With a TV series in the works, this would be a strange time to kill off The Punisher at Marvel Comics.
But Marvel Comics is putting a lot of promotional hype behind the final issue of Jason Aaron and Steve Dillon's PunisherMAX shipping in February, saying things like;
"the Punisher story you never thought you would read"
"just when you think you know what's coming in the series finale, think again."
"This was always intended to be one big story, with a very specific beginning, middle and a slam-bang mother of an end. I'm afraid I can't say any more about the ending than that….other than that it gave me chills, just getting to write it. – Jason Aaron"
"The day has come. You always knew the Punisher's one-man war against organized crime would end bad, but you never knew how bad," – Axel Alonso.
All normal hype, sure, but Marvel is going back to print on PunisherMAX issues 17 and 18, the beginning of their final arc, Homeless, and encouraging retailers to increase the orders on issues yet to ship. Almost as if they were expecting some kind of serious media hype around the story.
And these deaths, that usually means the death of a lead character.
Frank Castle has finds himself without any resources in New York with everyone wanting him dead, as he tries to take down the Kingpin's criminal empire for good. It all seems a little… terminal, no?
PunisherMAX is separate from the regular Greg Rucka Punisher book at Marvel these days. Could this be a way of sanitising the character slightly at Marvel by losing the harder edged sweary version?
Here's that final cover…