Written by Garth Ennis and drawn by Steve Dillon, this story arc also featured the beginning of Ennis' long working relationship with cover artist Tim Bradstreet.
At the beginning of the legendary Marvel Knights imprint Punisher arc, an older, wiser Frank Castle returns to the streets of New York yet with seemingly very little to his name. Moving into an apartment full of social outcasts under the alias of John Smith, Frank meets weedy punk Spacker Dave, morbidly obese Mr Bumpo and scared, timid Joan the Mouse.
Little do they know of his profession as New York's one time notorious vigilante and again soon to be, but Frank tries his best to remain antisocial and to keep his distance. The reason; he has just moved in on the Gnucci Crime Syndicate and killed two of Ma Gnucci's favourite sons.
On the case is laughing stock detective Martin Soap, forced onto the "Punisher Task Force" so to keep him out of everybody else's way. But his luck could get better with the arrival of detective Molly Von Richtofen, who he falls hopelessly for. With her, Soap actually begins to get somewhere on the case, not that he would know what to do with the Punisher if he caught him.
In the wake of the deaths of her sons, Ma Gnucci begins to call in all the hitmen she can afford ending with the Punisher wiping out all of them and then the majority of her own collective family. When Ma goes after him, upon injuring Punisher in an ambush, he leads her army into Central Zoo and feeds them to assorted tropical creatures before feeding her to polar bears.
Angered, armless and legless, she calls for The Russian...
Ennis's debut take on Punisher is filled with so much comic hilarity, parody of 80's and 90's Punisher rip-offs and extreme violence along with touching moments between the characters that it's impossible to put the book down. Punisher's run in with Daredevil also leads onto future escapades where he literally punks the biggest street hitters over and over again in his quest for street justice. The fact that he is not superpowered in the slightest makes him a naturally prepared man and yet his permanent grumpiness is a pleasure to watch.
Welcome Back Frank was one of two stories that influenced director Jonathan Hensleigh's 2004 version of The Punisher!