Does Punisher Kill Cops? Exploring Frank Castle's Complex Moral Code

Punisher only kills criminals. But if Frank Castle finds cops who are corrupt and basically no better than the crooks he frequently hunts, then those dirty cops may be in for a reckoning.

Still, it needs to be mentioned that there are various versions of Punisher in Marvel Comics that are more brutal than the one in the main comics continuity.

And some of these versions often depict Punisher as a vigilante who has no qualms about taking down members of law enforcement who deliberately neglect to serve and protect innocent civilians.

In this post, we will go deeper into Punisher’s entanglements and relationships with the police and try to shed light on how he views cops as either a boon or bane to his campaign of doling out his particular brand of justice to criminal forces.

Along the way, we will also take a look at the villains (and heroes) he has crossed paths with, his most memorable feats, and a little bit about his comics history.

Did Punisher Hate Cops?

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He's not friendly to cops, but does Punisher hate 'em?

No, Punisher did not hate cops. He does, however, have a personal vendetta against criminals, especially those of the murderous kind.

The story of how Punisher came to be is well-known. He saw his wife Maria and two kids (Frank Jr and Lisa) get shot by members of the Italian mob after they inadvertently became eyewitnesses to a Mafia hit.

The former United States Marine Scout Sniper then proceeds to don a black shirt with a white human skull print on the front and begin a brutal and ruthless campaign against any form of organized crime and other crooks as well.

Of course, if you are dealing with mobsters, you are bound to run into members of law enforcement who are on La Cosa Nostra’s payroll.

So Punisher sometimes has to take care of dirty cops, although he usually reserves the worst punishment for Mafia members or criminals who victimize children.

The Punisher in the main Marvel comics continuity has a non-official “no cops” rule when it comes to doling out his particular brand of justice.

But the Frank Castle in Marvel’s Ultimate comics is a different beast altogether. Instead of a retired ex-soldier, Ultimate Punisher is a former police officer of the New York Police Department (NYPD).

He and his family were gunned down after he refused to take a bribe. The only one to survive the hit, he quits the force, disappears for a couple of years, and later returns as a vigilante.

In his quest for vengeance, he kills loads of bad guys, including the dirty cops that murdered his wife, son, and daughter.

One of the notable police officers Punisher has killed is Jeanne De Wolfe, a frequent ally of Ultimate Marvel’s version of the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.

It turned out that Officer De Wolfe was working for the Kingpin (Wilson Fisk) all along (she was rumored to be Fisk’s lover as well).

Who Has The Punisher Beaten?

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Punisher squares off against Deadpool.

Punisher's crime-fighting methods are violent and ruthless. Because of his success in getting rid of the vilest of criminals in New York City, he has not only attracted the attention of the Big Apple’s worst baddies (like Kingpin), but also that of the city’s superheroes (Daredevil, Spidey, and Luke Cage, just to name a few).

And while Frank Castle does not have a perfect batting average when it comes to dispatching villains, he has had some memorable victories in recent years in the comics.

One of the most entertaining encounters he has had on the comics pages is with Deadpool (Wade Wilson).

Through five issues in the Deadpool Vs. The Punisher limited series, Punisher manages to put a bullet through Deadpool’s skull twice.

But considering the fact that the Merc With A Mouth can’t die (thanks to his healing factor), he survives on both occasions.

Another super-popular character that Punisher has beaten is none other than the most recognizable mutant himself – Wolverine.
Yes, Logan is definitely the best there is at what he does (although what he does is not always nice). But the same also applies, in a way, to Frank Castle.

In Punisher issues #16 to #17 published in the early 2000s, Castle joins forces with the Canadian X-Man to fight an army of midgets.

After the battle, Punisher hatches a plan to make sure Wolverine will not be able to track him (to stop Frank Castle from executing more criminals in the future).

So Punisher parks a steamroller over Wolvie’s body (the mutant’s legs had just got injured during the battle), thinking he’s got a two-day head start before Logan’s crushed body can completely regenerate.

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He's out to punish everyone in the Marvel universe.

Victories over Deadpool and Wolverine notwithstanding, Punisher goes against the entire Marvel universe in the epic Marvel Universe Vs The Punisher limited series (published in 2010).

In this story set in an alternate universe, Punisher lives in a post-apocalyptic New York City wherein both superheroes and supervillains have become cannibals (except for Wolverine, Black Widow, and Hawkeye).

Throughout the four-issue series, Frank Castle manages to kill Deadpool (again and again), Captain America (albeit it was a mercy killing – Steve Rogers was about to become a cannibal), Hulk, the Thing (Ben Grimm), Kingpin, Venom, and Spider-Man.

For more Punisher against the world mayhem, be sure to also check out 1995’s non-canon one-shot The Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe.

In this older story, Frank Castle blames all superheroes for the death of his family. His wife and kids died while superheroes were battling aliens who have come to invade the planet.

Embarking on a solo mission of revenge, he shoots lots of superheroes, nukes the X-Men (they were tricked into going to the moon and getting vaporized), stabs Daredevil, and finally commits suicide.

What Are The Worst Things The Punisher Has Done?

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Believe us -- this is not the worst thing Punisher has done.

Punisher is not a nice guy. His campaign against criminals in New York City is brutal in every sense of the word.

One can argue that his ruthlessness is as bad as the mobsters and crooks he guns down on a regular basis. But there are times when he does things that would make Hannibal proud.

This is especially true of non-canon versions of Punisher. For instance, Punisher Noir (who operates in the 1930s) drops a Ferris wheel on baddie Barracuda.

The villain later wakes up to see he is tied between two different carnival rides. Punisher Noir then activates the rides to tear the killer’s body apart.

The Old Man Castle version (clearly inspired by the Old Man Logan comic books) might be nastier. Living on a post-nuclear-war Earth, this retired Punisher decides to kill humanity itself.

Blaming humans for destroying the planet, he hunts the ultra-wealthy folks who managed to survive the nuclear holocaust by seeking shelter in bunkers.

They were supposed to be the last of humankind. But unfortunately for them, Frank Castle now thinks people (including himself) don’t deserve to live in this world.

That is not to say that the main continuity Punisher is a saint. He once led mobsters to a zoo where he proceeded to unleash polar bears on the criminals.

Can Frank Castle possibly top that polar bear attack?

It is hard to say. But he did kill a Russian gangster by smothering the poor guy with Punisher’s obese neighbor's massive chest.

Does Punisher Die In The Comics?

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Is this the end of Punisher?

Yes, Punisher dies in the comics, but not in the main Marvel comics continuity. Allow us to explain.

The start of the 2010s decade saw Marvel Comics publish its second PunisherMAX comic book series.

For those not in the know, PunisherMAX is basically a Punisher series published under Marvel’s MAX imprint, which tends to feature grittier and more realistic stories geared towards mature readers.

In PunisherMAX’s 22-issue run, Frank Castle battles Bullseye, Elektra (the MAX version of Elektra is Japanese and definitely not a hero – she works for the Hand, mind you), and the Kingpin.

It is a lot to handle, and considering the PunisherMAX series is more realistic compared to the main continuity Punisher comic books, its version of Frank Castle is more human and thus, more vulnerable to bullets, cuts, and hits.

Castle still manages to defeat Kingpin (via a shot in the head, no less) but he doesn’t survive his wounds (he got shot multiple times).

The final issue of the PunisherMAX comic book series depicts his funeral. But he does not die in vain – his passing ignites an uprising from ordinary New Yorkers who take it upon themselves to rid the Big Apple of organized crime once and for all.

What Is The Best Punisher Comic Series?

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Buy my comic books or else.

Punisher is a character that first appeared in Marvel Comics in the mid-1970s. In other words, Marvel has already published more than four decades of stories about his campaign against organized crime in New York City (as well as other scum in the Big Apple’s underworld).

So suffice it to say that picking the best Punisher comic book series will be as tricky as asking Frank Castle to spare the life of a murderous mobster. But we will give it a try anyway.

Purely for entertainment value, you can’t go wrong with the Marvel Universe Vs. The Punisher series (published in 2010) we mentioned earlier.

It pits Frank Castle against basically every popular Marvel Comics character and gives the vigilante plenty of opportunities to get inventive with his kills. Bonus: Also check out 1995’s one-shot Punisher Kills The Marvel Universe.

For a more recent story, you can’t miss the best-selling Punisher Volume 11 release. Written and drawn by Steve Dillon, this run sees Frank Castle portrayed as a force of nature or spirit of vengeance (think Clint Eastwood's character in Pale Rider).

He doesn’t talk much (and his thoughts aren’t always narrated on the comics pages), preferring instead to let his bullets and brutality do the talking.

If you want more on Frank Castle’s backstory, you might want to read The Punisher: Born limited series written by Garth Ennis and published via Marvel’s MAX imprint. It follows a pre-Punisher Frank Castle as he tries to survive his third tour in Vietnam.

Actually, if you can, you should start reading all Punisher comic books written by Garth Ennis. You can start with 2000’s Punisher Volume 5, also known as the Welcome Back, Frank saga (12 issues in total).

If you are a fan of John Romita Jr's art, you should be collecting 1992’s The Punisher: War Zone. The success of this comic book inspired the movie Punisher: War Zone, released in 2008.

Did you know that Jim Lee did some work on Punisher comics? Look no further than the first Punisher War Journal series, which ran from 1988 to 1995.

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