Welcome Back, Frank Castle.
The Punisher may be back but a lot of people don’t think this is a good idea.
Marvel revealed their plans to release a new Punisher series (Marvel Launches The Punisher With Becky Cloonan And Steve Dillon). The Marvel Universe may have ended and been reborn, but Frank Castle isn’t going to let that stop his mission. The Punisher is returning to action in an all-new series from writer Becky Cloonan (Demo, Gotham Academy) and Steve Dillon (Punisher MAX,Preacher).
There are many people who dislike the Punisher as a character and what he means in a universe filled with superheroes who also call themselves vigilantes. They feel the Punisher’s message is one not supported in the common superhero community.
If you haven’t been reading comics the Punisher’s vitae might look like this:
The Punisher is a vigilante who employs murder, kidnapping, extortion, coercion, threats of violence, and torture in his war on crime. Driven by the deaths of his wife and two children, who were killed by the mob during a shootout in New York City’s Central Park, the Punisher wages a one-man war on the mob and all criminals in general by using all manner of conventional war weaponry. His family’s killers were the first to be slain. A war veteran of the U.S. military, Frank Castle is a master of martial arts, stealth tactics, guerrilla warfare, and a wide variety of weapons.
Chilling, and thirty years of writing about the character has shown a methodical, focused engine of destruction. But there is more to this story. The truth be told, as a character, the Punisher is just another metaphorical vehicle used to question society, its rules, laws and arbitrary application of such rules.
The Punisher’s message is meant to be troubling. If he doesn’t disturb you, if he doesn’t disconcert you, then he has failed to do his job as a character. The Punisher is the vigilante perspective taken to its ridiculous and terrifying conclusion.
The Punisher is a single man who decides not only to throw away the system, but decides he is going to take the law into his own hands, and deliver a form of “Biblical Justice,” an eye for an eye as it were, blindness be damned.
The Punisher SHOULD be disturbing. He uses extreme methods, torture, extortion, brutality to extract what he believes is a higher purpose, a form of justice he feels is missing in the system.
The truth is more horrible than even what he does. Justice is indeed blind. From where Frank sits, she is deaf to the screams of those left hopeless and bereft because of her inability to offer recompense or even closure for their losses.
Good people are harmed because our justice system has made it possible for bad people with money to buy their way free of any kind of control, management or punishment. The fox is in control of the hen house.
Our justice system has become corrupt enough that powerful banks flaunt the rules which should control them and prevent them from stealing directly from the patrons who frequent them and expect them to protect their assets not gamble them.
Powerful corporations plunder the Earth, calling the damage they do incidentals outside of their responsibility assuming all of the profit and none of the risks of their reckless strip-mining of the Earth.
What the Punisher calls to light in his very limited crusade against organized crime is that ALL CRIME IS ORGANIZED SOMEWHERE. And that it will take a systematic, principled and highly organized force to stop it.
In the Marvel Universe, super-crime, alien invasion, threats of global extinction are handled by the Avengers, with no one to watch out for the little guy trying to run a small business without interference from criminal activity.
He will, until someone puts a bullet in him, or decides he is worse than the problem he is trying to resolve, be the person watching out for the little guy.
The Punisher disturbs. He’s been doing it since his first appearance in The Amazing Spider-Man #129 (cover-dated Feb. 1974). He uses the weapons of his enemies to create a parity under which he can bring to them, the terror they inspire in law-abiding citizens.
To him, society’s rules are to be ignored. Because criminals who know these rules and use them to violate the letter of the law are also violating the spirit of the law. If that is how the game is to be played then rules be damned.
The Punisher knows he is on his way to hell. He’s just making sure he arrives with company. Game on, gentlemen.
If you want to get a handle on the best writing on the Punisher and don’t mind doing a little legwork, I recommend The Punisher War Journal, The Punisher War Zone, and to a lesser extent, The Punisher Armory.
Thaddeus Howze is a California-based technologist and author who has worked with computer technology since the 1980’s doing graphic design, computer science, programming, network administration and IT leadership.
His non-fiction work has appeared in numerous magazines: Huffington Post, Gizmodo, Black Enterprise, the Good Men Project, Examiner.com, Science X, ComicBeat.com and Astronaut.com. He maintains a diverse collection of non-fiction at his blog, A Matter of Scale. He is a contributor at The Enemy, a nonfiction literary publication out of Los Angeles.
Thaddeus is a popular and well-read writer on the Q&A site Quora.com in over fifty subjects. He is also a moderator and contributor to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Stack Exchange with over a thirteen hundred articles in a four year period.
He is an author and contributor at Scifiideas.com. His speculative fiction has appeared online at Medium.com, the Magill Review, ScifiIdeas.com, and the Au Courant Press Journal. He has a wide collection of his work on his website, Hub City Blues. His recently published works can be found here. He also maintains a wide collection of his writing and editing work on Medium.com.