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The Punisher by Garth Ennis Reading Order (From Marvel Knights to Punisher Max)

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The Punisher by Garth Ennis Reading Order

Garth Ennis’s run on The Punisher Max is generally considered the definitive run on the character. The author used the freedom of the MAX imprint to write more realistic stories.

On a larger scale, The Punisher Max is in the continuity of Ennis’s run on the character that has begun under the Marvel Knights imprint, a period which helped revived Frank Castle’s popularity (and also worth reading).

Whatever the imprint, those series are known for their combining of crime-focused stories with a touch of black humor.

As for the story, here is the official synopsis of the first volume: The Punisher, aka Frank Castle, is a one-man army locked, loaded, and ready to take out anyone in his way. And Frank starts with Ma Gnucci and her entire crime family! Spacker Dave, Joan the Mouse, and Mr. Bumpo all await in one of the most celebrated Punisher stories ever told! And Frank’s war on crime continues as he targets disgraced General Kreigkopf, and has a very unique team-up with Spider-Man!

The Punisher by Garth Ennis Reading Order

Before (and after) Garth Ennis’ The Punisher: The Punisher made his debut in 1974, and was a big star by the late 1980s-beginning of the 1990s. And of course, other writers wrote him after Ennis. To know more, check out our Complete Punisher reading order.



The Punisher 2001 series, a Marvel Knights imprint

Ennis’ first work for Marvel was Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe in 1995. It’s an out-of-continuity story you can find above. His run on Punisher under the Marvel Knight imprint began with a limited series, illustrated by Steve Dillon–who is also the illustrator for most of this period.

The Punisher Vol 1 Welcome Back Frank Reading Order Garth Ennis

The Punisher #8-12 were written by Ron Zimmerman (#8) and Tom Peyer (#9-12), Those issues are not collected into a trade paperback.

Though written way before his publication, Punisher War Zone marked the end of Ennis’s run with the character under the Marvel Knights imprint.

Following are two Punisher stories written by Garth Ennis that are out-of-continuity. You can read them whenever you want.

Also collected in Complete Collection:

The Punisher by Garth Ennis Reading Order

A little interlude to indicate that Garth Ennis has also written Punisher: Countdown, a prequel to the 2004 movie The Punisher. It was a free movie tie-in, packaged with the first DVD release of the movie.

The Punisher by Garth Ennis Reading Order

The Punisher: MAX imprint

Garth Ennis relaunched The Punisher under Marvel’s MAX imprint, allowing for darker stories. He will have a 60-issue run, completed by some miniseries and one-shots.

This run is now available in Omnibus:

But here is a more detailed reading order:

Punisher Born Reading Order Garth Ennis

From First to Last is a trade paperback collecting his three one-shots published during his run. There are different ways to read those stand-alone stories. You can read them in chronological order (I indicated where they take place below), or at the end of the run. You can also read them here, after Born, especially The Tyger #1 and The Cell #1 as it adds some backstory.

  • The Punisher: From First to Last
    • Punisher: The Tyger #1 – takes place before Born
    • Punisher: The Cell #1 – takes place before the regular MAX series
    • Punisher: The End #1 – the story focuses on the Punisher’s final days in a post-apocalyptic future.

Punisher MAX Vol. 1 In the Beginning - The Punisher by Garth Ennis Reading Order

Not written by Ennis, this is where Punisher MAX Annual #1 (by Valerie D’Orazio) and The Punisher: Force of Nature #1 (by Duane Swierczynski). Both are collected in The Punisher MAX: Complete Collection Vol. 5.

Not centered around the Punisher, Garth Ennis also wrote the spin-off series Punisher Presents: Barracuda MAX you can read here.

Ennis’s run on the MAX imprint’s Punisher series finished in 2008, but he recently came back to write new Frank Castle stories. The Platoon is a prequel story to Born, about his first tour in Vietnam and can be read as a stand-alone story. Also a sort of stand-alone timeline, Soviet seems a little bit out of continuity (and don’t take into account Jason Aaron’s run on The Punisher)

Also collected in The Complete Collection

The Punisher by Garth Ennis Reading Order

What to read after The Punisher by Garth Ennis?

After Ennis, The Punisher Max continues with Gregg Hurwitz, Duane Swierczynski, and Victor Gischler (collected in The Punisher MAX: Complete Collection Vol. 5).  After that, Marvel launched a second ongoing Punisher series under the MAX imprint, written by Jason Aaron and drawn by Steve Dillon. 

If you prefer to read more Garth Ennis, you can then turn your attention towards Nick Fury (also a MAX imprint) with FuryFury: Peacemaker, and Fury: My War Gone By (this one being with Frank Castle).

Last Updated on April 15, 2024.

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