A Look Back at What If #10 (1990)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Welcome back superhero enthusiasts, 1990s arts and culture enthusiasts, Marvel Comics fans and comic book collectors! Today we go back to the year 1993 and explore a part of Marvel Comics’ universe through the reimagined tales emphasized in the What If monthly series.

For those of you who have gotten very familiar with Marvel Comics’ vast lineup of superheroes, anti-heroes, super villains and supporting characters, the Punisher is one of the most notable characters as he is the most definitive vigilante the publisher ever has in its shared superhero universe. As a comic book protagonist, the Punisher does “good” in fighting crime but he sure is as bad as the bad guys as he commits torture, issued threats of violence, kidnapping, extortion, coercion and even murder towards them. A major factor in the Punisher’s origin (as Frank Castle) was the killing of his family (wife and two kids) committed by a mob as they witnessed acts of killing in Central Park in New York City. The tragic deaths led Castle to become the Punisher who not only relentlessly waged a personal war against criminals but also often wore dark clothes with a large white skull design on the front of his body. The skull symbolized punishment and death to his enemies.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at What If #10, published in 1990 by Marvel Comics with a story written by Doug Murray and drawn by Rik Levins.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with the Watcher recalling the time Frank Castle spent with his wife and the two kids at New York City’s Central Park. There, they have fun with their picnic. At this point in time, Frank Castle had previously served his country in the Vietnam War and he carries within him bravery, the experience of violence and vast skills to use weapons.

The weather suddenly worsens as rain starts to fall down causing some inconvenience on the Castle family. Frank’s son struggles as his kite got caught by the large plant nearby. On the other side of the said plant, four armed men and their captive (hanging upside down by the tree) are startled and prepare themselves to shoot anyone who appears.

Frank, who does not realize the mob on the other side of the plant, helps his son get the kite back. The Castle family then decide to go back home not realizing that they came close to discovering and witnessing the illegal activity of the armed men. As the family kept on moving, Frank hears gunfire from a distance…


Frank Castle the family man.

To get straight to the point about this comic book, it’s story is really engaging and it has noticeable amounts of darkness and grittiness without going overboard. While exploring what would happen had Frank Castle’s family not been killed, the comic book shows the Punisher getting involved in public safety as a New York patrolman which puts him in a unique position facing crime in radically different ways from what we comic book readers have been used to seeing. The story also explores corruption within the police and the justice system as well.

The way the events and action turned out showed the creative team focused on realism while also establishing the Punisher’s own place within the comic book’s alternate portrayal of the shared superhero universe. More on the subject matter of this comic book, there is a twist that surprised me a lot and it is something that you readers should see for yourselves.

Going back to Frank Castle, it is indeed very captivating to see him portrayed a lot more as a family man who really strives to support his wife and kids no matter how dangerous his occupation really is. The aspect of family in this comic book is very significant as it will make you realize that the definition of family in America in the 21st century has been distorted as a result of laws or court decisions that reflected wokeness, homosexuality and unrestrained feminism. In short, woke America’s believers reject the concept of the traditional family and the concept of a father leading the family is considered taboo because it goes against LGBT’s so-called values and principles.


Frank Castle as the police officer.

When you think about the legacy of the Punisher not only on comics but also in movies and other forms of entertainment media, you will often remember a one-man-army against criminals. What If #10 (1990) has is a really unique take on the Punisher and I can say it has a very captivating script brought to life with really good artwork. Not only does this alternate version of the Punisher shows how he affects criminals, but also how he impacts other parts of the fictional New York society within the shared universe of Marvel Comics (note: characters connected to Spider-Man and Daredevil are here). From start to finish, this Punisher tale by the Murray-Levins team turned out to be very engaging to read.

Overall, What If #10 (1990) is highly recommended!


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