Many writers have taken up the pen to detail the dark vigilante missions of Vietnam-veteran turned murder machine Frank Castle. Some of those writers were pretty good. Most of them sucked. The best of them was living legend and modern-day god, Garth Ennis.
The Irish-born writer always had the strongest grasp on who the Punisher was on a character, and ironically, he seems to understand the impact of the Vietnam war, America’s gun culture, pop culture, and our sense of justice better than most American citizens. Ennis’ Punisher is a dark hero living in a dark world, but through that he maintains a sense of right and wrong. Despite breaking nearly every one of society’s rules, he is not amoral. Ennis also understood that after decades of fighting crime that Castle has long since avenged his family but that he continues to be the Punisher because he really likes his work.
Ennis penned comic after comic in the Punisher MAX series, knocking the socks off of readers for years. With Ennis, Frank went after the Italian mafia, terrorists, rogue government operatives, the Russians, corrupt bankers, human traffickers, and more dirtbags than any of us can possibly count, stacking the bodies to god. It was a glorious time for Punisher fans, and one that has never quite been matched.
One of his fan favorites was a series called Born which was a flashback to Castle’s third and final tour in Vietnam where his firebase was overrun. There, the Punisher was born. Now Ennis is taking us back to Vietnam in “The Platoon” about Castle’s first tour in Vietnam as a cherry officer. The first issue signals the birth of another masterpiece, one that is going to plunge Castle’s platoon into the middle of the Tet Offensive. Ennis has also alluded to writing about Castle’s second tour in ‘Nam at someone, the tour where he was doing off the grid stuff for people you don’t really talk about.
The new Netflix series about the Punisher looks very promising, and I’ll definitely be checking that out, but a new Ennis mini-series about Frank Castle is about the best thing that has happened to Marvel Comics in a long time. After reading the first issue of “The Platoon,” I highly recommend picking this comic up.