We open our story on a warm, idyllic day in New York’s central park as Vietnam vet and loving family man Frank “Francis Castiglione” Castle plays with his beloved children and wife. What could be more beautiful and carefree than this man who has forsaken violence to return to his city and his beloved family? Normally, this is the part where things get depressing. Frank’s family runs afoul of a mob hit. Being carried out in busy Central Park. In the middle of the day. Truly these are history’s stupidest mobsters. Anyway, they all get murdered, Frank lives, vows revenge and spends the next thirty years murdering every criminal in the city. With occasional trips to LA, the bayou and space.
But in this chilling new reality of alive children and effective mob hits, a freak rainstorm sends the Castle family home early. The mob is able to carry out their horrible murder in peace and everyone goes home happy. Hooray!
The next day, Frank begins his new job as a New York City police officer. Poor dope. You know, Frank, your life would be so much easier if you got a job as… like, a fisherman or something. Except then, I dunno, your family would be murdered by a mafia boat shootout or something and you’d become the avenging Punisher of the High Seas and team up with Namor or something and actually that sounds really good, you could have like a combination Punisher/Pirate costume.
Anyway, Officer Castle begins his first day of patrol by arresting the traditional webbed up Spider-Man crook. Unfortunately for Frank, this leads him to see New York’s so-called “justice system” in action. Frank watches in disbelief as a mafia goon hands the presiding judge a handful of money and the judge calls the evidence of the criminal’s arrest inadmissible. This probably would have been the case anyway since the criminal in question was found in a giant spider web with a sign taped to his face but let’s not pick at that scab that holds the entire Marvel Universe together if we can help it.
Time passes and Frank sees more and more corruption in New York’s criminal justice system. It’s like the first issue of Batman: Year One all over again except… you know, Jim Gordon changes the police department for the better. Frank goes to Captain Carmody, a former Vietnam vet Frank used to work with during the war. His captain tells Frank to continue collecting evidence so they can mount an ironclad case. Then when Frank leaves, Carmody makes a direct call to Crime and totally rats him out.
Back at Castle HQ (AKA a house a family lives in.), Maria Castle prepares Frank Jr’s costume for Halloween. Frank Jr is a big fan of superheroes so obviously this is the direction a loving mother chooses to take. I guess it was too hard to stitch all the webs on a Spider-Man costume.
That evening (apparently), Maria’s cousin Jake arrives. Oddly enough, he looks EXACTLY LIKE FRANK except for his big fucking mustache which speaks weird volumes about what Maria is into. The Castle family pops Jake on the couch where he can basically serve as bullet bait for the rest of the family. Then the entire Castle family cuddles up in bed together just in time for a mob hit team to show up and murder them. And Cousin Jake, the poor bastard. WHAT A BIZARRE ALTERNATE REALITY.
Frank regains conciousness later, as his family’s corpses are shipped off to the ol’ funeral home. As is Cousin Jake, whose mustache was burned off in a fire so everyone thinks Frank is dead. Carmody speaks at the big family funeral, talking about how brave Frank was and how much he loves his family and then Frank snipes him from a nearby building because FUCK CRIME.
Thus begins Frank Castle’s war on crime… like three months late. He murders his way across New York’s corrupt police force and the mafia. He also starts wearing his dead son’s Captain Punisher costume which is actually really fucking weird. “I need something to terrify the criminals of this city! Of course! My eight year old’s skeleton costume!” Meanwhile, the Watcher looks on, and considers this story shockingly similar to the actual Marvel Universe.