6. THE CELL (2005)
This one came out of nowhere. Released in 2005 as a simple one-shot story by Garth Ennis with art by Lewis Larosa, The Cell begins with Frank Castle turning himself in to authorities and being sent to Rykers Island to live amongst the very criminals that he has tortured over the years. As the story progresses, Castle incites a riot in order to create a distraction so he can visit the cell of the very men that gunned down his family decades ago.
The Cell is an extremely violent, yet poignant, Punisher story that wraps up a lot of loose ends for the character and draws upon all of Ennis’ nuanced development from over the decades. At the same time, it doesn’t really follow any established continuity and acts more as a “What If?” type story that is simply a stunning read. Don't wonder what comes next, or how this fits in to everything else. Just take it for what it is: a brilliant story told with conviction.
The Cell is pretty hard to come by now, but with any luck, eBay might have a few copies at a reasonable price. This is one of the best examples of Ennis’ work on the character, unfortunately it simply flew too far under the radar to pick up any real acclaim.