The first solo title of The Punisher from 1986, often reprinted with subtitle Circle of Blood note after name of the first issue.
Once again, Frank Castle, better known as the vigilante named Punisher, is in jail. He is contacted by an organization calling themselves the Trust, who offer him to get out in exchange for co-operation in the war against crime. Castle accepts, but soon learns that Trust is actually planning to take over organized crime in the United States, and must be stopped.
The Punisher: Circle of Blood provides examples of the following tropes:
- Avenging the Villain: Frank's pursued by the son of a mobster he killed; who unlike his father committed no crimes and had no illegal ambitions beyond avenging his dad. He manages to talk him down at the very end of the arc.
- Better to Die than Be Killed: Warden Gerty chooses to kill himself instead of letting Trust get to him first and be put in his own prison.
- Big Bad: Alaric, the leader of the local chapter of the Trust, with entire organization as the Greater-Scope Villain.
- Brainwashed: Trust's Death Squad is comprised from individuals who have gone through "reidentification therapy", becoming Punishers themselves.
- Darker and Edgier: Though pretty mainstream by today's standards, the miniseries was a far cry from most other Marvel Comics products of the mid 1980s, featuring such things as suicide, death of a child and implied sex.
- The Dragon: Gregario for Don Cervello. Working as his muscle, he keeps other prisoners in line, including Jigsaw.
- The Dreaded: It's Punisher's third visit to Ryker's Island, and most of its populace fear for their lives.
- Evil Counterpart: Since Trust planned to have Punisher as their Mook Lieutenant, their brainwashed Death Squad thugs are modeled after him.
- Evil Power Vacuum: In the wake of Kingpin's disappearance, a gang war develops among the other New York crime lords, all attempting to gain power.
- Faking the Dead: Learning that Punisher is going to kill him, Kingpin plants a fake body and goes into hiding for a while. Punisher plays along with it, wanting to see where his absence leads to.
- Given Name Reveal: This is the first time we learn the Punisher's real name is Frank Castiglione/Castle.
- Great Escape: Punisher quickly learns about an escape plan within the prison walls, and manages to become part of it.
- Grievous Bottley Harm: Jigsaw tries to attack Punisher with a broken beer bottle.
- Guns Akimbo: Punisher is shown firing two pistols on the cover of the first issue.
- Left for Dead: Punisher decides against killing off Angela, and leaves her dangling over the edge in her car.
- Luxury Prison Suite: Jigsaw's cell is furnished with all sorts of nice things; a radio, a television set, an armchair, and a case of beer.
- Might as Well Not Be in Prison at All: Don Cervello is practically leader of the Cell Block D, he even has bought guards taking orders from him.
- Mob War: Kingpin's "death" leaves the remaining criminal organizations in New York fighting each other, which is part of Trust's plan.
- Murder by Mistake: Coriander accidentally shoots a child when he is running away from Punisher. This shakes him to the core, and he spills the beans on Trust's big plan.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: The Punisher spreads the rumor of Kingpin's death, intent on taking out the gangsters who step up; however, he realizes the resulting gang war goes beyond what he expected, and he begins to try to get the mobsters to call a truce.
- Off with His Head!: Punisher finishes his fight with Nold in the New York City Subway by ramming his head through a door window, which opens soon after and take it away.
- Protagonist Title
- Shoot the Television: As Punisher is going through Trust's local headquarters, Alaric appears on various television screens to talk to him. Punisher ignores his reasoning and shoots every screen he appears in.
- Smug Snake: After manipulating The Punisher for the length of the miniseries, once Castle breaks through his defenses, terrifies his brainwashed army of killers so bad their brainwashing fails and they run away, and hunts him down, Alaric is too out of his mind with fear to even shoot him with a loaded gun.
- Tampering with Food and Drink: The series explains Punisher's overly zealous behavior in his previous appearances in The Spectacular Spider-Man #81-83; it is a result of drugs that were planted in his food, on orders from Jigsaw.
- That Man Is Dead: When referred to as "Frank Castle", he states that he died the same day as his family. Now, there is only The Punisher.
- Trap Door: Punisher is dropped through one into Trust's brainwashing chamber, and sedative gas is there to greet him.