Comic Legends: Why the 'Ultimate Punisher Story' Will Never be Told

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

As we've been doing it for some time now, one legend today, one tomorrow and one Sunday.

Let's begin!


Did a Punisher editor have a drawer filled with pitches that all were the same "Ultimate Punisher Story" idea?



In the past, I used to talk about "Snowball Ideas," ideas that, once introduced into the general consciousness, it would kept rolling down a hill and getting bigger and bigger until it became a big snow boulder and momentum couldn't stop the idea from occurring. Spider-Man and Mary Jane's marriage going away was one of these Snowball Ideas and eventually it happened. So was Jason Todd coming back to life. Jeph Loeb threw the idea out there as a red herring, but once it was out there, it kept picking up momentum until it happened for real.

Anyhow, when it came to the Punisher, a popular Snowball Idea that actually has not actually happened in Marvel's continuity was the Punisher accidentally killing an innocent person.

And as it turned out, that idea kept getting pitched to Marvel. Chuck Dixon told the following story about his time writing the Punisher...

Don Daley, my old editor on the Punisher back in the DeFalco days at Marvel, had a drawer full of scripts labeled “The Ultimate Punisher Story.” He let me read a few of them one time. There were scripts by wannabe and amateurs and a surprising number of top talents. They were of varying degrees of competence and professionalism. The one thing they had in common was that they were all the same story. In each story the Punisher accidentally kills an innocent. A child. A nun. A cop. Frank Castle then quits being the Punisher and becomes a priest. In every story. Every damned one. In some he quits being the Punisher forever and in others he’s dragged back into the vigilante game for some compelling reason. The other element that these scripts shared other than inciting incident, plot and resolution was that they got the core character of Frank Castle so entirely wrong that it was breath-taking. Unable to come up with a story for the Punisher, they decided to break the franchise and glue it back together in a new form they could understand.

Amusingly enough, that DID happen with, sure enough, the Ultimate Punisher! So not in the regular Marvel continuity (proper that the Ultimate Punisher would have the Ultimate Punisher Story)

Also, there WAS a story where the Punisher was given the death penalty after he was framed for killing some innocent people that he did not (he thought he did it, too, so he went along with it)...

(The mob faked his death to get him to work for them - they gave him a non-lethal shock of eletricity)

Interesting stuff. I think that the story theoretically COULD be done right, but it's funny how much it got pitched to Daley.

Check out some Christmas-themed legends from Legends Revealed:

Was ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ Almost Too Depressing to Exist?

Check back Saturday for part 2 of this week's legends!

And remember, if you have a legend that you're curious about, drop me a line at either brianc@cbr.com or cronb01@aol.com!

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