The Punisher Picks Up The Gun Again (Spoilers)

In July last year, Bleeding Cool scooped 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 policearmymilitiawhite 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 DC, 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 finished. Marvel announced that series for March 2022, no longer called Punisher No More, simply… Punisher. Showing us Frank Castle seemingly working with ninja group The Hand, sporting sais rather than guns as well as a new devil face logo rather than the traditional skull image.

Marvel Comics
Punisher #1 by Jason Aaron and Jesus Saiz

So how is the change explained in continuity? The Hand was created by Frank Miller for Daredevil as an order of evil mystical ninjas who are heavily involved in organized crime and mercenary activities. The Hand covets power above all other objectives, are primarily based in Japan, but operate internationally. They were founded in the sixteenth century as a secret society of Japanese nationalist samurai but were soon co-opted by the Snakeroot, an ancient ninja clan that serves a primordial demon known only as "The Beast of the Hand". Members of the Hand are practitioners of powerful occult magic and can murder a person and bring that person back to life as a servant of the Hand, but a few are known to have reversed this programming.

Marvel Comics
Punisher #1 by Jason Aaron and Jesus Saiz

The Punisher, Frank Castle, born Francis Castiglione, is a serial killing vigilante created by Gerry Conway, John Romita Sr. and Ross Andru who first appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man in 1974. A Vietnam veteran, he is driven by the deaths of his wife and two children, who were killed by the mob for witnessing a killing in New York City's Central Park, to wage a one-man war on crime using various weapons. Now he is waging that war on supervillains using superhero and alien technology. By a group who do bear similarities to the imagery by the militia group Molon Labe that Marvel Comics sued over their use of the Punisher trademarked skull. The skull that Marvel Comics is no longer using. Or at least, not much, anyway.

Marvel Comics

Which smacks of feeding goats to the lion, rather than letting him hunt them. Is this going to backfire? Because what other hold does The Hand have on The Punisher? Well, it all goes back to the nature of the beast. And just what powers they hold. They brought back his wife. Maria Elizabeth Castle.

Marvel Comics

Complete with healed bullet wounds. Since then the series has shown how Punisher is working with The Hand to pursue his war, as well as dealing with Ares, God Of War, who is not at all happy about this,  as well as looking at Frank Castle's past as a child, and how he was tapped for service by The Hand as a child, long before the war. But in today's Punisher #9, a lot of this all comes back into focus for Frank.

Punisher Picks Up The Guns Again (Spoilers)

Remembering the past…

Punisher Picks Up The Guns Again (Spoilers)

Turning the swords back into bullets…

 

Punisher Picks Up The Guns Again (Spoilers)

Remembering who he is…

Punisher Picks Up The Guns Again (Spoilers)

While Maria Castle remembers as well…

Punisher Picks Up The Guns Again (Spoilers)

And a new confrontation with Ares…

Punisher Picks Up The Guns Again (Spoilers)

In picking up the guns. New guns. Beast-powered guns. Beast-powered bullets too, probably. Frank Castle has the gun and the sword. Which will be more powerful? It all comes to an end in January…

PUNISHER #8
MARVEL COMICS
OCT220950
(W) Jason Aaron (A) Paul Azaceta (A/CA) Jesus Saiz
Frank Castle wants to end his war once and for all. But the God of War has other ideas. And now Ares is coming for the Punisher, with an army of heavily armed Apostles at his back, looking to turn Frank back into his old self by murdering his family all over again. Parental Advisory In Shops: Dec 07, 2022 SRP: $4.99

PUNISHER #9
MARVEL COMICS
NOV220831
(W) Jason Aaron (A) Paul Azaceta (A/CA) Jesus Saiz
The epic showdown between the God of War and the Fist of the Beast. But even if the Punisher somehow survives Ares, other forces are already gathering to bring him down, once and for all. In Shops: Jan 18, 2023 SRP: $4.99

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Rich JohnstonAbout Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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