The Punisher is (or was) a Marvel comic book "hero". I'm pretty sure he first appeared in a Spiderman comic. The Punisher goes around killing bad guys with automatic weapons and explosives. He'd be really popular in the media during the last few years. Spidey, on the other hand, always tries his best not to kill the bad guys, so he doesn't get along with the Punisher, whom he feels is a criminal. Spiderman has a similar relationship with Michael Morbius and maybe Blade. Anywho, the Punisher's story is that some bad guys (maybe mafia) killed his family. He vows to get revenge and probably kills them all. He then devotes his life to killing as many bad guys as possible.

There's a movie based on this character, 1989's abysmal The Punisher starring Dolph Lundgren. Another in the long list of Marvel movie failures.

A character in the Marvel Comics universe. He first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #129. He was hired by the Jackal to kill Spider-Man, but once he realized Spidey was a good guy, he backed off.

The Punisher's real name is Frank Castle. He was a soldier during the Vietnam War (or Conflict, or whatever you want to call it). While having a picnic in the park one afternoon after his return, his family was gunned down when they accidentally witnessed a gangland execution. Frank escaped, and started a one-man war on crime.

Why such a drastic reaction? Well, for a long time, Castle was portrayed as just really pissed off about his family's death. But the extent of his war quickly exceeded everyone that had anything to do with the death of his family. Plus, titles like Punisher War Journal made it clear that Castle was a good soldier during the Vietnam War. He thrived in the heat of battle, like maybe he enjoyed it. So a slight retelling of his origin was in order.

In the limited series Born, Garth Ennis showed the real beginning of the Castle's war on crime. In Vietnam, he picked up a liking for battle and killing. For him, the war couldn't stop. And a mysterious voice (never revealed, but probably the Devil) promised to give him a war that would never have to end. But in deals with the devil there's always a price. The price that Frank paid was his family. After paying the price, his endless war could start. So the trigger for his battle is the same as it always has been. Only the reasons have changed.

His success in his war is largely due to his determination. He pushes himself harder than he should and takes insane risks. In his mind, if the risk kills him, he gets to be with his family, and if it doesn't, his war gets to continue. He has no special abilities, just a vast knowledge of firearms, fighting techniques, and dirty tricks in general. He kills the criminals he comes into contact with, once even gunning down a litterbug (he was crazier than normal at the time). Most of the Marvel Universe's superheroes want to see him brought to justice because of his extremist ways, so he keeps his distance. He died and was an avenging angel for a (thankfully) very short period of time. Now, he's alive again, and killing more criminals. And he most likely will continue to do so for a while.

It's worth noting that the character of the Punisher was at the very least inspired by (if not just straight ripped off from) Don Pendleton's character Mack Bolan, the Executioner. Mack Bolan was also a Vietnam veteran who took on the Mafia, but his reasons were somewhat different. Mack's family had become entangled with and was killed by the Mafia, and he was drawn into his war on organized crime against his will. Compare this to Frank Castle, whose family was killed by the Mafia casually, unknowingly. He relishes the killing, and is essentially a psychotic individual who happens to kill criminals. He inhabits an ambiguous moral zone that is the darkest of greys. The two characters may have started out similarly (so similarly that Pendleton entertained ideas of a lawsuit), but nowadays, the Punisher stands alone as a separate character.

Besides being a Marvel Comics universe character, The Punisher is an arcade computer game written by Capcom during the early 1990s, using the Marvel franchise character of the same name.

Video game theme was mostly in the same vein as other Capcom beat-em-up's that were side-scrolling, featured pick-up weapons, desperation moves activated by pressing both attack buttons, end of level bosses, and extremely high difficulty levels.

Particularly nifty features of this engine include:

  • Pressing 1P or 2P didn't necessarily mean one or two players, actually meant which side of the machine you wanted to play on, and assigned you the character Punisher, or Nick Fury respectively.
  • Highly interactive environments - nearly everything in the game that wasn't an obvious background was destroyable or when broken revealed a powerup or weapon of some sort.
  • Huge array of weapons to choose from, guns included, this being a pretty new and nifty feature to beat-em-up's in general. Your character was also equipped with his own pistol, which he would pull out whenever an enemy with a gun was on screen, not including guns that could be knocked from enemies hands. As an aside note, a neat trick was to keep an easy enemy who always had a gun around, and shoot everyone else on the screen except him. It made scenes where you were mobbed with enemies considerably easier.
  • Weapons having a visible lifetime. Obviously a balancing mechanism, so that players couldn't hang on to a weapon forever, making things a lot easier. Other beat-em-ups of the same genre had a similar mechanism but didn't show how long your weapon lasted, so you were forced to learn through experience how long it'd take before your lovely baseball bat disappeared.
  • Context sensitive use of items. For example, pick up a knife. From a long distance, default action is to throw it. If you were sufficiently close to an enemy, your knife would flash in your hand and you would stab the enemy for considerable damage (and nice blood sprays), making the knife a much more effective weapon.
  • First beat-em-up to feature throwing of weapons from a jump. Especially useful for sharp items, such as the katana, knife and axe, as it caused major damage to a single or multiple enemies if grouped together, all for only one use of the item, in the case of the sword and axe.
  • Ability to pick up and throw enemies for use as weapons. Quite cool, this.
  • Hidden special move - pressing down, then up and attack performed a flash-kick like manouveur, while, being limited in range, did quite good damage for being free, and hit/knocked-down multiple enemies.

By the time this game was produced Capcom had pretty much perfected the art of the side-scrolling beat-em-up, and I believe this game to be near the peak of the genre. It was devillishly hard, but once one knew all the tricks to the game it became fairly routine to complete the game on one credit, which quite often gathered a crowd in the arcades.

Made on the CPS system, this game has been emulated for quite some time in MAME, Callus, and other assorted emulation systems.

Pun"ish*er (?), n.

One who inflicts punishment.


© Webster 1913.

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