For myself, the end of the Silver Age of comic books was when I graduated from high school. At this moment I can’t think of a comic book title that was introduced during what is, for me, the Bronze Age of comic books, that interests me all that much. Which means that I’m not much of a fan of Wolverine or the Punisher, hugely popular Marvel Comics characters that were introduced in 1974, while I was in college. Alan Moore’s “Watchmen” series for DC in the 80’s is an exception, but those characters were all based on Charlton comics from decades earlier. Speaking of Charlton, I really enjoy E-Man, and he makes the cut because he was introduced before I started college.
Vigilante justice has always been present in comic books, although Superman dropped that approach very quickly, and even The Batman let go of his angst after becoming just Batman and picking up a sidekick. What came about in the 70’s, when vigilantism was reintroduced, were extra helpings of violence to go along with the justice.
In “The Punisher”, now streaming on Netflix, I see more than a little borrowing of elements from the TV series “Person of Interest”, which wrapped up a year-and-a-half ago. There was plenty of obligatory shooting of bad guys, but being a network TV series it never reached the level of ultra-extreme violence that is seen in “The Punisher”. I can’t say that I actually enjoyed all the blood and gore, but one thing for sure is that Jon Bernthal is perfect in the role. He says he wanted the challenge of putting across a sympathetic character that isn’t likeable, and Bernthal pulls it off, as long as you can stand watching him when the Punisher is in “killing machine mode.”
There is one truly great line in the Punisher script — “Pissed off beats scared, every time.” I agree.