Marvel Comics continues to embrace stupidity and their latest move is a radical change to Frank Castle and The Punisher’s origins in their recent issue of Savage Avengers.
**Warning Major Spoilers for Savage Avengers #4 Below**
In this week’s Savage Avengers #4, which features the Savage Avengers team of Wolverine, Doctor Voodoo, Elektra, the Punisher, and Conan the Barbarian, Castle’s origin story is radically altered to show him using his wife as a shield during a mob hit.
The Punisher’s origin is changed by writer Gerry Duggan and artist Mike Deodato Jr., who use Conan the Barbarian villain Kulan Gath to peer inside Castle’s mind. What he sees is Castle using his wife’s body as a shield to protect himself from a flurry of bullets. Duggan’s dialogue for Kulan Gath reads, “Castle, when you heard the weapons — did you hide behind your wife? A warrior’s instinct to seek cover.” (Related: The Punisher Absolutely Savages Hydra Goons!)
Now, it’s possible Kulan Gath might have implanted the memory in Castle’s mind as he answers his own question, “No, of course not. I must have imagined that you flinched.”
In fact, Kulan Gath would even summon the likeness of Castle’s wife and his children. But as Brother Voodoo correctly surmises, they are actually Xholtan Skin-Walkers. According to Brother Voodoo Xholtan Skin-Walkers have the ability to bind themselves to their victims.
It’s more than likely these new villains summoned by Kulan Gath are based off the Navajo’s idea of a skin-walker. According to Navajo Legends, skin-walkers are a “medicine man or witch who has attained the highest level of priesthood in the tribe, but chose to use his or her power for evil by taking the form of an animal to inflict pain and suffering on others.” It appears Duggan has adapted the legend to allow the skin-walkers to take on the form of humans as well.
Frank Castle’s Origin
Frank Castle’s original origin as the Punisher appeared in Marvel Super Action #1 in a story by Archie Goodwin, Tony DeZuniga, and Rico Rival. The story shows Frank Castle alongside his wife, son, and daughter about to enjoy a nice picnic when they come across the crime syndicate of Bruno Costa torturing a man. In order to ensure there are no witnesses to their torture, the syndicate’s thugs turn their guns on Castle’s family killing them. (Related: 8 of the Most GRUESOME Punisher Kills!)
Castle’s origin would be recounted in Garth Ennis’ Punisher Max series. In Ennis’ story he doesn’t use his wife as a shield. He doesn’t have time to do so. Upon hearing the shots fired from a Thompson, he hit the ground beside his daughter, who had already “been gutshot, badly, and when she saw the things that boiled and wriggled from her belly the expression on her face was not a little girl’s.”
Frank Castle does not use his wife as a shield in order to protect himself. This is a major retcon to the character if Gerry Duggan, Mike Deodato Jr., and Marvel Comics editorial in tact. It fundamentally changes the whole outlook of the Punisher becoming the Punisher in order to seek revenge for the deaths of his family.