Assuming the Marvel Legacy homage covers in fact reflect upcoming storylines, then it looks like we can look forward to Frank Castle/Punisher getting his hands on some War Machine armor to use in his one-man war on crime. No creative team has been officially announced.
It’s a brilliant story idea with immense potential, but as I briefly mentioned in my previous article the late/great Dwayne McDuffie and John Rozum pitched a limited series in the 80’s with a very similar premise. Entitled Punisher/Iron Man: The Killing Machine, McDuffie described the miniseries as thus; “The Punisher steals a suit of Iron Man armor, paints it black with a white skull emblem and goes to town. Iron Man wants it back.” Interestingly, McDuffie and Rozum intended for Iron Man’s best bud Jim “Rhodey” Rhodes getting his own black armor in a sequel and artist Mark Bright even drew some armor designs. A few years later, Rhodey did eventually get his own armor and took on the name War Machine. McDuffie liked to think he and Rozum had some influence though also admitted the basic plot idea isn’t that much of a stretch.
I doubt the current Punisher creative team were aware of McDuffie and Rozum’s original pitch so any resemblance is more than likely a coincidence. But I’m a firm believer in giving due credit to those who came first, and this just further illustrates how far ahead of the curve Dwayne McDuffie was as a writer.
You can read the full Killing Machine pitch below and many other Dwayne McDuffie scripts and pitches by clicking on this link. An invaluable resource not only for McDuffie fans but also for aspiring creators.
Proposal For a Limited Series The Punisher and Iron Man THE KILLING MACHINE Dwayne McDuffie/John Rozum First Draft, 12/3/89Since the day the mob gunned down his family, FRANK CASTLE has unswervingly dedicated himself to his one-man war on crime as THE PUNISHER. Using only his wits, and an arsenal of the world's most advanced military hardware, he has systematically weakened the underworld's stranglehold on the law-abiding populace. But the Punisher is only one man, and even for a man as skilled and obsessed as Frank Castle, it's only a matter of time before his number comes up. And when the time finally comes, it's the Kingpin's fast-rising lieutenant, a man known only as RAPIDFIRE, who's got that number. Surviving their first encounter only through sheer luck, the Punisher decides that, if he's to continue to survive, it's time to upgrade his arsenal. And he does so, through his meticulously-planned theft of one of the most awesome weapons on the face of the Earth, Tony Stark's invincible GUARDSMAN armor! What happens when the ultimate vigilante gets his hands on the ultimate weapon..? The Punisher and Iron Man in THE KILLING MACHINE It's during a routine raid on a drug warehouse that the Punisher first meets, and is nearly killed by, the Kingpin's new enforcer, RAPIDFIRE. Rapidfire is a new villain armed with a needle-firing rail gun, and high-tech armor of his own. He will serve as the bridge between the gritty, down-and-dirty world of the Punisher, and the super-scientific world of Iron Man. Believing the Punisher dead, he returns to his own plans to take over the Kingpin's organization. As the Punisher recovers, he realizes that his war will continue to go badly, as long as the enemy has superior firepower. With his confidant, MICROCHIP, the Punisher hatches a plan to steal a suit of Guardsman armor from the high-security super-villain prison, the Vault. A few months later, the Punisher implements his complex, "Mission Impossible" style plan to steal a suit of the armor during the transfer of a super-villain from the Vault to his trial. After stealing the armor (and killing the super-villain when he takes a shot at the Punisher), the Punisher disappears for several weeks, leaving the hapless, denuded Guardsman to explain to his superiors how a normal man got the best of him. Tony Stark, millionaire industrialist, and inventor of the Guardsman armor (as well as his own, slightly more powerful IRON MAN armor) is only somewhat upset at the theft, until reports of who has the armor, reach him. The Punisher has customized his armor (painting it black with the requisite skull insignia on the chest-plate, mounting a gattling gun on one shoulder and a retractable missile launcher on the other) and gone on a vigilante spree, the likes of which the world has never seen. He's headed for the Kingpin, and not incidentally, Rapidfire. The Kingpin, of course, expects this. But he doesn't expect Rapidfire's forthcoming treachery. Tony Stark has begun searching for the Punisher, aided by a beautiful DEA agent named Bianca James who, though Stark doesn't know it, is actually on the take from Kingpin. When their partnership turns to romance, a potentially explosive situation heats up considerably. A huge shipment of tainted drugs, an equally large shipment of high-tech weaponry, (manufactured at one of Stark's factories without his knowledge), a war between Rapidfire and the Kingpin for control of the underworld and an all out battle between the Punisher and Iron Man, are the highpoints of this proposed limited series. The conflicting forces are set in motion. The Punisher wants both Rapidfire and the Kingpin dead. Rapidfire wants the Kingpin's empire, Stark wants his armor back. The Kingpin wants the Punisher dead and to thwart Rapidfire's doublecross. And the answer to the question of what Bianca wants will decide the fate of them all. At the series' conclusion, the status quo is restored as Punisher loses the armor, but saves the day --reaffirming that it's the man using the hardware, not the hardware itself, that makes the difference. And, whether Iron Man likes it or not, the Punisher does make a difference. This is a proposal for a four-issue bookshelf-format limited series. Sales points include the Punisher, of course, but this is a Punisher we've never seen before. The Punisher in armor is almost as great a visual as it is a sales hook. Also, Iron Man is a consistent top twenty seller who has never had prestige format treatment. Finally, it would be the first meeting of two of Marvel's most popular characters. There aren't too many situations in the Marvel Universe like that left to exploit. Can we get started? Can we? Can we? -Dwayne McDuffie John Rozum