I recently wrote about the upside of investing in Punisher #1, which led me to his almost nonexistent rogue gallery. Frank has rarely had persistent antagonists since his first appearance in Amazing Spider-Man #129 because he is the most successful mass murderer in comics. Of the handful of exceptions, the first to come to mind is his long-reigning arch-nemesis, Jigsaw. Let’s take a look at the Beaut’s first appearance in Amazing Spider-Man #162 and see if this personal favorite would make a smart investment with the cancellation of Punisher on Netflix and recent attention on Amazing Spider-Man #129.
A Brief History
Debuting in 1974, the Punisher has murdered his way through the Marvel Universe with a body count of over 40,000. Billy Russo, aka Jigsaw, has beaten the odds and survived Frank’s rampage since his introduction in Amazing Spider-Man #162 in 1976. Jigsaw is not an example of Frank’s mercy, however, but a continuation of his violence, only being spared to send a message to the mobsters that killed his family. Being disfigured and humiliated has fueled Jigsaw’s vengeful rage for decades, giving him a unique place in Punisher lore. Jigsaw has served as Punisher’s primary antagonist for over forty years now. The only other continual thorn in Frank’s side, excluding the heroes trying to end his murder spree, would be Kingpin.
Jigsaw On Screen
Jigsaw has enjoyed his fair share of screen time thanks to his distinct role in Punisher canon. The character was first played by Dominic West in Punisher: War Zone in 2008 and again by Ben Barnes in both seasons of the extremely popular Punisher Netflix series in 2017 and 2019. We have seen more of Jigsaw than many other popular characters in the MCU. That being said, Jigsaw does not survive on the Netflix show as he does in the comics. Rumor has it The Punisher will return to Disney+, and these are comics, so maybe Jigsaw will return with another season. I know that I am crossing my fingers.
Aside from Jigsaw, Amazing Spider-Man #162 has broader cultural significance. You might recognize the Roosevelt Island tram on the John Romita and Ross Andru cover. It served as the inspiration for the classic scene in 2002’s Spider-Man movie. Since the film’s release, the Roosevelt tram has consistently served as a popular tourist destination on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. I rode on the tram only a few months ago. I overheard numerous tourists referencing the beloved movie scene, demonstrating its continuing influence and relevance. There was even a graffiti mural underneath the tram in the 1980s paying tribute to the issue. Locals still call the wall “The Punisher” to this day.
Where does this leave us? When fellow GoCollect columnist Michael Vlachakis wrote about Amazing Spider-Man #162 two years ago, Jigsaw was enjoying his day in the sun with Punisher season 2 on the horizon. 9.8 graded copies were being listed for $700. Today, GoCollect data shows us there are 126 9.8s on the CGC census and their fair market value has dropped to $375. If you bought a 9.8 two years ago, you will see some negative returns if you sell it right now. Interestingly, year to date returns for a 9.8, however, are +19.8%.
Amazing Spider-Man #162’s historic performance shows us it can double its current fair market value given the right catalysts. Personally, I try to buy graded comics before they explode. If they’ve blown up, I will wait until they cool down. Chasing books when their ship has sailed is an easy way to lose money. Jigsaw’s first appearance is a perfect example. Jigsaw is clearly a reoccurring character in and out of comics. The book has leveled out after his Netflix appearance and is now at a good entry price. Punisher’s first appearance has seen renewed interest lately which is a good sign for his arch enemy’s first appearance as are the year-to-date upward trends.
Comparing to Other Villains
I tend to lump Jigsaw together with Sabretooth and Bullseye in terms of his place as an antagonist in comics and film, probably because all three characters debuted within one year of each other and their similar relationships to their antihero counterparts. While they have similar CGC populations, Bulleye’s first appearance in Daredevil #131 has an FMV of $2,200 in 9.8 while Sabretooth’s in Iron Fist #14 has an FMV of $2500 in 9.8. Is Jigsaw as popular as these other two villains? No. Do I think Amazing Spider-Man #162 is comparatively undervalued with all of the above factors considered? Yes.
Jigsaw has proven himself to be Punisher’s main villain for decades in both comics and film. His first appearance has a low CGC population, is reasonably priced, and has a classic cover by seminal Spider-Man artists that will undoubtedly see tribute again in future films. It is also one of the earliest Punisher appearances, predating his solo title by ten years. While Jigsaw might be ugly, future returns on his first appearance will be pretty.