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Comic Book / The Punisher: Purgatory

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"Hey, you got your Todd McFarlane in my Punisher!"
"You got your Punisher in my Todd McFarlane!"

Deadpool: The feather — it's like it knew you — like it wanted to be near you, to help you. But it's from an angel. Why would an angel feather care about you, Castle?
Punisher: I don't want to talk about it.
Thunderbolts Vol. 2, #22 (2014)

The Punisher (subtitled Purgatory for collected editions and interior titles) is a 1998 comic book miniseries, released by the Marvel Knights imprint of Marvel Comics.

The series, set in the shared Marvel Universe, stars the eponymous Punisher, reinventing the Badass Normal vigilante as a supernatural being.

Some time ago, Frank Castle killed himself. But he came back with strange divine powers, and uses them in his war against crime. He is then pulled into a conflict between angels and a power-hungry demon, and learns the truth behind his work as a vigilante.

This iteration of Punisher appeared for the second (and last) time in a crossover miniseries with Wolverine, subtitled Revelation.


The Punisher: Purgatory provides examples of:

  • As Lethal as It Needs to Be: Justified. Frank's supernatural weapons are as deadly as he needs them to be, as they respond to his thoughts.
  • As the Good Book Says...: Each issue's title page features a Biblical passage.
  • Bald of Evil: All of the Stalkers are bald and wear sunglasses.
  • Big Bad: Olivier, who seeks to conquer the realms of all Lords of Hell.
  • Blood Bath: Olivier sits in a bathtub full of blood, singing "I've Got You Under My Skin" before he is interrupted by a visit from his right-hand man.
  • Bookends: When the Punisher makes his first appearance with guns in hand in the first issue, it is accompanied with narration and him telling the criminals to pray. The final issue closes with an identical setup.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Olivier's Stalkers are made from men whom Frank has killed once before. He doesn't remember any of them.
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  • Childhood Friends: Lucy Mellace is revealed to be a childhood friend of Frank's.
  • Discontinuity Nod: The events of the series are vaguely recapped at the beginning of The Punisher: Welcome Back, Frank, and obliquely referenced in issues of Moon Knight and Thunderbolts. Olivier would also go on to cameo in Nightcrawler and Fear Itself.
  • Domestic Abuse: Lucy Mellace goes to pray to Punisher's shrine for him to stop her husband beating her. Later that night, Frank appears in their apartment to beat the guy in turn.
  • The Dragon: Bruno Costa, the brother of Olivier's earthly form.
  • Driven to Suicide: Convinced by invisible demons whispering into his ear, Frank put a gun into his temple and pulled the trigger. Some time later, he dug his way out of his grave.
  • Epic Fail: Gadriel for failing to protect Frank's family due to him being too busy getting drunk and hitting on women. It's especially bad since it's made clear that being assigned to watch over the Castle family was Heaven's way of giving Gadriel a largely unprecedented second chance... which he promptly squandered in the worst way possible by giving into the same Earthly temptations that caused him to screw up the first time.
  • Fire-Breathing Weapon: Frank pulls a flamethrower out of his coat during a raid on a drug factory.
  • Forgiveness: Gadriel needs Frank's forgiveness to get back into Heaven.
  • Guardian Angel: Gadriel was the guardian angel of Frank's family, who failed the job because he was busy drinking and whoring at the time.
  • Hammerspace: Frank's new divine powers allow him to produce any weapon he desires from inside of his coat.
  • Hellgate: A vortex to hell is accidentally opened during the fight at the Flatiron Building. Gadriel sacrifices himself to close it.
  • Out of the Inferno: After being engulfed by the building he set on fire, Frank walks out of it unscathed.
  • The Power of Hate: Conversed.
    Gadriel: Give me a chance to explain. It's the least you can do after I brought you back from the other side.
    Frank: You?
    Gadriel: What did you think? It just happened all by itself? Your hate is powerful, but not that powerful.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Frank has red glowing eyes when his powers are activated.
  • Retcon: Random chance was actually a part of a supernatural conspiracy. Check The Reveal for more.
  • The Reveal: The human whom Olivier became after he was kicked out of Hell was Frank Costa, the guy responsible for the deaths of Frank's family. Moreover, Frank becoming the Punisher after the massacre at Central Park was planned in advance, to create a vigilante who unwittingly kills in Olivier's name, strengthening his status as a demon.
  • Sequel Hook: Olivier's right-hand man swears to return after his defeat.
  • Super Window Jump: Tariel flees from Olivier's ambush in the abandoned church by jumping through one of the windows and flying away.
  • Title Drop: "Part of me died to bring you back. Call it purgatory, Frank."
  • Unwitting Pawn: Unknown to Frank, every man he has killed over the years has been a sacrifice and an addition for Olivier's personal army.

Alternative Title(s): The Punisher 1998