PUNISHER: BORN #1-4 (2003)

“Born” was a four-issue MAX miniseries that serves as a bridge between canonic Punisher and Ennis’ Marvel Knights take on Frank Castle, which was so over the top that it reads like a dry run on Ennis’ later anti-hero (not antihero, mind you) series, “The Boys.” 

The tale establishes that there’s a demon driving Punisher that preceded the loss of his wife and children.  In effect, he was destined to become Punisher irrespective of that mob hit—that just gave him an excuse or served as a catalyst.

It tells of Punisher’s days as a U.S. Marine in Vietnam, where the daily violence and horror turns him into a force of justice. He kills a fellow soldier who is raping a Vietnamese woman. He allows a terrible Platoon leader to fail–but still stands for his fellow grunts.

It is when his base at Valley Forge is overrun, in issue #4, that we see the inner conversation with the Devil…

But, at the end of the issue, we are left unsure if the demon exists or is just Frank’s inner personification of the trauma of war.

In this manner, Ennis paints a picture of Punisher that looks quite like Moon Knight: Was Marc Spector truly resurrected by an Egyptian God, or is he just using that delusion to cope with the trauma of having nearly died?

The Born series is, I believe, canon–although all of Ennis’ MAX titles are suspected to be non-canon. Born is also one of the greatest Punisher stories of all time.

Also, the covers of all 4 issues tell a story–very powerful.

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