Best Punisher Comics

Best Punisher Comics

 

The Punisher has been around since the 1970s, so there’s a lot of comics to choose from for your next foray into the life of Frank Castle!

We’ve narrowed it down to the top 20 comic books you need to get your hands on if you’re a fan of the Punisher and want to learn more about this family man turned vigilante

Let’s take a look at which comics made the list!

 

1. Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1 - Issue #129




Key Comic Facts

Issue #129 of The Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1 is called “The Punisher Strikes Twice!”. It was released in October 1973, with a cover date of February 1974. It was written by Gerry Conway, with pencils by Ross Andru, inks by Frank Giacoia and Dave Hunt; and color by Dave Hunt. It was edited by Roy Thomas.

This issue marks the first appearance of The Punisher in the Marvel comics.

What’s the story?

The criminal known as the Jackal hires The Punisher, a vigilante that loves death, to kill Spider-Man. As he swings through the city, The Punisher attacks him, thinking he’s a common criminal. But when they fight, Spidey gets the upper hand, so the Jackal strikes him in the back of the head. Punisher calls out Jackal for his methods, and Spider-Man seizes the opportunity to escape. 

They meet again in the Mechanic’s lair (The Punisher’s supplier) and Frank Castle accuses Spider-Man of killing him, but he shows Castle that it was Jackal who was responsible. The Punisher swears revenge against Jackal and Spider-Man leaves before the Police arrive.

What’s it worth?

The top quality book of The Amazing Spider-Man #129 is a 9.8 book, sold for $57,000 in March 2022. In 2021, it was valued at $26,800, less than half the price. A 5.0 book sold in December 2016 for $350, decreasing its $450 value from a few months before. And a 0.5 book was valued at $675 in August 2021, almost doubling its 2020 price of $350.

 

2. The Punisher Vol. 1 - Issue #1




Key Comic Facts

Issue #1 of The Punisher Vol. 1 is called “Circle of Blood”. It was released in October 1985, with a cover date of January 1986. It was written by Steven Grant, with pencils and color by Mike Zeck and inks by John Beatty. It was edited by Carl Potts.

This is the first issue for The Punisher’s solo comic series.

What’s the story?

The Punisher arrives to Ryker’s Island prison, where he starts deducing who poisoned him the last time he was imprisoned. He figures out it must have been the cook, so he spooks him and causes him to run to who gave the order, Jigsaw. 

The following days, Castle realizes there’s a jailbreak being planned, which he stops to avoid inmates from terrorizing NYC. He stops Don Cervello and Jigsaw from killing the Warden, so he repays Frank by telling him about Trust, a secret organization looking to fight criminals with methods beyond the law. Frank agrees to work for them to get out of prison and get his belongings back. 

What’s it worth?

The top price for The Punisher #1 is $1,200 for a 9.8 copy, sold in April 2022. In 2020, it was valued at $1,020. A 5.5 copy had a November 2021 price of $35; and a 3.0 copy was sold for $25 in June 2021. These last two copies have only been sold once.

 

3. The Punisher: War Zone Vol. 1 - Issue #1

Key Comic Facts

Issue #1 of The Punisher: War Zone Vol. 1 is called “Only The Dead Know Brooklyn”. It has a cover date of March 1992. It was written by Chuck Dixon, with pencils by John Romita, Jr., inks by Klaus Janson and color by Gregory Wright. It was edited by Don Daley.

This series features the Carbone family as the main antagonists in the story.

What’s the story?

The story follows The Punisher, who after going on another rampage, manages to infiltrate the Carbone family by posing as Mickey Fondozz’s cousin. He obtains some intel about the family’s plans and he starts to think of ways to stop them.

What’s it worth?

The mint-condition copy of The Punisher: War Zone #1 is a perfect 10.0 graded copy, sold for $570 in November 2016, after increasing its 2014 price of $463. The lowest quality copy ever sold is a 7.5 book, valued at just $24 in April 2020 when it sold for the first and only time.

 

4. The Punisher Vol. 5 - Issue #1

Key Comic Facts

Issue #1 of The Punisher Vol. 5 is called “Welcome Back, Frank”. It was released in February 2000, with a cover date of April 2000. It was written by Garth Ennis, with pencils by Steve Dillon, ink by Jimmy Palmiotti and color by Chris Sotomayor. It was edited by Joe Quesada.

This series features a more sociable Frank Castle, actually relying on other people to achieve his plans. 

What’s the story?

A drug deal is broken up by the Punisher, which leaves only one survivor to leave with a warning. However, he brags about his plans to sell drugs anyway and Frank comes back to kill him.

Frank goes home, where he lives under the alias of “Mr. Smith”. He starts tracking down members of the Gnucci family, killing one in a morgue and taking another to the top of the Empire State Building, where he drops him to his death, announcing that he’s back in town and crime will know no mercy. 

What’s it worth?

Only top-rated copies of The Punisher #1 have been sold at auction, with the highest price belonging to a 9.8 book sold in March 2016 for $130. In 2013, it was valued at just $13. The lowest price belongs to a 9.2 copy with a variant cover, valued at $10 as of September 2010. Its price has decreased since 2002, when it was valued at $22.

 

5. Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe Vol. 1 - Issue #1

Key Comic Facts

Issue #1 of Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe Vol. 1 has a cover date of November 1995. It was written by Garth Ennis; penciled by Doug Braithwaite and inked by Michael L. Halblieb. It was edited by Bill Oakley.

This is a one-shot issue featuring The Punisher’s wrath, which eventually leads to very, very bad things.

What’s the story?

This is a “what if?” story where the wife and children of Frank Castle were not killed in a mob shoot-out, but were instead caught in the crossfire of a superhero slugfest. 

A group of people who have also suffered losses from superhero slugfests contact Castle and give him a mission: to kill those responsible for the death of their and his loved ones - the superhumans. 

He arms himself with an arsenal of advanced weaponry and starts hunting down Spider-Man, Magneto, Captain America, the Kingpin, Daredevil, Dr. Doom, the Hulk, Venom, Wolverine, and every superhero he finds in his way. One by one, Castle is out to kill them all.

What’s it worth?

This comic’s top value is $250, which is the price paid for a 9.9 rated copy sold in January 2014. In 2005, that same book was valued at $183. The lowest value for a copy of this issue is $15, paid for a 6.5 copy in December 2021. 

 

6. The Punisher Vol. 9 - Issue #1

Key Comic Facts

Issue #1 of The Punisher Vol. 9 is called “Punisher: One”. It was released in August 2011, with a cover date of October 2011. It was written by Greg Rucka, with pencil and ink by Marco Checchetto and color by Matt Hollingsworth. It was edited by Stephen Wacker.

This series features a world dominated by heroes and villains, with Frank Castle performing his actions in the middle of it.

What’s the story?

In a wedding, two mob families clash and the guests are trapped in a gunfight. The count is 27 dead and 19 injured, including the bride and groom. Later that night, the men responsible are toasting when the lights suddenly go out and The Punisher kills them all, except the man in charge.

What’s it worth?

Due to the fact that this issue was only released around 10 years ago, only top-rated copies of The Punisher Vol. 9 #1 have been sold at auction. The highest price belongs to a 9.8 copy, sold for $300 in December 2020. It was previously valued at $100 earlier in 2020. The lowest recorded price belongs to a 9.4 copy, sold only once for $20 in August 2021. 

 

7. The Punisher: War Journal Vol. 1 - Issue #1

Key Comic Facts

Issue #1 of The Punisher: War Journal Vol. 1 is called “An Eye for an Eye, Chapter One”. It has a cover date of November 1988. It was written and penciled by Carl Potts, with ink by Jim Lee and color by John Wellington. It was edited by Don Daley.

This series was released between the Vol. 2 and Vol. 3 of The Punisher comics, along with other limited series such as Punisher: War Zone.

What’s the story?

The story follows Frank Castle as he makes a tribute to his family every year by going to the park where they were slaughtered and flying a kite, just as they were doing when it happened. His commitment makes him help a nearby family. Also, we learn that Montoya, a former mobster, is about to be released from jail due to good behavior.

What’s it worth?

The top price for The Punisher: War Journal #1 is $500, which is the price paid for a 9.8 copy sold in October 2021. The lowest price for this issue is only $2, for a 6.0 copy sold in February 2016. Both issues have only been sold once so far.

 

8. Daredevil Vol. 1 - Issue #183

Key Comic Facts

Issue #183 of Daredevil Vol. 1 is called “Child's Play”. It has a cover date of June 1982. It was written and penciled by Frank Miller, with ink and color by Klaus Janson. It was edited by Denny O'Neil.

Issues #183 and #184 feature a 2-part story featuring The Punisher and Daredevil first fighting each other and then joining forces to defeat a larger foe.

What’s the story?

A young girl dies after being under the influence of drugs and jumping out of a window. So her brother DD and the Punisher try to track down the dealer who sold her the drugs. Daredevil finds them, and he and the Punisher get into a fight. The Punisher doesn't want to kill him, so he shoots him with a tranquilizer. The next issue features the two of them joining forces, although Daredevil gets revenge and shoots Punisher with his own gun.

What’s it worth?

There are four 9.8 copies of Daredevil #183 that have been sold at auction, with prices ranging from $55 to $580. The most expensive copy was previously valued at $232 as of 2021, before being valued at $580 later in the same year. The lowest rating book ever sold at auction is a 5.5 copy, with a price of $30 as of February 2022. 

 

9. The Punisher: Year One Vol. 1 - Issue #1

Key Comic Facts

Issue #1 of The Punisher: Year One Vol. 1 is called “Family Business”. It was released in October 1994, with a cover date of December 1994. It was written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning; with pencils by Dale Eaglesham, ink by Scott Koblish and color by Marie Javins. It was edited by Don Daley.

This series is loved by the fans because it features a more human Frank Castle and fans are able to relate with him, being a broken man due to the death of his family. 

What’s the story?

A reporter finds a gunned down family and a mobster tied upside down to a tree. The police come to the scene and discover that the family is The Castles and that the husband, Frank, is still barely alive. In the hospital two Maggia men approach the guard keeping an eye on Frank’s room and threaten him. As they walk in the room to kill Frank, he wakes up.

What’s it worth?

Only a handful of copies of The Punisher: Year One #1 have been sold at auction, with the top one being a 9.8 book, sold for $49 in February 2021. In 2019, the same copy was valued at $68.

The lowest rating and price belong to an 8.5 copy, sold only once for $20 in July 2020.

 

10. The Punisher: Born Vol. 1 - Issue #2

Key Comic Facts

Issue #2 of The Punisher Born Vol. 1 is called “The Second Day”. It was released in July 2003, with a cover date of September 2003. It was written by Garth Ennis, with pencils by Darick Robertson, ink by Tom Palmer and color by Paul Mounts. It was edited by Joe Quesada.

This series takes place during Frank Castle's time fighting in Vietnam.

What’s the story?

The army platoon led by Captain Castle loses six men after a surprise attack in the jungle. As some men capture a female soldier and prepare to rape her, Frank kills her, saying they’re only there to kill them, not rape them. Afterwards, the man who was about to rape her, McDonald, goes to wash his face and Frank drowns him, while Goodwin watches.

After being evacuated, Frank asks Goodwin why he didn’t say anything about Frank killing McDonald. He says he was scared, and Frank tells him that he only wanted to punish him, and that Goodwin shouldn’t be afraid of him. 

What’s it worth?

There are no recorded auction sales for The Punisher: Born.

 

11. The Punisher: The Cell Vol. 1 - Issue #1

Key Comic Facts

Issue #1 of The Punisher: The Cell Vol. 1 was released in May 2005, with a cover date of July 2005. It was written by Garth Ennis, with pencils by Lewis LaRosa, ink by Scott Koblish and color by Raul Trevino. It was edited by Axel Alonso.

This is a one-shot featuring Frank Castle imprisoned with the men who killed his family.

What’s the story?

The story follows Frank Castle, as he has been locked away in the depths of Ryker's prison, along with the men who killed his family. Frank starts a riot in the facility to get close to them. After closing up a few main storylines, he escapes and continues with his life as The Punisher.

What’s it worth?

There are no recorded auction sales for The Punisher: The Cell.

 

12. The Punisher Vol. 7 - Issue #25

Key Comic Facts

Issue #25 of The Punisher Vol. 7 is called “The Slavers, Part 1”. It was released in September 2008, with a cover date of November 2008. It was written by Garth Ennis, with pencils by Leandro Fernández, ink by Scott Koblish and color by Dan Brown. It was edited by Axel Alonso.

This issue kicks off the story arc “The Slavers”.

What’s the story?

The story follows a woman shooting wildly upon a group that the Punisher is shooting at. She runs out of ammo and starts running away to an alley.

Some men follow and surround her, but when they’re about to force themselves on her, the Punisher guns them down. Right after, two police officers approach the Punisher and the girl, so he disarms them and gets away with the girl.

When she awakes in the Punisher's safe house, she tells him about how she is an illegal immigrant from Moldova, and the Punisher tells her the whole story about her kidnapping and escape.

What’s it worth?

Only one 9.8 copy of The Punisher #25 has been sold at auction, at a price of $14 in February 2012. Its value has decreased since it was sold in 2008 for $23.

 

13. The Punisher: War Journal Vol. 1 - Issue #6

Key Comic Facts

Issue #6 of The Punisher: War Journal Vol. 1 is called “On the Track of Unknown Animals”. It has a cover date of June 1989. It was written by Carl Potts, with pencils and ink by Jim Lee and color by Gregory Wright. It was edited by Don Daley.

This series was released between the Vol. 2 and Vol. 3 of The Punisher comics, along with other limited series such as Punisher: War Zone.

What’s the story?

Microchip thinks Frank is working too hard, so he offers him a contract in the Congo as some sort of vacation. In the Congo, Frank saves a young boy from a snake bite, but he’s killed shortly after when he discovers a conspiracy involving security officers. The officers claim wild gorillas attacked and killed the boy, so Frank goes after the gorillas to investigate. When he gets there, Wolverine mistakes him for a poacher and attacks Frank, leaving him for dead.

What’s it worth?

Only top-rated copies of The Punisher: War Journal #6 have been auctioned, with the highest price belonging to a 9.8 copy, sold for $144 in April 2022. In 2021, that copy was valued at $305. The lowest price belongs to a 7.5 copy sold for $20 in November 2019; a decrease from its $35 value a few months earlier.

 

14. The Punisher Vol. 7 - Issue #1

Key Comic Facts

Issue #1 of The Punisher Vol. 7 is called “In the Beginning, Part One”. It was released in January 2004, with a cover date of March 2004. It was written by Garth Ennis, with pencils by Lewis LaRosa, ink by Tom Palmer and color by Dean White. It was edited by Axel Alonso.

This issue kicks off the story arc “In The Beginning”. Vol. 7 of the comics is often referred to as “Punisher MAX”.

What’s the story?

In a flashback to 1976, we recap how Frank Castle’s family was killed by a mafia hit, making Frank become the Punisher. In the present, two men follow Frank as he goes to visit his family in the cemetery. That night, the mafia is throwing a party, which The Punisher crashes to kill every mobster attending.

What’s it worth?

The highest quality copy of The Punisher Vol. 7 #1 that has been sold at auction is a 10.0 copy, sold for $250 in August 2004. Earlier that year, it was valued at $401. The lowest quality copy of this issue ever sold at auction is a 9.2 book, valued at $6 in March 2006 when it was sold for the first and only time.

 

15. Punisher Presents: Barracuda MAX Vol. 1 - Issue #1

Key Comic Facts

Issue #1 of The Punisher Presents: Barracuda MAX Vol. 1 is called “A Mouth's a Mouth”. It was released in February 2007, with a cover date of April 2007. It was written by Garth Ennis, with pencils and ink by Goran Parlov and color by Dan Brown. It was edited by Axel Alonso.

This series was released after Vol. 7 of Punisher, and was also released by MAX Comics.

What’s the story?

The story follows The Barracuda, as he’s back in town on a solo mission. He was hired to play the bodyguard to the son of one of the city's most dangerous mob bosses, who’s a hemophiliac, so he needs every protection he can.

What’s it worth?

There are no recorded sales for any issue of the series The Punisher Presents: Barracuda MAX.

 

16. The Punisher Vol. 2 - Issue #218

Key Comic Facts

Issue #218 of The Punisher Vol. 2 is called “Punisher: War Machine - Part One”. It has a cover date of January 2018. It was written by Matthew Rosenberg, with pencils and ink by Guiu Vilanova and color by Lee Loughridge. It was edited by Jake Thomas.

This issue kicks off the story arc “Punisher: War Machine”, highly regarded by fans.

What’s the story?

The story follows an experienced Frank Castle, as he is approached by Nick Fury Jr. to take his fight global and give him access to the War Machine armor, to become the real one-man army.

What’s it worth?

The top price for issue #2 of The Punisher Vol. 2 is $800, paid for a 9.8 copy in April 2022. It was previously valued at $600 in 2021. Since this issue is not that old, the lowest rating copy ever sold is an 8.0 book, valued at $160 as of April 2022, when it was sold for the first and only time. 

 

17. PunisherMAX Vol. 1 - Issue #1

Key Comic Facts

Issue #1 of PunisherMAX Vol. 1 is called “Kingpin, Part One”. It was released in November 2009, with a cover date of January 2010. It was written by Jason Aaron, with pencils and ink by Steve Dillon and color by Matt Hollingsworth. It was edited by Axel Alonso.

This issue features one of the most harrowing stories ever released by MAX or Marvel Comics.

What’s the story?

The story follows Wilson Fisk; he’s a bodyguard for mob boss Don Rigoletto, but he has his eyes on a much bigger prize. His plan is to use Frank Castle to help him realize his dreams, which leads to the creation of one of the greatest villains The Punisher has ever faced.

What’s it worth?

Out of the three top-rated copies of PunisherMAX #1 that have been auctioned, the top price belongs to a 9.6 copy, sold for $43 in August 2020. The lowest price belongs to a 9.8 book, valued at $13 in May 2010. Both copies have only been sold once.

 

18. Marvel Universe Vs. The Punisher Vol. 1 - Issue #1

Key Comic Facts

Issue #1 of Marvel Universe Vs. The Punisher Vol. 1 is called “Last Gun on Earth”. It was released in August 2010, with a cover date of October 2010. It was written by Jonathan Maberry, with pencils and ink by Goran Parlov and color by Lee Loughridge. It was edited by Axel Alonso.

This story was featured in a 4-edition limited comic, released shortly after PunisherMAX hit the stores.

What’s the story?

The story is set when a horrible plague sweeps across the entire planet, making people become infected cannibals. The worst part is that not only humans are vulnerable, but some costumed heroes such as Spíder-Man, Hulk, and others, are also victims of the plague.

Five years after the pandemic started, The Punisher is the only man left standing and, invulnerable to the plague, he fights a battle against, basically, everybody.

What’s it worth?

Only one copy of Marvel Universe Vs. The Punisher #1 has been auctioned. It’s a 9.8 book, sold only once for a price of $23 in October 2013.

 

19. The Punisher Vol. 11 - Issue #7

Key Comic Facts

Issue #7 of The Punisher Vol. 11 was released in December 2016, with a cover date of February 2017. It was written by Becky Cloonan, with pencils and ink by Matt Horak and Steve Dillon, and color by Frank Martin Jr.. It was edited by Jake Thomas.

This issue happens in the “Marvel NOW!” event, with the superheroes dealing with the fallout from Civil War II.

What’s the story?

After laying low for a while, The Punisher is back, now on a mission to bring down a super-powered drug ring. His journey takes him deep into the woods of the Northeast, but dangers wait for him. 

Agent Ortiz once chased Castle to hell and back, but now she's out for revenge, and Frank will have to deal with his own issues and the wrath of Agent Ortiz.

What’s it worth?

The Punisher Vol. 11 #7 was only released just over five years ago, so every auctioned copy is in very good condition. The top price belongs to a 9.8 rated book, sold only once for $85 in September 2017. The lowest price is also for a 9.8 copy, but valued at $17 as of November 2018. 

 

20. The Punisher Vol. 9 - Issue #6

Key Comic Facts

Issue #6 of The Punisher Vol. 9 is called “The Exchange”. It was released in December 2011, with a cover date of February 2012. It was written by Greg Rucka, with pencil and ink by Matthew Southworth and Matthew Clark; and color by Matt Hollingsworth. It was edited by Stephen Wacker.

After a long time with the series being relatively weak storywise, Volume 9 of the series offered a good revival and stories that people could relate to.

What’s the story?

The Punisher finds a text message on a guy he just killed, referring to an Exchange meeting to deal with the Frank Castle problem. At Norah’s apartment, Rachel also finds information about this meeting. Frank and Rachel both go to the meeting, separately. Rachel manages to kill everybody before The Punisher can burst in, and the issue ends with both of them holding a gun at each other.

What’s it worth?

The only copy of The Punisher Vol. 9 #6 to ever sell at auction is a 9.8 book, valued at $13 as of October 2018, when it was sold for the first and only time. 



If you’re looking for the best Punisher comics to read, our list of top issues is a great place to start! You can find out all you need to know about Frank Castle and how he became the Punisher in our ultimate guide.