Here are my picks for the top five most iconic covers featuring Punisher (with iconic being determined by what covers are most established and most recognized when it comes to Punisher, with a preference towards covers that are homaged a lot). This is not a BEST cover list and due to the very nature of icons, very few (if any) recent covers will be on the list. A notable exception to the rules is that I don’t count covers from a character’s first appearance (which isn’t applicable to all characters, of course, just those who appeared on the cover of the comic they debuted in), as those tend to be automatically iconic so they’re boring. Here‘s a list of all characters featured so far.
Get it, yesterday was the Red Skull, and now it’s a dude with a skull on his chest! Hi-LAR-ious!!!
First off, while I’m exempting first appearance covers from the countdown, it’s only fair, I suppose, to share them here before the countdown begins, so here is the first cover appearance of the Punisher from his debut story, Amazing Spider-Man #129…
Artist: John Romita
Artist: Frank Miller
Miller had a couple of notable Punisher covers (this one and the Amazing Spider-Man Annual), but I think this one is a bit more memorable.
Artist: Tim Bradstreet
Bradstreet has basically become the definitive Punisher cover artist this past decade or so, and the first Punisher cover is as good of an example as Bradstreet’s work as I can think of.
Artist: Frank Miller
Now we’re just into the really famous covers.
Artist: Klaus Janson
This is a tough one – this is one of the most famous Punisher images, but it has not been homaged as much as #1 and it, itself, is basically a riff on Mike Zeck’s Punisher mini-series cover (not enough that I’m calling it a flat out homage, but pretty damn close), so that loses some points.
Artist: Mike Zeck
The argument for this one boils down to the fact that it has been homaged more often than the above cover, and when Mike McKone did homage covers for the first couple of issues of the current Punisher series, this was the one he went to after Amazing Spider-Man #129, which I think says something about this being a slightly more iconic cover than the Janson one.