Marvel Comics writer David Pepose, who takes on a new Punisher series, recently revealed one of his goals for the series is to “reimagine and revamp some very cool preexisting villains.”

Punisher #1 Cover Art by Mico Suayan (2023), Marvel Comics

It was announced at San Diego Comic-Con that Pepose would launch a new Punisher series; however, it would not feature Frank Castle as the Punisher, but would introduce a new Punisher named Joe Garrison, a former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent.

Marvel originally teased the series writing in a blog post, “In this action-packed new PUNISHER saga, Frank Castle has disappeared, but evil will always need to be punished. With all-new threats rising to claim innocent victims, criminals will need to beware of a dangerous vigilante hunting them from the shadows. Enter a new Punisher: retired S.H.I.E.L.D. black ops agent Joe Garrison. But what brings him back into action? What put Joe Garrison on his path of vengeance? And when the smoke clears, will he even make it out alive?”

Joe Garrison as the Punisher character design

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Now, in an interview with CBR, Pepose provided more details about the series including a number of goals he has for the series and how Joe Garrison is different yet similar to Frank Castle.

Interestingly, Pepose revealed that the idea of Joe Garrison becoming the Punisher was not his idea, but was Marvel editor Tom Brevoort’s as he explained how the Punisher mantle is not something that Joe Garrison takes up, but something that finds him, “I think there’s a degree of finding one’s identity in Joe’s overarching story. While this character has a very particular set of skills, the throughline of our story is about Joe coming to terms with the Punisher mantle — it’s not always a legacy that you adopt. Sometimes it’s a legacy that finds you.”

Punisher #1 (2023), Marvel Comics

Pepose went on to reveal that regardless of who takes on the Punisher mantle it does require certain traits, ” I do think there are some core traits that embody any character who takes on the Punisher’s mantle. There’s the grittiness and relentlessness. There are the all-too-human vulnerabilities that enhance the stakes, balanced by the deadly skills, arsenal of weapons, and willingness to sacrifice himself that let the Punisher take on enemies way outside of his weight class — even if that means taking some serious hits along the way.”

He added, “Ultimately, I think there has to be a degree of personal tragedy that spurs this character on their mission, but I also think it’s a bit of a Rorschach test in how that mission is defined and pursued by each character, and that’s something I’m really excited to explore with Joe Garrison’s journey.”

Punisher #1 (2023), Marvel Comics

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As for what that personal tragedy is, Pepose revealed, “Back in the day, Joe was an incredibly deadly wetworks agent known only in the most shadowy corners as “the Gravedigger of S.H.I.E.L.D.” But after years of getting his hands dirty for Marvel’s leading spy network, Joe retired to pursue the call of family.”

He continued, “Unfortunately for Joe, someone just blew up his house with that family still inside of it, and the police are inclined to think the husband did it. With a manhunt out for his arrest, Joe is going to have to find out who set him up, but as he’ll discover, that mission may have some evolving parameters.”

Punisher #1 (2023), Marvel Comics

While this sounds extremely similar to Frank Castle’s background, Pepose did elaborate on the differences he sees between Garrison and Castle, “On the one hand, Joe is certainly no stranger to death and destruction, given the bloody jobs he used to execute for S.H.I.E.L.D. back in the day, but I’d say, unlike Frank Castle, Joe hasn’t had the time to marinate in his tragedy. That allows readers to really follow Joe’s mindset as he undertakes this mission. By the time we met Frank Castle, he’d already decided to become the Punisher. For Joe, this decision might take some time.”

He then shared the two approach criminals differently, “But I think even the way Joe approaches a situation tactically might differ from how Frank might have done it. I liken Frank to a wrecking ball, whereas Joe is all about finesse. Joe is the kind of guy who darts through crowds of enemies, meticulously picking them off one at a time in what looks almost like a beautifully choreographed way — I mean, if you’re not on the receiving end of those S.H.I.E.L.D. guns, of course. [Laughs]”

Punisher #1 (2023), Marvel Comics

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Pepose then revealed he plans to reimagine a number of villains as Garrison attempts to track down the person responsible for killing his family, “We’ll see in our first issue that Joe is hot on the trail of the man who blew up his house. Of course, this guy is going to throw some pretty harrowing obstacles in Joe’s path, in which we’ll get to see our new Punisher show his mettle.”

“Without spoiling too much, my goals for the Punisher are to reimagine and revamp some very cool preexisting villains from across the Marvel Universe while also giving him some brand-new bad guys to call his own. It’s not to say that Joe won’t be killing some very deserving people, but as he’ll be the first to tell you, there are some punishments that are far worse than death,” he revealed.

Punisher #1 Cover Art by Mico Suayan (2023), Marvel Comics

Not only will these villains be reimagined, but Marvel made sure to put the character under the thumb of a woman. Pepose shared, “Triple-A is Joe’s handler from his S.H.I.E.L.D. days, and she serves as the Woman in the Chair for Joe’s missions as he seeks to avenge his family. Triple-A follows in the footsteps that Microchip did once upon a time.”

He elaborated, “Not only does she outfit Joe with his weaponry as his Q, but she also provides him with breaking intel that lets readers get to follow along with all the cool bad guys we’re throwing into the mix. But more importantly, Triple-A allows us to have a degree of warmth and humor that Joe’s mission might not otherwise allow us to have.”

The Punisher MAX #6 (2004), Marvel Comics

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It’s unclear why anyone would purchase this series after the first issue. The entire series as described by Pepose in this interview and how it was initially announced at San Diego Comic-Con appears it’s just a derivative version of Frank Castle.

Not only does Garrison sound like a derivative version of Castle, but, of course, Marvel has to push the demasculinization and demoralization narrative with having Garrison report to a woman.  It’s also not hard to imagine that they “very cool preexisting villains” will be reimagined to fit the same demoralization narrative. Furthermore, we don’t know what kind of “family” Joe Garrison has. One can only imagine it fits the agenda.

Readers looking for new Punisher stories are probably better served diving back into their long boxes and reading the classic The Punisher War Journal stories or Garth Ennis’ Punisher Max.

Frank Castle as the Punisher in Punisher War Journal #53 (1993), Marvel Comics

What do you make of Pepose’ revelation about the upcoming Punisher series?

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    John F. Trent
    Founder and Editor-in-Chief

    John is the Editor-in-Chief here at Bounding Into Comics. He is a massive Washington Capitals fan, lover of history, and likes to dabble in economics and philosophy.