Former The Punisher writer Mike Baron, who introduced The Punisher ally Microchip with Klaus Johnson, blasted Marvel’s new direction that sees him become the leader of the Hand.
Announced back in December, Jason Aaron alongside artists Jesús Saiz and Paul Azaceta will launch a new 13-issue Punisher series that will be told in two parts: one taking on Castle’s present day and the other depicting Castle’s past through flashbacks.
Marvel described the series stating, “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.”
They add, “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?”
Aaron also stated, “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,” he asserted.
Speaking to Bounding Into Comics, Baron describes this new direction as “asinine.” He adds, “The Punisher functions best as a loner in the real world, without secret societies, superheroes, science fiction, fifth dimensions, or robots.”
As for the change in Punisher’s logo, Baron says, “And the logo. Why mess with success?”
Baron would also address Gerry Conway’s claim that the iconic Punisher logo is a symbol of “lawless police oppression.” He told Bounding Into Comics, “I don’t know why he would say that. Frank stands for justice.”
He elaborated, “Of course he delivers justice outside the law, but at least during the eighties and nineties when Chuck and I were writing him, he only punished the guilty.”
“We have seen the results of the defund the police movement. Crime has skyrocketed in every blue city that has defunded the police,” Baron asserted. “Cops and military who adopt the Punisher symbol do so because they understand it means standing up for those who can’t stand up for themselves.”
Baron would also tell Bounding Into Comics what is at the core of the Punisher’s character and what drives him.
He explained, “Frank is an obsessed, guilt-ridden Catholic. He holds himself responsible for the death of his family, but he’s not so self-absorbed to wallow in guilt for the rest of his life.”
“He takes action to ensure what happened to him won’t happen to others. Once he gets started, he realizes, why stop there? Society is rife with criminals who escape punishment. He sees it almost as a holy calling. And every week he goes to Mass, when he can, and he takes confession,” he elaborated.
When asked what Frank confesses at the Sacrament of Penance, Baron relayed, “He confesses to killing people. There’s a lot of Old Testament in him. Both ‘Thou shalt not kill,’ and ‘an eye for an eye.’”
In the Catholic faith, the Sacrament of Penance requires one to show contrition or the “expression of sorrow for sin.” Contrition as defined by The Council of Trent is “heartfelt sorrow and aversion for the sin committed along with the intention of sinning no more.”
Given this definition, Bounding Into Comics asked if Castle is truly sorrowful for his actions and if he believes in the firm purpose of amendment.
Baron answered, “He would like to, but he can’t. This is Frank’s curse, that he knows he can never stop, and prays the Lord will have mercy on him anyway.”
Finally, Baron told Bounding Into Comics what he would do if he was given the chance to write the Punisher again.
“I would continue to write him as I did during the first three years, as a straight crime comic,” he stated. “We all know where the Punisher would be right now. On the southern border dealing with coyotes, snake heads, terrorists, and child molesters pouring across the giant invitation mat laid out by the present administration.”
Baron continued, “I have always wanted to send him after crooked politicians as well. Can you imagine the fury that would ignite? Can you imagine criminals patterned after members of the current administration, or people who have been in Congress for thirty years and have only managed to line their own pockets?”
“Well I can, and I’m working on a new title with Gerry Kissell that will do exactly that,” he concluded.
It looks like while Gerry Conway is busy trying to reclaim the Punisher’s logo, and Marvel is abandoning the character’s core nature, Mike Baron is creating a character in the vein of The Punisher to tell thrilling crime stories just like he did back in the 80s when he was writing the Punisher for Marvel Comics.
What do you make of Baron’s comments about The Punisher? Are you interested in this new story he’s working on with Gerry Kissell?