That said, Punisher: War Zone is more in tune with the current incarnation of the character in Marvel's "more mature" imprint, Max, which I haven't read but have heard great things about.
It's also the third attempt to launch the character as a viable film franchise - having tanked with both Dolph Lundgren and Thomas Jane in the title role.
However, Ray Stevenson (from Nazi zombie horror Outpost) nails the character of Frank Castle, the ex-special forces soldier who declares a one-man war on the mafia after his family are gunned down for innocently witnessing a mob hit.
But he doesn't carry this film on his own. Stevenson has a stellar supporting cast in the form of: Julie Benz (from Buffy The Vampire Slayer) as the wife of an FBI agent Frank accidentally shoots during his crusade; Dominic West (from The Wire, the best cop show on television) as scar-faced villain Jigsaw; Colin Salmon (of Doctor Who fame) as an FBI agent on a mission; and Wayne Knight (from sci-fi sitcom Third Rock From The Sun) as Microchip, Frank Castle's ordnance supplier.
Frank is on the verge of giving up being The Punisher, after accidentally shooting Julie Benz' husband during one of his assaults on a mob hideout, however the deranged Jigsaw - and his even more psychopathic brother James (Doug Hutchinson) - target Julie Benz and her daughter, believing that her husband, working undercover, had stolen all their cash.
Things escalate, as they do in these films, until Frank has to face a derelict-hotel full of Jigsaw's recently recruited muscle to rescue Benz and her daughter.
With the kind of language you expect from HBO dramas, the levels of over-the-top violence in this movie equals those I'm more used to in Asian splatter pictures rather than mainstream Hollywood "comic book" movies. It more than earns its 18 Certificate.
Without resorting to the torture-porn tactics of such tacky franchises as Saw and Hostel, the gonzo gore of Punisher: War Zone is complemented by a very dark strain of humour underlining much of the movie (if you don't laugh out loud when Frank dispatches the first of the "free-running" gang, then this probably isn't the film for you) in true Grand Guignol style.
Much of the violence is also edited in such a way that it has come and gone so quickly that the shock lasts far longer than the visuals.
This movie certainly isn't set in the same New York that Spider-Man swings around in, but it's also clearly not meant to be the "real" world either, more closely resembling Batman's Gotham. Frank is no superhero, but he's more than a match for the legions of goons he comes up against - even if he emerges battered, bruised and blooded by the end.
Perfectly paced at one hour 38 minutes by director Lexi Alexander, who also gave us the football hooligan film Green Street in 2005, I certainly wouldn't have complained if an excuse had been found to extend the running time with more outrageous and inventive slaughter of bad guys.
I sincerely hope that now the definitive Frank Castle has been cast, Ray Stevenson will return to this role in some equally gratuitous, over-the-top sequels that continue to not take themselves too seriously.