Former Punisher writer and editor Carl Potts recently explained why he believes police and military should not wear the Punisher’s iconic skull logo.
Potts expressed his opinion during an appearance on The Baron Earls Show YouTube channel hosted by former Punisher writer Mike Baron and PistolFist creator JS Earls.
Baron brought up the subject of the Punisher asking whether or not Potts had heard Punisher creator Gerry Conway’s comments about the character.
Potts replied by saying that he hadn’t heard or read Conway’s comments, but he had heard about the controversy surrounding the character’s popularity.
He said, “I know there’s been a controversy about the character’s popularity in certain ways and all that and I actually agree with some of the problems.”
“I do not think the police should be using the Punisher icon. The last thing I want my police to identify with is with a violent vigilante,” he explained. “The police are supposed to be part of the balance of power. Enforcing, not to be judge, jury, and executioner.”
“The last thing I want to see is police cars driving around with a skull emblem on it,” he asserted.
Potts then shared his opinion about the military using the symbol, “Also, even though it’s probably not quite as bad of an objection, I don’t think the military should be using. That skull emblem, strictly related to the military, its biggest connection would be with the SS. And I don’t want our soldiers being associated with the SS.”
“And a big part of what helped win the peace in World War II was GIs being generous with the locals with their handing out Hershey bars, and Spam, and all that,” he elaborated. “The idea of some GI trying to be nice and hand out to kids wearing a skull it just irks me.”
Not only would Potts explain why he objects to police and military wearing the symbol, but he also provided his thoughts on how he envisioned the Punisher.
He began, “My take on the character was that he was an obsessed individual who his family had been rubbed out by the mob and he felt extreme guilt for not having protected his family.”
“So he had this sort of death wish and he took on not just the people who were immediately responsible for his family’s death, but he kept taking on more violent criminals,” Potts said.
He elaborated, “He took no satisfaction in it. He never kicked back with a beer after a mission accomplished and felt accomplished or anything like that. It was just on to the next one, on to the next one.”
“At some point, he’d be killed or maimed and be rewarded for what he should have been rewarded with for failing to protect his family,” he proclaimed.
“And he usually denied himself any personal interactions with others because on the few times he would do that inevitably they would meet a horrible fate because of their association with him,” he detailed.
“It was like a cathartic ride for viewers because the character got to do things that we can’t do in real life which is go after some of these violent criminals that somehow escape the justice system and things like that,” he stated.
He continued, “I never thought that anybody should ever emulate this character in any way shape or form any more than I thought a kid should tie a towel around their neck and drop off the roof and think they’re Superman.”
He went on to detail how he would respond to people who wanted to emulate the Punisher, “But once in a blue moon I’d get a letter from someone saying, ‘Oh. I love the Punisher. I want to be just like him.’ And I’d roll my eyes and I’d stop whatever it was I was doing and I’d write them back and explain to them that this is a miserable human being who hardly ever solves any problems.”
“More often than not he just gets involved with or perpetuates or starts ongoing cycles of violence,” he said. “And he takes no joy in life. Anybody he gets close to is usually not long for this world. Why on earth would you ever want to be like this character?”
“What worried me is that for every person that wrote in, said something like that, how many others had a similar feeling, but did not bother to write in,” he stated.
“So that’s one of the reasons I tried to make the books — anything I wrote or drew or edited — I tried to make sure they didn’t glorify or make it seem like this is someone to be emulated,” Potts concluded.
Potts had previously shared much of his opinions about the Punisher in an introduction to Steven Grant, Mike Zeck, and Mike Vosburg’s four-issue The Punisher run collected as Punisher: Circle of Blood. Potts was the editor on the book.
Potts wrote, “Obviously he’s a man obsessed. It would be one thing for him to avenge his family by killing those directly responsible for their deaths. But why does he go after all criminals?”
“He feels guilty for not being able to protect his own family. He not only needs to avenge them but he needs to be punisher for failing them,” Potts answered his own question.
He went on to elaborate, “He punishes himself by constantly putting himself into dangerous situations when he takes on criminals. This way he cannot lose–either he wins and kills more of the types who killed his family, or he gets killed pays the penalty for failing to protect his own. It’s an odd death with.
“This obsession also denies him any real life or relationships. This is also a punishment,” he asserted.