Frank Castle was a soldier and family man who became a violent, murderous vigilante after a personal tragedy destroyed his world. As the Punisher, he became a formidable foe of New York City’s criminal world, using the many skills he had acquired in the Marines to take them out. Frank is proficient in many types of weapons, hand to hand combat, demolitions, infiltration, and other military tactics. He does not possess any superpowers or defensive capabilities, so he keeps himself in peak physical condition and has developed a high tolerance for pain.

The Punisher was created by Gerry Conway, John Romita Sr., and Ross Andru, who introduced him 50 years ago in Amazing Spider-Man #129 (February 1974). A Queens, New York native, Castle was planning to become a priest but became disillusioned by the concept of forgiveness without punishment. Turning to the military, he served four tours of duty in Vietnam, earning multiple awards for his exemplary service, including the Bronze Star, the Silver Star, and the Purple Heart.

He made friends with fellow soldier Roger Wong, and witnessed the dishonorable actions of Sergeant Mikuta. The superior officer was encouraging soldiers to desert their company and then leaving them to die, so Castle killed him for his crimes. Also, while he was a soldier, Castle encountered an enemy soldier known as Monkey who wore a medallion with a skull on it. Castle killed him during combat and adopted the skull symbol as his own, which he would later employee as the Punisher.

He and his girlfriend, Maria, got married after his first tour of duty and soon had their daughter, Lisa. Around the time of his third tour, Castle joined the Special Forces, and Maria gave birth to their second child, Frank Jr. Ready to focus on his family, he took a position as a Special Forces instructor in New York.

Castle returned home to finally be with his wife and two children, but their happy reunion turned tragic. The Castle family was enjoying a picnic in Central Park when they unintentionally witnessed a mob deal that ended in murder. The gangsters then turned their guns on the family, killing Maria, Lisa, and Frank Jr., and leaving Frank injured, but alive.

At first, Castle trusted the police to investigate their deaths, but then he discovered that the murderers had infiltrated the investigation to influence the police. Furious at the corruption, Frank decided to seek justice on his own by finding the people involved in killing his family. He hunted down the Costa family, the mobsters who murdered his wife and children, killing nearly all of them. The one man he didn’t kill was Billy Russo, a hitman that the mob hired to kill Castle. When the two fought, Castle disfigured Russo in the battle, and the latter adopted the name Jigsaw and became one of Punisher’s regular nemeses.

Realizing that there were many criminals who escaped justice, Frank became the Punisher, a vigilante with no compunction over killing criminals. He started wearing a bulletproof vest with the skull design painted over the chest and he started keeping a war journal of all the people he wanted to punish for their crimes.

The Punisher rubbed heroes the wrong way, considering he had no problem with killing criminals, and most of the good guys tried to avoid causing death. Despite his brand of harsh justice, the Punisher is not without compassion and fervently tries to protect the innocent.

One of the Punisher’s first outings as a vigilante pitted him against the Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man. Castle received bad intel from the Jackal who told him that Spidey was a criminal. Once he realized the mistake, Castle and Spider-Man formed a tentative alliance – despite their very different approaches to dealing with villains – and caught real criminal, the Tarantula. He tried to help Spider-Man stop Dr. Octopus who planned to poison the Daily Bugle’s ink supply. To end the threat, the Punisher surrendered himself to the police and was sent to Ryker’s Island.

Once he was out of prison, Castle worked outside of the US, aiding Wolverine in the Congo, stopping Jigsaw from enacting a global sterilization scheme in Venezuela, and ending a feud in Sicily between his uncle Rocco and a crime family. He was soon back in Ryker’s for killing a corrupt police officer and drug dealer, and came face to face with Jigsaw. The villain scarred Punisher in retaliation for their past encounters, then Castle escaped prison and sought Dr. Melinda Brewer who healed his face.

The Punisher was absent for a longtime, returning to stop Ma Gnucci and her crime family, which got bloody quickly. Punisher killed Ma’s sons, she hired assassins to execute him, and when they finally faced each other, he fed her to polar bears. She survived the attack, but lost her limbs, and became even more resolute in killing the Punisher. Ma Gnucci hired the Russian to kill him, but the Punisher decapitated the assassin. Trying to end the conflict for good, Castle burned down her estate with Ma inside, but she survived once again.

He gained an ally in US Marine Sergeant Rachel Cole-Alves when a gang called the Exchange interrupted her wedding and killed dozens of people. Once Cole-Alves recovered from her injuries sustained at the wedding, she and Punisher partnered to take out the Exchange and the pair bonded over their hatred of criminals. When they learned that Daredevil had the Omega Drive, which was filled with information on organized crime and gangs, they tried to steal the device. Daredevil sought Spider-Man’s help to protect the drive, and the two heroes were able to convince Castle that they should destroy it.

Punisher and Cole-Alves continued on their quest to stop the Exchange, killing the heads of the gang. Unfortunately, Cole-Alves killed an NYPD officer during the melee and was sent to prison. Castle enlisted Wolverine’s help to break her out of prison, then she relocated to Los Angeles and continued punishing the wicked.

Seeking big game, Punisher decided to go after Norman Osborn. In retaliation, the resourceful Osborn sent the Hood after him, and when that failed, he hired Daken to kill him. Their fight left Castle for dead, and he was brought back to life by Morbius as Franken-Castle. In this state, he fought supernatural threats before reverting back to his regular self.

In the Secret Empire event, the Punisher chose to stick with Captain America, who he had always admired (despite the fact that a Cosmic Cube had turned him into a Hydra agent). When Black Widow went after Cap, Punisher jumped in, and the two highly skilled fighters had an epic fight. Once Cap was restored to his original self and the conflict ended, Punisher admitted that he made a mistake in following Hydra Cap because he had hoped that the Cosmic Cube could be used to resurrect his family.

Punisher’s next move was to travel to Eastern Europe to stop the dictator of Chernaya. Considering his mission just, Nick Fury gave Castle the War Machine armor since James Rhodes was dead. As expected, Punisher used the armor to mete out harsh justice in Chernaya, gaining international attention. Once again, his brand of fighting evil upset the superhero community in he faced Captain Marvel’s ire when he returned to the US.