The Punisher knows no limits. Even in his first-ever comics appearance, he tried to headshot Spider-Man. Since then, Frank Castle has gone on to become the most bloodthirsty vigilante in any comics universe. Unlike Batman and Captain America, The Punisher eschews moral restraint for full-blown violence. In Frank’s world, the ends always justify the means.
That’s bad news for his victims. When he’s not unloading thousands of rounds of ammunition, he’s busy devising cruel ways of executing his enemies that would make Jason Voorhees blush. He once dismantled a sex slavery ring and methodically assassinated every member in a position of power. When he finally go to the head of the operation, he beat her to death against a bulletproof glass window, pledging that if “you hit it hard enough, often enough—maybe twenty-five or thirty times—eventually you’ll bend the frame.” The Punisher not only kills for a living, he does it to achieve peace of mind.
Here are The 15 Most WTF Things The Punisher Has Ever Done.
15. Punting An Armless, Legless Lady Into a House fire
If you’re at all familiar with Garth Ennis’ work on Preacher, then you’ll have an idea about how he handled writing for Frank Castle. In his utterly insane story, Welcome Back Frank, The Punisher aims to take down the Gnucci crime family. As the head of the mafia snake in New York City, the Gnuccis become a prime target for Frank Castle’s signature barbarity.
Though The Punisher gets started on the family’s low-life thugs, he works his way up to the top. Ma Gnucci, the wig-wearing, old harpy takes the most punishment. After losing her arms and legs in a horrific attack (more on this later), Ma spends her final moments as nothing but an immobilized torso. Frank Castle proceeds to set fire to her mansion and let the limbless woman watch it burn to the ground. Before the conflagration ends, however, Ma worms her way over to Castle’s feet, bites his pant leg, then proceeds to get punted into the flames like a football through the uprights.
14. Feeding A Guy to a Mega Shark
The Russian has long been Frank Castle’s toughest nemesis. In addition to his popularity in the comics, the adamantium-laden Ruski even factored into Thomas Jane’s 2004 adaptation of The Punisher. In Garth Ennis’ primary arc, however, the strapping giant is dwarfed by a new threat named Barracuda. When Frank Castle is hot on the heels of taking down the crony company Dynaco, he crosses paths with Barracuda and nearly becomes fish food.
Though Frank succeeds in blinding Barracuda and even slicing off part of his right hand, the big bad survives and takes The Punisher out to the deep blue sea along with an army of men. Frank manages to blow up the boat, letting Barracuda’s lackeys get mauled by a swarm of oceanic man-eaters. The Punisher partakes in the fun and personally feeds a henchman to a starving great white. As for his fight against Barracuda, the party was only just getting started.
13. Turning The Hulk Into Dust
It’s hard to call Frank Castle a hero. Hell, it’s even hard to call him an anti-hero. The guy is more blood-thirsty than a vampire, and he’s more driven by vengeance than Batman himself. At the end of the day, however, he’s just a mortal man with a bad attitude and a lot of guns.
This begs the question: what happens when Frank’s no-patience policy meets with the Sorcerer Supreme’s almighty powers? Yes, as in Doctor Strange. You see, once upon a time, Frank Castle became Dr. Punisher in Secret Wars: Battleworld #1. This unholy alliance and bizarre mind-melding made Marvel’s dark angel the most fearsome he’s ever been. With the snap of his fingers, he turns an infuriated Hulk into a helpless Bruce Banner. After offering a quick apology to his human foe, Dr. Punisher drops his fist and de-atomizes ‘Ol Jade Jaws. Dust to dust is one thing, but turning the Hulk into sneeze particles is another.
12. Smothering The Russian With Mr. Bumpo
Though he has fought Frank on numerous occasions, The Russian never delivered a beatdown quite like the one featured in The Punisher Volume 5, #10. So extreme was this Russian vs. Frank fight that Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon devoted two whole issues to do it right. The Punisher takes almost all of the punishment, but when The Russian hurls Frank into his neighbor’s apartment, the tables are turned.
This isn’t just any neighbor or random passerby. It’s the home of the lovable and enormous Mr. Bumpo, who happens to be knee deep in a pile of pizzas. Though his body is beaten to a pulp, Frank’s mind remains nimble, and he whips a pizza pie into The Russian’s face, searing it with boiling cheese and marinara sauce. He then takes Mr. Bumpo and knocks him on top of The Russian, like an anvil dropped from a chopper. Frank piles onto the human sandwich, waits a half hour for the villain to suffocate, then proceeds to decapitate The Russian and thank Mr. Bumpo for his sacrifice.
11. Holding Archie At Gunpoint
When the federal government of the United States commissions The Punisher, you know you’re in trouble. In Archie Meets The Punisher, things are amiss in Riverdale. A prolific drug trafficker named Red is supplying locals with top-notch narcotics a la 21 Jump Street. Unfortunately for Archie, the all-American ginger happens to look exactly like Red, and he finds himself caught in a web of school dances and midnight drug deals. Even Frank Castle mistakes Archie Andrews for his prime target, taking him captive and holding him at gunpoint.
To say The Punisher looks out of place in Riverdale is an understatement. In this happy-go-lucky land of middle America, the Punisher looks like the grim reaper at Easter. As Archie’s prom date observes while looking at the bearded and skull-bearing assassin, “I knew there’d be a chaperone, but this is ridiculous!” Considering the inherent absurdity of the story, it’s just a shame Archie didn’t get a chance to blow off some steam with a submachine gun.
10. Nuking the X-Men On The Moon
Killing every member of the Marvel Universe isn’t a rarity. It’s a rite of passage. When Frank Castle’s shot at genocide came around, the set-up was truly brutal. In this alternate story, The Punisher’s family is accidently massacred by cabals of superheroes, leaving him with a deep-seated rage and desire for revenge against the folks in tights.
It all starts with Cyclops. Though the beam-vision metahuman apologizes to Frank, he gets no response back but two bullets to the brain. Moving along, The Punisher tracks down Spider-Man, breaks his jaw, then caps him at point blank range. From The Hulk to Kingpin and Dr. Doom to Magneto, Punisher’s kill count metastasizes. After taking down Dr. Doom, however, Frank picked up the launch codes to a nuclear bomb and enjoyed a moment of inspiration. In devising his final solution, he invited the remaining superheroes and mutants to a “gathering” on the moon. After all of the lemmings were in place, he proceeded to drop the MOAB on Magneto and blow the X-Men to smithereens.
9. Becoming Black and Getting Beaten By The Police
Following the brutal events of The Final Days arc, The Punisher’s face got stabbed more times than a pincushion. While in prison, Frank is held down by thugs while Jigsaw slices his face with a knife. As the gridiron villain promises, “we’ll cut it to the bone, Frank…ain’t no way to fix you up this time.” Though he survived this unthinkable torture, Frank Castle was later forced to go under the knife.
With few medical options at his disposal, The Punisher wound up getting treated by a surgeon-turned-drug fiend who performs plastic surgery while high as a kite. In The Punisher #59, the vigilante wakes up to find his racial identity has changed overnight. While looking in the mirror, Frank’s iron jaw goes slack as he sees he has now become a black man. In a state of frenzy, he rises up, grabs some car keys, and hits the road. Within minutes, state troopers arrest The Punisher and beat him with their safety batons, yelling, “Answer me when I’m talkin’ at you son! Maybe the coon’s got his tongue!” Fortunately, this racist madness ends when Frank gets to team up with Luke Cage.
8. Gunning Down The Entire Mafia
Frank Castle is fueled by hate. Though many villains (and heroes) have been on the wrong end of his iron sights, the mafia is frequently his number one target. Armed with a military-grade machine gun and countless rounds of ammunition, The Punisher showed up to a birthday bash for the 100-year-old head of the mob. The few people that survived the incident described Frank’s unrelenting gunfire as the sound of “a million jackhammers all at once.” As for the body count Frank tallied up, the lucky few that lived to tell about it described the scene as pure hell.
As the tuxedo-wearing mobsters began to retaliate, they rushed onto the battlefield towards Frank Castle’s flashing gun. They were systematically mowed down, with viscera popping out like stuffing from a turkey. Though The Punisher described the scene as, “Omaha Beach, Wounded Knee, Rorke’s Drift” and other infamous massacres, he admitted, “only now, pouring automatic fire into a human wall – do I feel something like peace.” You’re a bad man, Frank. A bad man.
7. Throwing A Guy From The Empire State Building
Though The Punisher’s hatred of the mob has been proven on a large scale, his personal attacks are even more disturbing. Before booting Ma Gnucci into a house fire, Frank set out to kill her sons in increasingly clever ways. Welcome Back, Frank opens with quite the send-off.
After hunting down Carlo, Ma Gnucci’s favorite son, Frank Castle finds him all dolled up and in the midst of a hot date with a young lady at the top of the Empire State Building. Frank’s not one for words, but his actions clearly imply the end of the affair: “Check please.” Carrying Carlo to the topmost deck of the skyscraper, he hoists the thug above his head, looks down at the pavement below, then hurls him like a bag of trash. It’s a warning shot from The Punisher, though no guns were needed. When Ma Gnucci heard about her son getting splattered on that Big Apple pavement, the war had begun.
6. Punching and Weaponizing A Pack of Polar Bears
With Frank Castle in full rage mode, the mob never stood a chance. After luring Ma Gnucci and her henchmen into a trap, The Punisher fought the final battle in the heart of the Central Park Zoo. For someone as animalistic as Frank Castle, could there possibly be a more fitting place to take down the mafia? Like Luca Brasi, he starts with the fishes. Feeding several of Gnucci’s men to piranhas, Frank upgrades and drops another goon into a snake pit.
Saving the best for last, The Punisher does the impossible and revs up a family of polar bears by punching their formerly friendly alpha male clean across the face. It’s a risky play, but Frank’s right cross wins papa polar bear’s respect and convinces him to join The Punisher’s war. The denizens of the arctic proceed to slice off the gangsters’ heads, eat their arms and legs, and turn Ma Gnucci into a veritable vegetable.
5. Turning Scarlet Witch Into A Zombie
Frank Castle may not be invulnerable to the zombie virus, but whether he’s dead or alive, he still abides by his primal instincts. After meeting a man named Ashley J. Williams, The Punisher gets recruited to find a book called “The Necronomicon,” the alleged answer to the zombie apocalypse. As they clear rooftops and apartments, Frank and Ashley happen upon Kingpin and a team of his lackeys. Though The Punisher’s longtime rival implores him to let bygones be bygones, given the international crisis, Frank flips off the safety switch on his gun and kills everyone in the room.
Unfortunately, this would be the last time Frank Castle would be in total control. Upon raiding another house, he is overcome by a horde of zombies and instantly killed. In death as in life, Zombie Punisher knows no limits, and he proceeds to beat down Dr. Doom en route to mauling Scarlet Witch and turning her into a member of the walking Marvel dead.
4. Killing One Man With Another Man’s Head
From his most famous comics strips to Jon Bernthal’s ferocious appearance in Daredevil, The Punisher is best known for his gunplay. He’s a walking armory, a mobilized sniper, and guerilla unit rolled into one. To Frank Castle, however, guns are just a small part of the fun. While he has become increasingly twisted with his kills over the years, few moments top the brutal simplicity of killing one man with another man’s cranium.
In The Punisher MAX #5, Frank Castle finds himself in a typical scenario: surrounded by crooks and forced to take them down one by one. Making lemons out of lemonade, The Punisher grabs the one fella, flips him parallel to the ground, then uses him as a human battering ram to bash in the skull of enemy number two. Call it killing two birds with one stone, two crooks with one head, or just Frank Castle being a total killing machine.
3. Everything In The 2005 Video Game
As Maxim writer Gene Newman reflected, “[The Punisher] makes the Grand Theft Auto series look like Super Mario Kart.” That’s only slightly hyperbolic. Given the increasingly schismatic culture surrounding modern video games, it’s unlikely this 2005 Xbox and PS2 title would even get made today. Though the game initially received an Adults Only rating from the ESRB, a few minor tweaks helped The Punisher secure a Mature rating that only gave lip service to its “Blood and Gore, Drug Reference, Intense Violence and Strong Language.”
It’s not the violence that makes The Punisher game so shocking. It’s the fact that it allows players to become judge, jury, and executioner to get “key information” from certain characters. Once you receive the necessary information, you can execute these characters in a number of ways; from shooting them with nail guns, drowning them in boiling vats of oil, hurling them into woodchippers, walking them into airplane propellers, or slowly killing them with power drills, nothing is off-limits. The options are endless for those who can handle the sadism. But hey, it says it all right on the box: “featuring over 100 unique executions!”
2. Biting, Maiming and Beheading Barracuda
Though Garth Ennis turned Barracuda into The Punisher’s second greatest all-time threat, Frank ultimately wins the day. His victory may have been a certainty, but the manner in which he won could not have been any uglier. After getting his hand severed and his eye gouged out, Barracuda comes into this final fight with a full head of steam.
Having kidnapping The Punisher’s little girl, Barracuda attempts to kill his foe but quickly ends up on the defensive. Frank bites into Barracuda’s cheek and tears off the flesh, pumps him with several rounds of ammo, then curb stomps him to the ground. While he’s prostrate, Barracuda gets tortured with a high voltage car battery and jump leads “clamped to the skin of his balls.” As Frank recalls, “I’d been turning the key in the ignition for fifteen minutes and he’d sh*t all over himself and the world was a beautiful place.” Eventually, Frank puts the big man out of his misery by amputating his arms and taking his head off with a pickaxe.
1. Teaming Up With Eminem
Yes, this is real. In Eminem/Punisher #1, Slim Shady closes out a concert in Detroit and heads to the parking lot with his entourage. Though everything seems hunky dory, gunshots fill the air as The Punisher kills Eminem’s crew. When the rapper gets out of dodge, Barracuda grabs him and says, “The hell you doin’ here, homie? I ain’t seen you since the battles back at the hip-hop shop.” So yeah, Barracuda may be Marshall’s number one fan.
When The Punisher shows up again, he disrespects Eminem by calling him a “rock star” and promptly takes a pistol whip head to the head. Eminem then proceeds to sing the chorus of “Kill You” directly to The Punisher. Later, Barracuda commandeers a fishing vessel and sings “Mockingbird” to himself with a disturbing grin on his face. Eventually, The Punisher and Eminem are forced to reconcile their differences and save the day. After he gets his hands on a chainsaw from an arctic fisherman (who may secretly be Gene Hackman), Marshall Mathers stands up and kills Barracuda himself.
What are some other insane Punisher moments? Let us know in the comments!