Not over me. You're going up against him, so he'll kill you. Because you're a joke in spite of it all, and he's the most dangerous man that ever walked this earth."

A British officer who served with Castle in Vietnam. Shows up periodically to provide intelligence or recruit Frank for a mission in Britain.

  • Ascended Extra: His only appearance in the main Marvel Universe was in the story Downtown. He was promoted to a recurring character in the MAX series, showing up in Kitchen Irish, Man of Stone, Long Cold Dark and Get Castle.
  • Badass Mustache: He's an old British soldier, so him having one is requisite.
  • Mister Exposition: When it comes to The Troubles.
  • Old Friend: Well, as much as you can be one to the Punisher.
  • Old Soldier: He's in his fifties, at least.
  • Secret Intelligence Service: Although still very much on the military side.


AKA: Stuart Clarke
Debut: Champions Vol. 1, #5 (1976)

"Oh, don't worry about me, Bridge. I got big plans. Yessir. I got my whole life ahead of me."

After his company went bankrupt, Silicon Valley industrialist Stu Clarke became the costumed criminal Rampage. During the events of Civil War he joined forces with the Punisher and become the second Microchip. Like his predecessor, he and Frank eventually had a bitter falling out and became enemies.

  • Always Someone Better: His Fatal Flaw is his difficulty in accepting this.
  • Ascended Fanboy: Of the Punisher, and later to Jigsaw.
  • Broken Pedestal: During Secret Invasion he discovered that the Punisher, while being mind-controlled by the Hate Monger, killed his girlfriend. His partnership with Frank immediately dissolved, along with most of his sanity.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Inverted as he had his own company and he turned to crime when it failed. At the same time, also played somewhat straight in that he could have sold his company to Tony Stark, but refused because he didn't want to "sell his soul to big business".
  • Eviler Than Thou: Jigsaw. Stu learned this the hard way.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: His high tech weapons kept Frank alive against super-powered foes.
  • Genius Cripple: Lost three fingers on his right hand to a gunshot wound. He compensated by wearing a Power Glove.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Was eventually disfigured in a manner similar to Jigsaw, where they could almost pass as twins.
  • Powered Armor: Used one during his criminal career.
  • Rogues-Gallery Transplant: Initially a foe of The Champions and Iron Man before becoming an ally (and later enemy) of the Punisher.
  • Unknown Rival: Obsessed with Iron Man, but barely registered on Tony's radar.
  • Villain Team-Up: Led his own team during his early career. Teamed up with The Hood during Secret Invasion and became one half of The Jigsaw Brothers in In The Blood.

Henry Russo

Debut: Punisher Vol. 8, #1 (2009)

"Knowing how much he hated you made you my favorite person in the world."

The bastard son of Frank's archnemesis Jigsaw, Henry becomes the third Microchip and the youngest of Frank's allies.

  • Abusive Parents: Jigsaw, unsurprisingly.
  • Adorkable:
  • Friend to All Living Things: Rescued a pair of kittens but was forced to kill them when his father threatened to kill his mother. He's also a vegetarian. This doesn't extend to the criminals he aids Frank in killing, though.
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover
  • Hero Worship: Towards the Punisher, his father's worst enemy.
  • Shoo the Dog: Recieves it from Frank at the end of In The Blood: Frank, who has come to view Henry as a son, regrets putting him in danger. So he threatens to kill him if he ever sees him again.

Rachel Cole-Alves

Debut: The Punisher Vol. 9, #1 (2011)

"But I feel. I can't stop. God, I've tried, and I can't stop... and you do, too, I know you do... the gnawing that isn't anger and isn't rage and isn't guilt but it's all of it, a thousand times over. Feeding on you, devouring you, stealing your breath and you never stop seeing it... seeing them..."

A Marine sergeant and decorated Afghan War veteran, Rachel saw her husband and entire wedding party die when they got in the way of a gangland hit ordered by Stephanie Gerard and Chris Poulsen. She worked alongside the Punisher for a time, eventually donning the same skull insignia worn by him.

  • Anti-Hero: Unscrupulous Heroine. Possibly a Nominal Heroine by the end.
  • Broken Bird: Though she notes that's she still far from being on Castle's level ("No one can be like you").
  • Captain Ersatz: Her backstory is lifted from the Bride from Kill Bill.
  • Chest Insignia: Castle allows her to wear a copy of his chestplate and its skull insignia.
  • Dark Action Girl: Given her general instability she fits this better than Action Girl.
  • Distaff Counterpart: To Frank Castle.
  • Evil Wears Black: Mimics Frank in this regard.
  • Fiery Redhead: Rachel's even less stable than Frank, and has flaming red hair.
  • Foil: To Castle, with her fiery temper and immediate need for revenge, contrasting his cold-blooded pragmatism. She's him as he was at the start of his career.
  • Guns Akimbo: As prone to Frank at charging in with a weapon in each hand.
  • Hot-Blooded: Contrasting the far icier Castle.
  • Insistent Terminology: She prefers to be called by the last name of Alves instead of Cole, as she took her husband's name upon being married.
  • Legacy Character: Preceded by Lynn Michaels as the "Lady Punisher".
  • More Dakka: Shares Castle's conviction that bullets solve all problems, and that more bullets solve more problems.
  • Murder by Mistake: Kills Detective Walter Bolt when she panics and mistakes him for Poulsen.
  • Put on a Bus / The Bus Came Back: Rucka's run ended with Frank taking on the Avengers to distract them and allow her to escape, with her ending up continuing her vigilantism in Los Angeles. Edmonson's run features the Punisher in LA, however, she only appears once during the storyline, giving Frank a car ride, and has not appeared since.
  • '90s Anti-Hero: Evokes this in her mimicry of Castle.
  • Revenge: Wants revenge on Gerard and Poulsen.
  • Revenge Before Reason: Repeatedly jeopardizes her own safety and Frank's in order to get at Gerard and Poulsen.
  • Semper Fi: Like Castle she's a former Marine.
  • That Man Is Dead: Forced to cut all ties to her past by Castle.