Recently, Bleeding Cool ran the scoop that Avengers writer Jason Aaron was returning to The Punisher and returning The Punisher to the Marvel Universe where he has been absent for a year. Planned Punisher projects were pulled from Marvel schedules as a result of concern around Black Lives Matter protests, the use of Punisher symbols in the January insurrection of the Capitol, as well as by police, army, militia, white supremacist groups, at QAnon recruiting events, and by Sean Hannity on Fox News, alongside a focus on real and fictional police behaviour, including the use of Punisher imagery by the police.
We've now learned a couple more things. One, the title of the comic book may have been Punisher No More which may suggest a radical shift for Frank Castle and the Punisher, possibly to take in how the character and the logo has been appropriated in an unfortunate manner by all sorts of groups. And second, the art team is Jesus Saiz and Paul Azaceta.
Jesus Saiz is best known for his work on Manhunter, Checkmate, Swamp Thing, The Brave And The Bold, Birds Of Prey and 21 Down for DC Comics but had a fine recent run with Marvel Comics on Spider-Men II, Captain America and Doctor Strange. Paul Azaceta is co-creator of Outcast with Robert Kirkman, as well as drawing Amazing Spider-Man, Irredeemable, Daredevil Grounded, and BPRD.
And you can see a vestigial husk of the solicitation that was originally planned to run for Marvel's October 2021 solicitations but was withdrawn, over here. Does anyone know if this made it into the print Previews catalogue at all?
The Punisher was created as a villain, a vigilante in the Deathwish mould, to be taken down by Spider-Man, even if his backstory was a sympathetic and understandable one. Indeed, the clue was that he worse a big skull on his chest – reminiscent of a certain Mitchell & Webb sketch. It was a spin-off mini-series starring The Punisher than cemented his role as a fan favourite, at one point having three ongoing comic book series at the same time, two movies, a TV series, toylines and more. He even attracted creators such as Steve Dillon and Garth Ennis, creators of Preacher, who found dark humour in his outrageous, even cartoony violence against organised crime. Ennis also took him into darker territories, looking at great American crimes in the field of war. At the same time, there were also ludicrous takes – turned into a literal avenging angel, a Frankenstein monster, sent into space, and most bizarrely, killed, sent to Hell, transformed into a Ghost Rider by Mephisto, a herald of Thanos and a herald of Galactus, becoming the Cosmic Ghost Rider – but still Frank Castle, ex-Marine, and walking cancer. The Punisher did return as an incidental character in two 2021 series, The Marvels looking at a very damaged version of the character in a chronological version of Marvel history, and also in Heroes Reborn, recreated as an alternate universe character with, notably, no Skull logo. . Aaron previously wrote Punisher MAX several years ago but how will he recreate The Punisher for a new era? And what does "Punisher No More" actually mean? It does seem to reference the classic Spider-Man No More storyline – though that only lasted a couple of issues…