Comic Legends: Was Punisher Initially Going to Die in His First Series?

Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the six hundred and fifty-fourth week where we examine comic book legends and whether they are true or false.

Click here for Part 1 of this week's legends, which are all about the Punisher!


Punisher was originally going to die in his first miniseries.



Reader Matthew wrote in a while back to ask, "You know there's one myth that I have heard a lot, that Punisher was going to die in issue #4 of his first mini series, but the plot changed due to great sales, that's why the creative team is different. I find it really strange to be true. However even a comic book shop owner told me about this when I was ready to buy the premier hc edition. Except if he used the myth as a selling point."

Few comic book errors have caused quite as much confusion as the error that occurred on the cover of the first issue of the Punisher miniseries, which noted that it was the first issue of a four issue miniseries, like all Marvel miniseries of the era.

Then #2 came out, and it suddenly said that it was a five issue miniseries.

When #3 went back to saying "four issue miniseries" and then #5 came out and Mike Zeck didn't draw it and Steven Grant only plotted it (Jo Duffy scripted it - Mike Vosburg filled in for Zeck, luckily John Beatty's finishes made it all look as consistent as possible), that just caused SO much mystery about what was going on, which led to a number of legends about the series over the years, including, apparently, the one that Matthew wrote in about.

Now, I knew that this was bogus since I did a legend about the series years ago, but I still figured I'd ask Steven Grant just to be safe and sure enough, he let me know that the story was completely BS.

The series had been intended to be five issues for a while. Initially, it was going to be four issues, with #1 and #4 both being over-sized issues, but instead, only #1 was over-sized. It was meant to not be solicited until the first two issues were finished, but Marvel, for whatever reason, put it out earlier than intended and so Zeck was unable to draw #5 in time and I presume that's the same reason Grant had to bow out for the fifth issue (note, though, that the plot was still his).

The whole 1 of 4/2 of 5 mistake was simply confusion by Marvel production due to the fact that Marvel pretty much exclusively did four issue miniseries at the time. When they complained after seeing the cover of #1, they fixed it for #2, but then went right back to four-issues with #3, at which point Grant and Zeck decided to just leave well enough alone.

Thanks to Matthew for the suggestion and thanks to Steven Grant for the quick debunking!

Check out my latest TV Legends Revealed - Why did Cheers' classic Thanksgiving episode get protested when it came out?

Part 3 will be up in tomorrow. It is another Punisher legend! Feel free to write in with suggestions for future legends to either cronb01@aol.com or brianc@cbr.com!

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