On November 17th (That’s THIS FRIDAY!), the punishment begins! That’s the day that fans of the guy with the skull on his chest are waiting for. All 13 Episodes of Marvel’s The Punisher will be available for your binge watching pleasure. The Punisher was a fan favourite in Daredevil Season 2 and Jon Bernthal looks more than ready to take center stage. This is the last week where I’ll be bringing you all the knowledge on Frank Castle that’s fit to print. You’ll hear about his greatest comic adventures and even his latter day movie sins. So kick back and get ready to learn all about the greatest vigilante in the Marvel U.
This Friday, we’ll get a closer look into the life of Frank Castle. Not only his life, but also of his supporting cast. What? You think the whole 13 episodes will just be of Punisher killing nameless dudes with guns? There’s a bit of that….but it’s not the whole series. Much like the Netflix shows released previously, a number of characters from the Marvel comics are used to fill out secondary players in this program. Some have been associated with Punisher for a long time. Others have no history with Frank outside of the Marvel Small Screen Universe. Here’s a quick cheat sheet to bring you up to speed on some of the “other” stars in Marvel’s The Punisher.
First Appearance: Punisher Vol. 2 #4 (November 1987)
David Lieberman (aka Micro) plays a major role in The Punisher. He’s essentially Frank’s “guy in the chair”, feeding him intel and supplying weapons and equipment. In the comics, the character spent most of the 80s as a computer hacker and cyber criminal who lost any chance at a real life or family because of his chosen profession. When his nephew, also a hacker, is taken down by The Kingpin, Micro reaches out to Frank teams up with him on his war on crime.
He would go to become synonymous with The Punisher throughout the late 80s and early 90s until he was presumed dead after an enemy of Castle’s bombed their safe house. He miraculously survived, only to be brought back twice in the mid 2000s to be killed by Frank himself. Yes I said multiple times. They killed this dude two times. Micro would get involved with selling drugs to fund assassination plots. That didn’t sit well with Punisher, so he offed him. Later, a supernatural criminal called The Hood would raise him from the dead only for Frank to slit his throat again.
Thankfully, we don’t get to see the villainous side of David Lieberman this time around as he plays the sidekick and comedy relief. But he’s not just there for info and laughs. Micro’s story is intertwined with Frank Castle’s in an interesting way in the series.
First Appearance: Daredevil Vol. 1 #1 (April 1964)
If you watched Daredevil Season Two, you know that Karen Page has a special relationship with Frank Castle. She’s the only one that believes in him and sees him as a good person. This bond is non-existent in the comics as I believe they’ve never met. To tell you the truth, Karen never really had time to meet this vigilante killer as she was too busy with all the vigilantes and killers already in her life thanks to hanging out with Daredevil and Ghost Rider.
She started out as Matt Murdock and Foggy Nelson’s secretary and would become much more. She would soon be the love of Matt Murdock’s life. So of course her life would turn to shit not long after. Her father would be revealed to be a villain. She would leave Matt to become an actor only to fail at that job and end up in pornographic films. She would become a junkie and sell out Matt’s identity for fix which would The Kinpin the information he needed to destroy Daredevil’s life.
Eventually, things would get better for Matt and Karen and the two would become a couple once again. And nothing good would come from that either. As Karen cleaned her life up, she found a new career as a talk radio show host. This would give her the opportunity to start a new job in Los Angeles. She would leave Matt, only to come back to him shortly after when she was lied to by Mysterio disguised a doctor who told her she had contracted AIDS. She would end up getting killed by Bullseye when he was aiming to murder Daredevil with his own billy club and she jumped in the way. There probably isn’t a more tragic supporting character in comics than Karen Page.
In the Netflix universe, things are a little bit better for Karen. She’s working as a reporter for the Bulletin newspaper and ends up being a lifeline for Frank Castle in the new Punisher series.
First Appearance: Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1 #161 (October 1976)
Billy Russo, an assassin working for the criminal organization known as “The Magia”, was hired to take care of loose ends regarding The Punisher. Nicknamed “The Beaut” for his good looks and well kept facade, Billy oozed arrogance. And why wouldn’t he? The man always killed his targets. He track record was flawless….until he met Frank Castle.
Billy was hired to take down not only The Punisher but also the last assassin who failed to bring the vigilante down. While he was successful in killing the other hitman with an explosive device, he would fail to ice The Punisher. Frank would catch up to Billy a few hours later to extract revenge. Instead of killing him, he would repeatedly smash Billy’s face through a plate glass window until it was unrecognizable. The doctors would only be able to put a mangled version back together. Billy would look hideous for the rest of his life. Jigsaw was born.
Jigsaw would make it his mission to get revenge on The Punisher. He would become so obsessed that when it’s believed that Frank was executed by the electric chair, Jigsaw would dress up as The Punisher and hunt down the numerous justice officials involved in the sentencing. He was so upset that he didn’t get his revenge he killed all the folks that stole that from him. But Frank’s execution was all staged and so Jigsaw would once again return to the viscous cycle of facing off with the Punisher only to be best by him again and again.
The Netflix series takes a different approach with Billy. Instead of being a contract killer by trade, he is a former soldier and buddy of Frank’s. His military past with Punisher is a major focal point of the series.
First Appearance: Punisher Vol. 6 #14 (January 2005)
Rawlins is a corrupt CIA operative. That’s really all you need to know. He ran drug running operations in Afghanistan for years and made a bunch of corrupt generals a bunch of dirty money. He would be used by the government to set up a terrorist cell in the Middle East as a distraction so that The Punisher and a Delta Force operative could infiltrate a Russian missile sylo to retrieve a virus sample that was in the bloodstream of a little girl (see The Greatest Punisher Stories to learn more).
Shortly after that, Frank would catch up to Rawlins with some help from William’s ex-wife, Kathryn O’Brien. Rawlins sacrificed O’Brien to the Taliban to escape with a shipment of heroin. O’Brien teamed with Frank for payback. Rawlins would escape again and attempt to sell info on the staged terrorist attack to the Russian military. Punisher would catch up to him before he could and take him out.
In the Netflix series, all you need to know is that Rawlins is still a corrupt CIA operative. He runs drugs and kills people. He’s a bad man that needs to be punished. ‘Nuff Said.
So there’s your look at the comic book counterparts to the supporting cast of Marvel’s The Punisher. Keep this knowledge in mind as you watch the show. It might come in handy. Thanks for checking out this series of Countdown to The Punisher articles. I hope you enjoyed reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them.
Marvel’s The Punisher debuts on Netflix on Friday, November 18th.
If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!