Matthew Rosenberg outlines Frank Castle’s Marvel Legacy mission!

The Punisher has never been timid with his firepower. Still, give the man a bigger weapon and you can trust he’ll find a bigger target.

So goes the premise of THE PUNISHER #218! On November 15, Frank Castle dons the War Machine armor and heads off to battle. Writer Matthew Rosenberg and artist Guiu Vilanova introduce the legendary soldier to Marvel Legacy—and a classic character pulling the strings of war.

We found Matthew Rosenberg field-stripping his typewriter and asked him a few questions about the upcoming story.

Marvel.com: Can you describe both the challenges and opportunities presented by putting Frank in the War Machine armor?

Matthew Rosenberg: I think the biggest thing—and maybe what makes this so fun—will be who The Punisher is at his core. Frank Castle, more than almost every other character in the Marvel Universe, does not change. He remains The Punisher when he fights Kingpin and The Punisher when he fights Daredevil. At the end of the world, in space, after death, as a monster, he remains a constant.

So taking his persona and what that means, and changing things around him—that feels exciting to me. There is no greater force in the Marvel Universe than Frank’s desire to punish people, and we’re going to give him the means to do that on a bigger scale. So doing that, but making it still feel like The Punisher, and feel fresh all at once, that’s the challenge and the opportunity. We have this idea, one that I think seems like the logical next step to Frank’s war, and we want to make folks feel comfortable and shocked by it all at once. Should be fun.

Marvel.com: How do you approach the symbolic nature of the War Machine being passed on? Does that carry any significance in this story?

Matthew Rosenberg: This won’t be a story about Frank becoming War Machine. One of the things I love about Marvel heroes in general is how the story is never about the suit or the equipment; it’s about the people on the inside. Everyone gets new costumes every few years, new powers, but their core humanity always counts. As much as they may have tried, when other people pick up the shield, they just aren’t Cap. Even without the bow, he’s still Hawkeye. Call her Ms. Marvel, Binary, Warbird, or Captain Marvel, it’s still always about Carol.

To me, War Machine will always be Rhodey. That’s War Machine, at the heart. He feels like this idealized version of what the armed forces can be. A hero, an Avenger, someone aspirational.

Frank Castle feels almost like the inverse of that. He received a little bit of power and took it to nightmarish extremes. I’m hoping that by giving Frank the armor, we can examine Frank’s legacy, but also Rhodey’s in a way. We have seen what this armor does in the hands of a true hero, now we see what happens when someone much scarier has it.  This is a story about how The Punisher part of Frank will infect anything he touches.

Marvel.com: How does donning the armor change things for Frank? Does it change his approach?

Matthew Rosenberg: Yeah, that’s our starting point. Frank stands amongst the most dangerous men in the world with a bowie knife and a Beretta, so what happens when he has the power of a whole army at his disposal? There have always been some bad guys who he didn’t focus on—their scope seemed too big. That ends here. Nobody is safe. And we state that in a very simple way. Frank Castle goes to war with a whole country.

He won’t be reshaping the course of a neighborhood or a city, this man changes the geopolitical nature of the world through force. And what that means for the Marvel Universe could be major.

Marvel.com: This marks your first collaboration with Guiu Vilanova—how does his style aid the tone and storytelling of this book? What makes him a great choice for PUNISHER?

Matthew Rosenberg: Guiu has been amazing. His pages look so striking when the inks come in, and to me that always marks a great Punisher book—would it work in black and white? But yeah, he’s done an amazing job so far creating these epic settings and then putting this intense and intimate action inside of that. The quiet scenes feel moody, the violent scenes look crazy and explosive, and through it all he makes Frank Castle this unmovable force of nature. He has a real weight and presence on the page that I don’t think a lot of artists can pull off. I know folks will be blown away by what he’s bringing.

Marvel.com: For readers who might be considering picking up this PUNISHER series, why would you say they should follow through on that choice? For established fans, why should they stick with the book?

Matthew Rosenberg: I think the book works on a few levels by design. We want it to really have something to say about who The Punisher and what his place in the world has been and will be. And I think even if you don’t count yourself as a fan, or are a lapsed fan, an interesting character piece emerges from under all this armor. We’re telling a story about nationalism, a nation’s role as citizens of the world, war, greater and lesser evils, moral relativism, and the legacies we create and honor. There will be a lot to unpack for people interested in those discussions, I hope. It’s also about a guy in a badass mech suit blowing bad guys up.

And for longtime fans, which I consider myself, I keep hearing the same two things. The first: “You better get who Frank is and what he is about.” I think I’ve read every issue of THE PUNISHER ever. I’ve loved this character since childhood. I feel pretty confident we are being very faithful to that.

And the second thing I hear: “This better be #$!*%@& epic.” All I say to that is give us two issues. Read two issues of our book and if it doesn’t feel sufficiently #$!*%@& epic, please tell me what comics you read that do, because I want to read those.

Marvel.com: Last thing: how would you describe the tone of the book? The setting?

Matthew Rosenberg: All-out war.

Matthew Rosenberg and artist Guiu Vilanova’s THE PUNISHER #218 launches on November 15!

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See what happens as Frank Castle gets his hands on heavy duty weaponry!

Frank Castle’s always been something of a battle automaton, but with November’s PUNISHER #218, he’ll become a true war machine!

Writer Matthew Rosenberg and artist Guiu Vilanova’s Marvel Legacy series will kick off with an idea planted at the end of Secret Empire: Punisher wants to do more and S.H.I.E.L.D. wants to help him. Feeling the need to make up for following the false Steve Rogers, Castle agrees to armor up in a modified version of the War Machine suit to tackle evil on a whole new level.

We talked with Vilanova about ratcheting up the violence, designing the armor, and working with one of Marvel’s busiest writers!

Marvel.com: How was it mixing elements of the previous War Machine armors with the iconography of The Punisher to come up with something new?

Guiu Vilanova: The creative process always means good fun to me. And to mix two huge iconic elements like the Punisher’s skull and the Iron Man armor is great!

Marvel.com: Has it been difficult retaining Frank Castle’s look as he’s outfitted in this new armor?

Guiu Vilanova: Sure. It’s always difficult to keep the resemblance of a character in each and every page. But I can’t complain, it comes with the job!

Marvel.com: What’s it been like working with Matthew to create or redesign a new supporting cast around Frank?

Guiu Vilanova: To work with great artists such as Matthew is always a pleasure. It makes my job way more easy and enjoyable!

Marvel.com: Punisher’s always been violent, but with this new set of weapons, he can do that on a whole different level. How has it been working in that realm?

Guiu Vilanova: Well, it’s basically the same guy but with a “bigger gun.” But Frank’s still being Frank.

Marvel.com: Does sending Frank in with this armor mean you’ve been working on even more dangerous threats for him to face?

Guiu Vilanova: That’s top secret. You’ll have to buy the book if you want to know it. But he’s not wearing the war machine armor to fry an egg, I can tell you that.

Matthew Rosenberg and Guiu Vilanova’s PUNISHER #218 ships in on November 15!

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Writer Becky Cloonan buttons Frank up for a showdown with Face!

On October 25, the confrontation this series has been building to since issue #1 goes down. THE PUNISHER #17, written by Becky Cloonan with art by Matt Horak, sees Frank Castle in a duel to the death with Face—the demented drug kingpin with nothing to lose. And The Punisher needs to do it all in a tuxedo.

Blending in with high society, Frank must take down Face before the villain unleashes his wrath on all of New York City. We tracked down Cloonan to get her take on Frank, Face, and the Big Apple setting behind the showdown to come.

Marvel.com: What can you tease about issue #17? 

Becky Cloonan: We will see the return of a familiar Face…wink wink!

Marvel.com: Frank looks great in a tux—but what’s his method for taking on high society in this story?

Becky Cloonan: Frank handles high society with a handgun and a hail of bullets!

Marvel.com: Did Frank rent that tuxedo? Knowing him, he probably won’t be getting the deposit back…

Becky Cloonan: Frank didn’t buy the tux, but he didn’t rent it either…

Let’s just say the guy he took it from won’t be getting it back.

Marvel.com: How did it feel to take Frank so far out of his element with this book?

Becky Cloonan: It seemed fun to bring The Punisher into the one place he feels uncomfortable—the spotlight. All eyes are on him—and for a man who prefers to operate behind the scenes and out of sight…it felt great to watch him squirm a little!

Marvel.com: We get such a specifically-New York look and feel in this arc. What inspired that?

Becky Cloonan: I spent fourteen years living in New York City, Queens, and Brooklyn—so it felt so fun to revisit, and really make this arc into a love letter to the city. From the subways to Times Square, The Met to Roosevelt Island.

I wanted Punisher’s return to New York—the city of one million stories—to be one punch after another.

Grab THE PUNISHER #17, by Becky Cloonan and artist Matt Horak, on October 25!

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The remorseless vigilante ends up in the office of Marvel.com’s resident therapist.

While not actively seeing Frank Castle, better known as the violent street vigilante and wanted criminal Punisher, as a client, I am nonetheless writing up our recent encounter as a session note. I explained this to Castle as well, as I was doing it for reasons of liability—had he told me he had a plan to kill someone, I would have had to report in accordance with Tarasoff—and he consented, albeit gruffly.

During a recent blackout, Mr. Castle and this therapist spent an hour or so in lockdown in my office due to a pre-existing protocol meant to protect the staff in the case of some kind of violent event like a super powered battle in the city streets. Castle had accessed the building to find and utilize first aid supplies and his timing was “perfect” to get in before the lockdown but not get out prior to it taking place. With only the two of us locked in together, given that it was after hours, the “client” eventually began to engage the therapist.

It was clear from the outset that Mr. Castle is a skeptic when it comes to therapy. He immediately cast aspersions on the value and validity of talking therapy and insisted that some pain was not able to be gotten over. As this was not an active client but rather a heavily armed man with a skull on his shirt, and at least one still-fresh wound, I initially resisted his invitation to debate him on this topic. Over time however, it felt clear to this writer that he did not represent a danger to me and I began to question his basic assumptions about therapy, trauma, and the nature of “getting over” pain.

The Punisher #16

As Castle has been arrested multiple times and much evidence on his psychological makeup has been presented in court hearings, as well as less savory sources of information like disreputable 24 hour news therapists and true crime writers, I was fairly familiar with the basics of Castle’s transition from “average” man to the Punisher. In fact, he was—and I imagine remains—a well-studied example of vigilante psychology in most graduate programs.

While I never directly addressed the shooting deaths of his wife and kids—I did not wish to see how “far” I could take it under the circumstances—I made sure to present hypotheticals that would speak to that traumatic event as well as his time as a soldier in an active combat zone. I validated his pain and frustration with the legal system and agreed that some pain does not disappear while contesting the underlying assumptions—that pain that never goes away always feels as intense, or the same as it does from the start, that the impossibility to ever truly eliminate psychological pain means that it should not be addressed, explored, and processed, and that the inability of the justice system to work with 100% effectiveness and therapy’s lack of magical properties to simply return a person to a pre-trauma state justifies going outside the law to seek justice.

When the system override finally completed and he and I were released, it was obvious he remained skeptical. Nonetheless, I offered him a follow-up appointment with Doctors Becky Cloonan and Matt Horak, who both have significant experience working with veterans, survivors of violent trauma, and those living with survivor’s guilt. While I do not expect Frank Castle to follow through, if he does, the appointment is set for September 27 and any notes on that session will be found in the file marked PUNISHER #16.

Psy D. Candidate Tim Stevens is a Staff Therapist who has never used a weapon in anger because his remarks are so much more devastating.

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Frank Castle braves a darkened New York City with writer Becky Cloonan!

Start spreading the news…Frank Castle’s leavin’ today.

The Punisher Road Trip 2017 comes to an end in issue #14 of writer Becky Cloonan’s PUNISHER with Frank’s triumphant return home to the Big Apple as well as guest art by Kris Anka. While criminals can’t say they’ve missed his unique brand of vigilante justice, they’ve been multiplying like cockroaches in his absence and that’s something Frank can’t allow to continue.

Moreover, he’s got a citywide blackout to deal with and a key missing piece of his arsenal to find. In short, no one’s throwing a cushy homecoming party for The Punisher. We spoke with former New York resident Cloonan about Frank’s plans for shooting his way back to his rightful place as king of the hill, top of the heap.

Marvel.com: Since The Punisher is back in town, what’s his first order of business other than destroying all of the crime in NYC, that is?

Becky Cloonan: Frank is welcomed back home by a bunch of criminals, who have no doubt missed him very much! He’s no sooner back in the comfort of his own home, [when] he finds a piece from his arsenal has gone missing—and that’s how it starts. So before he does anything, he’s gotta find that gun.

Marvel.com: In that vein, what excited you most about bringing Frank back home?

Becky Cloonan: I spent 14 years living in New York, in Queens and Brooklyn respectively, before moving to Montreal and then Texas. Even though the city and I have done so much changing, I still feel like it’s a second home. So in a way, this is a homecoming for both of us. It’s been so much fun being back in the city—vicariously! [Laughs]

Marvel.com: Were you hoping to set a different tone from his time on the road? If so, can you elaborate on what that tone will feel like?

Becky Cloonan: This is The Punisher at his best, on home turf with the whole city at his disposal. He has to overcome new challenges and villains every issue, but that’s not to say he won’t see a familiar face from his time on the road…

The Punisher #14 cover by Declan Shalvey

Marvel.com: What’s changed since he’s been away? Have criminals been lulled into a false sense of security in his absence?

Becky Cloonan: Bad guys are crawling out of the woodwork! They are like cockroaches; if you see one, you can be sure there are a hundred more lurking just out of sight. Frank’s got his hands full with everything from bored teenagers to career criminals, robbers and thugs—maybe even a serial killer for good measure! There’s certainly enough crime in the Big Apple to keep Frank busy.

Marvel.com: What are the challenges Frank will face from a citywide blackout in PUNISHER #14? What are the advantages to such a situation?

Becky Cloonan: What would seem like an edge for the bad guys ends up being [an] advantage [for] Punisher. His main upper hand is the fact that the criminals think they have the upper hand. Frank uses this to his advantage. Oh, and since he wrecked his van on the last road trip, he had to get a new car. It’s a lot of fun!

Marvel.com: Are any of his experiences away from the city haunting him or impeding his ability to fight?

Becky Cloonan: One thing I love about Frank is that he’s not trying to save the world. To be honest, I don’t even think he’s trying to save the city. He doesn’t need to protect anyone or anything. Instead, The Punisher is driven by an urge to destroy. It’s this instinct that led him to chase his enemies up north and made him face his darker nature. If anything, he’s even more of a force to be reckoned with now that he’s back home. The Punisher is like a Jason Voorhees that only kills criminals, and he revels in it.

Marvel.com: Will Frank be staying in New York for the foreseeable future?

Becky Cloonan: He used all his vacation days on his trip up north, so yeah, I think he’s gonna stick around for a bit.

Lock and load with THE PUNISHER #14 by Becky Cloonan and Kris Anka, available July 26!

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Kris Anka brings Frank Castle home in an exclusive sketchbook!

In a lot of ways, New York City made Frank Castle the man he is today. In THE PUNISHER #13, he’ll return home to continue keeping families safe from the kind of tragedy he suffered all those years ago.

After sending Frank on a series of adventures across the American Northeast, series writer Becky Cloonan and guest artist Kris Anka plan to welcome The Punisher back with all the flair, violence and bloodshed you’d expect! With the issue hitting on June 28, we talked with Anka about his love of the character, returning Castle to the city that never sleeps, and developing his targets with Cloonan.

Marvel.com: The last issue of STAR-LORD hit not too long ago. Is it a big transition going from a series like that to PUNISHER?

Kris Anka: Sort of, not really. It’s no secret that the PUNISHER MAX series by Garth Ennis is one of my favorite [comics] of all time, so I’ve definitely always itched to draw a Punisher book. Thankfully, I finally got to scratch that itch. The fun part was I was able to stretch muscles I’ve never gotten to really play with before. There was a fair amount of me just cutting loose and experimenting with things on this issue that helped make it fresh for me and [embraced] the tonal shift between this book and STAR-LORD.

Marvel.com: What are the key visual and physical elements in capturing Frank Castle?

Kris Anka: The word I kept going back to with Frank was “foreboding.” I wanted the character oozing intimidation as soon as he steps in to the room. There are a lot of scenes in this issue of Frank walking up to people, and I wanted the terror of Frank to be immediate and believable. A lot of what went to this was hiding Frank in shadow a lot; not seeing everything helped to shape him more of a force of nature rather [than] just a human.

Marvel.com: Becky Cloonan is an artist as well as a writer. Does that come across in her scripts or your communications with her about the story?

Kris Anka: There is a conciseness to her scripts that helps convey just enough for me to picture what she has in mind. However, there is still enough wiggle room for me to really make the pages my own without feeling like I’m stepping on someone’s creative toes.

Marvel.com: This issue finds Punisher back in New York City. How does operating in his home town change the way Frank does his business?

Kris Anka: Yeah there is sort of an ease to it. These are environments Frank is comfortable in so he doesn’t have to constantly be on edge and looking over his shoulder. This is his home, and he’s here to remind everyone of it.

Marvel.com: Can you talk about any of the targets Frank will be aiming for? What’s the design process like for developing them? 

Kris Anka: The targets this issue are mostly normal people, people who have forgotten about Frank. Something that was fun I got to play with was rather than making Frank be full on attack [instead] keeping him reserved. Playing with less is more, that it doesn’t take a lot to remind them of who Frank is and why they should be afraid.

Frank Castle heads back to the Big Apple in THE PUNISHER #13 by Becky Cloonan and Kris Anka on June 28!

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After getting tangled up with The Punisher, the DEA rep faces suspension!

Agent Ortiz, the client in question, reported for her debrief on time and appropriately attired for the session. She initially presented as respectful to the therapist’s position and the circumstances that had brought her to the office. However, as the session progressed, she became increasingly angry, dispirited, and disinterested in participating in a manner that the DEA would consider “helpful.”

At the heart of the client’s suspension and her anger is her involvement with a case that put her in contact with the violent criminal “vigilante” known as The Punisher, Frank Castle.

The client asserted to this writer that she began her career as an idealistic and rule adhering agent. A quick review of her file seems to reflect these assertions. Up until this current case, the client followed protocol well, seemed highly committed to the DEA’s mission statement, and delivered on several cases assigned to her.

In the course of working this case, however, she has acted in a way contrary to the oath she has sworn to uphold the law and to the standards and practices of the DEA. In her zeal for what she described as justice, she aligned herself with Castle on a dangerous and unsanctioned maneuver that resulted in the death of her partner, the decimation of a long-running operation, and the escape of The Punisher.

The client, however, generally refuses to accept responsibility for her actions or acknowledge her errors. Instead, she has outwardly directed her feelings, converting them mostly to anger and grief, and focusing all of them on Punisher.

Despite the terms she agreed to in her suspension, this writer must advise the DEA to monitor her closely. Everything about her presentation and what she disclosed suggests she has no intention of adhering to the agreement and plans to pursue Castle immediately with a focus firmly not on justice but revenge.

Given her level of animosity, clearly unstated and unaddressed negative emotions, and possible evidence of trauma reactive decision making, this writer is referring the client for further therapy from Doctor Becky Cloonan on March 15. The treatment note can be found in the file PUNISHER #10 if the client does attend. This writer warns, however, that this seems unlikely at this juncture.

Psy D. Candidate Tim Stevens is a Staff Therapist who is also a loose cannon that gets the job done.

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Condor's right hand man and Punisher's latest target gets profiled!

Before beginning, this writer must stress that I am ethically unable to estimate future dangerousness without meeting with the subject first in person. This additionally complicated by a significant lack of secondary sources. In fact, there is such a limited amount of information on the person in question, this writer can only refer to him as what must no doubt be a nickname, “Face.” Therefore, while the writer in question is fulfilling this contractual obligation, he must reiterate his concerns about this report being taken as anything more than an intellectual exercise.

Based on limited accounts, Face is an adult male in above average physical health. He typically presents as calm, collected, and confident and rarely, if ever, is dressed in anything but a tailored suit.

This description, however, runs afoul of other descriptions given of the character. These describe him as engaging in significant expressions of his temper. According to these reports, he is violent in a manner that can only be described as nearly unbelievable.

This writer tentatively offers these very different descriptions of the subject could be owed to drug use. Considering the business that he allegedly is engaged and the rumors regarding EMC and its effects, Face’s behaviors and abilities are consistent with someone taking a limited dose of the substance. Given how far into speculation we already are, it is truly impossible to speak to if the subject has a dependence to EMC or not.

What all accounts do seem to agree on is that Face presents with a lack of empathy towards others and a seeming delight in enacting his boss’s will, which usually involves criminal matters, and often those matters involve the death or destruction of human life. This would seem to indicate Face has a diagnosis of Antisocial Personality Disorder. While this can eliminate things like concern for others—and advantage in a criminal enterprise to be sure—it can also make him reckless which may also explain the drug use.

There are also rumors that Face takes trophies which would make him unique and uniquely dangerous. While those with APD do not experience empathy as most do and do not have the sort of instinctual drive to follow the law, they also are not typically violent. That Face is—and takes pride in that violence—places him in a rarified and dangerous subset of the population.

If these speculations are at all accurate, this would mean Face is a trained professional criminal whose abilities are often enhanced and judgment interfered with by substance abuse. He lacks empathy for even those he works with and is prone to attacks of violence including the taking of trophies. Finally, if estimates on Condor’s reputation and wealth are accurate, Face could theoretically be in charge of a collection of henchmen and weaponry equal to an army.

As such, this writer would recommend extreme care if and when the subject is approached.

Doctors Becky Cloonan and Steve Dillon have an additional report on the subject which will be available for review on August 3 under the file name PUNISHER #4.

Psy D. Candidate Tim Stevens is an Outpatient Therapist who keeps trophies as well. Trophies from his total dominance of the POG circuit that is.

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Steve Dillon returns to Frank Castle!

The one-man war on crime is reforged, reloaded and reenergized, this April!

Frank Castle is back to wreak havoc on the underworld of the Marvel Universe once more in
THE PUNISHER #1! Writer Becky Cloonan teams with legendary Punisher artist Steve Dillon for a new take and a new beginning for Frank – and a violent ending for all those standing in his way!

A by-the-numbers drug bust is about to take Frank Castle by surprise – and he hates surprises. There’s a new drug hitting the streets, one that has the ability to create unstable super soldiers. As the threads begin to pull loose, the man behind the drug’s startling connection to The Punisher is revealed. An old associate from Frank’s military days has resurfaced. But as he follows the trail of drugs and bodies deeper and deeper into the Northeast’s heart of darkness, has Frank Castle truly met his match?

Mobsters, villains and drug runners beware – Frank Castle is back…and he’s coming for you. Be there for the new beginning as Cloonan and Dillon take Frank Castle out of his comfort zone and to the edge of the world he thought he knew in
THE PUNISHER #1!


THE PUNISHER #1 (MAR160728)
Written by BECKY CLOONAN
Art by STEVE DILLON
Cover by DECLAN SHALVEY
Variant Covers by ALEX MALEEV (MAR160731)
SKOTTIE YOUNG (MAR160732), JOHN TYLER CHRISTOPHER (MAR160730)
Hip-Hop Variant by TIM BRADSTREET (MAR160729)
Age of Apocalypse Variant by CHRIS STEVENS (MAR160733)
Black Panther 50th Anniversary Variant by PHIL NOTO (MAR160734)
Captain America 75th Anniversary Variant by JOHN CASSADAY (MAR160735)
FOC – 04/11/16, On-Sale – 05/04/15

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