Garth EnnisPunisher
The Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe
Medium: comic
Year: 1995
Writer: Garth Ennis
Penciller: Doug Braithwaite
Keywords: Punisher
Format: 46 pages
Website category: Comics
Review date: 28 January 2022
It's a minor "What If?" one-shot from 1995 that disappeared without trace... but then several years later got hotter retrospectively when Garth Ennis did a huge run on the Punisher and became arguably his definitive writer. (Other writers who've done good work with him include Steven Grant and Chuck Dixon, apparently.) I enjoyed this one-off. It looks like garbage, though. Remember the worst of 1990s Marvel UK? It's even roughly that era. I don't blame Braithwaite, though, because he's the penciller and the problem is the inking.
But never mind that. This "What-If" Punisher's family weren't killed by gangsters, but instead got caught in the crossfire between the Avengers, the X-Men and some aliens in Central Park. This Punisher isn't heading for a war on crime, but instead for one on superheroes. He starts small by gunning down his family's spandex-wearing killers in front of everyone, but his life sentence in jail gets intercepted by a rich old scarred bloke called Kesselring. He's in a club of people who got hurt in superhero battles. They want vengeance. They're willing to fund the Punisher if he'll kill the capes, both heroes and villains.
"Will you do it?"
Ennis often focuses on characters with history with the Punisher. His first kill in cold blood is Spider-Man (and Venom), in whose book the Punisher originally debuted. "Why me?" are Spider-Man's last words.
KOOOM. "'Cause somebody had to be the first," says Frank.
The big one, though, is Daredevil. Murdock is Frank's childhood friend and court defender. Frank hates all the heroes, but he knows that Murdock is a good man... and doesn't know about his costumed alter ego. This is heading for an ending that would have been tragic if the book hadn't been half-pisstake. "But there can be no excusing the fact that you murdered some of this nation's finest heroes... and the X-Men Cyclops and Jubilee."
This one-shot works, I think. The Punisher himself comes through well, despite the semi-parody premise and bad art, and I think it's quite fun to see him being Marshall Law. I like his relationship with Daredevil. I genuinely like the story, actually.