Author's Note: Just a little one-shot that I thought I could do in-between my many, many long-term projects. Not only does it kind of make sense as a crossover (at least in my mind), it also crosses over two fandoms I've already written stories for, so...yeah. Not too much else to say except that I hope everyone enjoys it!
And also just to clarify, this story does NOT take place in my main Marvel Universe (Earth 763), OR in the AC universe that my Smuggler's Redemption fic took place in. This is it's own separate continuity.
Frank Castle had died with his family.
Though he was considered the sole survivor of the massacre of the Castle Family, this was inaccurate. Frank had just been the only one who's body hadn't died along with his heart and soul. But those, those were gone, off to join whatever rewards awaited them and the souls of Frank's wife and two children.
As for Frank's body, it lay motionless in a now empty house that had lost it's meaning with his family gone. He stared blankly at the photo of himself with his wife and children, completely unmoving. It was not a longing, pleading look. No, this was a cold, blank stare.
For Frank Castle was not a man in mourning. He was not a man who was weeping and wishing he could change what happened. Rather, he was now a man with a mission. A simple mission really. One that would nevertheless take up every single ounce of his time and would be impossible to complete by him alone. Really it was not something he could ever succeed in, but that didn't deter him in the least. He would leave his mark. And he would get some delicious revenge and justice on the side.
Justice. Justice for his family. That's what he convinced himself was the goal, or at least the primary one. It also meant that his family's killers would be the first names on his..."list".
So it was that after a long while Frank Castle finally got up out of his chair and made his way over to the closet in his bedroom. Upon opening it he took out several boxes that had been stashed away there. His wife had urged him to get rid of them, but that was something he could have never done. And it was a very good thing that he hadn't, considering that now they would be his only true companions.
In one box was an M-16. An AK-47 rested in another. Yet another box contained all the ammunition these two rifles could ever need. Smaller boxes also stuffed in the closet as though they were shoe-boxes contained a variety of handguns and their respective ammunition. Between it all there was a small armory's worth of firearms for Frank to make use of. And that wasn't even all of them.
The handgun that had been his first, most often used weapon rested on his night-stand, his "insurance" against home invaders and before that his greatest ally in the hell that was the jungles of North Vietnam. That would of course be his primary side-arm, as always. But as the other guns he'd collected clearly showed, it would not be anywhere close to his only one. No sane or sensible soldier went into battle with just weapon, unless it was a nuke.
Underneath the bed were the parts to a sniper rifle. His wife hadn't even known about that one. No one but him had. What little remained of his lost soul felt a twinge of remorse over having kept a secret from his family now that they were gone, but he quickly snuffed out that little flame of regret. He couldn't regret now. That would create doubts, and those doubts in turn would compromise him. He would not be compromised. No, there was only one path to take now.
Guns alone would not be enough either. No man was bullet-proof after all, and for his mission Frank knew he would need protection. He was not like that Spider-Man character who could dodge gunfire with ease, or the famed Captain America who's indestructible shield coupled with superhuman agility ensured no bullet could ever stop him. No, Frank Castle was a mortal man without such powers or indestructible weapons. He'd need something to ensure his first outing against the scum of New York would not also be his last.
Can probably use my old Kevlar vest to start. Frank reasoned. After that, well, we'll see what I can't find.
But even besides the body armor for protection there was yet one other thing that Frank felt he needed. Something more substantial than weapons and armor. Some kind of greater element. He realized quickly that what that element was was not unlike the costumed gimmicks of the aforementioned Spider-Man and others. While Frank had no interest in playing "superhero", he did recognize that for the criminal element to truly fear him, to truly respect him and understand what he represented, he would need to be more than just one of many men with a gun, or even many guns. He needed to become a dramatic example. A symbol even, one with it's own name and distinct appearance. The body armor would do most of that, but by itself would not quite be enough. No, it would need something else to truly make it work. Some other kind of thing...
Frank shrugged. He'd figure it out later. For now, he had other work to do.
They heard of it ahead of most.
A member of the notorious Costa crime family had turned up dead, a sniper round having gone right through one end of his head and coming out the other. The precision of the shot and the fact that it was a sniper round suggested an assassination, and given what this group of men in white were known as, they couldn't help but be interested.
"It would seem someone has done our job for us." noted one of the Assassins, "Microchip" as he preferred to be called.
"It would seem so." the head of the group agreed with a nod. "But who is this person, and what was their motive? These are questions worth considering."
"It's doubtful whoever did this knows about the Costa Mob's true allegiance." one of the other Assassins pointed out before adding: "...but we can't be entirely sure of that. We should probably locate this mystery sniper to figure out just how much he knows."
"Whoever this person is, they could be a potential asset to our own cause."
"Hating the Costa Mob does not necessarily mean he'd want to wage war against the entire Templar Order."
"Maybe, but we should try and recruit him if we can find him all the same."
"I'll do some digging into different people the Costa Mob has pissed off recently, see if I can't get any leads on who might be looking for payback against them."
The head Assassin nodded. "Thank you Microchip. In the meantime the rest of us will remain vigilant on the streets. Whether or not this new player in the game chooses our side, our own crusade continues."
He'd first decided on the skull after his second outing, this one involving a lot more shooting than the first. That had been a simple one-shot, one-kill affair. This though had involved a fair bit of lead flying back and forth. He'd come out victorious, but he'd be lying if he'd said he'd done so unscathed. His Kevlar armor had taken it's share of hits, and his helmet in particular had a very bad dent from where one lucky punk had landed a headshot that were it not for the helmet would have dropped Frank in an instant. He'd remember to duck next time.
As it was, he'd left a lot of dead bodies in his wake. The police and press had called it a massacre, and most assumed that it had been a rival gang, not one vigilante.
"It was like the Grim Reaper paid a visit here." one policeman had said about the crime scene in the following day's copy of The Daily Bugle. It was that remark in particular that had caught Frank's eye. The Grim Reaper. Certainly Frank was intimately familiar with him, having first met him in Vietnam and again when his family was cruelly taken from him. Oh yes, he knew the Grim Reaper quite well. And thusly it was only fitting that as he was now becoming a grim reaper of his own towards the criminal element, he look the part. This then had been that other thing he'd been looking for when he first resigned himself to this war of his. That dramatic element, that thing that would make him much more iconic and memorable in the hearts and minds of criminals everywhere. A thing to be feared.
So it was that when next he went out, Frank Castle sported a large, white merciless skull on the front of his now black Kevlar breastplate.
"I think I found something." said Microchip one day, the other members of his Assassin Cell having filed into the room to hear him reveal the identity of the man who had now three times violently lashed out against members of the Costa Family and all three times left it's members dead.
"You know who this would-be-Assassin is?" the leader of the Cell asked.
Microchip nodded. "Maybe. So I was doing some digging into people the Costa Family had pissed off recently, and I came up with something..."
Microchip produced an earlier copy of The Daily Bugle and placed it on the table for all to see. Looking down at it, the other Assassins saw the headline: "Castle Family murdered in botched gang hit", with the sub-title: "Frank Castle only survivor."
"The Bruno family was caught performing a hit you see." Microchip explained. "They tried to eliminate the witnesses, but they missed one. And considering that this guy was in Vietnam, I could see him being able to mow these chumps down the way our mystery man is."
"It does seem too great a coincidence to be just that." The head Assassin conceded. "Any idea where this Frank Castle is now?"
"Well I'm not the only one who's managed to connect these dots. The police were going to question Castle as a suspect in the killings but they didn't find a trace of him in the house. Place is abandoned now. No one knows where he is."
"That will complicate things." the head Assassin noted. "I think it may be best then if we wait for him to reveal himself once more. We know he's targeting the Costa Mob for their murdering his wife and children, so we'll have some of our men shadow the remaining Costa members. If he comes after any of them again, we'll know. And from there we can hopefully trail him."
"Sounds like a plan." Microchip said with a nod of approval. "Only thing is, he may not like being followed by us."
The head Assassin smiled. "And that's why he won't know he's being followed until we want him to know. Remember: the Assassins hide in plain sight."
It was amazing how much of a difference the skull logo made.
So many of the idiots he fought were drawn to the distinctive detail that they either opened themselves up to gunfire, or else focused all of their own efforts on that one part of Frank's armor, not seeming to understand that that was also the single most heavily armored part.
Fools. Frank thought contemptuously as he mowed down the last of this particular batch of Costa Mob goons with his AK-47. The specific gang member he'd been targeting was among those who were cut down by this barrage of bullets. Satisfied by this, Frank reloaded his AK-47 and made his way out. As he went back to his safehouse though, he found that for all of his efforts to stick to the shadows and keep out of sight, some men in suits blocked him off as he went down an alley. They didn't last long. As their bodies dropped though, another man tried to strangle Frank with a garrote. Frank drew a knife with his free hand and jammed it into the burly man's side. Blood spurted out of the side and the man howled in pain. He kept up his attempt at strangulation though, and so Frank stabbed him again, and then a third time. That stab seemed to do it, as finally the man fell backwards.
Gunshots rang out. Frank's armor held, and he returned fire. The alleyway was a poor place for a shoot-out, but fortunately the lack of cover went both ways, and Frank's two opponents fell in pretty short order.
Frank sighed as the last one fell down dead, a pool of red appearing beneath him. This wasn't the first time this had happened. For by this point in time the Costa Mob had become acutely aware of how there was a very vengeful force out for their heads, and now Frank was expecting attacks from their thugs every day, even when he wasn't actively hunting for specific members. He didn't care. All it meant was that more scum ended up in the body-bags they deserved.
Of course, the Costa Mob's toadies weren't the only ones coming after him at this point. The police had since connected the dots concerning his midnight exploits and now had an APB on him at all times. Frank had no desire to fight members of the force he'd served on in-between Vietnam and his family's deaths, ineffective as he viewed them, and so always went out of his way to steer clear of them and avoid their patrols. Whenever he was pressed into combat with them, he pulled his punches quite a bit.
And then on top of that there were the costumed do-gooders that called New York home. Most of them didn't actually have any real time for him, but there were a few noteworthy exceptions to that, Daredevil being the main one. The man in red had made it abundantly clear that he had absolutely no tolerance for Frank's way of doing things, and the vigilante now had quite a few bruises from his run-ins with him. Spider-Man too was clearly opposed to his war, and would have gotten him too had Frank not managed to catch a break when the goons he'd been fighting turned their attentions to Spider-Man, distracting the hero and giving Frank time to flee.
He knew such a stroke of fortune would not come his way again though. The more bodies he added to his ever-growing pile the more enemies he made, and the harder it became to evade them all. Frank knew this would happen. He'd been expecting it to happen. His one-man war was simply not a sustainable one, and he knew he'd fall eventually.
Was kind of hoping it would be later rather than sooner though.
Upon hearing his name, Frank whipped around and unleashed a hail of bullets from his AK-47 before checking himself. He cursed at how he had struck at nothing and consequentially just wasted valuable ammunition. He heard the voice behind him.
"No need to be alarmed. I am a friend."
"I'm not really big on friends pal, in case you hadn't noticed."
"I and my associates are killers too. This does not shock me. In fact, our enemies are your enemies."
Frank raised an eyebrow. "Is that right? So what, you looking to recruit me?"
By this point, Frank had turned around to face the man talking to him. He was dressed in unassuming black pants with a red belt and over his top a white shirt and hoodie. He seemed to be wearing a necklace of some kind, but most of it was hidden by his hoodie. Finally he wore a holster with a handgun on his hip, reinforcing his claim that he was indeed a killer just like Frank.
"Actually yes." the man in white said in response to Frank's question. "Follow me and my associates and I will explain more."
"I don't go running into something blind, and I'm sure as hell not going to just trust you either." Frank growled from behind his Kevlar helmet, which obscured his entire face and head when the visor was down, as it was now.
The man in white smiled. "Cautious. Good. You may just have what it takes after all." the man in white took something out of one of his pockets and handed it to Frank. "If you decide to join us, go to the location marked on that card. Come alone or not at all."
And with that, the man in white turned around and to Frank's amazement, scaled the nearby wall via first a garbage bin and then a fire-escape before reaching the roof and running off.
Huh. Guess I'm not the only soldier in my war after all.
"Well?" asked Microchip as the other Assassin returned to the base.
"I told him where to find us. Time will tell if he chooses to give our ways a chance or not."
"If he doesn't?"
The one Assassin shrugged. "Then I assume he'll just continue waging his one-man war, for however much longer it lasts. But somehow, I think he'll be tempted to see what we have to offer, especially after he saw my little display of agility that only us Assassins possess."
"I hope so. We could use someone with his fighting prowess on our side."
Upon returning to his safehouse, Frank took another look at the card he had been given, and the address it had on it.
Truth be told he had indeed been giving some consideration to taking the mystery man up on his offer. He still didn't trust him of course, but even so the prospect of having allies was not an altogether unappealing one. After all, he now had quite a few people out for his head on both sides of the law, and he couldn't fend them all off. And besides, he'd had comrades and allies in the last war he'd been in. Why not this one as well?
Ultimately, Frank couldn't come up with a good enough reason not to accept, barring the ever-present issue of trust. With that in mind, Frank decided to have the meeting be more on his own terms.
"Ever the cautious one."
Frank turned to regard the same Assassin that he had met earlier. "I wasn't stupid enough to walk into what could have been a trap." he replied simply before adding: "...for all I know you didn't come alone like I told you to."
The Assassin shook his head. "If my associates and I wanted you dead, you'd be dead. Assassination is our specialty. But we don't want you dead. Rather, we want you to become one of us. As I said before, your enemies are our enemies."
"I wouldn't mind having some back-up." Frank admitted with a nod before adding cautiously: "...but I want to know more before I consider signing up. Who are you people exactly? And why do you care so much about getting rid of the scum of the Earth?"
"We are the Assassin's Brotherhood. And we care because like you we recognize that one of the best things we can do for this world is to remove from it those who would corrupt it and drive it into the ground. That has been our mission from the very beginning, back to the earliest days of human history. Our ranks have included both famous historical figures and unsung heroes, and our victims have included both influential figures and also countless faceless flunkies and nameless nuisances. And now we offer this life to you."
"Since the earliest days of humanity huh? That's a long time. Not sure I believe that story though."
"Then believe in this." The Assassin produced a golden-bronze colored sphere. Intricate designs were on it, and merely looking at it seemed to awaken something inside Frank. Something very alien, and not something he liked at all.
"This is a Piece of Eden." the Assassin explained. "One of our other functions is to collect as many of these as we can and keep them out of the hands of those who would misuse them, including our chief enemies."
"The Templar Order." the Assassin replied bluntly. "Not to be confused with the Knights Templar, which was merely their front at the time. No, the Templar Order like our Brotherhood goes back further than that, and has also continued into the modern era. They've worn many masks over the ages, just as we have. But our rivalry is undying."
"...that is the stupidest thing I've ever heard."
"Why so skeptical? You've been pursued by a man dressed in red and blue who can stick to walls and shoot webbing out of his wrists. What makes this so hard to believe?"
Frank seemed to consider this for a moment before admitting: "Alright you got me there. But I'm still not sure I want to get involved in your feud."
"Even if to do so would be to make your own war on the evils of this world much more likely to succeed?" the Assassin asked curiously. When Frank didn't answer, the Assassin continued: "Our resources are more substantial than you think. We can ensure you stay well supplied, and we'll also always have targets for you to eliminate. Really for you not much will change. You'll just now have allies rather than being alone."
"I'll also have to take orders from someone else." Frank noted. "I'm not so good at that anymore."
"Rest assured, any orders we give you will be to your liking. Again, we can always give you more people to put bullets into."
"I don't care about your problems with this 'Templar Order'. I just care about getting rid of the scum on the streets."
"The two things are not as mutually exclusive as you think. Help us, and you'll further your own goals in the process. Trust me when I say there are few who are more corrupt or iniquitous than the Templar Order."
Frank considered this. The Assassin made a good case for himself and his brotherhood. And Frank had already admitted that he could use some help in his war on crime. So it was that he didn't need to think long before saying: "Alright then, here's what I'm willing to do: I join you and get the benefits. In return, I'll help you blow away any Templar idiots who think that sphere of yours is a toy. Sound good?"
The Assassin nodded. "Yes, I think that will suffice. And now as a gesture of trust, I'll give you this."
The Assassin produced a wrist-guard of some kind that Frank saw contained a pop-out blade on the bottom.
"This is the Hidden Blade. The most sacred weapon of our order. This one is yours now to use as you wish."
Frank was tempted to scoff at this. "Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good gun at your side kid."
"You'd be surprised at how useful it is. Remember, we are Assassins, and thusly prefer silent, clean kills. Guns are not so good at that."
"Ever hear of a silencer?" Frank asked. When the Assassin didn't respond, Frank sighed and took the Hidden Blade. "Looks like our business is concluded then."
"Not yet. Now that you've joined us, it's time for you to take the initiation."
"Initiation. Don't worry, it won't be anything strenuous or difficult. Especially not for a man of your capabilities."
"What is it exactly?"
"Mostly taking various oaths. Like I said, nothing at all strenuous. And in return you become one of us in full."
"Alright then. What do I need to say?"
"Firstly, you must know this: 'Nothing is True, Everything is Permitted'."
"I can think of a couple things that are true."
"You misunderstand. That part of the maxim pertains to how there is no universal, unambiguous truth in the form of a Divine Power or Supreme Being, and that we must not let such ideas limit us or define us. As for 'Everything is Permitted', that is in how because there are no Supreme Beings or Deities out there to define our choices, we must take sole responsibility for them, and so therefore in this sense, everything is permitted."
"That makes absolutely no sense to me, but if that's what I gotta say to pass your test than fine. Anything else?"
"Well, we did used to brand your ring finger and make you take a, shall we say, 'Leap of Faith', but we've sort of moved past that. Really taking the oath will suffice. Normally we'd test your combat skills too, but that's hardly necessary with you."
"That's it? I just need to say a few lines of complete nonsense to pass the test?"
"Well, ideally you should come to see it as something other than 'complete nonsense' but yes."
"Alright then. 'Nothing is True, Everything is Permitted.' Happy?"
"Not quite yet. Speaking the maxim and understanding it are two different things. So now tell me, what do we really mean when we say that?"
"That there's no god or gods or anything like that, and that means everything we do is on us and us alone."
"A bit ineloquent but it will suffice." the Assassin extended a hand. "Congratulations. You're one of the Assassins now."
Frank eyed the hand but did not take it. Catching onto this, the Assassin lowered his hand. "One other thing though." he said. "Being one of us does entail certain rules. Three to be exact, and they are as follows: Stay your blade from the flesh of the innocent, hide in plain sight, and most of all, do not compromise the brotherhood. Do you understand?"
Frank nodded. "Yeah, all of that works for me."
"Good. Then welcome to the longest war in human history."
Two Weeks Later:
Bruno Costa was a complete wreck.
With most everyone in his gang now very dead, the mobster was afraid to so much as step out of his bedroom, never mind his home. All of his closest associates had been killed, and it seemed no number of bodyguards, stooges, and hired guns could save them. Whatever was coming after them was an unstoppable force, a thing that's appetite for the criminal's blood was impossible to satisfy.
And as it so happened, that same force had at last made it's way to him.
Frank Castle no longer wore a helmet over his face, but instead now wore a long white trench-coat with a pulled up hood over his black armor with white skull logo. His belt had become red like that of the Assassin, and the Hidden Blade was worn over one of his arms in addition to his pre-existing arsenal.
Breaking into the mobster's home was surprisingly easy. But perhaps that was because Frank Castle had changed. He now had the agility and grace of movement he'd seen from the other Assassins. They had turned him into one of them.
He made his way into the building through a window that had not been locked. They clearly had not been expecting someone to go through it. Once inside, Frank made his way through the halls. He saw some men with machine guns patrolling them. Sneaking up behind one, Frank considered using his Hidden Blade to dispatch him but then decided against it. He was saving that weapon for his chief target. So instead he opted to make use of his knife. After silently killing the thug, he stashed his body into a nearby closet before then taking out the other guard.
Peering downstairs, Frank saw some more goons coming up. Dragging the other dead thug's body away, Frank hid behind a corner. Knowing the gummen were heading in his direction, Frank circled around. Drawing a knife in each hand he plunged one into each of the criminal's backs. They dropped, and Frank made sure they were dead. Helping himself to their guns, Frank made his way downstairs. He knew Bruno was on the other side of the house, with a solid wall keeping the two halves of the house's top floor separated. The only way to get him then was to make his way through the lower floor. That also meant going through quite a few armed men.
Frank didn't care. He was more than prepared.
The first two went down to well-aimed headshots from pistols. Two more were cut down before they could react. The other crooks did react, unleashing a spray of gunfire. Frank's new body armor courtesy of the Assassins weathered the assault better than his now abandoned older suit would have, and Frank had ample time to get behind cover and wait for the remaining gunmen to come to him. Again circling around, Frank took out three more of the mobsters before darting behind cover again. Most of said cover was swiftly blown away by the machine gun fire of the now visibly panicking two mobsters. Moving quickly under the fire as his cover was obliterated a good bit at a time, Frank finally got the thugs backs to him again. By the time they turned around Frank had fired and both men were dropped in an instant.
Three more goons burst forth out of another room. Two got gunned down immediately for their troubles. The third managed to get off some shots but Frank's armor managed to hold. A headshot dropped the third man, and also used up the last of his gun's ammunition. After replenishing the ammo with the cartridges from the dead men's guns, Frank made his way upstairs.
He didn't even make it halfway up before a spray of bullets burst forth out of the room that was Bruno Costa's. Realizing quickly that he was shooting at nothing, Costa ran out to shoot at whatever was coming up the stairs, but all this did was seal his fate. A single shot to the knee dropped him. Costa tried to fire again, but his injury and being now prone threw off his aim terribly. Another shot to the side caused him to gasp in pain and drop his gun. Blood was seeping out of both wounds in copious amounts, especially the shot to the side. Had it been just a little bit to the left Frank would have hit a vital organ. But he had deliberately chosen not to do that. He didn't want Bruno's death to be over so soon.
Making his way up the stairs in full, Frank Castle stared down the bleeding and dying Bruno Costa with complete contempt. Looking up at him meekly, Bruno whimpered: "W-who are you?"
It was then that Frank Castle gave his new name, the name he had taken on upon joining the Assassin's Brotherhood in full. For after all, Frank Castle had died with his family. A new name was only appropriate.
"P-punish? What for man? Why me? Why me?"
"Maria, Lisa, and Frank Castle Jr." Punisher replied simply. Bruno Costa's eyes widened as he looked at Punisher's face and realized who it was, right before Punisher drew his hidden blade. The blade itself shot out with a snap, which to the Punisher's ears was almost as sweet a sound as Bruno's gasp of pain when the vigilante and Assassin drove it through him. Blood spurted out of the wound and also came out of Bruno's mouth. He was killed instantly.
"A clean finish." The Punisher noted. "More than you deserved." Then, as he cleaned the blood off his Hidden Blade he remarked almost as an afterthought: "Requiescat in Pace."
As he looked down at the fallen, slain form of the last of his family's killers, Punisher took notice of one thing in particular. Snatching it up and yanking it off of Bruno's neck, Punisher eyed the cross necklace. To most, it would simply seem like a common sign of religious faith. But since his induction into the Assassins Punisher knew better.
"So you were one of them after all. Never would have guessed. Not that it matters now."
Punisher pocketed the Templar necklace and then walked away. The Costa house had been reduced to a shot-up ruin courtesy of his actions, and dead bodies were now everywhere. Making his way out, the Punisher leaped across the rooftops to put some distance between himself and the site of his brutal revenge. It had not been quite as satisfying as he might have hoped, but at the same time Punisher reasoned it didn't matter much in the end. What's done was done. His family was avenged and there was still a war for him to fight. Two wars really. One his, the other the Assassin's Brotherhood.
And the Punisher was determined to see both to their conclusions.
Author's Note: And there you have it. My one-shot crossover's done. And yes, this will be a one-shot. As in, don't expect anything else from this crossover, at least not any time soon.
I think I'll end things as I always do, namely with a bit of trivia:
1. Microchip is an actual Marvel Comics character who in 616 is pretty much the closest thing the Punisher ever had to a sidekick, at least until Rachel from Greg Rucka's run with the character came along. Unlike her though he wasn't really a fighter, instead providing more intel and gear. Think the Lucius Fox or Oracle to Punisher's Batman and you'll get the idea.
2. Bruno Costa is likewise an enemy of the Punisher's and in at least one Marvel Universe the one who killed Frank Castle's family, though I don't know for sure if he was the triggerman or perpetrator in 616. But nevertheless, I figured I could use him here.
Regarding Punisher having a Kevlar helmet, I chose to give him that for several reasons:
1. Practicality-Not every thug he fights will be dumb enough to not aim for his head. He should protect it considering how vulnerable it is. Now yes, I know, a lot of characters in fiction can get by without having helmets and/or outfits that would be impractical for combat in real life, but still. A front-line, aggressive soldier's soldier like the Punisher who can't just dodge gunfire the way Spider-Man can and is also more likely to run into a lot of enemy gunmen than most should have that kind of protection. However, since practicality isn't generally what crosses my mind when making outfit choices for fictional characters who can basically get away with wearing anything, the other, main reason is...
2. Coolness-The Kevlar helmet design I had in mind for the helmet just looks straight up awesome, especially with the visor. And I would argue that it's covering the Punisher's face dehumanizes him in such a way as to be all the more terrifying to criminals who take him on.
So yeah. That's why he had the helmet. Sorry if sticklers for his classic look didn't like it, but I at least thought it was a good outfit choice.
And that's everything. Hope you all enjoyed the story!