40 Greatest Punisher Stories: #35-31

In honor of the Punisher debuting on Daredevil's Netflix series next week, we're counting down your picks for the forty greatest Punisher stories.

You all voted, now here are the latest results of what you chose as the 40 Greatest Punisher Stories!

Here's #35-31! Enjoy!

35. "Archie Meets the Punisher" (Archie Meets the Punisher #1)

This offbeat tale is one of the strangest inter-company comic book crossovers of all-time, but it also somehow really does work. I did a full spotlight on the issue here, but basically, the comic is based on a simple, but extremely effective concept...mistaken identity!

In a really clever move, both the characters are introduced as if their introductions are the first pages of a short Archie-style story. "Wet Works"...

and then "Shtick to your Guns"...

As it turns out, the Punisher is not the only one who is on the hunt for the crook known as "Red." Some hitmen are out to get him, as well, and they and the Punisher both converge on Archie and Jughead, leading to an awesome meeting scene...

Batton Lash wrote the comic and Stan Goldberg handled the Archie side of things and John Buscema handled the Punisher side of things.

The whole thing climaxes at the school dance and then when "Red" kidnaps Veronica and everyone has to team-up to save her. It's really a wonderfully clever and well-executed comic, drawn by two comic book art legends.

34. "The Omega Effect" (Avenging Spider-Man #6, Daredevil Vol.3 #11, The Punisher Vol.9 #10)

A big part of the early issues of Mark Waid's initial Daredevil run was involving the "Omega Drive," a device with all sorts of bad info about all the major criminal organizations, that existed to create a stalemate amongst the groups. You know, you try to mess with us, we mess with you. The Omega Drive was kept at a neutral location. Anyhow, Daredevil somehow ended up with it and now all the super-criminal organizations, including The Exchange, the evil group who massacred Rachel Cole Alves' wedding day, want it. So Daredevil, Spider-Man, the Punisher and the Punisher's new sort-of-protege, Alves, are working together to come up with a plan where they can destroy the Omega Drive in front of all of the groups so that they know Daredevil no longer has it (as they are ruining Daredevil's life trying to come after him constantly).

The four people discuss their plans...

In a clever bit, Marco Checchetto drew all three issues of the three different titles. Waid and Rucka co-wrote the first part and then each wrote their own individual issue.

The big twist in the series is when Alves can't help but double-cross everyone to get a hold of the Omega Drive for herself for the information it contains on the Exchange. So it becomes a bit of a melee, with the characters fighting the bad guys AND themselves.

33. "Frank" (Punisher Max #12-16)

Jason Aaron somehow managed to take Garth Ennis' work on Punisher and go even DARKER in his excellent run on the sequel series, Punisher Max (Ennis' Punisher was part of the Max line but was not explicitly titled so, unlike Aaron's sequel). Drawn by the great Steve Dillon, this storyline has the Punisher in prison, where he reflects on whether he wants to even keep on fighting/living anymore.

He reflects to a time at a military hospital in Vietnam when a fellow patient tells him that he can see in Frank's eyes that Frank will never be finished with war. The guy turns out to be nuts and kills his nurses and tries to escape. He asks Frank to join him, to not return back to "normal" society. Before he can answer, the hospital guards kill the man. Frank has to wonder - WOULD he have joined him had they not killed him? DOES he not want to ever return to normal society? He thinks of this while he sits in a prison hospital bed, in a BRILLIANT sequence where two rival prison gangs each come to kill him, but each keep psyching themselves out that he can't possibly be as helpless as he looks in his hospital bed. They talk themselves into believing that it is a trap. Meanwhile, Frank thinks back to the trap HE lived through, his return to his family...

Dark, dark stuff.

The rest of the arc tells two stories, Frank's inability to adjust back to normal life back home with his family and Frank's inability to NOT die in prison.

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