The Punisher has always been one of my favorite characters. I used to think it was the desire through surrogacy to see bad people punished (in fantasy, not real life) or just latent violence for which I need therapy. But I think it runs deeper than that. There’s something intriguing about a man consumed by rage that has focused his unique set of skills on ridding the world of broken pieces of society. His obsessive anguish of seeing his family slaughtered on a pleasant day in the park was the catalyst but he has since turned into a minimally human surgical tool of precision. The world is not right and he feels it’s his role to remove the parts that stop it from running the way it should. Yes, he clearly takes sadistic satisfaction in killing the bad guys, but his careful planning and training, and the calculated execution of an planned event demonstrate that he is a man on a mission more militaristic and strategic than angry and vengeful.
One of the best elements of good Punisher story-telling is his internal dialogue. In it, we hear how he thinks and how he sees events unfolding. It’s always deadpan, sometimes voiced within his head as dry, dark humor. It fleshes out what seems like purely violent imagery by explaining how he evaluates his quary, what he’s doing to achieve his objective, how he adapts as the campaign progresses, and the eventual fatalism he experiences as things fall apart on occasion.
Here are three pages depicting the first origin of The Punisher from Marvel Preview #2, written by Gerry Conway, with art by Tony DeZuniga.