Alternative versions of the Punisher

In addition to his mainstream incarnation, the Punisher has also been depicted in other fictional universes, in which the character's history, circumstances, and behavior vary from the mainstream setting. In some stories, another character besides Frank Castle serves as the Punisher.

Alternate versions of The Punisher
PublisherMarvel Comics
First appearanceThe Amazing Spider-Man #129 (February 1974)
Created byGerry Conway
Ross Andru
John Romita, Sr.
CharactersFrank Castle
Jake Gallows
Cossandra Castle
Sosumi Brown
See alsoPunisher in other media

Punisher 2099

First version

The Marvel 2099 universe follows the story of Public Eye police officer, Jake Gallows, after the murder of his mother, brother and sister-in-law. Gallows comes across Frank Castle's war journal in the Public Eye archives, and took the mantle as the new Punisher. At first he follows Frank's old code of justice, only killing those who hurt the innocent. He later loses his mind, at one point proposing murdering two people simply because they were having sex with each other. He is later named Minister of Punishment in Doctor Doom's 2099 government.[1] He is joined by Polly, a lab-bred humanoid who becomes his partner.[2]

Marvel Knights version

Marvel Knights' Punisher 2099, another take on the year 2099, featured Cassondra Castle who goes by the alias of Cossandra Natchios. She is the daughter of Frank Castle and Elektra Natchios and has a son named Franklin. When she is diagnosed with cancer, Cossandra sets out to teach her son everything he needs to know to become the next Punisher. Upon her death, Franklin chooses not to take over, allowing the Punisher title to end with his mother.

Amalgam Comics

In Amalgam Comics, the Punisher is merged with Steve Trevor to make Trevor Castle. In this continuity Trevor Castle lost his family when they were caught in a gang war, which led him to become the Punisher and eventually marry Diana Prince, with whom he had a son named Ryan before they separated. In Bullets and Bracelets, Ryan is kidnapped which leads to Trevor and Diana to work together to figure out who is responsible. Their search leads them to Thanoseid, who apparently kills their son. Trevor was about to kill Thanosied's personal assassin Kanto, but was stopped by Diana who figured out Kanto was actually Ryan. Wanting revenge on Trevor for indirectly causing the death of his own son, Thanoseid sent Ryan back in time to become Kanto so that either Trevor will kill his son or Kanto would kill his father. With his plan foiled, he sent Trevor and Diana back to Earth, with the two deciding to give their relationship another chance.[3]

Frank Castle

Alternative versions of the Punisher have appeared for over three decades. The earliest examples of those alternative versions can be found within the monthly What If series. Using existing Marvel stories as a starting point, the series examined scenarios in which, for example, Frank Castle's family has not died or he had killed Daredevil in their first encounter. Other "what if" stories looked at his adventures as a new Captain America or as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Garth Ennis wrote a one-off special entitled Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe where Frank Castle kills every superhero and supervillain in the Marvel Universe after his family are caught in the crossfire of a battle with the Brood.[4]

The Punisher also featured in a number of more extended looks at alternative universes and lives such as the Age of Apocalypse's Frank Castle (as a man who fled genocide to become a monk).

House of M

In the alternative universe House of M, Castle appears as a media vigilante nicknamed the "Punisher" and is recruited after his arrest by John Proudstar to join and be the other human in the strikeforce known as the Brotherhood.[5]

A Man Called Frank

A Man Called Frank, written by Chuck Dixon, was a western themed take on the character. Castle is a cowboy during the time of the American Old West who is out for revenge to the criminals who killed his family.

Marvel Noir

In The Punisher Noir, Frank Castelione is a veteran of World War I. His wife died from cancer and his only son was never killed. Instead, Castelione is killed by Jigsaw, Barracuda, and the Russian, and his son became the Punisher, patterning himself after a radio pulp series. This version of the Punisher wears a mask emblazoned with his trademark skull, similar to Crossbones, and later has it carved into his chest by Jigsaw, while Frank, Sr., has a winged version of the skull tattooed on his chest. This Punisher fights against a criminal conspiracy controlling the entire city.

Marvel Zombies vs. The Army Of Darkness

In this universe, Frank takes advantage of the fact that the heroes and law enforcement officers are busy with zombies and he hunts and shoots down the super-villain leadership of New York City, known as the Kingpin, The Owl, and Hammerhead. Along the way he allies himself with Ash Williams, who he intends to help battle the zombie threat. When Ash sees him kill the still human criminal trio he becomes disgusted and mistakenly abandons the Punisher minutes later. This leaves Frank to be attacked and infected by a squad of zombies, causing him to at first be "killed". Frank returns as a zombie and turns Ash's ally, the Scarlet Witch into one. Punisher appears in Marvel Zombies: Evil Evolution, where he appears zombified along with other zombies attacking the Marvel Apes.

Marvel Mangaverse

In the alternative universe Marvel Mangaverse continuity, Sosumi Brown is Tokyo's Punisher, who fights the crime family of Skang Kee Ho. That family uses an Oni (Japanese demon) named Oni Yew to try to stop her, but her sister, Hashi Brown, finds out about her secret. In the process, she obtains a cursed weapon which she uses to slay the Oni and save her sister.

MC2

In the alternative-future universe of MC2, the Punisher is still active, but has moved to South America to deal with the level of drug runners there. He returns to New York after hearing of a gang war between Black Tarantula and a Maggia don called Silverback, whom he had once crippled, but now has cybernetic implants.[6] He eventually dies in a final confrontation with Silverback.[7]

Old Man Logan

In the pages of "Old Man Logan," Punisher showed up to help fight the villains during the days the villains rose to power. He shot Electro before he was stabbed in the chest during a sneak attack from Kraven the Hunter.[8] He survived the attack and resumed his war on crime where he killed Nuke and some other criminals. 50 years later, Punisher finds that a gang called the Punishers has been tarnishing his reputation by killing men and kidnapping children in light of the Hulk Gang having most of its members killed and Ashley Barton killing Kingpin. In addition, Punisher is shown to have a failing memory as the Punishers have stolen his war journal. This caused Punisher to assist Old Man Logan into attacking the stronghold of the Punishers to save the kidnapped children. He fought the Punishers' leader Panhead where he was fatally injured. When Panhead is killed, Punisher reclaimed his war journal and sees the picture of his late family as he dies peacefully.[9]

Later in this alternative future series, two men who have taken up the mantles of the Punisher and Daredevil, have been captured by a new Kingpin after trying to destroy his empire along with Spider-Girl. The Punisher and Daredevil are chained to posts in a full view of a crowd at a stadium, as they are gruesomely dispatched by dinosaurs.[10]

Ruins

Following his interview with Rick Jones at his apartment in Chicago, Phil Sheldon trips over the corpse of The Punisher in the snowfall.[11]

Venomverse

On Earth-TRN651, Frank Castle led a war on crime for years, until the Kingpin organized the crime families of New York against him, Frank found himself hunted by the criminal underworld. Growing desperate, Frank made a deal with the Venom Symbiote, the symbiote would allow him to kill Fisk and 'win' his war on crime, on the condition that Frank would kill one target for the symbiote. This target was revealed to be Spider-Man, an innocent, and Frank tried to resist the symbiote as it formed a rifle in his hands. Fortunately for Frank, a Venomized Doctor Strange chose that moment to transport them into a war between Venoms and Poisons, inadvertently saving Spider-Man's life. He was unfortunately assimilated by a Poison along with his symbiote, thus creating Poison Punisher.[12]

Later he was present in the Hive's invasion of the Prime Marvel Universe and was able to bond Spider-Man to a symbiote.[13] He continued to face off against that universe's heroes, also successfully bonding Devil Dinosaur to a symbiote, but was soon killed when Agent Anti-Venom arrived and attempted to free him from the Poison, only to find he was hollow, having been already consumed by the Poison.[14]

Cosmic Ghost Rider

Cosmic Ghost Rider
Publication information
PublisherMarvel Comics
First appearanceThanos Vol. 2 #13
Created byDonny Cates
Geoff Shaw
(based on the character created by Gerry Conway, John Romita Sr. and Ross Andru)
In-story information
Full nameFrancis "Frank" Castle
Team affiliationsHeralds of Galactus
Guardians of the Galaxy
Dark Guardians
PartnershipsGalactus
Thanos
Notable aliasesThe Rider
Abilities

Cosmic Ghost Rider is created by Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw. In the alternate reality of Earth-TRN666, where Thanos conquered all the Universe, Frank Castle's early life was seemingly similar to that of the Frank Castle of the Earth-616 Universe. However, when Thanos came to Earth, the Punisher was one of the last casualties during the last stand of the heroes and his soul was subsequently sent to Hell. Willing to give anything in order to punish Thanos for slaughtering his planet, the Punisher signed a demonic deal with Mephisto and became the Ghost Rider. When he returned to Earth, however, Thanos was already gone and everything on the planet was dead. Roaming endlessly and undying with no one to kill or love, the Ghost Rider spent the next countless years alone. He eventually began to lose his mind when even Mephisto fell silent to his calls. When a badly-injured Galactus arrived on Earth seeking help against Thanos, unaware that the population of Earth had already been killed by him, the Ghost Rider offered the dead planet to him in exchange for the chance of punishing the Mad Titan as his herald which the Great Devourer accepted. Bestowed with the Power Cosmic, Ghost Rider became Cosmic Ghost Rider.[15]

Alongside Galactus, Cosmic Ghost Rider traveled across the cosmos on a quest to halt Thanos' systematic annihilation of every living being in existence, which led them to become legends. Their story lasted centuries, but came to an end once they finally confronted Thanos, who beheaded Galactus as he approached to battle. The undying Rider was offered by Thanos the chance to see more evil than he could punish in a thousand lifetimes, and thus became his servant.[16] Thanos then gives him a shard of the Time Stone so he could use it to travel to the past in order to drag a younger Thanos to the future[17] so he could help in the killing of the Fallen One.[18]The Cosmic Ghost Rider was smashed by the Fallen One using Mjolnir.[16]

Odin from the main reality retrieved Cosmic Ghost Rider's soul from the dead reality and rewarded him with Valhalla. Though Cosmic Ghost Rider wasn't satisfied. Odin returned his powers and offered to revive him in any time period of his choosing. Cosmic Ghost Rider chose the day Thanos was born. Being revived in that year, Cosmic Ghost Rider confronted the baby Thanos where his Penance Stare hasn't detected any sins yet. Cosmic Ghost Rider then takes Baby Thanos under his wing in order to change his future so that he won't be evil.[19] Tracking down Galactus to the planet Markus-Centauri which he plans to devour, the Cosmic Ghost Rider tried to get Galactus to help him to no avail after Galactus scanned his memories. With Uatu the Watcher bearing witness, an angry Cosmic Ghost Rider vowed to raise Thanos on his own consequently.[20] By doing that, Cosmic Ghost Rider created a new timeline where Thanos grew up to become something worse and the Guardians of the Galaxy of said timeline tried to change their future by killing Thanos. Unfortunately, Frank and later on baby Thanos killed them all. They were subsequently greeted by Thanos' future self, who sported the same clothes Cosmic Ghost Rider used as the Punisher.[21]

Thanos from the future brings Rider and his infant self to his world where he stopped all of the Wars in the universe and saved Frank's family. The Rider was happy at first, until he found out that Thanos was as dictator to the planets he invaded. Frank horrified of what Thanos turned into, he kills him and back in time to leave baby Thanos where he got him and accepting the monster Thanos will become.[22]

In the aftermath of the "Infinity Wars" storyline, Cosmic Ghost Rider was present at Thanos' funeral. He shows all the guests a recording of Thanos stating that he uploaded his consciousness in a new body before his death. The funeral is attack by the Black Order, who steals Thanos's body and rip open a hole in space, sending everyone into the rip. Though Cosmic Ghost Rider got to safety with Star-Lord, Groot, Beta Ray Bill, Phyla-Vell, and Moondragon.[23] Everyone is saved by the arrival of Gladiator and the Shi'ar Empire. Starfox begins to recruit warriors to find Gamora, the most likely candidate to be Thanos's new body, as they form the Dark Guardians which causes Cosmic Ghost Rider to side with them. Wraith brings up the issue of the Black Order, but Starfox assure they are searching for them and Nebula states that the team should track down Nova to find Gamora's location.[24] The Dark Guardians found Nova and ambush him, wounding him enough to crash land onto a planet. When Gladiator and Cosmic Ghost Rider order Wraith to back off after mentioning to Starfox that he joined his group to find Knull, Nova takes the chance to fly off again. The Dark Guardians plan to track down again.[25]

Ultimate Marvel

The alternative universe Ultimate Marvel version of Punisher is Frank Castle, an ex-NYPD police officer whose family was killed by corrupt police officers who knew he was going to expose them. He manages to kill the one responsible for his family's death after sympathetic cops "accidentally" place him as the man's cellmate.[26] After he unsuccessfully tried to kill Boomerang,[27] he later kills corrupt cop Jeanne De Wolfe.[28]

In Ultimate Comics: Avengers 2, the Punisher is defeated and arrested by Captain America. He is saved from the death penalty by Nick Fury orchestrating his release from custody in exchange for joining the Avengers. After being equipped with a Captain America-inspired costume, Punisher is implanted with a chip that delivers a violent electric shock whenever he disobeys orders.[29] Being knocked out by Clint Barton, it allowed him to escape after the fight between two of the Ghost Riders. In Ultimate Avengers vs New Ultimates, he was incarcerated after assassinating the Russian criminal known as the Red Hammer and is later visited by Fury persuading him to rejoin the Avengers by offering him revenge on his fellow prisoners.[30] While the Avengers were battling the New Ultimates, Punisher was aiming a sniper rifle at Captain America's kneecap with the intention of immobilizing him. However, Spider-Man swung in to push Captain America away and was hit by the bullet instead. Horrified that he had shot a kid, he begged the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents that arrived shortly afterwards to "punish him".[31]

After Punisher and the rest of the Avengers were arrested by S.H.I.E.L.D., they took Tyrone Cash's serum and temporarily gained Hulk-like powers. They confronted the new S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Gregory Stark, but are easily defeated thanks to Stark's Nanite-based suit. The Avengers later assisted the New Ultimates against Stark's Spider in Korea.[32] In the aftermath of the conflict, Punisher is last seen torturing the other convicts in prison.[32]

What If

In What If...the Punisher's Family Had Not Been Killed in Central Park?, Castle's family does not die in the park and he joins the police force following his discharge from the Marine Corps. However, Frank tries to collect evidence on corrupt cops, but they attack Frank's house in the middle of the night, killing Frank's family and his brother-in-law. Castle returns to kill those who murdered his family, making Frank become the Punisher after all.[33][34]

In "What If The Punisher Had Killed Spider-Man?", an alternative version of the events depicted in The Amazing Spider-Man #129, the Jackal successfully dupes the Punisher into killing Spider-Man and abandons him to take the fall in his place. Becoming a hunted fugitive, Punisher eventually hunts Warren down and intends to surrender him to the police. But when the NYPD is about to arrest him instead, threatening to kill him should he shoot Warren, Warren is executed (off-panel) by the Punisher after the latter gleefully concludes the story with the words: "See you on the other side, Jackal.".[35]

In What If, Captain America is seriously injured in a fight with the Red Skull (an alternative ending of Captain America #212) and converted into a cyborg, which drives him to bestow his uniform upon another candidate. Castle is eventually chosen, and although he first pursues his family's killers in his usual alter ego, after a talk with the recovered Steve Rogers and some soul-searching he becomes a new and worthy Captain America.[36]

In What If, Frank is possessed by Venom instead of Eddie Brock. With the Punisher as Venom, he goes on a rampage killing several villains including Tombstone and the Kingpin. He eventually confronts the symbiote and they work together.[37]

In What If...Wolverine Had Become the Lord of Vampires?, Frank is chosen by the spirit of Doctor Strange to fight the vampires. Frank does so by killing Cyclops, Nightcrawler, Colossus, Storm, and Juggernaut, all of whom became vampires. When Frank fights Wolverine, he accidentally kills Kitty Pryde, causing Wolverine to kill him.[38]

In What If features Wolverine becoming the Punisher during the 1920s.[39]

In What If... Peter Parker Became the Punisher?, Peter Parker's history echoes his 616 counterpart, but he becomes a vigilante that kills people with specialized bullets using a wrist chaingun attached to his webshooters. His costume is a mixture of Spider-Man and the Punisher. After killing the Sinister Six and the Green Goblin, he ultimately retires the Punisher persona to avoid putting his loved ones in danger. However, this results in a local crime organization killing Frank Castle's family. While escaping the scene, Frank stumbles upon Peter's costume in the trash, suggesting he will become the next Punisher.[40]

Age of X

In the X-Men crossover Age of X, another universe's General Frank Castle commands a mutant-hunting version of the Avengers.[41]

Marvel Universe vs The Punisher

In this alternative universe, an unknown pathogen transforms the entire metahuman population, as well as basic civilians, into homicidal cannibals. Five years prior, the Punisher raided a Mafia deal in a warehouse, incidentally releasing the plague. Due to being overly exposed to the pathogen, he has gained a special immunity from the virus. He is one of the few people immune to the pathogen, the others being Hawkeye and Wolverine.

During the beginning days of the outbreak, Wolverine sought out Frank after getting a tip from Reed Richards that someone with Frank's M.O. was present when the virus was released. When confronted, Frank recounted the events which occurred eighteen months prior to when the virus was released, revealing that all it did was make him sick for a few weeks. Richards, overhearing their conversation via radio, determines that Frank over exposure to the pathogen has given him a special immunity and that he is humanity's best chance at getting a cure. After fighting to the Baxter Building, both men find that the buildings emergency generator has stopped working and the security team slaughtered. Upon further investigation, they find Reed badly injured, who tells them that both the Thing and Beast had turned with the latter feasting upon Hank Pym.

Later, following a failed counterattack against a large cannibal army led by an infected Hulk, the Punisher, Deadpool, and Captain America save a badly injured Wolverine, who lost his arm in the battle. The four later coordinate two diversions while Mr. Fantastic and Black Panther lead a convoy of scientists out of the city so they could begin work on a cure in a safe location. Frank and Captain America launch an offensive against a large cannibal horde, though Captain America begins to succumb to the plague and begs Frank to kill him before he turns. A solemn Frank obliges and is soon confronted by Hawkeye, who witnessed the execution.

Weeks later, Frank continues to fight the horde alongside other uninfected heroes. He is one of few heroes who do not accept Dr. Doom's offer of wearing a Doom Stone to prevent the infection. Frank, Hawkeye, and Black Widow end up being the last uninfected heroes in New York after the surviving heroes are forcibly turned by Doctor Doom using Doom Stones to accelerate the turning process. Though they attempt to save their fellow heroes, their attempts are in vain and Black Widow is kidnapped by Spider-Man, while Frank leaves Hawkeye and goes out in search of him. Frank later witnesses Hawkeye's murder at the hands of Thor, leaving him as the last uninfected person in New York.

Five years later, the Punisher hunts for the first known infected, Spider-Man in a New York City that has been depopulated. Castle is constantly bugged by a cannibalistic Deadpool, who he has killed over 35 times. The Thing, The Hulk, Kingpin, and others are hunted and killed. Spider-Man confronted Castle and begged for him to rescue his mate, in exchange for a group of survivors. The Punisher rescued a pregnant Mary Jane Parker from the hands of a flesh-eating Kingpin and his cohorts. At the end, Mary Jane looks on aghast as Castle kills Spider-Man and sends off the survivors. Punisher stays behind on Manhattan.[42]

Spider-Gwen

In this alternate universe, Captain Frank Castle of the NYPD is called in to take over for George Stacy in the hunt for Spider-Woman. He was a veteran of the wars in Afghanistan and the Second Gulf War, where he and Maria Walls were the only survivors of a massive firefight. The two later marry and have 2 children. He then worked as a mercenary for Tony Stark's private military company, WAR MACHINE. After that stint, he joins the NYPD, rapidly rising through the ranks. On the day he was named to take over the Spider-Woman case, he finds a note that Maria and the children have left him, and Frank finds himself now only focusing on his job.

After following the Vulture on an attack on George Stacy, Castle takes on both the Vulture and Spider-Woman, the latter of whom brutally beats Castle, though Castle does see her unmasked face, he is unaware of her actual identity.[43]

References

  1. ^ "Marvel Universe: Punisher 2099 (Jake Gallows)". Marvel.com. August 3, 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-02.
  2. ^ "Marvel Universe: Punisher 2099 (Vendetta)". Marvel.com. August 3, 2007.
  3. ^ Bullets and Bracelets vol. 1, #1 April 1996
  4. ^ Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe vol. 1, #1 (November 1995)
  5. ^ House of M: Avengers #2-3 (February 2008)
  6. ^ Spectacular Spider-Girl #1 (May 2010)
  7. ^ Spectacular Spider-Girl #4 (August 2010)
  8. ^ Old Man Logan Vol. 2 #8. Marvel Comics.
  9. ^ Old Man Logan Annual #1. Marvel Comics.
  10. ^ Wolverine Vol. 3 #68. Marvel Comics.
  11. ^ Ruins #1. Marvel Comics. 1995.
  12. ^ Venomverse: War Stories #1
  13. ^ Venomized #1
  14. ^ Venomized #3
  15. ^ Thanos Vol. 2 #13. Marvel Comics.
  16. ^ a b Thanos Vol. 2 #16. Marvel Comics.
  17. ^ Thanos Vol. 2 #13. Marvel Comics.
  18. ^ Thanos Vol. 2 #15. Marvel Comics.
  19. ^ Cosmic Ghost Rider #1. Marvel Comics.
  20. ^ Cosmic Ghost Rider #3. Marvel Comics.
  21. ^ Cosmic Ghost Rider #3. Marvel Comics.
  22. ^ Cosmic Ghost Rider #4-5. Marvel Comics.
  23. ^ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 5 #1. Marvel Comics.
  24. ^ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 5 #2. Marvel Comics.
  25. ^ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 5 #3. Marvel Comics.
  26. ^ Ultimate Marvel Team-Up #6-8
  27. ^ Ultimate Spider-Man #61
  28. ^ Ultimate Spider-Man Annual #2
  29. ^ Ultimate Avengers 2 #
  30. ^ Avengers vs. New Ultimates #1
  31. ^ Avengers vs. New Ultimates #3
  32. ^ a b Avengers vs. New Ultimates #6
  33. ^ What If...? vol. 2, #10 (February 1990)
  34. ^ "Earth-90200 (Earth-The Punisher's Family Hadn't Been Killed)". Marvunapp.com. Retrieved 2010-09-29.
  35. ^ What If? Vol.2 #58
  36. ^ What If? Vol.2 #51
  37. ^ What If...? vol. 2, #44 (December 1992)
  38. ^ What If...? vol. 2, #24 (April 1991)
  39. ^ What If? Wolverine #1 (February 2006)
  40. ^ What If? Punisher #1 (October 2018)
  41. ^ Age of X: Alpha (single-issue) (January 2011)
  42. ^ Jonathan Marberry: Marvel Universe Vs The Punisher: New York: Marvel Comics: 2010: ISBN 978-0-7851-4355-0
  43. ^ Spider-Gwen Vol 1 #1-2; Spider-Gwen Vol. 2 #5
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