What if Wolverine # 1 asks and answers an interesting question, what if Wolverine took up the mantel of the Punisher long before Frank Castle had even been born, in an alternate universe. This What I f origin story is also interesting because it never actually comes out and calls the protagonist the Punisher and only refers to him as Wolverine on the cover.
The story begins in the small town of Rat Portage in Ontario, Canada; the year is 1926. Wolverine is selling beaver pelts and bear skins to a fur trader. The fur trader mentions that Logan could use some new skinning knives, which Wolverine shrugs off. Presumably, even though his trademark claws are not depicted, this dialogue hints that he probably has them in this universe as well.
Wolverine heads off to the local watering hole, a dingy dive dubbed the Blackheart. Logan is after more than just something to wet his whistle though. Gerard, the barkeep, congratulates him with a punch to the face for fathering a bastard son with one of the establishment’s “working girls.” Although, this is revealed to be just for appearances as the bar empties out and Gerard reveals he is dying from “too much of the good life” and wants Logan to take over the bar and stay with the working girl. Logan refuses and heads back out into the wilderness, while Gerard prepares to sell of the rest of his alcoholic inventory to some mobsters from Chicago
The deal goes sour and Logan is awakened by machine gun fire and an explosion. He rushes to the bar and manages to save the bar’s pirate flag and the flames. All though, his child and main squeeze have been killed in the blaze. The barkeep lives long enough to tell Wolverine that a man named Scarface is responsible for the massacre. He heads to Chicago and winds up pairing up with a savvy underworld type named Matteo.
The Canadian bad ass wearing the bar’s flag as a shirt heads out to confront Scarface, with nothing more than a pistol with six rounds, a knife, and a backup plan that even Matteo is foggy about. Despite a fiery diversion, Logan quickly runs into a wall of Scarface’s crooked cops, who pummel him and deposit him in Scarface’s office. Apparently, the two have a history dating back to Logan being a miner, and Scarface refers to Logan as James. The two don’t have long to catch up because at 11pm Logan’s back up plan involving a large amount of dynamite blasts into action. Obviously, Scarface is blown away in the blast.
However, Logan thanks to his healing power resurfaces a couple days later. Logan makes contact with Matteo again and tells him he will need a whole lot more firepower to punish all of Chicago’s mobsters. Matteo apparently winds up at Riker’s Island by 1946, which is where he is writing about all this. However, it is unclear if Punisher Wolverine is still out there keeping the criminals of Chicago in check in this alternate universe.