7. PUNISHER: YEAR ONE (1994)
The simple origins of the Punisher have been known for years: After his family is killed by the mob, Frank Castle decides to wage a one-man war on crime to avenge their deaths.
Written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, with art by Dale Eaglesham, Year One recounts what Frank Castle was like in the days directly after the murders. He is a suicidal ex-Marine who wants the NYPD to get justice for his family. But after he discovers a trend of corruption that makes it impossible for him to get justice, Castle decides to take matters into his own hands. This develops the militant, obsessive side of the Punisher that has become a trademark of the character, and also details his early conflict with the villain Jigsaw.
Year One takes a familiar origin story and adds layers of depth and character development in order to give Castle some sympathy behind his usual hail of gunfire. He's not a gun-crazed monster; he's a broken man, a broken husband, and a broken father. This makes it both heartbreaking and adrenaline-pounding to see Castle get revenge for the first time. It may read a little dated in 2011, but Punisher: Year One is a great place to start for fans looking to dive headfirst into the Punisher’s world.