The story of Frank Castle's family being murdered in Central Park while they were having a picnic is well known. It's what many believe is the reason that Frank Castle started his life long war on crime. Castle didn't stop after getting revenge for his family's death. He then started a one man war on crime. Castle's goal was to make sure that what happened to him wouldn't happen to anyone else ever. But the story of how The Punisher was born, starts a long time before his familywas killed in front of him.
Frank Castle was a captain in the United States Marine Corps who specialized in search and rescue. Despite having the option of being finished with his tours multiple times, Castle continued to reenlist. There was something about the war that kept him going back. Was it because he spent a good part of his tours rescuing soldiers in the field? Was it because he felt as if he was the only person who could keep the non heroine addicted soldiers safe and get them home to see their families? Maybe it was the lesser known deity or demon that kept whispering in Castle's ear reminding him that he enjoyed all the killing he was doing and that war is the best place for him to be. Because despite the fact that Castle was really good at keeping his soldiers safe, Castle was even better at killing indiscriminately.
"Punisher MAX: Born" is mostly told through one of Castle's soldiers Stevie Goodwin. Stevie was a good soldier and did just enough to not get himself or the others around him killed in the field. Back on base, Stevie spent most of his of time keeping his friend away from the heroine running rampant in that platoon. Stevie didn't care that his friend was black and that they were raised different. All Stevie saw was a good guy. Now, when Goodwin isn't narrating the story, there's a voice speaking to Castle that's animated in a dark black bubble. If Castle does something nice, he tells Castle that he's fooling himself acting like he cares about people. And when Castle does something violent and brutal, he reminds Castle of how much he enjoys being at war more than he lets on. And how he loves it more than even being home with his family. Two completely different sides of a story told in the same war zone.
The tale of the two stories is a great read all on it's own. But what really puts this book ahead of other comics is the way they show some of the atrocities that went on during the Vietnam War. The racism, the soldiers who left drug addicts, the soldiers who didn't leave at all, the raping of Vietnamese civilians, and how violent and ruthless the Viet Cong actually were when fighting the American soldiers. It doesn't get into whether or not the American's should be there, that's too preachy for a comic book. But it does shine a light on some things that people may not have known really went on during the war.
Garth Ennis starts his amazing "Punisher MAX" run with this book right here. A great place to start (Duh, it's the origin) before you check him out in the Netflix Daredevil show. It's also a place where you can really see the exact moment Frank Castle becomes the Punisher. And it was years before that fateful day in Central Park.