Last year I bought the Swamp Thing Omnibus
and the Punisher Omnibus
on the same day. Although I chose to read the Swamp Thing Omnibus
first, it had been my intention to read the two back to back, but when I finished the Swamp Thing
one I decided to move directly to the Alan Moore material. I got as far as “American Gothic” when my interest shifted, and I never did get back to the Punisher
one. Until now. I’ve never been a huge fan of the character, but I thought I’d take a look at the early stories in an effort to discover the reason for his popularity.
The Punisher enters the story quite abruptly, shooting a plaster statue of Spider-Man on the splash page while his ally, the Jackal, looks on. The Daily Bugle
has reported that Spider-Man killed Norman Osborn, and that’s enough proof for the Punisher. While out web-swinging, Spider-Man’s “spider-sense” begins to tingle and he narrowly manages to avoid being taken out by a concussion grenade. Spidey confronts the Punisher on a rooftop, but is bound by a weapon which fires cables. The Punisher is about to execute him when Spider-Man breaks his bonds and turns the tables. The Jackal, hiding nearby, attacks Spider-Man from behind and he falls off the roof, apparently to his death the Punisher and the Jackal assume.
By the time Spider-Man regains his senses and returns to the roof, the Punisher and the Jackal are gone, but he finds a clue leading to the Punisher’s arms dealer. Back in the Jackal’s lair, an argument ensues. Whereas the Punisher was willing to kill Spider-Man, it goes against his “code” to allow him to die by accident. He leaves with the issue unresolved in order to get a new gun from his dealer. When he arrives he finds Spider-Man waiting for him. He also learns that it was the Jackal who left the incriminating evidence behind. Spidey knocks the Punisher out and leaves. The only thing we learn about the Punisher’s background in this initial outing is that he was a Marine for three years. Beyond that, he is clearly