The new preview for The Punisher #10 asks a question and there’s an answer that should seem obvious. Although, it’s hard to say what we will actually get.
Panels from: Punisher: War Zone #5 (Greg Rucka + Carmine Di Giandomenico).
C’mon now, Mitch Gerads.
It’s his recycling his own art this time, rather than someone else’s, but for a main cover to repurpose a page that was used heavily as advertisement during the promotion for this run? It’s noticeably lazy and a bit on the questionable side.
Nope, it’s 616! The Punisher MAX run “ended” with Aaron’s run (there are some oneshots aside but Aaron’s finale was very… final). The main rule of thumb to know is that MAX is isolated and has no superpowered heroes in it. This series by Edmondson is 616, with the rest of the Marvel U (Electro, Natasha, etc).
"You’re not in the Marines now, but you’ve obviously been in combat. Fallujah? Marjah?"
"Both. I’m still fighting. Just at home. I make sure nothing slips through the cracks."
The Punisher #8
Kevin Maurer, Nathan Edmondson, + Carmen Carnero
Unless I’m mistaken somehow (feel free to let me know), here’s a funny thing: this dates Frank as being rebooted as tremendously early in his career as the Punisher. The First and Second Battle of Fallujah was 2004. Operation Moshtarak in Marjah was 2010. If Frank was still serving as a Marine at this time, this dates Frank Castle as only operating as the Punisher for (about) four years.
This may explain some of Frank’s odd characterization during this run. Aging down the character seems inescapable, given how comics work, and even Rucka touched on this briefly. However, it also has implications: if Frank has been active for only four years now, how does that tie in with his impact across the universe? The time spent developing a reputation or crossing paths with other Marvel Universe characters?
The other implication, if this isn’t a reboot, could be that Frank shipped himself into overseas conflicts to assist on his own terms. Which would be an interesting concept to explore — but that requires more attention than a casual namedrop.
If you read the recap pages — I know a lot of people gloss over them — the recap pages in “War Zone” actually are part of the story. There’s information in those recap pages that set up future issues and where this thing is going. So, you ignore it at your peril. Matt Murdock is mentioned in there as well. He’s being mentioned for a reason.
Greg Rucka on the recap pages of Punisher: War Zone 1-5
As discussed once before, this is an interesting extra bit of information. It carries on the plot thread that started in The Omega Effect crossover, where Matt Murdock reaches out to Rachel. He continues in his effort to help her by working as her attorney, hoping to do for her what he could not do for Frank. It also continues to reference the relationship between Rachel and Norah Winters, who is credited to be writing these ‘articles’ in Rachel’s defense.
It acknowledges that Rachel has her own small circle of attachments in the Marvel Universe; her own connections to build off of. She is not solely linked to Frank Castle alone, and there is potential in those relationships, should she ever be acknowledged by a writer again.
I don’t know what you’re up against, but take it from me— don’t let your emotions lead the way.
Black Widow #9 + The Punisher #9
Nathan Edmondson, Phil Noto, + Mitch Gerads
Funnily enough, this recent crossover between both of Edmondson’s on-goings features the trend that this blog has been covering in the past week: Frank stopping heroes from taking a steps towards violence or lethality.
It’s a common assumption that Frank and Natasha have an involved history, but that isn’t exactly true. The two interact a decent amount, having a few run-ins over the years and having shared that rocky union of the vaguely unnamed Marvel Knights team. However, any real back-and-forth between the two has not deeply been explored. This short crossover doesn’t do much to change that; the two pass ways then carry on, which is expected from both their current narratives at this point.
The most recent time they crossed paths was Rucka’s Punisher: War Zone, where Natasha pursued Frank in attempt to bring him to justice — though Frank escapes her. It may be intentionally making a callback, and it may simply be coincidental, but Natasha finally settles that score, and turns Frank in at the end of this brief encounter.
You’re hurtin’ a lot right now, Murdock, with good reason. But you don’t want to be me. You needed to remember that.
Ed Brubaker + Michael Lark
In the continuing saga of Frank looking out for others, the most involved example is The Devil in Cell Block D arc. Frank goes out of his way to get himself arrested so he can watch over Matt in prison. He recognizes the amount of darkness in Matt’s life, the potential in him to resort to murder, and stands on his side against it.
Frank and Matt have a tense and often hostile relationship, but there is no hate involved. Like fellow soldiers, Frank respects anyone who stands a stand as a hero, and he does not advocate his level of violent abandon. While he may express frustration when Matt interferes with his work (which is often), the last thing he wants is for Matt — or anyone — to be like him.
Lower the shield, man! Just walk away! Or you can never go back… and it’s lonely as hell once you get here! There’s nothing… but the cold satisfaction of punishment!
Every war I’ve gone into I’ve watched the symbols behind them all fail in the heat of battle. There aren’t many things left to believe in… don’t take away one more.
Punisher / Captain America: Blood & Glory #3
Daniel G. Chichester, Margaret Clark, + Klaus Janson
The more commonly established dynamic between Frank and Steve is that Frank openly (to varying degrees) confesses to admire Steve, and will follow him as a soldier. Rather than this worshipful sort of dynamic, Blood & Glory took a little different take, where their relationship is more of two very different soldiers: representing their respective wars and having friction as a result. They smart mouth each other, and Frank especially gets after Steve, calling him things like “G. I. Joe” and a “smart-lipped star spangled son of a—” but the admiration still remains in less obvious ways.
At the end of the conflict of this arc, Steve catches and assaults the traitor responsible. While Steve does not intend to resort to murder, Frank sees the potential when he finds the two together, and he fears Steve will cross a line. He entreats him to stop, for Steve’s own sake, and also partially for himself; he believes in the symbol of what Captain America is. Despite how he criticized Steve through this arc, nitpicking away at their different points of view, at the end of it all, Frank admires what Steve is. He believes in him. Which means a great deal, considering just who it’s coming from.