Every red-blooded American, in particular military veterans, has an affinity for Frank Castle.  Born out of the pages of Marvel comics, Frank Castle returned home from war only to have his family viciously murdered by the mafia.  Declaring a one man war on crime, Frank Castle became the Punisher.  In the new Netflix series, Castle’s origin story is re-hashed and updated for the Global War on Terror generation but most will probably not be aware of the real life, and still classified, joint CIA/Joint Special Operations Command missions that the series alludes to Castle participating in.

Let’s take a brief stroll down memory lane for additional context, because Frank Castle didn’t start with Frank Castle.  The Punisher is actually inspired by The Executioner, a long running men’s fiction book series featuring Mack Bolan.  War Against the Mafia was first published in 1969, establishing an entire genre of fiction.  The series was penned by Don Pendleton, who actually coined the term “action-adventure.”  Down the line, Marvel comics drew some inspiration from Mack Bolan when they created The Punisher.  Like so many other guys who went on the serve in the military, I grew up reading both The Punisher and The Executioner and my extensive collection of these books and comics still resides up in my mom’s attic.

In the Marvel comic, Frank Castle served as a Marine in Vietnam.  Garth Ennis was probably the best of the writers to ever work on The Punisher and he fleshed out a pretty detailed backstory on Frank going into his deployments to ‘Nam and how that influenced his future.  Currently, Ennis is back at it writing a flashback mini-series about Frank’s first tour in Vietnam as a Marine Infantry Platoon Leader.

Several Punisher movies have been made over the years, all of somewhat dubious quality.  There was the 1989 Dolph Lundgren movie that I rented on VHS (once) as a kid, then there was a fairy decent take on the character from Tom Jane in 2004 that deserved a sequel to really hammer down what could have been a franchise.  Then there was the loathsome Punisher: War Zone released in 2008.  You’re better off tracking down a copy of Dolph playing Frank Castle on laser disc than wasting your life watching War Zone.