Marvel Select Punisher
Some guys just have all the luck. Frank Castle is one of those guys, but his luck is all bad. First he joined the Marines, and if being a jarhead isn't bad luck what is? After that he went to Vietnam, but that wasn't on vacation. After getting back home he went on a picnic with his family and since he missed the 'Maggia Picnic' signs his family was killed during a shootout (which is usually after dinner at Maggia picnics). The Maggia is the Marvel version of the mafia, which we all know doesn't exist.
For a combat vet death may be acceptable, but when his family was killed in front of him to ensure there were no witnesses (rumor has it the secret Soprano family stromboli recipe was also potentially compromised) the man just cracked. The first thing he did was desert the Marines and drop out of sight for a while, quietly brooding over what had happened to him. Like other men before him who watched their families killed in their faces, he donned a black costume and decided to instill fear into the criminal element. He also intended to inflict deadly lead poisoning on them, wearing a suit with a death's head emblazoned on it and dubbed 'The Punisher'. Why? From the English - one who punishes.
The Punisher made his first appearance in 1974 in the pages of The Amazing Spider-Man (issue #129), written by Gerry Conway and illustrated by Ross Andru. The character's creation was clearly influenced by Don Pendleton's series of Executioner books, where the hero (Mack Bolan) goes on a war against crime after seeing his family murdered by the mafia. From there the character made guest appearances here and there (many in Amazing Spider-Man) without becoming too much of a star.
All that changed with the 1986 mini-series written by Steven Grant and illustrated by Mike Zeck and John Beatty (who may be the best inker for Mike Zeck's pencils). That mini-series was a huge hit and eventually the Punisher grew to be one of Marvel's top characters, boasting several monthly comics and more guest appearances than Roseanne Barr at an all-you-can-eat buffet. It may be true that during the absolute height of his popularity the Punisher might have appear in every book Marvel published (along with an assist from Wolverine). The bad side of fame is a movie with Dolph Lundgren playing you. If you have seen it, try to forget. If you haven't, have faith that Marvel is exploring a new movie with the Punisher, and maybe they'll have Dolph play a criminal that the Punisher 'rehabilitates'...
Mike Zeck's art may have defined the Punisher in the eighties, but the end of the century brought a grittier look to Frank Castle, and he moved away from the costume to something that looks a little more like street wear. One of the artists that stands out in Tim Bradstreet, who brought his own style to the figure and created some of the most memorable art with the character. Bradstreet also did some of the design work for Blade 2, and some of the art can be seen in the art gallery on the second disc of the DVD release (look at the images of the bloodpack characters). This rendition of the Punisher was chosen for toy treatment by the powers that be in the Marvel Select line.
Marvel Select is a new line of figures that will cover characters in the Marvel Knights and Ultimate comic books, produced by Diamond Select Toys and Toy Biz. The line itself will be sold through comic stores via Diamond Distributors and is planned for a total of 36 figures over a three-year period with a new release every month. The series started out with Ultimate Spider-Man (which we hope to cover in the near future, but for now check out Julius Marx's coverage of the inaugural figure) and will continue with Elektra next, followed by WW2 Ultimate Captain America, Black Widow (Yelena Belova), Wolverine from Origin and then Black Cat. After that will be... Diamond Select will reveal these soon enough!!
This line of figures is being designed as a collectors line, emphasizing sculpting and display dioramas over play value. The primary purpose of these figures is display, and while they are technically accurate the description on the cardback of 'toy statue' is probably more accurate than 'action figure'. The figures are built around a 7" scale, meaning a 6' tall man would be 7" tall in figure form. If your country uses the metric system, count yourself lucky and have fun converting these numbers to centimeters and meters because we would be remiss if we didn't make you work since you have a measuring system that makes sense and is easy to convert.
The talents of Steve Kiwus were utilized to sculpt the Punisher figure, and he should be well represented as the Marvel Select line continues. He has additionally sculpted Elektra and Black Widow, and has worked within the toy industry for years. Steve can't take credit for the art on the cardback, and the back has a great image of Marvel Knights Punisher #6. The front of the cardback has the figure attached, but under that is a gallery of cover images from the various Punisher series and mini-series and shows the evolution of the character over the years in the collage.
The figure of the Punisher stands in at 7 3/16" tall, which works out well based on the 6'1" height listed in the Handbook of the Marvel Universe. Compared with other Marvel figures the Punisher is a bit tall, being nearly the same height as the Marvel Legends Hulk, but he fits in very well with the Legends Wolverine. The sculpting of the figure is very intricate, with a pliable rubbery overcoat with a life-like texture. The figure has a softer plastic belt and two suspender straps on it, and these are separate from the coat and shirt underneath and go all the way around the back. To punish, there is the venerable Colt M1911A1 pistol (introduced in 1926 and the favored pistol oft the US Military into the 1980's) and the larger Colt Commando (a shortened version of the M16 used for close combat in Vietnam). The Punisher has more articulation than guns (though it was close), with twisting wrists, waist, neck and shoulders. The figure may not move, but it truly captures the look of Tim Bradstreet's art in pose and costume. Pray you don't meet this guy in a dark alley!
There needs to be someone to punish, and in this instance we get a thug. You can tell he's a thug by his rude demeanor, shabby clothing, and his cleverly worded tattoo 'thug 4 life' (which is AOL shorthand for 'thug for life'). He also has an 8-ball tattoo and some webs and a spider on his right arm. On the left are more tattoos, with another web, some barbs and a hand of cards. He has a small tribute to his sweetheart 'Jesse', or maybe just his cellmate (wonder who slept on top...) inside a heart with an arrow. This guy is stuck on (and in) a Spider-Man pinball machine, and he is neither articulated nor articulate. The reason he's so silent is the grenade shoved in his mouth, with the pin lying on his chest. His legs are strapped to the pinball machine and the arms are handcuffed (the cuffs have metal chains). The face is bloodied and beaten, and this guy's shirt is stained with blood and something else. The pants are a dark color so they don't show how stained they are. To complement the pinball machine there is a wall section for the tavern where this unfortunate man has his punishment fit the crime. The wall section is highly detailed on one side and has a neon sign in the window for what looks to be 'Mattern's Tavern' hanging down. The sign can swing up if you feel the need to put someone through it and the wall is covered with graphitti and bullet holes.
More pictures of the Punisher
More pictures of the Diorama
|Where to buy the Punisher: The Punisher and all Marvel Select action figures retail for about $18 to $20 each and are available through your local comic book store, as well as various online toy retailers.
A few such online stores are RTM sponsors Big Bad Toy Store and The Outer Reaches. (Be sure to check the other RTM sponsors, listed on the Shop Center.)