In July this year, Bleeding Cool ran the news that Jason Aaron was to reinvent The Punisher for a new age, adding the headline story "Jesus Saiz and Paul Azaceta Join Jason Aaron on Punisher No More"
In recent years there has been increasing criticism of the use of the Punisher skull by police, army, militia, white supremacist groups, QAnon events, and Sean Hannity on Fox News, even Trump Punisher pins have been popular. And then during the January 6th Insurrection at the Capitol building in Washington, many Punisher skull insignias were seen. This also followed Black Lives Matter protests and a focus on real and fictional police behaviour, including the use of Punisher imagery by the police.
Amidst calls for Marvel and Disney to cancel The Punisher as a character, Bleeding Cool observed that this may have happened already and that there had been no published or solicited Punisher comic books since November 2020. There was a collection of Punisher Vs Barracuda – but that series was never completed. It was initially postponed by the pandemic but then abandoned altogether, despite completed issues having been completed.
Now Bleeding Cool can report a confirmation of our original report. That beginning this March, Frank Castle's dark path will be revealed in Punisher, a new series years in the making that will mark the definitive culmination of Frank Castle's journey in the Marvel Universe to date, building on his past to reveal his inescapable future.
A prestige format 13-issue monthly oversized series written by Jason Aaron and drawn by Jesús Saiz and Paul Azaceta, exploring the past, present, and future of Frank Castle's character and reveal where his motivations truly lie, each artist separately taking on Castle's present day and Castle's past through flashbacks.
Jason Aaron says "So many different groups have tried to appropriate the Punisher's symbol and write their own story of what that symbol means, to match whatever their agenda. But they don't get to define the story of this character. And it's the character of Frank Castle that I'm interested in. His story has always been a dark and twisted tragedy, about a man consumed by war, for better or worse, no matter what sort of shirt he wears. And that's exactly the kind of story we're telling here." Marvel EIC C.B. Cebulski says "The Punisher is not a hero or a role model, a fact that's reinforced in the pages of our books. For readers who unpack Frank's character, there's a deep and compelling story about how his demons drive him to do terrible things that heroes would never do. And when you think about his story in that context, it directly contradicts how the Punisher has been appropriated."
When Bleeding Cool first found reference to this series on Marvel's systems it was called Punisher No More. Now it is just Punisher. But will it still head in a "no more" direction? Will this series be the capstone to the character for Marvel?
"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," said Aaron. "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."
"A few years ago, Jason Aaron came into one of our creative summits with a pitch for Frank that made our collective jaws drop," said C.B. Cebulski. "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."
Written by JASON AARON
Art by JESÚS SAIZ and PAUL AZACETA
Colors by DAVE STEWART
Cover by JESÚS SAIZ
On sale March 2022
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?