Post by @Neil4LOST
Really this issue is about one major event in comic book history...the first appearance of Frank Castle (aka. The Punisher)!
This issue of the Amazing Spider-Man written by Gerry Conway back in February of 1974 is now a classic. The issue debuted to characters, The Jackal and Punisher. Most people however, have completely forgotten that the Jackal was a part of the story as well as the role he played in introducing the Marvel U. to Frank Castle.
Jackal obviously has a mission...to kill Spider-Man. He finds the perfect man for the job, a man who feels that Spider-Man is a killer and should be punished for the recent death of Norman Osborne. Jackal exploits the Punisher's motives and sets up a series of events, or cons, to convince Punisher that Spider-Man is a villain.
During the two main confrontations between Spidey and Punisher it is obvious that Punisher is no match for the abilities of Spider-Man. It is interesting how Frank has evolved over time to be extremely tactical, especially when he has had to deal with super-heroes the likes of Spider-Man, Daredevil and others. Punisher learns the hard way but eventually learns the truth that the Jackal is truly the villain that he should be after.
The book closes with Punisher and Spider-Man together realizing that they have been set up and something must be done about it.
Punisher feels that his gifting of "killing" is only to be applied towards those who deserve it; to kill people who have degraded society by their actions. Jackal plays Frank to this extent and that is what sets up the confrontations between Frank and Spider-Man.
There are also many supporting characters that make an appearance in this issue. The likes of Mary Jane Watson, J. Jonah Jameson and Harry Osborne. You can begin to see the conflict arising between Peter Parker and his best friend during this issue. It is amazing just how much happens in this single issue. Comics today often feel like they are over before they have even begun but as I was re-reading this issue it stretched on and on. I really liked that.
If you are not familiar with Punisher Essential or Spider-Man Essential basically they are thick volumes of essential comics that Marvel has put out for readers to become familiar with older stories. This is great for readers that cannot drop loads of cash but the downside is that these books are not in color, they are entirely in black and white. If you can get past that issue then they are a steal.
Overall I feel that this introduction to Punisher was rich in character establishment and the set up for many future interactions that Frank Castle would have with Spider-Man.