Two year after his previous ongoing series concluded, Marvel has announced that Frank Castle better known as the Punisher is back in a 13-issue prestige limited series this March. Written by Jason Aaron and drawn by Jesús Saiz and Paul Azaceta, with each artist separately taking on Castle’s present day and Castle’s past through flashbacks respectively, the limited series introduces a dramatic new status quo for the Punisher as he becomes the leader of the ninja warlord of the ninja group, the Hand. Dave Stewart is also involved as colorist.
Here’s how Marvel describes the limited series:
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?
It’s no exaggeration to say that the Punisher has become a rather problematic in these turbulent times over the last few years. Gerry Conway, co-creator of the character, who vocally criticized police use of the Punisher’s skull emblem in the past, worked with a group of artists to put together a Skulls for Justice campaign that to reclaim the skull logo. In fact, Punisher #13 from writer Matthew Rosenberg and artist Szymon Kudranski featured a scene where Frank Castle chastised two police officers for co-opting his emblem and image for the Blue Lives Matter movement.
Thus it’s not a complete surprise to see Punisher don a new emblem in the preview art. Whether or not this is just a temporary change remains to be seen. The Punisher has faced his share of wild revamps over the years including becoming a Frankenstein monster, a holy Angel, and even a black man after a botched plastic surgery procedure (There’s no way something like that would fly today!). Frank Castle becoming the head of a clan of assassins seems pretty mild by comparison.
“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. 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.”
Marvel Editor-in-Chief C.B. Cebulski also revealed that the genesis of the series will set the stage for things to come for the character.
“A few years ago, Jason Aaron came into one of our creative summits with a pitch for Frank that made our collective jaws drop. 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.”
Look for Punisher #1 to arrive in stores in March.