Before he was the Punisher, Frank Castle tried to lead the right path of bringing the killers of his family to face justice, but that came to an end when Castle first crossed paths with Billy “The Beaut” Russo. Noted for his handsome looks, Billy Russo has built a reputation among the criminal underground as a successful assassin who occasionally accepts jobs with both the Costa Family and the Maggia.
To clean up their mess with Castle attempt to bring Bruno and the Costa Family to justice for the deaths of his entire family and their first failed assassin who was sent to kill Castle, Bruno hired the notorious assassin, Billy the Beaut to not only kill Castle, but to tie any loose ends by assassinating everybody who was involved with Castle’s attempt to bring Bruno and the Costa family to justice. This resulted with Billy killing the original assassin who was sent to kill Castle and managed to survive his recent encounter with Castle, a reporter who was investigating the Castle killings, and almost killing Castle himself by planting explosives in his apartment.
After Billy failed to kill Castle, this attempt motivated Castle into taking a role as judge, jury, and executioner as he took on the name Punisher. This led Castle into tracking down Russo at a mob party and killing all guests with the exception Russo. Leaving Russo to be the last victim, he left the gangster facially disfigured after forcing him face first through a bulletproof plate glass window.
Despite the serious injuries Russo sustained, he managed to come to a full recovery after going through an extensive amount of surgeries that resulted with Russo losing something greater than his own life.
With his face beyond repairable, Russo lost the one thing he cherished the most, which was the pride of his own beautiful looks. This resulted with Russo becoming extremely unstable and obsessed with seeing the Punisher meet the same fate as he personally suffered. This also resulted with Russo to anticipate his recovery by forming a small gang of his own and going through extensive training to prepare his fight against the Punisher. Because of how his face strongly resembled a series of jagged and distorted pieces being sewn together, Russo renamed himself Jigsaw, a name that he forced himself into accepting and to ensure that it would be a name forced to be feared by his enemies.
Jigsaw was created for and introduced to audiences in 1976's Amazing Spider-man #162. He was created by Len Wein and Ross Andru as nemesis of the Punisher but his presence has spanned widely over years into the story arcs of other characters and teams until his death in 2011.
Major Story Arcs
After the Punisher
After tracking the Punisher’s recent activities in New York City, Jigsaw concocted a plan of ruining Punisher’s reputation by framing him before killing his nemesis after drawing him out. This plan consisted of Jigsaw killing innocents that randomly selected and located within a heavy populated area, the reason for this was to give New York City the assumption that it was the Punisher who was responsible for the killings that would also force the entire city against the vigilante.
After killing an innocent victim in Coney Island, Jigsaw was unaware that he would also capture the attention of Spiderman and the X-man known as Nightcrawler. Because of how both Nightcrawler and Spiderman assumed that each were the killer that resulted with the two heroes battling in a misunderstanding, Jigsaw managed to gain enough time properly escape before being captured and seen. But after witnessing the Punisher arriving onto the scene and interrupting the fight between both heroes, Jigsaw decided to take the opportunity to take a shot at the Punisher and finally fulfill his goal. But Jigsaw missed his target that resulted with Jigsaw scheme being exposed as Punisher, Spiderman, and Nightcrawler realizing the true intent of the mysterious sniper.
Even though Jigsaw managed to escape the scene, it wouldn’t be long before Spiderman and Punisher would discover Jigsaw as the sniper. But it wasn’t hard for both Punisher and Spiderman to find Jigsaw when him and his armed gang next decided to simply cause enough public attention to call out the vigilante. Even though Jigsaw attempted to get his revenge on Punisher, himself and his gang was defeated by Spiderman, Punisher, and Nightcrawler.
Somehow Jigsaw and his gang managed to escape the authorities and go into hiding to await their next attempt to go after the Punisher. But because of his personal vendetta against Punisher and a growing fear for costumed heroes, Jigsaw hired gang began to grow uneasy with Jigsaw’s competence as a successful leader. This led Jigsaw and his gang into going into going on a heist so that Jigsaw would gain respect from the gang.
As a way to avoid any chance of capturing the attention of any costumed heroes, Jigsaw believed that by robbing a cruise would not capture the attention of any hero or law enforcement. But this proved wrong when Jigsaw happened to rob the same cruise where Peter Parker (Spiderman) was on, which resulted with Jigsaw’s gang being defeated and Jigsaw simply fainting at the sight of Spiderman.
After being taken to Ryker’s Island, possibly the very first time to ever serving any imprisonment, Jigsaw made quick use of his resources as he became a partner for Don Cevello, who was currently a notorious crime boss that had a great portion of the prison under his payroll.
Respectfully gaining protection, privileges, and accommodations because of Cevello, both Jigsaw and Cevello developed a plan on conducting a prison riot that would give both of them an opportunity to escape and where Cevello would rebuild his criminal empire and Jigsaw finally regaining his reputation within the criminal underground. But this plan found itself facing an obstacle when Punisher was finally caught and sent to the same prison where Jigsaw was being held. Deciding to make use of his power within the prison, Jigsaw couldn't resist the opportunity to gain his revenge on Punisher after sending Cevello’s men and instructing a few prison guards into staging attack on the Punisher, which proved unsuccessful.
Jigsaw would finally get the chance to come face to face with Punisher after the vigilante investigated who was trying to have him killed, where Jigsaw and a handful of Cevello’s men got into a fight before Cevello disrupted Jigsaw's attempt to kill Punisher so that it wouldn’t cause anymore attention that could cost their plans for escape. Quickly realizing this, Punisher took the advantage of Cevello's plan when trying to stop both Cevello and Jigsaw from escaping with the warden as their hostage.
Having both Jigsaw and Cevello believing that they gained the upper hand over Punisher because of the warden being held as a hostage, Jigsaw disarmed The Punisher by taking his pistol. But rather than simply escaping with the warden, Jigsaw took the opportunity to fire the gun at Punisher that resulted with his hand exploding because of how Punisher loaded it with wrong bullets. This also costed Cevello's escape as both himself and Jigsaw were returned to their prison cells after the riot was over and the Punisher making his escape from Rykers
Jigsaw was caught robbing a warehouse by Tigra. Tigra punched him around and kept him from taking anything, but was stopped by a government official who thought she was a villain. However, Jigsaw was still furious. When the Hood offered support to help villains get back at heroes, Jigsaw joined with the understanding Hood would help him get revenge on Punisher, Spider-man, and Tigra. Since it was hard to locate Frank, Hood and his goons tracked down Ms. Greer and captured her. Hood then beat her senseless while Jigsaw video-taped the whole thing.
Later, it was revealed that Hood and Jigsaw had stripped Tigra and were keeping her captive. They threatened to kill her mother if she didn't tell them where the New Avengers were. She revealed that they were in an abandoned building that was magically disguised so they couldn't be arrested. Chemistro broke the magical seal and Hood's Gang stormed the house. When Jessica Jones attempted to escape to bring her baby to safety, Jigsaw was waiting and prepared to sniper either her or the infant (both choices could easily have killed the child).
However Spider-man sneaked up on him and punched him. Jigsaw survived, but was not involved in the Hood's hunt to kill Punisher. Tigra began to avenge her assailant, but has not yet encountered Jigsaw. For now, despite being a wanted criminal, it appears he is safe from harm.
Punisher: War Journal II
Operating from within a mental hospital, Jigsaw is back and planning to kill the Punisher again after an extended hiatus. His new plan involves brainwashing mentally ill people and training them to kill so that they would be able to kill the Punisher for him.
Punisher's long ago ally and former Lady Punisher Lynn Michaels has joined SHIELD and changes her identity to go undercover where she befriends one of the hospitals patients and sympathises with his situation.
Jigsaw's plan failing thanks to a number of factors including Michaels and The Hand, the plan leads to a final confrontation with Punisher where both men are stopped and arrested by SHIELD. Michaels, only just commended for her work, gives her mentally ill friend a gun and sends him into Jigsaw's prison cell to shoot him before they are both arrested!
In The Blood
Frank Castle, back from the dead and on his most bloody and brutal campaign ever, to hunt down the Hood, has been working with Jigsaw's illegitimate son Henry for some years now. When the two have a misunderstanding over the kid's alcoholic mother and Punisher sends Henry packing, the young hacker comes home to find his estranged abusive father Jigsaw waiting for him.
Along with him is a hideously disfigured Stuart Clarke, his alleged businessman. Knowing that Henry has been working with Punisher all this time, Jigsaw claims that he just wants to make up for lost time and atone for his sins. But really what he means is that he has the ultimate plan to bring the Punisher to an end and claim revenge for everything over the last few decades.
Jigsaw has Microchip under lock and key, insane and livid after his last encounter with Punisher. He also has a mysterious assassin covered in burns that he claims is Frank's resurrected wife, the woman he burned back to the grave after Hood brought her back. All he needs to do is to win back his son so that he can track down the vigilante, tear him apart from the inside and then have free reign over New York.
But as tensions run high between Jigsaw and Clarke, as their plan has succeeded and true agendas begin to out, betrayal is in the air and Jigsaw, Henry and Frank find themselves in a conflict that is more complex than just the desire to kill. Henry is torn between two father figures, Jigsaw is torn between what he wants for his son and Frank is driven so helplessly mad angry that he might not care who has to die at the end of the day in order for Jigsaw to meet his maker.
In a savage fight that brutalizes, breaks, disfigures and leaves both men lying in a pool of their own blood, Jigsaw falls through the collapsing roof as the building they're on top of is being gutted by raging fire. As Frank lies unconscious, Henry tries to help his father out of the fire but rather clinging onto his pride, Jigsaw refuses and lets himself fall into the inferno.
Suddenly, Frank is up on his feet as the building is about to collapse, picks up Henry and dives from the rooftop into the telegraph wires below, electrocuting himself and taking the force of the fall to the pavement to save Henry's life. The two part way and the Jigsaw legacy has ended!
In the alternate reality that places contemporary heroes and villains into the era of Detective, PI and Mafia pop icons, Jigsaw enters as the number one hit-man of Al Capone, sent to assassinate the Punisher.
In the alternate universe where DC and Marvel characters collide, Punisher travels to Gotham City and while about to do what Batman could never have done and killed the Joker, Batman (Jean Paul Valley/Azrael) appears to stop him and they brawl. In a follow up, Jigsaw and Joker - kindred spirits - team up in the hopes of killing off both Batman and Punisher.
Garth Ennis' legendary run on the Punisher having come to an end, the MAX imprint continued with various unrelated story arcs. In this one, Punisher heads down to Mexico to wipe out a Snuff Movie Ring. Here, Jigsaw is reimagined as a gangster known as "The Heavy."
Setting a trap to have Punisher believe he is responsible for the murder of a child, Jigsaw fails as Frank performs an impromptu autopsy to find the bullet. When they go toe to toe, Punisher drops Jigsaw through a glass window where he plummets and falls onto the roof of a train. It is not known whether he is dead or alive but the character never returns.
Punisher: War Zone (2008)
In the Lionsgate film Punisher: War Zone, Jigsaw is the main antagonist and is portrayed by actor Dominic West. In the film he is one of the top mobsters of the Ceasare Family, known as Billy "The Beaut" Russoti. During a meeting with the family Caesare makes fun of his psychotic brother Looney Bin Jim after an earlier conversation and afterwards dine together with the present mobsters. While dining the Punisher attacks and kills Caesare and the present thugs while Jigsaw manages to escape to a bottle recycling center.
Punisher manages to track down Russoti and a brief shootout ensues between Punisher, Jigsaw, and his goons. Russoti is thrown into a glass crushing machine by Punisher horribly disfiguring his face. Russoti decides to go by the name "Jigsaw" due to his hideous facial features due to the incident and swears vengeance on Punisher for this.
Jigsaw and his men free his insane brother James Russoti aka "Loony Bin Jim" from a mental hospital for him to aid him in his quest for vengeance. Jigsaw and co meet with a European crime boss, Cristu Bulat and make a deal with him. The pack later raids the home of the FBI agent Punisher killed (not knowing he was actually an undercover agent) where they hold his wife and daughter hostage, Punisher enters the home, kills Jigsaw's men, and engage in a firefight with Jigsaw and his brother. The two are arrested after the brief shootout but Punisher knows that them getting arrested is not the end.
Jigsaw in the precinct makes a deal with FBI; release them for the arrest of Bulat. The two are granted immunity, the 12 million dollars from Bulat, and a file on Punisher's supplier Micro. They kidnap Micro, and the FBI agent's wife and daughter and begin to recruit members for his small army of gangsters who to want revenge on Castle. Jigsaw's army completely assembled, they later engage in a shootout with the Punisher in a hotel with Punisher victorious.
Jigsaw and Looney Bin Jim flee and hold the FBI agent's wife and daughter hostage and Micro as well. Russoti offers Punisher a choice: kill Micro and they free the wife and her daughter. Punisher guns down Looney Bin Jim instead and Jigsaw kills Micro and the two engage in a very brief brawl with Castle overpowering him and impales Jigsaw with a metal pole and engulfs him flames killing him.
The Punisher (Netflix Series)
Billy Russo appears as a major character in Punisher Netflix series, portrayed by British actor Ben Barnes. Born to a meth addict, Billy Russo grew up in various foster and group homes, and was nearly molested on at least one occasion. After reaching adulthood, Billy enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, where he met and befriended Frank Castle. The two men were eventually recruited into an elite military unit called Cerebus Squad, and served in a number of secret missions. Despite getting into a massive argument after an ambush that left much of Cerebus Squad dead, Billy and Frank continued their friendship after returning home from Afghanistan.
In the present, Billy has become the head of Anvil, a private military unit employed by the U.S. government. He comes into conflict with Frank, now known as the vigilante Punisher. It is eventually revealed that Russo accepted bribes to commit treason, and that he knew about the failed assassination attempt that led to the slaughter of Frank's family. When Russo's corrupt dealings are exposed, Homeland Security agents begin pursuing him, leading to him being forced to destroy Anvil headquarters. With his life in ruins, Billy sets out to get his revenge on Frank, leading to a confrontation between the former friends. The Punisher emerges victorious, and severely mutilates Billy's face. Billy is then arrested by the NYPD, and is placed into surgery to try and save his life. Though he survives, it is mentioned that the facial scarring he suffered is severe, and that he has become comatose as a result.
- The Punisher (1990 LJN) -Jigsaw appears as a boss in the Gameboy version of the game replacing the Kingpin.
- The Punisher (1993 Capcom) - Jigsaw is a sub-boss in the video game version of the game where he is fought in the final level.
- The Punisher (2005 PS2/X-Box/PC) - In the 2005 video game, Jigsaw is John Saint, the son of Howard Saint, the primary antagonist of the 2004 Punisher movie. In the film, John was one of the men responsible for the murder of Frank Castle's family. It is revealed in the game that John survived the explosion at the end of the film, but was hideously disfigured as a result. Adopting the name Jigsaw, John takes over a Yakuza gang called the Eternal Sun, and vows vengeance against the Punisher. After donning a suit of high-tech battle armor, Jigsaw serves as the final boss of the game. He was voiced by Darryl Kurylo.
- The Punisher: No Mercy (2009)- Jigsaw is playable character in The Punisher: No Mercy game, available for download through the Playstation network.
- In 2006, Jigsaw was featured in ToyBiz's Marvel Legends line as part of a Face-Off two-pack that also featured the Punisher.
- Jigsaw was featured in the HeroClix figure game.
- Jigsaw was featured in Diamond Select's Minimates line.
- Jigsaw was featured in Hasbro's Mighty Muggs line.