MARVEL KNIGHTS PUNISHER (2001) #1-5 (first arc)

There are many reasons why Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s run on Marvel Knights Punisher is beloved. Here’s one:

Sometimes referred to as Volume 5, the 2001 regular series came after the maxi-series “Welcome Back, Frank,” which was by the same team and completely redefined Punisher in tone, content, and over-the-top violence.

Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon collaborated again, and double-downed on the madness of their first maxi-series, having Punisher fight the Mad Russian again, only now he’s a super-strong lab creation with giant boobs who can kick Spider-Man’s ass.
Ennis has no respect for Marvel heroes, that’s clear.

And the fact that Marvel let him crap all over their universe spoke to their renewed commitment to content. The fact that they hired this team to begin with spoke to that as well.

In this first arc

The stories in these arcs aren’t nearly as important as the tone and the complete departure from anything either of the big two major publishers had ever done in the history of comic books.

It’s been more than twenty years since this book debuted, so it may be hard to imagine a world where this series hadn’t happened yet. Before this, “adult” superhero books were all essentially in the “Frank Miller/Alan Moore” pattern.

Ennis and Dillon transformed all that.

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