As a comics fan for the better part of three decades, it can be difficult to get used to certain changes.  I still sometimes forget Spider-Man has been an Avenger for a couple of decades, that Jean Grey is dead (for only the second time, I might add), and that the likes of Poison Ivy and Venom are considered heroes these days.  One of the biggest sources of superhuman cognitive dissonance for me dates back to the days when I began reading, though, as the 1980s were the point where Francis Castiglione, aka Frank Castle, aka the Punisher went from extremist maniac to one of the super-gang.  The question of hero or horror has never been more difficult to ascertain, even when it comes to that immortal Canadian who keeps gutting people, and his upcoming starring role in the Netflix Marvel Shared Universe adds a frisson of topicality to today’s anti-heroic query…

The MS-QOTD (pronounced, as always, “misquoted”) has personally never stopped classifying Frank Castle in my head as “Spider-Man villain”, asking: In your estimation, should The Punisher be classified as hero or horror?


About Author

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.


  1. I can’t bring myself to classify him as a “Horror,” But I also haven’t been keeping track of him in anything more than a cursory manner. Antagonist is good, not villain exactly yet he’s not a hero in any part of my brain. He’s a complication, you don’t hate him but he adds some nice conflict.

  2. Not a hero, but not horror either. I always thought of him as more of a psychological thriller, in the vein of movies and books that prey on fears of crime or other tragedies, but not quite at the point of horror.

  3. He’s a jobber.

    A heel when he needs to put a face over (like when Daredevil has a lingering doubt about his calling, for example) or a face when you need to emphasize the evil that exists out there in the underbelly of the MU.

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