Marvel is always on the cutting edge in grabbing new readers while also giving seasoned readers the chance to read stories they may have missed or had troubles in picking up a missing issue in the run they are collecting. Enter Marvel’s Epic Collection. The collection contains Marvel’s best characters and the best stories from Marvel’s expansive history. The Punisher: Circle of Blood was a given for me to pick up. Yes, I know these stories, I love these stories! I also lost half of these stories due to natural disasters, so to pick this up and revisit some classic Punisher tales was a fantastic trip down memory lane. And it filled the holes in my personal collection!
What is in this collection?
We are taking a trip back to the ’80s, boys and girls! This is when the Punisher defined who he was. He gained allies with Microchip, clashed with Jigsaw, and traded blows with Daredevil. This collection contains The Punisher (1986) #1-5, Punisher (1987) #1-10, Daredevil (1988) #257, and the Marvel graphic novel: Punisher – Assassin’s Guild. All ’80s stories, all ’80s Punisher greatness and if you have never read these stories, you are seriously missing out!
Dave, tell me more!
Having the initial run of The Punisher from 1986 is worth the purchase alone. You can check eBay and see the complete series starting around $40 for decent copies. This story stands the test of time. Steven Grant wrote the first four issues and the plot for the fifth. Jo Duffy wrote the script for the final issue. Mike Zeck did the artwork for issues 1-4 and Mike Vosburg took over for the finale.
A citizen’s organization called Trust busts Castle out of Rykers prison. Trust doesn’t like how the American justice system operates, so they brainwash criminals and make them part of their “Punishment Squad”, a group that kills criminals and ironically enough wears outfits like the Punisher. Toss in the maniac Jigsaw, some mob leaders, and a plan to brainwash the Punisher himself, and you have enough chaos and bullets for everyone!
Next up is The Punisher (1987) issues 1-10 written by Mike Baron with artwork by Klaus Janson. This is just a small taste of a run that ran for 104 issues, including seven annuals! Damn! That is insane — you’ll probably never see numbers like that again in this comic age. I beg for a publisher to prove me wrong.
The ten issues that you get in this trade begin with Castle taking on a narcotics ring that begins in Manhattan and ends in Bolivia. After that adventure, he moves to the Midwest only to discover a white supremacist group that robs to fund their agenda. The Punisher also tangles with an insane cult-leader, the Rev and his Ministry of Death, Wall Street shenanigans, just to come back full circle with an entertaining issue involving the devil of Hell’s Kitchen. An interesting choice to throw these ten issues into the book,but I’ll take it.
Speaking of Daredevil, he has a solo issue in this book,which is the continuation from The Punisher issue 10. Daredevil #257, written by Ann Nocenti, with artwork by John Romita Jr and Max Scheele follows Daredevil on the heels of a killer putting cyanide into aspirin, only to have to rescue him from the Punisher’s wrath.
Rounding out this extensive trade is Punisher- Assassin’s Guild, written by Jo Duffy and artwork by Jorge Zaffino and Julie Michel. While Castle is doing what he does best, he mistakenly crosses paths with a unique group of paid killers that work out of a Japanese restaurant. These assassins are skilled, highly professional and most of them are children. Castle attempts to permanently put an end to them when he discovers that both their ethics and motives are fairly similar to his own and they all have their eyes on the same target.
These are old school Punisher stories that every fan, new or old, should have in their collection. I always think it is fun to see where your favorite characters first began their journeys and compare to the modern stories of today. Bottom line: go by this book!
Like what we do here at AIPT? Consider supporting us and independent comics journalism by becoming a patron today! In addition to our sincere thanks, you can gain access to our vibrant Discord community of patrons and staff members, get trade paperbacks sent to your house every month, and a lot more. Click the button below to get started!