I remember as a child walking into a comic shop and seeing this comic on the shelf. I picked the comic up and stared at the impressive cover art which displayed The Punisher standing triumphantly atop a giant pile of dead superheroes, hand raised in victory, and I read the eye-catching title, The Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe, a very bold claim, and I recall thinking to myself "Well how in the hell did he manage that?" (or, you know, the young kid equivalent of that). Then I put it back on the shelf, likely because I wanted to buy something else instead, and I mostly forgot about it (as did many people, until the subsequent fame Ennis achieved with his eventual Punisher revival) until today.
While this story isn't quite part of Marvel's What If?
series, it follows the same idea: what would happen if Frank Castle's family had been (accidentally) killed by superheroes instead of mob members? He would exact his revenge on superheroes instead of the mob, of course. And so with that novelty premise we have this story of The Punisher killing every single superhero.
Unfortunately my childhood question of just how in the hell The Punisher manages to kill every single superhero still remains generally unanswered. He just sort of...does. Sure, he steals a bunch a weaponry and equipment (and a nuke!) from Doctor Doom (whom he only manages to defeat because Doom was too busy giving him a speech) but that hardly grants one the ability to destroy EVERY SINGLE SUPERHERO. Hell, Doctor Doom has been struggling to defeat the Fantastic Four alone for the past 50+ years. I mean seriously, Punisher makes killing superheroes look easy; so easy that it makes you wonder why no one else can just walk up to them and shoot them. I suppose Frank just had one hell of a willpower.
It's also so short (under 50 pages) that it feels rushed and poorly paced. Everything happens too quickly and is never elaborated. The concept of killing every last superhero and villain is a concept that, when acted out, should take quite a bit of time.
So it's not exactly believable fantasy, it's a fantasy story that's hypothetical within it's own fantasy universe. But that's fine. It's just a fun story, really not meant to be taken seriously. It's The Punisher going around and killing all your favorite heroes. Enjoy it.
About two and a half stars out of five. I might also add that this story sort of acts as a precursor to Ennis' later comic, The Boys, which deals with many of the same ideas in here.