Skip to main content

That time the Punisher was Santa Claus - revisiting the Punisher MAX Christmas special

Punisher MAX: X-Mas Special excerpt
Punisher MAX: X-Mas Special excerpt (Image credit: Roland Boschi/Dan Brown/Chris Petit (Marvel Comics))

It's hard not to get in the Christmas spirit around this time of year, but what about for someone like Marvel's Punisher. Well, the answer's a bit complicated.

"It's just another day at the office for Frank," veteran Punisher writer Jason Aaron told Newsarama in 2008. " I think Frank is numb for the most part, but every now and then, some sort of real human emotion manages to creep in, especially during a time like Christmas. That's only going to make him throw himself harder into his work though. Woe be unto any criminals."

Punisher MAX: X-Mas Special excerpt (Image credit: Roland Boschi/Dan Brown/Chris Petit (Marvel Comics))

Given the holidays are upon us and Marvel just announced Aaron is returning for an all-new Punisher series in 2022, it made us think back to Aaron's 2008 Punisher MAX homage to Christmas..

Yes, that's right - a Frank Castle Christmas comic.

Punisher MAX: X-Mas Special cover (Image credit: Chris Bachalo (Marvel Comics))

In 2008's Punisher MAX: X-Mas Special, Aaron and artist Roland Boschi tell a heart-warming and horrendous story over Christmas time that has to be read to be believed.

And it all starts with Punisher in a Santa Claus outfit.

"The wife of a big time mob boss is having a baby, and a rival mob boss decides that'll be a good time to send some thugs down to the hospital and wipe out the entire family. Lucky for the unborn baby, the Punisher happens to be in the neighborhood," said Aaron. "So now Frank Castle is trying to keep this woman alive and deliver her baby, while being pursued by hitmen. Three hitmen, in fact. From back East. Who come bearing gifts. But instead of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, they're bringing lead, lead, and more lead."

Inbetween several gun and knife fights, Castle actually delivers the baby in a full-on homage to the nativity of Jesus Christ - on Christmas, and in an actual stable.

Punisher MAX: X-Mas Special excerpt (Image credit: Roland Boschi/Dan Brown/Chris Petit (Marvel Comics))

And as it turns out, it's not the first time Frank Castle has been a midwife, flashing back to a previously-unknown moment from the Vietnam War where he and an un-named solder helped a Korean woman give birth.

But as Marvel described it when the book came out, "nobody ever said Christmas miracles came easy, did they?"

The parents of the newborn are still a major mob family, right? And Frank Castle doesn't take kindly to those.

We don't want to spell it out for you, but Punisher MAX: X-Mas Special is available now on its own and also in Punisher Max: The Complete Collection Volume 6

Punisher MAX: X-Mas Special excerpt (Image credit: Roland Boschi/Dan Brown/Chris Petit (Marvel Comics))

Punisher is ranked high on Newsarama's list of the best powerless superheroes.

Chris Arrant

Newsarama Senior Editor Chris Arrant has covered comic book news for Newsarama since 2003, and has also written for USA Today, Life, Entertainment Weekly, Publisher's Weekly, Marvel Entertainment, TOKYOPOP, AdHouse Books, Cartoon Brew, Bleeding Cool, Comic Shop News, and CBR. He is the author of the book Modern: Masters Cliff Chiang, co-authored Art of Spider-Man Classic, and contributed to Dark Horse/Bedside Press' anthology Pros and (Comic) Cons. He has acted as a judge for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, the Harvey Awards, and the Stan Lee Awards. Chris is a member of the American Library Association's Graphic Novel & Comics Round Table. (He/him)