Big Shots

Unlimited Highlights: The Punisher

Five classic Frank Castle debut issues as he kicks off another new era this week



By Ben Chabala

Every week we'll pick a handful of awesome comics from the thousands available through Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited. From creator spotlights to editor's picks and more, this'll be your spot to find something new and cool.

This week, to celebrate the debut of the all-new PUNISHER #1, we’re shelling out five other incredible inaugural Punisher issues! Watch Frank’s vigilante vendetta grow as he lives, learns, and kills in his never-ending search for vengeance.

PUNISHER #1 (1986)

Riker’s Island floats alone amidst the rolling waves of the East River, a leviathan plagued by an infestation of the most dangerous criminals alive. The surf, concrete, armed guards, and razor wire protect decent civilians from this festering human disease, but what protects the inmates from The Punisher? If you haven’t read this first solo series starring the skull-sporting death dealer you owe it to yourself to give it a shot—pun intended!


No matter what the hardened criminals and super villains might say Frank Castle’s just a big old softy at heart.  That’s why he agrees to rescue a baby from a mobster intent on raising the infant as his heir and even clears some time in his busy schedule to teach organized crime that kids come first. With Mr. Castle as the principal of the School of Hard Knocks, class is in session!


You heard it right: The Punisher kills the Marvel Universe. Sure Frank Castle might lack super abilities and he certainly doesn’t have the sheer power to go toe-to-toe with Marvel’s heaviest hitters, but his combat training, grit, patience, and iron will give him the edge against these unsuspecting targets. The Punisher wants vengeance for the death of his wife and children at the hands of Earth’s Mightiest so-called Heroes and he’s willing to do whatever’s necessary to put them all in the ground!


Villains run rampant in the streets bearing signs of authority across their breasts as the super hero civil war rages across the country. As far as Frank Castle’s concerned, it’s open season. Unfortunately G.W. Bridge and S.H.I.E.L.D. stand in the way and The Punisher finds himself forced to pick sides in the conflict. Tough break for the other guys!

PUNISHER #1 (2008)

Norman Osborn has replaced Nick Fury as the head of a new military “peace-keeping” force, H.A.M.M.E.R.  To show his disapproval, The Punisher aims to blast the “former” Green Goblin to kingdom come. Unfortunately The Sentry, Osborn’s mentally unhinged bodyguard, takes offense. How can Frank possibly hope to contend with a guy who can duke it out with The Hulk, survive in the frozen wastes of deep space and shoot lasers from his eyes?  Read on to find out!

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