The Punisher Redefined

He’s a problematic character. Not really a hero, and never really was. But fans love the seeming cut and dried approach to punishing criminals, so Frank Castle moved from being a Spider-Man villain to one of Marvel’s top franchises. In the real world, subgroups of police departments have adopted his chest logo. Original co-creator Gerry Conway protested. Marvel responded by publishing a story in which the Punisher made it clear that what he does is not what police should do.

But do those who misunderstood the Punisher (and people, it’s easy to do) read the comics? Hear the protestations? Not when three movies and two Netflix series made more of an impact on pop culture. (Maybe not the first movie.) Let us all be honest — even Disneyland sold Punisher items for a while.

Now Marvel wants to make it clearer. Announced Monday, the new Punisher 13-issue miniseries will provide insight into Frank Castle’s entire life, from childhood to his destiny as the King of Killers serving the evil organization known as The Hand. In that role, he sports a new logo. As cynics have pointed out, it’s a logo that’s a lot easier to trademark than the white skull he’s known for. While they may be right, it’s also right that Marvel does draw a clearer line.

The Punisher has lasted almost 50 years, when his original inspirations in the “Men’s Adventure” pulp genre have fallen away. It’s time to restore the concept that Frank Castle has crossed the line. You may consider his fate tragic, but Frank Castle is not a character to emulate.

From Marvel:

Frank Castle must face his destiny. Beginning this March, Frank’s dark path will be revealed in PUNISHER, a series years in the making that will mark the definitive culmination of Frank Castle’s journey in the Marvel Universe to date, building on his past to reveal his inescapable future.

PUNISHER, written by Avengers architect Jason Aaron, will be a 13-issue prestige limited series. Running monthly, each issue will be oversized to explore the past, present, and future of Frank Castle’s character and reveal where his motivations truly lie. The series will be drawn by Jesús Saiz and Paul Azaceta, with each separately taking on Castle’s present day and Castle’s past through flashbacks, respectively.

“After writing the Punisher over the years, I’ve always been fascinated by the character of Frank Castle. What moments made him the Punisher, even before that fateful day in the park? And how far will he go to win the war that has consumed his life? Spoiler: as far as it damn well takes,” said Aaron. “This story is the destined next step in the dark and tragic evolution of Frank Castle, from troubled kid to heroic soldier to revenge-driven vigilante…to the duly anointed King of Killers. Believe me when I say, I am as excited about this story as anything I’ve ever written for Marvel.”

As the Punisher, Frank Castle has become the most accomplished killer the world has ever seen. After a shocking secret pushes him to become the warlord of the Hand, he now serves the Beast, a role he’s been fated to fulfill. Tragedy, war, and rage come together as he takes up his sword and his new armor with the most notorious clan of assassins in the Marvel Universe. Will it mean an end for the Punisher? Or a whole new bloody beginning?

“A few years ago, Jason Aaron came into one of our creative summits with a pitch for Frank that made our collective jaws drop,” said Marvel Editor-in-Chief C.B. Cebulski. “The story Jason is telling – a truly epic tale about darkness, violence, and choices – can only be told with the Punisher at its core. This series will build on Frank’s legacy while introducing us to a side of him we’ve never seen before, setting the stage for an evolution that we’ll find was inevitable.”

More information about PUNISHER will be released in the coming months.

PUNISHER #1
Written by JASON AARON
Art by JESÚS SAIZ and PAUL AZACETA
Colors by DAVE STEWART
Cover by JESÚS SAIZ

On sale March 2022

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About Derek McCaw 2089 Articles
In addition to running Fanboy Planet, Derek has written for ActionAce, Daily Radar, Once Upon A Dime, and The Wave. He has contributed stories to Arcana Comics (The Greatest American Hero) and Monsterverse Comics (Bela Lugosi's Tales from the Grave). He has performed with ComedySportz and Silicon Valley Shakespeare, though relocated to Hollywood to... work in an office? If you ever played Eric's Ultimate Solitaire on the Macintosh, it was Derek's voice as The Weasel that urged you to play longer. You can buy his book "I Was Flesh Gordon" on the Amazon link at the right. Email him at editor@fanboyplanet.com.