These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
YMMV: The Punisher
For the comic:
Acceptable Targets: Garth Ennis Really hates the IRA. He has several characters call them out in "Kitchen Irish" how stupid and cowardly they are.
He's not too fond of corporations, either; Frank butchers the executives and major investors of an Enron stand-in in "Barracuda," and even earlier, the only thing Frank calls anti-corporate vigilante Mr. Payback out on is that he accidentally shot through a wall and hit an innocent cleaning woman while gunning down a corporate boardroom full of amoral executives.
If there's anything that Ennis might hate more than the two above, it's Human Traffickers, if The Slavers says anything.
Punisher: Year One has yet another take on Frank's character - he goes vigilante only after all other methods of bringing the mobsters who killed his family to justice fail spectacularly (the police is ineffective and corrupt; an attempt to do an independent investigation leads only to death of the reporter whom Frank briefly befriended).
Punisher: Born has a different take on WHY he became the Punisher. Frank fell in love with killing and made a deal with an unknown supernatural entity (or just plainly went mad, you choose) to fight a war that would last forever. He wasn't informed until later that the price would be his family, at which point the supernatural entity makes Frank forget that they ever made the deal.
Author's Saving Throw: For instance, in an early appearance, he tried to kill people for running stop signs and littering (this was Hand Waved in The Punisher: Circle of Blood by saying he had been drugged by Jigsaw to make him more violent and hardline). Most notoriously, The Punisher: Purgatory turned the gritty, mafia-killing Vigilante Man into a literal avenging angel, which literally ended up more or less killing The Punisher as both a character and a series...at least, until Garth Ennis brought him back.
Nicky Cavella is no ordinary mafioso, but murdered his family (including his aunt, although she was molesting him), chopped up and fed a Triad boss' son to him, killed a cop he'd taken hostage, and started the "Up Is Down, Black Is White" arc by digging up and urinating on the skeletons of the Punisher's wife and children, then deliberately sent the video to the nightly news so that Castle would see it, with Cavella himself clearly identified as the culprit. While it succeeded as intended in throwing off the Punisher's self-preservation instinct, former associate Rawlins pointed out that there was no way that mere gangsters could actually take advantage of this. He met his end following a botched attempt to finish the job himself after losing Teresa (sister of the henchman Pittsy from the first arc), Rawlins, and his entire gang to the Punisher — who'd killed so many of Nicky's men that he couldn't threaten those who wanted out — and O'Brien.
Rawlins dumped a crewman (killed) and his wife O'Brien overboard to be raped by the Taliban so that his helicopter would be able to stay airborne with him and the drug shipment, activates a terrorist group to hijack an airliner and fly it at the Kremlin as a diversion for another operation, and when he murders Zakharov's right-hand man (who seemed, along with Zakharov, to recognize the sniveling Jerkass underneath the Smug Snake exterior), he taunts the dying bodyguard by vowing to rape his son to death. A similar kill attempt doesn't work against the Punisher soon after O'Brien's death.
Tiberiu Bulat, his son Cristu Bular, and their associate Vera are the villains of The Slavers storyline. Tiberiu and Cristu were part of an Eastern European militia responsible for ethnic cleansing, slaughtering entire villages until Cristu got the idea to take young women captive. They forced them into sexual slavery and went to the United States to export the business. Tiberiu is a trigger-happy madman who'll kill anyone at the slightest provocation while Cristu and Vera are calculating business types who routinely have the girls raped, with Vera coming up with the strategy of 'rape them to break them.'
In MAX, Wilson Fisk begins as a mob boss's bodyguard with a scheme to manipulate the mob and The Punisher to make himself the Kingpin of New York. Fisk is steadily revealed as a callous monster who paralyzed his abusive father and let rats eat his face. After he was raped in prison, he tracked down the perpetrator's innocent wife, allowing the filthiest bums and crackheads he could find rape her before he murdered her, and sent the photos to her husband. When Fisk's schemes unravel, his innocent child is held at knifepoint by Fisk's former boss. Fisk coldly allows his son's throat to be slit and icily informs his wife they can simply have another, admitting he never truly loved his son. As the Kingpin, Fisk is brutal, killing lieutenants and foes alike, and exiling his grieving wife. In his final battle with Castle, Fisk reveals himself as a self-center egomaniac who believes he owns the city and has the right to do what he wishes with it.
Bullseye is presented as a truly vile killer in the MAX series. Initially an assassin who loves his job perhaps a little too much, Bullseye becomes obsessed with getting inside Frank Castle's head. To this end, he begins targeting happy families, murdering the husband, raping the wife and taking her and the kids out on a 'picnic' where he has his goons gun them all down to recreate the scene when Castle lost his family. When he finally confronts and battles Castle, Bullseye shows nothing but unmitigated bliss at being the one criminal who can truly mentally rattle him.
Magnificent Bastard: General Zakharov of the Mother Russia and Man of Stone story arcs. He was sent to investigate the attempted theft of a bioweapon, and when the Punisher goes in to steal it he keeps his identity secret, to the point of letting Moscow think an American trained terrorist group who hijacked a plane for a suicide bombing on Moscow were Al Qaeda. He reasoned that Russia would be too scared to fight Arab terrorists, but were prepared for nuclear war with America, and watched as Castle hid inside a nuclear missile and faked a missile attack to escape. Then there was how he fought in Afghanistan...
Frank himself has his moments, such as how he gets out of a seemingly impossible situation during the "Mother Russia" arc, or in the one-shot "The Cell"...
In Punisher: The End, Frank Castle of all people got one when he shot up an entire facility full of survivors, including the innocent servants/assistants, because they engineered a Hidden Elf Village in case of nuclear war and he SUSPECTED that they (as in their elite social class, not these people specifically) caused the attack in the first place, killing off the last of humanity. Thank goodness it's non-canon.
General Zakharov in Afghanistan throwing a baby off a cliff.
The Slavers were already far over the horizon, what with kidnapping young girls and beating and gang-raping them to break their spirits, but when Viorica escapes with her baby and seeks refuge with Jen Cooke, they track her down to Cooke's apartment and steal the baby back, then later send an e-mail with a photo attached of the lifeless baby.
The cabal of generals first introduced in the "Mother Russia" arc. To provide a smokescreen for an illegal operation in Russia, they have a team of Arab terrorists they secretly trained for taking out targets inside friendly countries hijack a passenger plane and attempt a suicide bombing on Moscow, only for the plane to be shot down by the missile defenses.
MAX Kingpin has one of the worst in the entire series. Faced with his old enemies holding his son at knife point, and forced to choose between saving his little boy's life and killing the last people standing in his way, he coldly shoots them, not showing a hint of emotion as his rival cuts the boy's throat. He then embraces his wife and tells her "We can have another."
MAX Bullseye takes it even further; he was created beyond the Moral Event Horizon.
Frank: I knew a lot of men would have to die.
My Real Daddy: He's had a few writers over the years who have done well with the character, but in recent years the one that most readers will think of is Garth Ennis.
Nausea Fuel: Punisher MAX is full of it, but probably the worst instance is what happens to Finn Cooley over the course of the series—his face, already blown away by a damn bomb of his own design gets in steadily worse shape. After his scrape with Castle, half of the right side of his face is missing, with most of the teeth yanked out with the flesh.
Sequel Displacement: While Frank was one of Marvel's cash cows back in the early nineties (alongside Spider-Man and Wolverine), many of his modern fans know nothing about his stories before Ennis. Sadly this means that a lot of his gentler characterizations are overlooked, as well as the fact that he actually did have something of a supporting cast.
Squick: Mainly in the MAX series; since it's geared towards a more adult audience, the series shows off deaths in the most graphic ways imaginable.
Frank himself feels this when, injured in a gunfight and handcuffed to a bed so he can't stop it from happening, he watches Jenny complete her Roaring Rampage of Revenge: First by beating her sister to death with a baseball bat while naked for marrying her off to an abusive mobster. Then screwing him to see if she can find any meaning in life now that the last of her tormentors is dead. And finally, the answer being a resounding "no", she shoots herself in the head with Frank's sidearm.
Tear Jerker: The flashbacks to his pre-Punisher life in the MAX arc Frank. They show that even when he still had his family he was completely detached and unable to withstand a non-violent life. In fact, the last thing he ever said to his wife is I'm leaving. And in the final issue we get a poignant visual showing just how much he regrets that decision: The words "I'm sorry" painted (perhaps in blood) on a wall inside his old family house. Just for an extra kick we get the final entry in his War Journal: "Still in old house. Sleep in living room now. Bedroom smells too much like Maria. I won't go in there anymore." Or the make it quicker, pretty much the entire second half of the series is one big tearjerker for Frank.
Many people feared the worst at the announcement of Franken-Castle. Surprisingly, the change has been immensely popular. So much so that his ongoing series was renamed Franken-Castle for a little while.
Writer on Board: Garth Ennis hates conventional superheroes. You cannot help but notice that whenever any of them appears in an issue of the main Punisher series written by him.
The Slavers, probably the bleakest, most visceral Punisher story ever written, was based on Ennis's opinion of human traffickers. Hint: He doesn't like them
Perhaps the cover of Frank sharpening a knife as he reads a book on Basic Human Anatomy will give you a clue that Ennis takes his hatred further than most. Note also that he also wrote the game and this story shows up.
Frank Castle's hatred of the human traffickers in The Slavers is (paraphrasing) "the worst he'd ever hated someone in a long time." Note that in MAX continuity, Frank's been The Punisher for at least a couple of decades.
Some of Ennis' political thoughts are chilling. The first line of "The End", where the war on terror goes nuclear? Soon.