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Frank Castle is the finest officer the Marines of Firebase Valley Forge have ever known. He is the reason I am sure I will survive this. His dedication to his men is total. Not from love — that word and he do not belong together — but from the same determination to do his job correctly that informs his every action. Since he arrived, six months ago, not one patrol that he has led has suffered from a KIA. His first tour, so the story goes, began with Tet in sixty-eight. The brass in Da Nang detected some dark promise in the young platoon commander, and Special Forces had themselves a new recruit. Within that strange Praetorian Guard his star shone brightly. His second tour is mostly a mystery, but I've heard talk of wetwork in Cambodia, black ops, the company, an NVA General sniped just outside... And horror stories too outlandish to be true. But now the war in Vietnam is winding down, and no one knows quite what to do with the Predators it has bred. His third tours saw him sent to Valley Forge — because they had to send him somewhere, after all. A specialized assassin in command of infantry. The writing is upon the wall: America will soon be gone from here. Alas for Captain Castle, he is running out of war.
— Stevie Goodwin, Born #1
I will have sons. When the big freedom bird takes me home. I will make love to many, many beautiful women, and when I meet the most beautiful of all I will marry her that very day. She will give me sons and they will grow up tall and strong as giants, and I will watch them grow, and sing with pride. I will take them up into the woods and the mountains and show them the greatest country in the world: the promised land that is their birthright. The good America. The real America. And not this tragic misstep into darkness. In years to come the boys will learn their father went to war, and gaze on him anew, eyes bright with fascination. They will ask the old man what he did, and who he fought, and where he went, and what he saw there — And I will never, ever tell them.
— Stevie Goodwin, Born #1
Very clever Frank. You got your war a stay of execution. But it won't last. You know that. The things the General said are true. This wonderland of yours is coming to an end. I know you love this. Talk all you want about your duty, about stopping Charlie creeping in and killing half of the Corps in its sleep — we both know that isn't it. When did you ever feel so alive? So full of fierce black joy? I can fix it so you can do this forever, Frank. There'll be a piece to pay, but you can keep on going and never have to stop. Just say the word and I can fix it. Who am I? Is that what you're asking? Well who do you think I am, Frank...?
— A mysterious voice in Frank's head. Born #1
This war has breed a saying oft-repeated. "Payback is a motherfucker". At Valley Forge we have another. "If you think payback's bad — You haven't met Frank Castle".
— Stevie Goodwin, Born #2
We cannot lose in Vietnam. Try as we might. Though our Generals are so stupid, our strategy so poor, as to all but guarantee defeat... Though our morale is trampled in the deepest ditch, shot through with heroin and bitter failure... Though we face the toughest, bravest fighters in the world, strange little men with hearts like those of tigers... Though we make the world despise us... Though we do things that will stain our souls forever... Though America eats its own intestines over this, cities, riven with unrest, leaders inspiring loathing and distrust... We cannot lose. Because when we are gone — when the brave little fighters kick us out, and we finally lose all stomach for this wretched, knotted puzzle of a war — No — No one — in South East Asia, or anywhere on Earth, will look at what is left of Vietnam — And think it wise to fuck with us.
— Stevie Goodwin, Born #3
In the Beginning
They hated that old man so much they shot him through my family. The world went crazy on a summer's day in Central Park, In the time before UZIs and Berettas, before nine millimeter popguns ruled the streets. It was a Thompson, like the ones our fathers carried, and I recognized its rattle even as its big, man-stopping forty-fives punched blood and breath from my lungs. I hit the ground besides my daughter. She's been gutshot, badly, and when she saw the things that boiled and wriggled from her belly the expression on her face was not a little girl's. My wife bled out later on the operating table, her heart a gaping hole her life drained through. Whenever I get careless, that yearning in her eyes creeps up and brings me to my knees. Right then the old man's soldiers started shooting back. My son dropped wordlessly, without a mark on him. I took a breath that cut like glass, spat blood, rose to my knees, picked up the boy and searched in vain for entry wounds. The bullet had entered through his open mouth. That was our picnic in the park. And now every night I go out and make the world sane.
— Frank Castle, The Punisher #1, "In the Beginning"
It's Omaha Beach. Wounded Knee. Rorke's Drift, The Killing Fields, the first day on The Somme. World War Three in North Jersey. And only now, pouring automatic fire into a human wall — do I feel something like peace.
— Frank Castle, The Punisher #1, "In the Beginning"
Roth: Oh, listen, this guy is so full of fucking shit it makes my teeth hurt...! His old buddy the Punisher wipes out 42 wiseguys and puts, what is it, seven more on the critical list, and now fat boy's giving us a lecture on the fucker's MO! With a fond little twinkle in his eye! And what did fat boy assure us he could do? Take down the Punisher. And here we are, we've known where the guy lives for the last five days, and how far has our tubby hero gotten? Well? He's scared. He's fucking terrified. He's seen his pal in action again and all of a sudden he's not so fucking sure of himself, so he dicks us around and —
(Having heard enough, Microchip grabs Roth by his balls)
Roth: (Stunned) What the fuck are you doing?
Microchip: (Bluntly) I'm taking hold of your balls. (Tightens his grip)
Roth: (Visibly frightened) What — get — the fuck —
Microchip: Stay still. (Coldly) I haven't done anything to you yet. We're still cool. And that's the way we want to keep things: nice and cool. I think you've gotten the wrong idea about me, Roth. First of all, I'm not what I look like. But that must be all too apparent right now. Second of all, my name is Micro. Not Fat boy. The third thing is that I worked with Frank Castle for ten years. I helped him kill over 800 people. Anyone knows him better than I do is long since in their grave. I hacked computers to find him targets. I customized his 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 killing machine that runs at optimum efficiency. Because of me, what he does can truly be defined as war. So when I watch him rack up a 42 dead and seven wounded — a ratio that tells you everything you need to know, by the way — yes. (Menacingly now) You're goddamn fucking right I'm scared.
— The Punisher #2, "In the Beginning"
Nicolas Cavella: First thing we gotta do is clip the Punisher. What's the point in rebuilding shit if he's just gonna come along an' blow it all apart again? You put that motherfucker in a deep dark hole, then you start worrying about how many new capos you need. You said you got soldiers, an' now you called us you got the leadership. So let's get to work.
Larry: (Slightly annoyed) It's a little bit easier said than done...
Cavella: It is the way you mooks been trying to do it for the last twenty-five years, I'll give you that. He's a trained soldier. He thinks like a soldier. He treats war like what it's suppose to be: the total destruction of the enemy. What happens when you go to war, Larry? Couple of fat fucks get their skulls ventilated outside a pizzeria by another fat fuck, an' they don't see it comin' cause the guy's a frienda theirs? That ain't war, Larry. That's just sloppy. It ain't gonna work on the Punisher; he'll see you comin' a mile away an' take you off at the neck. What you gotta do is think like he does: without limits. What you really gotta do, as a matter a fact, is the kinda shit that got me an' Pittsy an' Ink practically exiled for the last fifteen years.
— The Punisher #2, "In the Beginning"
You kill because you like it, Frank. Maybe it was in you all along, but... I believe you got a taste for it in Vietnam. I know about all that scout sniper work on your second tour, I know something happened on your third, you see I believe some... darkness... reached out to you, Frank. And I believe you told it yes. After that, all it would take was a catastrophe of some kind, just to drive you over the edge. And now you use your family as an excuse for something dreadful.
— Microchip, The Punisher #3, "In the Beginning"
What you've got in that room is not to be fucked with.
— Kathryn O'Brien, referring to Frank Castle who is currently being held in CIA captivity. The Punisher #3, "In the Beginning"
Frank: I don't work for or with anyone. Eventually they let you down.
Microchip: I had to give it up, I told you why —
Frank: You, I could care less about. 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-16s. I had enough of that in Vietnam.
Microchip: That's not the way it is...!
Frank: There are sixty thousand guys in DC who'd say different. Except they can't say anything, because they're nothing but names on a black wall.
— The Punisher #4, "In the Beginning"
They call Hell's Kitchen Clinton These days. I don't know who they think they're kidding. Price the locals out. Let them rot in Queens or New Jersey. Build yuppie condos. Clubs and gyms. A gallery or two, an internet cafe. Open coffee shops in shells of ancient sports bars, where not so long ago the Westies cut each other up with razors. Give the neighborhood to joggers: These twenty blocks that drank and fought and fucked their way to New York City Legend. Pretend it never happened. Deny, deny, deny. Just don't be too surprised when the past creeps up and bites you in the ass, the way it always does.
— Frank Castle, The Punisher #7, "Kitchen Irish"
Anyone not wanting to die for Ireland — Better clear on out the back.
— Frank Castle, The Punisher #8, "Kitchen Irish"
Finn Cooley: I just threw my own fuckin' nephew to the wolves, Michael. So bear that in mind while ye listen to what I've got say. D'ye know what I reckon I've been all my life? When I really stop an' think about it? I think all I've ever been is someone's nigger.
Michael Morrison: What?
Finn: First the Prods. The fuckin' protestant cunts who took our country from us an' beat us down like we were dogs. Then the Brits who came to protect them, in the name of her fuckin' majesty. An then them bastards in the Army council. Who sent men like me out to kill for them — an' in the end they sold us out! I got fuckin' mutilated, an for what? I was a nigger to every bloody one of them. I didn't know it but I was their slave.
Morrison: Finn... Can you maybe keep your voice down...?
Finn:So we are stayin' here. We're getting that money. An fuck the Punisher, an' fuck the Brits, an' fuck the Westies an' Maginty an' The River Rats as well —
Morrison: Finn, this is not Belfast —
Finn: Cause I'll be nobody's nigger ever again. [turns around to see a giant mob of pissed off angry black men] Fuck.
— The Punisher #9, "Kitchen Irish"
I am Alexander Baranovich Formichenko, I am not afraid of some stinking cockroach! Scum like Rostovich and scum who follow him, who shame the name of Mother Russia! Mobster pigs who dare to call themselves soldiers! I was at Leningrad when the Nazis came in 1941! Three years we held out! Three years before they could relieve us! We were soldiers!
— Alexander Formichenko, The Punisher #13, "Mother Russia"
Army General: You always were a goddamn ray of sweetness and light, weren't you Fury?
Nick Fury: Check the small print, General. Nothing in there about us sucking each other's balls.
— The Punisher #13, "Mother Russia"
You work for the devil, you better be ready to die for him.
— Frank Castle, The Punisher #13, "Mother Russia"
If the thought of it seems crazy — you weren't crazy enough to begin with.
— Frank Castle, The Punisher #14, "Mother Russia"
Castle: There's a rumor the Russians are our friends these days.
Fury: Well, there's friends and there's friends. The old games never change, Castle. You know that.
— The Punisher #14, "Mother Russia"
Vanheim bugs me. In my day, the special forces boys did their best to keep it low key. They looked like longshoremen or truckers, anything but what they were. This kid's a walking action figure. Greatest ambition's probably a posthumous bronze star.
— Frank Castle, The Punisher #14, "Mother Russia"
Galina, my name is Frank. If anyone tries to be mean to you, I'll be much meaner to them. I promise
— Frank Castle, The Punisher #15, "Mother Russia"
If I had to winkle a terrorist unit out of a missile silo, the first thing I'd do would be to take a ten pound block of T.N.T and throw it down the elevator shaft. I wouldn't be too concerned about the nukes. Nothing short of another nuke is going to set them off. I'd follow the T.N.T with five or six squads of commandos, Spetsnaz or S.A.S, or Delta, with orders to kill everyone they found down there on sight. Of course, maybe it wouldn't be as simple as that. Maybe there'd be six-year-old girl inside the silo, with a lethal retrovirus in her veins that I had orders to preserve intact. Maybe I couldn't start throwing charges around, for fear of killing her. Maybe there wouldn't be any commandos. Maybe I'd have to make do with what I could get. And maybe — just maybe — the terrorist waiting down there would be me.
— Frank Castle, The Punisher #16, "Mother Russia"
What I am going to tell you is this. For seventy-five years we struggled to convince the world that communism was it's only chance. The Americans chose a different route: they bombed whole countries flat, then built Mcdonald's restaurants in the places that were left. They won. They are a clever and tenacious people. They are also enormously imaginative. If you cannot believe they would go to such lengths to throw us off their scent, then you are no better than a goat herder chocking on a quarter-pounder.
— General Zakharov The Punisher #17, "Mother Russia"
That was no American. That was a Russian who was born there by mistake.
— General Nikolai Zakharov referring to Frank Castle. The Punisher #18, "Mother Russia"
Up is Down and Black is White
Theres a dream I have from time to time and in the dream, I don't stop. I kill the soldiers and the hitmen, the extortionists and racketeers, the dark old fucks who send them out to fight. I hold the trigger down until theyre all gone — but I dont stop. The innocents are watching, just like always; the slack-jawed thousands, gazing at the beast. My family lay red and shredded in the grass. I face the crowd and bring the weapon to my shoulder. "If my world ends," I tell them, "so does yours." The recoil starts and I wake up. Its just a dream, I always tell myself. "Its just a dream. Its just a dream.
— Frank Castle, The Punisher #21, "Up Is Down, and Black Is White"
Never known anger like this before. Not raging. Not even burning. Just colder and colder by the minute. Building inexorably. Toward something that has to be.
— Frank Castle, The Punisher #22, "Up Is Down, and Black Is White"
Up is down and black is white.
— Frank Castle, The Punisher #24, "Up Is Down, and Black Is White"
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. To just before the line about forgiveness.
— Frank Castle, The Punisher #25, "The Slavers"
Later on, she told me the whole story. About the day she left her village. About the old man, about Cristu and Vera. About the thing her father said. About the thing her father said. About her baby. When she was done, I knew a lot of men would have to die.
— Frank Castle, The Punisher #25, "The Slavers
It was in that moment that I realized something. A dull, blurred feeling that Id 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.
— Frank Castle, The Punisher #29, "The Slavers"
What's the only thing more dangerous than a Barracuda?
— 'Frank Castle The Punisher #31, "Barracuda:
First time I seen a shark eat a muthafucka was in Africa. Bull sharks, man. Badass bitches. This tribal chief I was working for, cocksucka liked to throw his enemies off a pier, watch 'em get chewed up in the surf some savage shit, I tell you. But hard to stop watchin' know what I'm saying? 'Course, that ain't the only shit he was into. Check this out: After we took down his brother for him, on accounta some ol' family bullshit, chiefy had the muthafucka cooked for dinner... Turned him into a kinda jambalaya-looking thing, all of the rice an' shit. Whole tribe had to take a taste. Now the dudes I had with me, they tripped the fuck out. So then chiefy says "I guess Americans don't got no balls", some shit like that. Looks right at me when he saying it. I say bitch I got balls. I got balls the size a' yo' muthafucking' head. I got a dick like a M-60 machine gun, now gimme some of that goddamn jambalaya...! Cause I'm Barracuda. Thing most muthafuckas come to realize a little too late, know what I'm saying?
— Barracuda The Punisher #33, "Barracuda"
Man of Stone
You got to war in Afghanistan — and everybody dies.
— Frank Castle The Punisher #38, "Man Of Stone"
I spent twenty-two years as a field agent for the company, setting up jobs you can't being to imagine. I'm goddamn good at it. I've started wars, stopped 'em, turned Presidents into prisoners — My 'ol daddy said I could sweet talk the camel out from under a sand-nigger, an' that was when I was in Junior High.
— William Rawlins The Punisher #39, "Man Of Stone"
What is there to be afraid of? He is only death.
— General Nikolai Zakharov The Punisher #42, "Man of Stone"
Kill him, Castle. Our world is bad, but we are soldiers. He is a parasite; He would make the world this way forever.
— General Nikolai Zakharov The Punisher # 42, "Man of Stone"
You know, now and again... not for a long time, but now and again... I've let slip that I know you, Frank. Either because I was drunk. Or just to stop some arsehole from telling war stories. People say — what is it with him? What makes him like that? Because what happened to him, that's happened to other folk... And I tell them there's no explaining it. They always look disappointed; they want there to be rules, or a reason, or a path they can follow to the answers. They want something more, when really that's all I can give them. You see, whatever it is you've done to yourself, Frank... I can't.
— Yorkie Mitchell The Punisher # 42, "Man of Stone"
Yorkie: I happened to be there in Hereford on nine-eleven. Lot of lads in the regiment were very happy that day — I mean no one was cheering, but a lot of drinks were being bought. General opinion was... I suppose...
Frank: Here we go again.
Yorkie: Well, you don't join this mob for the college money. Let's face it, it's not as if they were the only ones. Here we are now, five years later, and you can tell this war — this whatever it is, it suits an awful lot of people down to the ground. There was a time I would have been one of them. Best job in the bloody world, that's what I would have told you. Now... It's as if everywhere I look I see dead civvies covered in dust.
— The Punisher # 42, "Man of Stone"
In the end I didn't gut him. Didn't hang his innards from a tree. Didn't pulp his face and break his limbs against plate glass, then send him screaming fifty floors to the street. Didn't douse him in gasoline and light a match. The things I did last year — I didn't do. Instead I walked him out of Pete O'Byrne's at gun-point, his buddies desperate not to catch his eye, and took him to the river and let fear do the rest. He talked. About the people making movies starring children. About the place they made them. Along with one abiding thought: Of just how easy they had been.
— Frank Castle, The Punisher #43, "Widowmaker"
There are times I'd like to get my hands on God.
— Frank Castle, The Punisher #44, "Widowmaker"
Long Cold Dark
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 the earth.
— Yorkie Mitchell, Explaining to Barracuda on just how screwed he is when Frank finally gets a hold of him. The Punisher #50, "Long Cold Dark"
Barracuda: Yo, nice work with the pig, muthafucka! Where you go to school?
Castle: That would be Khe Sanh. Spring of sixty-eight. You fucking Army puke.
— The Punisher #53, "Long Cold Dark"
There was a morning. We were in the mountains. Late last year. It was around dawn and I was finishing breakfast, we were going to be moving soon. I looked up — and I saw her in a way I never had before. Not with that dark enthusiasm for what we were there to do. Which is how I'd come to think of her. She'd forgotten that, just for a moment. Forgotten I was watching. The sun was coming up. Memories like that, I try to kill. But you might do something with it, if you like.
— Frank Castle The Punisher #54, "Long Cold Dark"
Valley Forge, Valley Forge
The man is stain on the reputation of the United States military. He's used the skills he learned in Special Forces to murderer thousands. That he's been allowed to run free this long, never mind be employed as some kind of practitioner of the art, is a disgrace. He's one of ours. We trained him. And it's up to us to close the book on him for good.
— Colonel George Howe' The Punisher'' #55, "Valley Forge, Valley Forge"
Delta Force Operator: Woody, you admire this son of a bitch, or somethin'?
Lieutenant Wood: You ever seen Alien?
Delta: Long time back.
Wood: My kid brother was crazy for it growing up. Line I always remember: "I admire it's purity"
— The Punisher #56, "Valley Forge, Valley Forge"
If I'm proud of anything, it's that my men all made it home. That was more Walt Mayne's doing than mine, but of what I did do, I'm proud. Because the war wasn't worth it, you see. Not one life. Not your brother's nor anyone else's. Not ours, not theirs. It wasn't worth a single human life.
— John Chadwick The Punisher #56, "Valley Forge, Valley Forge"
There are those who say that we are nothing but a corporation. But we have traditions. We have history. We embody certain ideals, integral to our nations honor.
— George Howe The Punisher #59, Valley Forge, Valley Forge"
(Places a loaded pistol on the table in front of Frank) Seven in the clip, one in the chamber. That makes eight total. What are you prepared to do?
— George Howe The Punisher #60, Valley Forge, Valley Forge"
In the end, the war in Vietnam was much like any other. There are those who profited. Those it devoured. And then there were those for whom there are no words.
— Excerpt from the In-Universe Valley Forge novel by Michael Goodwin The Punisher #60, Valley Forge, Valley Forge"
When I was a kid, I had a dog. A ragged little mut. Don't know the breed. Found him in an alley out back of a peep-o-rama on 8th Avenue. Somebody'd burned out one of his eyes with a cigarette. I named him Bronco Nagurski. I snuck him into my room, hid him from my dad. Stole food for him from the Puerto Ricans down the hall. I had him for three weeks before he pissed on the rug. My dad found him, kicked the shit out of him while I watched, then threw him out the same window my mom jumped from the year before. Once the dog was dead, the old man came after me. Looking back now, I'm glad that happened when it did. I was 8 years old, but that was the last time I ever let myself cry... The last time I ever knew fear.
— Wilson Fisk, Punisher Max #2, "Kingpin"
Wilson Fisk: What sort of hitman gets a bullseye tattooed on his forehead?
Bullseye: That's not the question you should be asking, Mr Fisk. The question you should be asking, is what sort of hitman gets a bullseye tattooed on his forehead and is still alive twelve years later?
— Punisher Max #6, "Bullseye"
"Everybody's gotta die sometime right?" I refuse to die. I refuse to even acknowledge the possibility. Not that I have anyone around to acknowledge it to. There is no God. There are no souls. All that we are is meat and bone. These are certainties I learned long ago. My body is merely a tool. My body is a weapon. I care for it like I care for my AR-15 or AA-12 assault shotgun. I sit here waiting for my body to repair itself. I wait to get back to work. Waiting is not something I do well.
— Frank Castle, Punisher Max #6, "Bullseye"
Some people would tell you that I'm crazy. They would be wrong. It's not crazy when the state of the world makes you want to kill everyone responsible. It's crazy when it doesn't.
— Frank Castle, Punisher Max #8, "Bullseye"
Vanessa Fisk: (Defiantly) If you're here to kill me, I promise you I won't go quietly.
Bullseye: Relax Mrs, Fisk I'm not going to hurt you. Not unless someone pays me to. I know who you are and what you've been through, I know that you tried to kill your husband and that you're probably already planning to try again. As someone who kills people for a living, I just wanted to offer you a little piece of advice. (In a serious tone) Walk Away. Now. And never look back. Forget you ever knew Wilson Fisk. Forget you ever had a son. Let it all go. Go live another life, while you still can. Leave murder to the professionals.
Fisk: Fuck you and your threats.
Bullseye: That wasn't a threat. (whispering to himself) How come nobody understands threats anymore? (Back to normal now) You know what'll happen, if you keep chasing after your husband? Maybe you'll succeed. Maybe you'll kill him. Shoot him and see him fall over and shit himself and bleed out. Poison his food and watch him cough up blood foam and chunks of stomach, blow him up and see all the gooey inside bits of him explode all over creation. You might stand over him the day he dies and feel happy. Feel glad you did it. You might even laugh, long and hard. But you know what happens then? Then you get the dreams. The dreams and the sweats. And next thing you know you can't look at someone without imagining them in pain. Without hearing their screams. It gets so you can't have sex without feeling like your fucking a corpse. You start to see people as dead little puppets. Dancing on strings. You see all the strings, and how to pull them, and how to cut them. (Rambling maniacally now) And you wanna cry sometimes but someone might see you so you turn off all the lights and you try to cry but you can't, and your disgusted and wanna hurt yourself so you get a knife and you're gonna slit your wrist. But next thing you know you're stabbing someone and you don't even know who they are or why but you just keep doing it and doing it and doing it and doing it until there's blood and guts all over everything, you know? Do you understand what I'm talking about?
Fisk: (Completely stunned) No... No, I don't...
Bullseye: (Now speaking chipper and wholesomely) I'm glad we had this talk.
— Punisher Max #9, "Bullseye"
You do not kill like any man I have ever seen, Frank. You're more like a force of nature. An earthquake or a tidal wave. A tornado. Watching you kill is like watching Rembrandt paint, or hear Mozart conduct his 9th symphony. You are the most beautiful thing I have ever seen, Frank Castle. I think I'm going to cry. Thank you, Frank. Thank you for being you. I can't believe I get to kill you.
— Bullseye, Punisher Max "Bullseye"
Those first few weeks home from the war, I moved through the house like an astronaut lost in an alien landscape. Everything looked strange. Smelled strange. Even in the air. My family were bizarre creatures I didn't know how to communicate with. Was too afraid to even touch or look at them for long. This is supposed to be my home, I had to keep reminding myself. Hoping it would eventually start to feel that way.
— Frank Castle, Punisher Max #12, "Frank"
The thing that haunts me now isn't the moment they died, the moment my daughter's belly exploded and my son's brains came out the back of his head. No, it's the moment right before that, when I had everything... And I threw it all away. There was a time when I wished I'd died with them that day. But I know the reason I survived. It wasn't so I could seek revenge in their name. So I could wage my little war. It was so I could suffer. Dying beside my family would've been too easy a death for me. What I deserved was pain. Years of it. I deserved to be cast down among the lowest of the low. Surrounded by nothing but horror and death. No rest. No joy. I deserved a lifetime of suffering. A lifetime of punishment. And even now. After so many years, when I dare ti stop and wonder... Has it finally been enough? The answer comes from somewhere deep inside... No. It will never be enough.
— Frank Castle, Punisher Max #16, "Frank"
Frank Castle is an endangered species. And one does not hunt an endangered species. One preserves it. One marvels at its beauty. And on the day it finally succumbs and dies, one mourns its passing, knowing we may never see its like again.
— Representative of the Hand, Punisher Max'' #17, "Homeless"
They used to run. They used to hear me coming and run like hell. They used to... But not anymore. It was easier when they ran. Now they stand and fight. They lie and wait. They give chase. They hunt me as much as I hunt them. And every time I bleed... They believe a little more that they can win. I hear what they say about me now. They say I'm not the man I use to be. They're right. It's times like this I remember a man I once met in Vietnam. He'd killed 38 men that we knew of. Ambushing patrols just south of Phu Bai. He'd just hit and run, disappear like a ghost. I went into the jungle looking for him, alongside an entire squad of Force Recon Marines. Three days in I was the only one left alive. I'd been shot twice and peppered with shrapnel, stabbed with shit-covered punji sticks. Infection was setting in, I was barely conscious when I managed to drop a grenade into his tunnel. He still nearly killed me. Even as I ripped his throat apart with my bare hands. He tried to drown me in his own blood, so hot it burned my face. His head lolled to one side, held on by nothing but rage and flaps of skin. Yet still he crawled after me, reaching for me, breathing through all his bubbling, gaping wounds. I had to beat his head into paste before he finally stopped twitching. I staggered out of that jungle, alive, feeling like I'd won. A few years later, as I watched the fall of Saigon from my living room, I realized what a fool I'd been. I think about that man every time I bleed. Each time my bones ache. Or my body begs me to let it down and die. Or I start to run low on rage. Used to be, a man like that would've ruled the world. On his back whole empires would've been raised. Or conquered. I don't pray, but if I did... I'd pray to him. Every goddamn day.
— Frank Castle, Punisher Max #19, "Homeless"
My name is Frank Castle. They used to call me the Punisher. I had a wife and son and daughter, but they died a long time ago, on a sunny day in Central Park. I blamed evil men for their deaths. I went to war with murderers and thieves, with racketeers and dealers, the parasites who preyed on human weakness. That weakness was a feeding ground that stretched beyond the infinite. The evil that it fed would never end. So I decided neither would my war.
Paris Peters: How?
Castle: Ten bad years. Iraq was one thing. North Korea. Even Pakistan. You shout "War on Terror" at the Chinese and they laugh so hard the world blows up in your face. That's the trouble with a war you never want to end.
Once upon a time there was a bunch of evil fucks. Hardly anyone knew, because they were so good at keeping it quiet but these particular evil fucks owned the world. And they made the world a cruel and terrible place. They ran the great industries that poisoned the air. Their businesses turned countries into slaves. The money they made could have fed and healed the population of the Earth twice over — But all that they could think to do with it was hoard it. They got away with it by being expert salesmen. These men who could sell anything to anyone. They made puppets out of Presidents and started wars for profit. Eventually they came to believe that there was nothing that they couldn't do. And so one day — inevitably — They pushed the planets luck too far.
Peters: What about... What he said...?
Castle: The human race. You've seen what that leads to.
— Frank explaining his decision to doom all of humanity. The Punisher: The End
When I open my eyes the sun is shining. It's 1976. I'm headed up to Central Park. The traffic's light: a cab should have me there in twenty minutes. I'll go out at west sixty-sixth and take the path that runs past tavern on the green, emerging from the trees into the clean expanse of sheep meadow. I think... I have a feeling that I left my family there. There are killers in the undergrowth, men with guns intent on slaughtering each other, and none of them cares of what might happen in the cross fire. My family. My wife, my son, my daughter. Maybe this time I'll be there in time to save them.
To me, the poems in the books my mother had inherited were an escape. They spoke of wilder worlds than any comic book or movie could evoke. They seemed to burn with color. I marched through Mandalay with Kipling's British Army. Wandered a never ending garden, in the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. Followed Coleridge's sacred river down to the sunless sea.
— Frank Castle, The Punisher: The Tyger
I imagined the Tyger. Like the eager tigers at the Bronx Zoo, but something more. Something that could not be held. That would be bigger, badder, deadlier than anyone or anything that walked the planet. That would look you in the eyes and know your fear. That would not know mercy, nor remorse, nor even the concept of stopping: not having been constructed with those qualities in mind. A force made flesh.
— Frank Castle, The Punisher: The Tyger
That day I realized there had always been tygers. Living in the darkness of our dreams, no less alive for being gone from the physical world. Emerging as it suited them, to stalk, to terrify, to overwhelm completely: to keep the planet in their thrall. Bigger. Badder. Deadlier. Somehow I knew we needed them.
— Frank Castle, The Punisher: The Tyger
They'll blame it all on Vietnam. And they'll be right. And they'll be wrong. I know that the world needs now. Same thing it's needed all along. I walk off the Brooklyn rooftop and into the future: A future full of screams and bullets, and bad men dying in the ancient dark. And I show the world a face not made by god.
— Frank Castle, The Punisher: The Tyger
And who might this be, bringing up the rear? Note the cowboy boots, the aviator shades, the carefully cultivated facial hair... The OK Corral swagger, the subtle tilt of nose and chin... The hoary old M3 carried like luggage, an anachronism that only adds to the ensemble. The message is clear: We are born of times and places you cannot hope to comprehend. We have held nations in our palms — our history is unknowable, replaced by arcane lore. For we are the company. Mortals: Fuck Off
— FBI Agent, The Punisher Presents Barracuda #2