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The Punisher (Frank Castle) is a Marvel Comics anti-hero. Created by Gerry Conway, he first appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man #129 (1974).
Although sometimes considered a hero, the Punisher is a savage and ruthless vigilante who considers killing and torture acceptable crime-fighting tactics. Driven by the murder of his family, Castle wages a one-man war on organized crime using all manner of weaponry. The Punisher is a master of close combat and a skilled marksman. Easily recognizable by the white skull icon on his chest, the Punisher is feared by all criminals.
The Punisher's brutal nature and willingness to kill made him a novel character in mainstream American comic books in 1974. By the late 1980s, he was part of a wave of psychologically troubled anti-heroes and was featured in several monthly series. His popularity has since cooled, but he remains a popular Marvel property and was adapted into two films released in 1989 and 2004. It was recently announced that a sequel to the 2004 Punisher film will be released in 2006.
The Punisher can be seen as the revenge genre taken to an extreme as he not only takes his vengeance on the criminals who killed his family but all criminals nonstop. There is no final villain as is the case with many revenge sagas, the Punisher's war with crime continues without end.