The Punisher, Marvel’s controversial character, has been through many situations in the comics – but nothing was perhaps as bizarre as the short period in which he was chosen as an angelic warrior to cleanse the Earth of evil forces.
This curious Punisher phase took place in the late 1990s, and is considered one of the worst things ever done to a Marvel character in the publisher’s nearly 80 years, to the point that in the next arc of the controversial anti-hero, written by Garth Ennis and With drawings by Steve Dillon, Frank Castle returns, in the first edition, to his roots as a man seeking revenge on America’s crime.
However, the commitment of American comics to have a chronology ended up causing in the first issue of this phase of the Punisher, published in the early 2000s, a page was dedicated to explaining what happened to the character’s angelic powers. But what could have been a summary turned into an interesting acid joke, branded by Garth Ennis, screenwriter also responsible for the comic that originated the Prime Video series The Boys.
On the page, the Punisher is with a criminal at the top of a tower, and as he throws the bad guy down to his death, he thinks to himself that he was once an angelic soldier and had a chance to redeem himself but that, in the end, In fact, he didn’t like the job and turned away from the divine task – and in the process, according to his account, he also took the opportunity to curse the divine envoys.
For those who have endured reading the Punisher’s late 1990s phase, it is likely that the simple abandonment of office is not the most awaited conclusion. At the same time, looking critically, it’s a bold resolution to an arc that, in every way, mischaracterized the character, temporarily making him one of Marvel’s more generic heroes.
With that, and seeing in the end that Marvel has somehow accepted criticism for its own past mistakes, the episode becomes a curious occurrence in the Punisher’s life — and one that now, nearly 25 years later, is almost never mentioned.