Marvel Comics revealed that they will be giving The Punisher a brand new skull symbol in their new Punisher series by Jason Aaron with art by Jesús Saiz and Paul Azaceta.
This new symbol comes after a campaign to “reclaim” the Punisher’s iconic symbol was launched by the character’s co-creator Gerry Conway.
Back in June 2020, Conway took to Twitter, where he announced, “I’m looking for young comic book artists of color who’d like to participate in a small fundraising project for Black Lives Matter to reclaim the Punisher skull as a symbol of justice rather than lawless police oppression. Respond and follow so we can DM.”
Conway had previously derided police and military who used the symbol. In an interview with SyFy, he stated, “To me, it’s disturbing whenever I see authority figures embracing Punisher iconography because the Punisher represents a failure of the Justice system. He’s supposed to indict the collapse of social moral authority and the reality some people can’t depend on institutions like the police or the military to act in a just and capable way.”
He continued, “The vigilante anti-hero is fundamentally a critique of the justice sysytem, an eample (sp) of social failure, so when cops put Punisher skulls on their cars or members of the military wear Punisher skull patches, they’re basically sides with an enemy of the system.”
“They are embracing an outlaw mentality. Whether you think the Punisher is justified or not, whether you admire his code of ethics, he is an outlaw. He is a criminal. Police should not be embracing a criminal as their symbol,” he asserted.
Conway then declared, “It goes without saying. In a way, it’s as offensive as putting a Confederate flag on a government building.”
“My point of view is, the Punisher is an anti-hero, someone we might root for while remembering he’s also an outlaw and criminal. If an officer of the law, representing the justice system puts a criminal’s symbol on his police car, or shares challenge coins honoring a criminal he or she is making a very ill-advised statement about their understanding of the law,” he concluded.
Marvel Comics had previously addressed this “controversy” over the Punisher’s symbol in The Punisher #13 by Matthew Rosenberg, Szymon Kudranski, Antonio Fabela, and Cory Petiti.
In that issue, The Punisher is stopped by two police officers ,who reveal that they are fans of the Punisher and believe in what he’s doing.
In response, The Punisher rips their symbols from their clothes and then tells them, “I’ll say this once, we’re not the same. You took an oath to uphold the law. You help people. I gave all that up a long time ago. You don’t do what I do. Nobody does.”
“You boys need a role mode? His name is Captain America, and he’d be happy to have you,” The Punisher stated.
Now, the entire symbol has been radically reworked as seen below in an interior page released with the announcement of the new series.
However, Marvel isn’t completely doing away with the iconic Punisher symbol. The series will be told in two parts, the present-day and flashbacks.
In fact, another interior page shows The Punisher sporting his iconic symbol.
It’s also featured on the main cover for the issue.
According to Marvel, the series itself will be 13 issues in length with each issue being “oversized to explore the past, present, and future of Frank Castle’s character and reveal where his motivations truly lie.”
As for the plot specifics, Marvel revealed, “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.”
They add, “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?”
Aaron provided some additional details, “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.”
He added, “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.”
Marvel’s Editor-in-Chief C.B. Cebulski also stated, “A few years ago, Jason Aaron came into one of our creative summits with a pitch for Frank that made our collective jaws drop. 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,” he added.
The series goes on sale sometime in March 2022.
What do you make of this new Punisher symbol as he becomes the warlord of the Hand?