It's an alternate history that at least two or three comic fans have considered before (probably?), since both Marvel heroes were forged in the fires of seeing a loved one murdered. With great powers, Peter became a superhero. With only guns to rely on, Frank Castle became Punisher.
Now thanks to What If? Punisher #1 the two heroes will be rolled into one (and their worlds along with them).
If the premise doesn't convince fans that this reimagining is more compelling than gimmicky (a divide often found in 'what if?' stories) then the preview cover art by Chris Stevens isn't going to move the needle. That being said, there really is no substitute for seeing Spider-Man's suit reimagined as a Punisher t-shirt... and his wrist-mounted web shooters replaced with, well, let's just call them bullet-shooters. Have a look:
Take a look at the official synopsis for What If? Punisher #1 direct from Marvel Comics:
WITH GREAT POWER…When Peter Parker's Uncle Ben is ruthlessly killed by a burglar Peter let escape, he vows to never let the same fate befall another innocent bystander. From then on, he stands as a figure of cold retribution. Criminals beware – the guilty caught in this spider's web will be PUNISHED. But will Parker stand triumphant…or shattered by this twist of fate? The friendly neighborhood takes a different turn in this WHAT IF? adventure, positing a very different sense of responsibility for the man who will be known as THE PUNISHER, as his battles against villains like the GREEN GOBLIN take a new path!
Despite the shock value of the cover, editor Mark Basso highlights the fact that there may be more shared between Peter Parker and Frank Castle than distinguishes them - making them perfect candidates for a 'What If?' single issue:
Punisher and Spider-Man are two very, very different characters, but could they be two sides of the same coin? They’re fueled by different philosophies and use different methods, but how many kicks to the other side does it take to turn a Peter Parker into THE PUNISHER!? Everything you think you think you know (not a typo!) about your favorite heroes and anti-heroes will change after you read this book!
It's hard to argue that Spidey wouldn't have found a more permanent solution to villains like Green Goblin by using a pistol as opposed to his sense of humor. But in a world where the hero is gunning people down, who's to say the Goblin isn't just as far on the right side of the line?
Assuming this title from Carl Potts and Juanan Ramirez isn't quite the mash-up for you, then one of the other What If? issues coming later this year from Marvel could be more up your alley. Perhaps exploring what would change if Flash Thompson had been bitten by the radioactive spider in Peter's place...
What If? Punisher#1 will be available on October 10 from Marvel Comics.