Judge, Jury and Executioner

Essays on The Punisher in Print and on Screen


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About the Book

Since the Punisher’s first appearance in the pages of Spider-Man #129, the character has become one of the most popular and controversial figures in Marvel’s vast universe. The Punisher represents one of the most recognizable types of anti-heroes. His iconic skull insignia stands for a unique type of justice: protecting the innocent while violently eliminating everyone he sees as a villain. This collection examines the Punisher from philosophical perspectives about morality and justice. Essays critique the character through the lenses of gender and feminism; consider the Punisher’s veteran status in relation the Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq wars; and examine how politics and gun violence connect the Punisher’s world with the real world. Many iterations of the Punisher are examined within, including the Netflix release of Marvel’s The Punisher, comics series such as Punisher: MAX, Marvel Knights, and Cosmic Ghost Rider, and several fan fiction stories.

About the Author(s)

Alicia M. Goodman is a professor of theatre management and administration at Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Indiana.

Matthew J. McEniry is an associate librarian and the director of the Digital Scholarship Lab at Texas Tech University.

Ryan Cassidy is an associate librarian at Texas Tech University, where he runs the University Library’s Makerspace and Virtual Reality Lab.

Robert G. Weiner is the popular culture librarian at Texas Tech University. His work has been published in the Journal of Popular Culture, Public Library Quarterly, Journal of American Culture, International Journal of Comic Art and Popular Music and Society and is the author/editor/coeditor of numerous books related to popular culture.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Alicia M. Goodman, Matthew J. McEniry, Ryan Cassidy and Robert G. Weiner

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 193
Bibliographic Info: bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2021
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8250-1
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4294-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii
Alicia M. Goodman, Matthew J. McEniry and Robert G. Weiner 1

Section I: Philosophy and Analysis
To Shame Its Inadequacy: The Punisher and His Critics
Kent Worcester 15
A Tough Pill to Swallow: The Punisher as the Cure for the Ills of Modern Society
Ryan Litsey 27
The Long Cold Dark: The Punisher Mindset and Its Dissemination into the Collective Unconscious
John Harnett 35
Black and White and Nothing in Between? Some Thoughts on the Morality of the Punisher
Anders Lundgren 48
Determined to Punish: Three Case Studies in Punishment
Matthew J. McEniry 62

Section II: Gender and Feminism
The Punisher as Female: A Thought Experiment
Alicia M. Goodman 75
Frank Castle, Fanfiction and the Female Gaze
Elizabeth Jendrzey and Meredith Pasahow 91
Takes One to Kill One: Punisher MAX’s War on Hegemonic Masculinity
Kelly Kanayama 102

Section III: Veteran Studies
Recalling Vietnam in Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Punisher Storylines
Mike Lemon 115
Fighting a Lonely War: Frank Castle and the Domestication of Vietnam
Kathleen McClancy 125
Frank Castle’s Other War: Meaning, Memory and the Vietnam War
Stephen Connor 136

Section IV: Politics and Gun Violence
­Bullet-Riddled Production: The Punisher’s Influence on Violence in Decades of Tragedy
Rob E. King 155
“When is the right moment to release a TV series about a heroic mass shooter?” Contemporary American Politics and the Reception of Netflix’s The Punisher
Miriam Kent 165

About the Contributors 177
Index 180