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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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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Brian Michael Bendis adds Frank Castle to an already-volatile mix!

Next week, writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist David Marquez unleash Iron Fist, Daredevil, Luke Cage, and Jessica Jones upon the streets of the Marvel Universe as the newest members of the Defenders! While the timing for this new series couldn’t be better as the Netflix show of the same name prepares to launch later this summer, Bendis wants to make it clear the comic provides readers with an entirely different story despite keeping the same core characters.

And viewers who were fans of Jon Bernthal’s Punisher on the second season of “Marvel’s Daredevil” get a full-dose of four-colored chaos with this first story arc as Frank Castle comes head-to-head with the team. We spoke with Bendis about what we can expect from DEFENDERS as this vigilante finds himself sharing the scene with Marvel’s premiere street-level heroes.

Marvel.com:  Brian, you are no stranger to the streets of the Marvel Universe having spent a good deal of time carving out a name for yourself with many of the main players from DEFENDERS. How will this series give you a chance to tell a different story with these characters?

Brian Michael Bendis: What’s cool is that they’re completely different than when I was writing DAREDEVIL and ALIAS. Over the years, you know, the streets of Marvel reflect the real world, even more than anything I can think of in pop culture, other than the “Law & Order” plots. But we really feel like it’s really New York! I know these addresses in these books. So, think about how much has changed in real life from then. It’s a lot and that will be reflected a great deal in the book itself.

The relationships between the characters are very solid, which is quite a beautiful thing, and that’s one more gift that you get with having characters with their history. Their relationships are solid, but with those solid relationships comes more to lose. What I enjoyed the most about writing Luke Cage now is that he has unbreakable skin so he can’t get hurt; but now he’s got a family, so you can hurt him. You can hurt him pretty good. Those are very different versions of the character: his life on the street and his life at home. Daredevil’s relationship with the characters is different now, too. His identity is secret again, and that’s a different thing as well.

So, the relationships are something I love to explore. Holding their relationships in the firing line of the biggest bad guys of the streets of Marvel is very exciting to write. To me, that’s the biggest difference.

Marvel.com: The streets are rough and “survival of the fittest” seems to be one rule that permeates these kinds of stories. That said the individual heroes from DEFENDERS make it a point to avoid killing whenever possible. Do you think that’s an important rule for super heroes to follow?  How so?

Brian Michael Bendis: Yeah, and I’m not going to say what that moral code should be, but whatever that moral code is that a hero says that he (or she) represents, he (or she) cannot vary from it. Ever.

You know, the quintessential story is Spider-Man. He takes on Doctor Octopus, a bag of money falls, and there is nobody there. If he takes a chunk of it, he can go buy Aunt May her medicine, and no one will ever know. Except that if he ever does it, he’s not Spider-Man anymore. You can never go back. And I think that the same goes for all of these characters. There is a moral center. Luke has his, Jessica has hers, Danny has his, and Matt has his, and they can’t vary from their respective. However, what’s cool is that they all have different moral codes. I mean Jessica’s and Danny’s are pretty similar but Matt’s is different and we have other characters that come into the book as well. I think the one that speaks to this more than anyone else is The Punisher.

Marvel.com: Naturally, this leads us to Frank Castle—one of the defining examples of the “anti-hero.” What do you think readers find appealing with The Punisher?

Brian Michael Bendis: When I was deciding about what to put in DEFENDERS and what not to put in, someone on Tumblr had posted the original designs of The Punisher. You know he’s got kind of a widow’s peak hairline, pretty much what you see now but a little different. Maybe a little bit more of like a mob guy.

So, I was reading the article and it spoke about where he came from with some saying Charles Bronson helped inspire the character, and the thing is that Charles Bronson was really an answer to Watergate and the question “Will someone please take care of the bad guys? They’re getting away with everything!” I can’t think of a time in my life that has felt more like [that] than now. I’m not trying to politicize it but the present day is all kind of chaotic and crazy. A lot of people are getting away with [expletive], and so I think it’s a good time for The Punisher to be becoming a TV star and surfacing in our comic.

Defenders #3 cover by David Marquez

Marvel.com: But after decades of bumping up against his fellow costumed do-gooders, wouldn’t the other super heroes rub off on Frank and influence him to back off from his lethal brand of justice? Wouldn’t their collective arguments have any sort of effect on his approach to dealing with criminals?

Brian Michael Bendis: Or the opposite, that their ways of doing things [don’t] work at all and his does. We have their version of running around in costumes, smacking around guys in a pool hall; meanwhile, what’s different decades later? That would be his argument. Some of this you’re going to see in the book.

Marvel.com: Now, you have a cast of characters, which for me is always interesting because they’re such strong personalities, and I sit back and wonder “How will the four of them really interact?”

Knowing that he will be coming into contact with the Defenders, which hero do you think Frank Castle will get on the best with, and which do you think he will bump heads with the most?

Brian Michael Bendis: You bring up a good question. What I found was interesting, is I did also have to ask myself that question of “Who here does Frank respond to the most? And who is he disgusted by the most?” and how do you [feel] being in the room with The Punisher once you have a child? Once I had children, even if they weren’t there, sometimes I wouldn’t want to be in the same room as certain people because I had children. Frank Castle is [not] someone you want to be in the room with. In DEFENDERS, there is someone who Frank has an insane amount of respect for, and the other ones he does not. I know everyone is going to think its Jessica Jones because [I’m her] co-creator, but no. Just want to put that out there.

Marvel.com: That was actually one of the things that I was thinking about! At first blush, it seems she would be the person that Frank might relate to the most, personality wise. But the Jessica Jones in the comics—and I’m telling you what you already know—finds herself farther along in life than her TV counterpart and shows us a different character than fans of the Netflix series are aware of. After all, your Jessica Jones has a child and that changes the chemistry of her viewpoint on Frank, no?

Brian Michael Bendis: Yeah that’s true, I think that would be a good compare and contrast between the comic book version and the TV version, something like that, you know, how they would respond to Frank Castle at this point.

Marvel.com: You mentioned that The Punisher finds himself experiencing another “moment in time,” that we need heroes like him for today. I don’t want you to spoil things, but how does Frank open up things for you as a storyteller that might not otherwise be available if you were really only working with the four primary Defenders?

Brian Michael Bendis: Well, it depends on what perspective we’re dealing with here. If you’re working on the story that’s from Frank’s perspective, then it’s very different from the story where [it’s] other people’s perspective of Frank. For a great deal of what I’m doing in DEFENDERS, it is the Defenders’ perspective of Frank and the mystery box that is Frank. He doesn’t text everyone and tell everyone his plan. He does some ballsy and brassy things to the Defenders.

What I love about him, to answer your original question, is that it’s like the Angel of Death comes to the story. There are the good guys vs bad guys and then the Angel of Death shows up and you don’t know who he is for, we don’t know why and we don’t know when, and it’s pretty amazing. When I’m writing him, you not only hear about him and his days in other places but you also get what people think about Frank. That is so much scarier than he actually is. In real life, he is a wounded soul, but everyone’s perspective of him is terror. Think about it: Whenever somebody says “I’m going to punish you for your sins”—and everyone knows they’ve done something wrong—or they start to think “what have I done for him to punish me?” you get terrified!

Marvel.com: I know you’ve mentioned some of your other series that you’ve worked on where the ending was pretty definitive, and you knew where you were going. Then again, there were other times where you worked in some flexibility worked, and the story goes in different directions.

When you have a character like the epitome of the Angel of Death, and you introduce him into your storyline, does that change things for you when you’re writing out the story?

Brian Michael Bendis: No, it’s great. You get these characters that react, and you want them to react honestly. Some of them are going to [expletive] their pants, and some are going to figure out what they want. Now, what’s cool that you brought up is that some of this we are going to address—and then things developed further where were given the OK to do a PUNISHER: END OF DAYS series, like we did with Daredevil. But this won’t be like a sequel, but instead, kind of like a “side-quel” with Punisher. It’s in that world with The Punisher trying to attempt his final “Punish.”

But yeah, if you like The Punisher, stay tuned to DEFENDERS. You’re going to love it.

Frank Castle takes on the team in DEFENDERS #3, available July 12 from Brian Michael Bendis and David Marquez—and be sure to pick up issue #1, on sale next week!

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Becky Cloonan and Steve Dillon take Frank Castle's campaign against crime on the road!

The Punisher has waged a one-man war on crime that’s taken him from the streets of New York to Los Angeles to many exotic locales around the world—and even to space!

Staring next year, Frank Castle returns to NYC, but only briefly. Courtesy of Becky Cloonan and Steve Dillon, Punisher once again loads up and hits the road to track the source of a new synthetic drug that’s plaguing the streets of his hometown.

Cloonan and Dillon share some of their favorite Punisher stories as well as a few details on the road trip Frank Castle will take in THE PUNISHER.

Marvel.com:  The Punisher’s a character who has been taking out mobsters and villains now for several decades. What are some of your personal favorite Punisher stories, Becky, and are there any runs on the character you’re looking to for inspiration as you approach writing the character?

Becky Cloonan: The first Punisher story I ever read was PUNISHER WAR JOURNAL. I was a huge Jim Lee fan, too, and this was such a brutal, honest story. It really stuck with me, even now I think of it as one of my favorites. I’m also a huge fan of PUNISHER MAX, but let’s be real: Who isn’t? I can’t say with any certainty that these runs inspired my take on the character though. I try and look for outside inspiration in everything I do, and this PUNISHER series is no different! My goal is to present a new take on Frank Castle, but still have him ring true to his character. 

Marvel.com: And Steve, what was your first exposure to the character, and what are some of your favorite Punisher stories to have drawn?

Steve Dillon: I first saw Frank in a Marvel in-house ad when I was a kid. I was struck by the simple but effective design of his costume. I thought the way the skull motif echoed the shape of his torso was a brilliant idea. It was something I redesigned slightly on “Welcome Back, Frank,” one of my favorites by Garth Ennis. It was a straight skull print on a T-shirt for Punisher Max with Jason Aaron. I thought that was a great story. 
Marvel.com: Becky, what’s your take on The Punisher in the post-Secret Wars Marvel Universe? And what attracted you to writing this book?

Becky Cloonan: When I first started thinking about what kind of story I wanted to tell, I kept thinking about a few of my favorite characters from film: Rambo and Jason Voorhees. Both of these dudes share some very similar characteristics to Frank, and different aspects of this have inspired some of the ideas for this series. I guess you can argue that Jason isn’t a “dude” really, but just to make it easier I’m just gonna go with it. Cool?

When [editor] Jake Thomas first approached me about possibly writing The Punisher, my initial reaction was to turn it down, but my instinct was telling me the opposite. After thinking about it for a few days I realized that I actually had a lot of ideas that kept opening up new rabbit holes for me to fall down. And that was just the sign I needed to take Frank on.

The Punisher (2016) #1 variant cover by Alex Maleev

The Punisher (2016) #1 variant cover by Alex Maleev

Marvel.com: Steve, what is it about the character that keeps bringing you back to him?

Steve Dillon: The Punisher is the sort of character that you can build many different kinds of story around and have a fun time with the supporting characters. You have a lot of latitude because Frank provides that solid, central core. That said he’s a more complicated character than first meets the eye. It would be difficult to run out of ideas for Punisher stories. 

Marvel.com: What drew you to Becky’s take on the Punisher in particular?

Steve Dillon: I’ve been lucky to have worked with some very good writers on Punisher and I think I’m going to feel the same way working with Becky. The fact that she’’ also an accomplished artist is an interesting factor. It will be intriguing to see how her artist’s eye informs her writing of The Punisher. I can’t wait to see it!

Marvel.com: In the previous Punisher series we saw Frank Castle set up shop in Los Angeles, and now it sounds like he’s headed back to the East Coast. Where exactly will this latest adventure take The Punisher, and what draws him back east?

Becky Cloonan: The first issue will see Punisher back in New York City, a place I lived for 14 years, so I’m pretty excited to spend some more time there. It doesn’t last long, however, and soon Frank finds himself following a lead on a new and dangerous synthetic drug hitting the streets. He takes the show—and a bunch of guns!—on a blood-soaked road trip through the Northeast to a place I don’t think even he will see coming.

Marvel.com: Frank’s almost always been an “army of one,” though he has worked with allies in the past. Will we see him working solo this time around, or will he have some support in his war on crime?

Becky Cloonan: The Punisher works alone, but that doesn’t mean he won’t run into some interesting characters along the way. I’m not sure if you can say any of these characters really support him, but they all affect his journey and the course of his actions, for better or for worse. It’s gonna be a fun time!

Look for THE PUNISHER by Becky Cloonan and Steve Dillon, coming in 2016!

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In the Marvel Universe, you don’t choose your destiny—your destiny chooses you.

For Frank Castle, this sentiment rings true like an eardrum listening to bullet fire off in a small room. A soldier of fortune who accepts payment in vengeance, Castle adopted the mantle of the Punisher to keep the world in check.

Frank keeps coming no matter what you throw at him—or him out of. In his career, certain moments stand out where it’s bananas that even a guy like Castle didn’t get dead…

Hearts and Minds

Hearts and Minds

Hearts and Minds

Frank Castle learned to survive and to kill during war-time. It’s not far off to say that the roots of the Punisher started. Altogether, he served four years, and then some more time running black ops missions. Even with a family waiting for him, he felt an immense sense of duty…right?

War Never Changes

War Never Changes

War Never Changes

Reunited with his family, Castle and company finally took some needed time together, when they stumbled on a mafia hit.  Not being the type who enjoys witnesses, the criminals decided to eradicate the problem swiftly. Frank survived, and knowing that cops sat comfortably in the mobs’ pocket, he started down a long bloody path.

Dark Reign

Frank stands out from all the other close calls during Dark Reign by being the guy who fought the biggest baddies around, while having no super powers. Apparently, attempting to pop Norman Osborn brings about the full wrath of the Sentry. Barely surviving this, Castle became the target of the Hood, and eventually Daken.

It’s Alive!

Ok, so technically the Daken thing turned out to be more of a slaughter than a close call. However, this served as the catalyst for some other “you gotta be kidding me” moments with the man in black. Back from the dead courtesy of Morbius, Franken-Castle battled alongside a monster army to thwart an even crazier villain.

Cap Gets Punished

Cap Gets Punished

Civil War

Civil War had the potential to go really well for Frank: he joined the resistance, he saved Spider-Man, and he even aided in some major initiatives. However, when a pair of villains came a knockin’, looking to join up, Castle did the only logical thing—murdering them in front of a room full of heroes. Captain America, of course, took exception to this.

Up next…

Can Frank Castle scrape by one last time? Find out on July 20 in THE PUNISHER #20!

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Frank Castle doesn't play nice with other heroes, even when they have an enemy in common!

Black Widow has gone up against a number of hard-hitting bad guys and bumped into colleagues like Daredevil and Winter Soldier so far in her ongoing series, but she’s about to experience a whole new kind of Marvel team-up. This August, THE PUNISHER and BLACK WIDOW will crossover in the middle of a firefight in the Pacific Ocean – and you better believe they’ll be aiming at least some of that gunfire at each other. The Punisher doesn’t exactly have a spotless record when it comes to dealing with super heroes. Check out these five classic Punisher team-ups, presented here in chronological order!

1. The Punisher & Spider-Man

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #135

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #135

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Shortly after his debut, The Punisher allied himself with Spider-Man. Of course this team-up happened after Frank Castle had appeared as the wall-crawler’s gun-toting adversary in a handful of issues. The two joined forces to take down the criminal called Tarantula, and Spider-Man even got to hang out in one of the Punisher’s secret bases! Feeling a bond starting to form, Castle made sure to call off their play date once Spider-Man started asking personal questions.

2. The Punisher & Captain America

Captain America (1968) #241

Captain America (1968) #241

What is Marvel Unlimited?

This super hero odd couple first crossed paths back in 1980 during one of the Punisher’s strategic maneuvers against the mob. That strategy involved gunning down anyone and everyone involved with the criminal organization, and that didn’t sit right with Cap. The two fought briefly on a rooftop – The Punisher stopped Cap’s tossed shield just by stepping on it! – before a hail of mob bullets forced the two opposites to work together.

3. The Punisher & Ghost Rider

Ghost Rider (1990) #6

Ghost Rider (1990) #6

  • Published: October 01, 1990
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: November 06, 2009
What is Marvel Unlimited?

After blaming each other for the new weapons flooding the streets, the Spirit of Vengeance and the Spirit of Vigilantism teamed up to take on the real bad guy: the over-dressed villain named Flag-Smasher and his gang of beret-wearing ruffians. The chains and bullets fly in this issue, and you’ll even get to see the Punisher hitching a ride on Ghost Rider’s flaming motorcycle—a sight more “awww” inducing than you would believe considering the parties involved. 

4. The Punisher & Wolverine

Wolverine/Punisher (2004) #2

Wolverine/Punisher (2004) #2

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Frank and Logan met up again in the middle of a Central American jungle, except these two “old friends” had to get a fair amount of fighting out of their system before any real team-up could happen. Wolverine ended up taking a few bullets for a lowlife criminal because the X-Man felt the guy deserved a fair trial before an execution.

5. The Punisher & Daredevil

Daredevil (2011) #11

Daredevil (2011) #11

What is Marvel Unlimited?

With every major costumed crime organization in the Marvel Universe hunting for the Omega Drive in his possession, Daredevil had no other choice than to ally himself with The Punisher and Spider-Man. This time around, Frank played by the other heroes’ rules – but his protégé didn’t. DD engages in a one-way stare down with another vigilante wearing a big white skull, and he learns that he can trust her even less than he does the original Punisher.  

Frank and Natasha cross paths in THE PUNISHER #9 and BLACK WIDOW #9, on sale August 6!

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