Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon bring Frank back to basics!

Get fired up for the November 17 debut of “Marvel’s The Punisher” on Netflix by exploring some of Frank Castle’s darkest, deadliest moments.

Nearly 30 years after his first appearance, it seemed as though The Punisher had seen and done it all. He began as a pawn of The Jackal, then went on to become the scourge of the underworld and the driving force behind three ongoing series throughout the ‘80s and early ‘90s. Despite this success, he fell slightly out of favor (compared to the highs of his heyday), during the late 1990s.

Then came writer Garth Ennis and artist Steve Dillon, launching Frank Castle into a new era of storytelling. Their first 12 issue run on THE PUNISHER kicked off in 2000 and quickly become one of the most popular Marvel Knights books around.

Punisher (2000) #1

Punisher (2000) #1

  • Published: April 01, 2000
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: October 24, 2007
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As retribution his past deeds, a group of angels briefly showed Frank his family in heaven before casting him back to Earth. “The angels thought it would be hell for me. But they were wrong,” Frank grimaced—Ennis’ way of saying that readers would be in for a whole different level of insanity with this new take on the character!

Frank got to work cleaning up the city, bringing him into contact with a wild and memorable group of characters, from the people in the building he lived in, to the hapless Detective Soap, to enemies like Ma Gnucci and The Russian.

Punisher (2000) #2

Punisher (2000) #2

  • Published: May 10, 2000
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: October 24, 2008
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Presented with the perfect level of action, humor, and violent insanity for a character like The Punisher, Ennis and Dillon excelled at putting this one man army into situations that seemed impossible to escape—and having him come out on top. A classic underdog, their version of The Punisher also had a serious mean streak.

Despite this, it’s important to see how Castle separates himself from the other lunatics that inhabit his world. Upon meeting vigilantes like The Holy, Elite, and Payback, Punisher identified them as wildly reckless with innocent lives. He immediately refused their offer to lead their squad…and then opened fire.

Punisher (2000) #3

Punisher (2000) #3

  • Published: June 10, 2000
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: October 24, 2008
What is Marvel Unlimited?

Ennis and Dillon then launched the PUNISHER ongoing series in 2001 under the Marvel Knights umbrella, which continued their brilliant take on the character with other artists like Tom Mandrake and John McCrea. In 2006, the title moved to the Marvel MAX imprint, where it ran for another 75 issues.

War Journal

Written by Christopher Golden and Tom Sniegoski with art by legendary horror artist Bernie Wrightson, the 1998 PUNISHER series kicked off with a confused Punisher living in the streets and giving help to those who needed it most. This interpretation of Frank, however, boasted glowing eyes, a strange symbol on his forehead, and the ability to pull any gun imaginable out of his trench coat! He got these perfectly Punisher mystical abilities by once being resurrected by an angel in order to continue fighting criminals, and now demons, alike.

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Frank Castle's empire of violence expands!

Get fired up for the November 17 debut of “Marvel’s The Punisher” on Netflix by exploring some of Frank Castle’s darkest, deadliest moments.

A darker tone and the rise of antiheroes changed the landscape of comic books during the late 1980s and early 1990s. And no character met the demands of the new trend better than Frank Castle.

In 1987, writer Mike Baron and artist Klaus Janson launched the character’s first ongoing series with THE PUNISHER. Baron wrote the first 63 issues, joined by a host of artists including, most notably, Whilce Portacio and Erik Larsen.

The series proved popular enough that The Punisher earned a spinoff series, called PUNISHER: WAR JOURNAL, in 1988. In its early issues, Frank learned that a mobster named Hector Montoya set up the attack that led to the death of Castle’s family. During his first stay at Ryker’s Island, Frank actually fought alongside Montoya, without knowing that his orders were the ones that changed his life forever.

Punisher War Journal (1988) #1

Punisher War Journal (1988) #1

  • Published: November 10, 1988
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: September 10, 2008
  • Writer: Carl Potts
What is Marvel Unlimited?

When Montoya got released from prison, The Punisher proved his title to be true, exacting his revenge for the loss of his wife and children. The early WAR JOURNAL issues also included meet-ups with Daredevil, flashbacks to Vietnam, and even a fight-turned-team-up with Wolverine!

Chuck Dixon, John Romita Jr., and Klaus Janson then launched the third Castle-centric book with THE PUNISHER: WAR ZONE in 1992, capturing the look and feel of the era’s action films—plenty of hard-edged heroes mixing it up in gloriously choreographed, explosive violence.

The Punisher: War Zone (1992) #1

The Punisher: War Zone (1992) #1

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Each of these three series came to their respective ends in 1995, culminating in one story called “Countdown,” running through PUNISHER #103, WAR JOURNAL #79, WAR ZONE #41, PUNISHER #104, and WAR JOURNAL #80. Dixon wrote the crossover, tearing Castle’s world apart and setting him up to be brainwashed in DOUBLE EDGE: ALPHA and DOUBLE EDGE: OMEGA, which led to him murdering Nick Fury!

War Journal

Not one to stay down for long, Castle returned later that same year in a new volume of PUNISHER, this time written by John Ostrander. In this story, rather than aiming to destroy the mob, Frank actually took charge of one himself! The series also saw The Punisher go head-to-head with Jigsaw, S.H.I.E.L.D., Daredevil, and even the X-Cutioner!

Come back next week to see how Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon relaunched The Punisher!

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Review Frank Castle’s very first limited series!

Get fired up for the November 17 debut of “Marvel’s The Punisher” on Netflix by exploring some of Frank Castle’s darkest, deadliest moments.

Frank Castle had already made a name for himself in the criminal underworld by the time he saw his solo series debut. In the 1986 five part story PUNISHER, street-level and super villains alike knew the inevitable result of seeing that iconic skull: blood.

The series, by writer Steven Grant (with assistance from Jo Duffy in the last issue) and artists Mike Zeck and Mike Vos, started out with The Punisher getting locked up at Ryker’s Island. Frank caught a break, however, when a breakout occurred and he met a new group called the Trust. The Trust, comprised of supposedly concerned citizens, had money and a desire to clean the streets of crime.

Punisher (1986) #1

Punisher (1986) #1

  • Published: January 10, 1986
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: June 06, 2012
What is Marvel Unlimited?

The group’s leader, Alaric, arranged Castle’s freedom so that he could continue his personal mission and help the Trust along the way. Frank began working again, though found himself in need of assistance when his Battlevan mysteriously exploded.

At this same time, New York City plunged into an all-out mob war after the apparent death of The Kingpin, Wilson Fisk. Normally, Frank wouldn’t have a problem with a gang versus gang showdown doing his work for him, but too many innocent people got hurt in the crossfire.

Punisher (1986) #2

Punisher (1986) #2

  • Published: February 10, 1986
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: June 06, 2012
What is Marvel Unlimited?

The Trust maintained their relationship with Frank throughout the war—and even introduced him to a new romantic partner named Angela. While The Punisher tried working towards a peace agreement between the fighting gangs, a new mob boss named Coriander set up another gang of assassins. After facing off against Coriander and his goon squad, the villain revealed that he actually worked for the Trust! And moments later, Angela appeared and attempted to kill Frank!

In response, The Punisher took his fight to the leader, Alaric. As their final encounter came to a close, with Alaric dead to rights, Frank told the man to alert the journalist Ben Urich of all his dirty dealings. In exchange for Alaric’s confession, Castle spared him his life.

Punisher (1986) #3

Punisher (1986) #3

  • Published: March 10, 1986
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: June 06, 2012
What is Marvel Unlimited?

War Journal

This limited series makes a few references to Frank Castle’s previous stint in Ryker’s, which ended when he went on a drug-fueled rampage. For that story, check out SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #81, #82, and #83. Frank uses Boomerang’s skills to help break him out of prison, then goes off his rocker, attacking every kind of criminal—from actual bad guys to litterers!

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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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Howard the Duck, Deadpool and Punisher are featured in the new gear.

Rap juggernauts Run The Jewels have just unveiled an expansive collection of goods produced in collaboration with Marvel. The new items reimagine the duo’s iconic imagery in the context of the Marvel Comics universe, including a variety of shirt designs, keychains, and more. The initial items are available at the group’s webstore (runthejewelsstore.com) with some items exclusively available to purchase at stops along Run the Jewels’ ongoing Run The World tour.

For a look at the initial Run the Jewels/Marvel product take a look at the gallery above, which includes items featuring Deadpool, Howard the Duck and the Punisher.

This is not the first time Run the Jewels and Marvel have crossed paths, as the Run the Jewels logo was the inspiration for several Marvel variant covers beginning in 2015, and the duo also appeared on an episode of This Week in Marvel. This year, a Run the Jewels song — “Legend Has It” — was featured in the teaser trailer for Marvel Studios’ Black Panther.

The hip hop phenomenon known as Run the Jewels continues to roll its way into the hearts & minds of fans worldwide. Following the release of their breakthrough new album RTJ3, the duo continue to make a thrilling impact on the landscape of music & culture. From main stage festival heroes to media darlings, groundbreaking artists to digital mavericks, serial entrepreneurs to presidential surrogates, Run the Jewels have arrived. The group just released a new song, “Mean Demeanor” for the FIFA ’18 video game, which is also featured in the TV ad starring Cristiano Ronaldo. Their latest U.S. tour kicked off Oct 5th in Houston, TX, and includes a taping of the legendary ACL TV show.

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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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Goran Parlov on re-enlisting with Frank Castle.

Before the skull, Frank Castle shipped off for Vietnam where his life changed forever. Surrounded by blood and death, the man who would become the Punisher witnessed the cruelty and awfulness the world had to offer, but also the power of violence.

Garth Ennis and Goran Parlov plan to explore these facets of Frank even further in the pages of the long-awaited, PUNISHER: THE PLATOON, debuting in October.

We talked with Parlov about tackling each script, drawing inspiration from everyday life and constructing a pre-Punisher Frank Castle.

Marvel.com: What is it about Frank Castle and his world that keeps capturing your imagination as an artist? 

Goran Parlov: I love the fact that he acts like a robot – the Terminator. Matter of fact, in the first issues I pictured him as the Terminator. He’s all business, emotionless… Or at least it appears so.

He works in binary code, 1 or 0, plus or minus…guilty or not guilty, as simple as that. I love his steady, emotionless face, but with eyes that burn – the stare that scares you.

I took that from “The Terminator.” The way Arnie stares at us, with that red eye. Wow, thats’s it, you just freeze! It’s even better when the endoskeleton does that. Frank, in my version, acts like the Terminator, thinks like him, walks like him.

Frank is the Terminator for me. Maybe the fact that I’d been working on the Terminator books right before I started my run on the PUNISHER MAX had some influence on me. Yeah, I am a big fan of the Terminator and it was just easy for me to adapt the things from the movies into the Punisher books.

Marvel.com: You mentioned that you often laugh when reading Garth’s scripts. How do you translate that reaction on your part onto the page?

Goran Parlov: It is very positive thing for me. It means that the thing works. If I am the first to laugh, I know many others will too.

Usually I never read the whole script. I read it as any other reader, page by page, day after day. This way I allow the script to surprise me. And the emotions it gives me in that moment, I put them on the page right away. It’s very immediate.

If I read the whole script, later I would only remember the emotions from when I first read it, not really feeling them. Yeah, sometimes I laugh, sometimes I am disgusted, some other time it’s something else. But I always like to use those immediate emotions that the script gives me.

Marvel.com: This is a pre-Punisher Frank Castle, so what sets him apart from his skull-wearing future self?

Goran Parlov: This is a Frank Castle before the “anger.” Before his family has been killed. So here he doesn’t carry that frustration with him.

I hope that will be noticeable.

Marvel.com: Your characters are so expressive. How do you achieve that? Is it purely out of your imagination and sketching?

Goran Parlov: Yes, for the most part. The rest comes from observing the world. Or TV. Or magazines. Or comic books. The important part is not to observe comic books only.

Marvel.com: Do you use a mirror or photo reference of yourself?

Goran Parlov: No, I never had that habit. I don’t even own a small mirror. I use photo references a lot, but I don’t copy them. It’s rare for me to find a photo that is exactly what I need. It’s almost a curse. Happens that I always have to draw an object from a slightly different angle than it is on a photo, so that excludes copying the photo. In almost 90% of cases it’s like that. I have the exact image in my head, and I don’t want to change the image just because the object on a photo is taken from a different angle. So I render the things in my head and draw them from the angle I want.

Marvel.com: Do you use in-person models or get your hands on physical objects for reference?

Goran Parlov: I don’t. Think I would feel uncomfortable having one in my studio. Or, at least not really focused on work.

As for weapon models, etc., I don’t have them. The only models I have are one Dodge Charger from “The Dukes of Hazzard” and a Ford Capri, a car owned by my father and still in my garage. And a Tin Tin rocket model! Two of them! A bigger one and a smaller one. I did a variation of that rocket in my Starlight book. The Dodge Charger, I used it in my Terminator book. I really like that car, but it was way before I bought the actual model. I love cars. And my dream would be a Punisher book with lots of cars. Something like The Punisher meets “Mad Max 2,” one of my all-time favorite movies.

Actually, now I remember… I had a small endoskeleton model that I borrowed from my friend. I used it a lot while working on The Terminator. And I took a hundreds of photos of it.

Marvel.com: What sort of approach did you take on character design for this book? It takes place in both the past and the present with soldiers in Vietnam who are later seen as veterans. Do you get your inspiration more from movies or television or just from people around you in Croatia?

Goran Parlov: Both, I think. One of the main characters has been inspired by Steve Buscemi, but after he went through all my filters he might have became completely unrecognizable. But the initial inspiration came from there.

I’ve been using Steve Buscemi as a starting point for a whole lot of characters during my professional career, but surprisingly all those characters went completely different in final versions that one would never say they all started from good ole Steve.

I don’t want to look at his photos all the time. Or to copy those. A drawing often loses its energy when it’s a copied photo. It is static, completely different from the rest of the book, because you try to copy all the information that’s there on a photo – the things that you would never draw if you didn’t see it on a photo. There’s too much graphic information there. You need to synthesize those and make them coherent with the rest. And if an artist is not very skilled, the result might be scarce.

So, back to Steve; I see him, I do few sketches and then the character evolves, all by himself, throughout the book. I don’t care if that’s not Steve anymore. Another one of the four has been inspired by one of the bosses at my previous publisher. Some of my friends might recognize themselves here and there. Things like that. You never know where an inspiration might come from. It just strikes you.

Marvel.com: Who are your biggest influences? I see some Alex Toth, some Moebius… a little Milt Caniff? Some Hal Foster?

Goran Parlov: Alex Toth, Jean Giraud – Moebius, Alfonso Font, Bernet, Frank Thorne, Frank Robbins, Ernesto Garcia Seijas, John Romita Sr, John Prentice, Jim Holdaway, John M. Burns, Romero, Angelo Stano, Sergio Tacconi, Duncan Fegredo, … and billions of others. Those are my top. But I actually often find myself learning something even from the artists that I consider bad. You can always pick something good even from the worst artist in the world.

PUNISHER: THE PLATOON #1 by Garth Ennis and Goran Parlov ships off on October 4.

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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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Brian Michael Bendis pits the Punisher against the Defenders!

Vigilantes don’t play well with others—especially when one of them happens to be a murderer with only bloody revenge on his mind.

That sums up the relationship between the Defenders and The Punisher in DEFENDERS, written by Brian Michael Bendis with art by David Marquez. And on September 13, issue #5 sees Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist meet up again with Frank Castle—with tensions running high. Both parties may be fighting on the same side, but their disparate methods lead them on an inevitable collision course.

But before these beloved characters clash, we caught up with Brian Michael Bendis to discuss the oncoming showdown of heroes, his thoughts on “Marvel’s The Defenders” on Netflix, and more!

Marvel.com: What can you tell us about Frank’s motivations as prepares to take on the Defenders? Aren’t they all on the same side?

Brian Michael Bendis: They are on the same side, but Frank seems to know something the others don’t. Frank seems more focused on who could be pulling Diamondback’s strings—and the Defenders are just figuring out that there might be someone pulling the strings. Frank wants the bigger picture and Luke and company just want to shut down Diamondback immediately.

Marvel.com: The guy with no powers takes on a group with three super powered heroes. How does he pose a threat to them?

Brian Michael Bendis: He is a very smart strategist. Now that he knows what he’s up against, you can look forward to some interesting Punisher problem-solving.

Defenders (2017) #5

Defenders (2017) #5

Marvel.com: Can you summarize each Defender’s relationship with The Punisher? and what they might have done to get on his bad side?

Brian Michael Bendis: Danny, Luke, and Matt all have a similar relationship to The Punisher. They’ve all worked the streets for the same amount of time and they’ve all had run-ins. The moral debate between Matt and Frank is one for the ages and will never be solved. Jessica Jones has not found herself up against The Punisher before—and she’s not impressed.

Marvel.com: What your favorite part about pitting all these street-level characters against one another?

Brian Michael Bendis: They all have something very clear that they’re trying to accomplish. They have something that they want. And they all have something that they want that the audience can relate to on some level. Everything I’m writing in DEFENDERS is at least loosely based on real life mafia, organized crime, or true crime drama that I’ve studied over the years. This stuff really happens. This might be the Marvel version of it, but these are loosely based on the stories that have built the foundation of organized crime in this country.

Marvel.com: How would you describe Frank’s armed-approach to fighting the team?

Brian Michael Bendis: He’s not trying to fight the team. He’s trying to immobilize the team so he can finish his task. He has no interest in hurting Daredevil—but he has even less interest in Daredevil getting in his way.

Marvel.com: What’s it like to write this comic after the Netflix series just dropped?

Brian Michael Bendis: Surreal doesn’t seem to really capture the feeling. There were many years where I sat alone at my computer writing scripts, creating a team dynamic that I always wanted to see. And now millions of people are seeing it. It’s crazy. Did I mention that surreal doesn’t quite cover it?

Heroes clash in DEFENDERS #5, by Brian Michael Bendis and artist David Marquez, on September 13!

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It's hammer time for Frank Castle in this new look at the upcoming series coming to Netflix.

Fans excited for “Marvel’s The Punisher” will definitely want to check out a new teaser, titled “Demolition,” which includes new footage from the upcoming series.

Take a look at Frank Castle showing off his skills with a sledgehammer, along with tantalizing glimpses of what to expect when “Marvel’s The Punisher” debuts on Netflix later in 2017.

Steve Lightfoot (“Hannibal”) wrote the series’ first two episodes in addition to serving as showrunner and Executive Producer. Jim Chory (“Marvel’s Daredevil,” “Marvel’s Jessica Jones” and “Marvel’s Luke Cage”) will also serve as Executive Producer along with Jeph Loeb (“Marvel’s Daredevil,” “Marvel’s Jessica Jones” and “Marvel’s Luke Cage”), Marvel’s Head of Television.

“Marvel’s The Punisher” is produced by Marvel Television in association with ABC Studios for Netflix.

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