While certain things in the Marvel Universe may have changed with the launch of “All-New, All-Different Marvel,” there’s one thing that hasn’t changed. Marvel’s mean streets are still running rampant with criminal predators, both of the street variety and the fantastic. Faced with this problem, only one Marvel character is willing to cut through the concrete jungle and put those predators down for good. That character is, of course, Marine turned heavily-armed vigilante Frank Castle — the Punisher.
With today’s “Punisher” #1, Frank Castle makes his all-new all-different Marvel headlining debut with a new ongoing series by writer Becky Cloonan and acclaimed Punisher artist Steve Dillon. CBR News spoke with Cloonan about her take on Frank Castle, the cross country trip he’ll embark on as he hunts down the purveyors of a new and dangerous drug, and some of the characters Castle will run into and afoul of when the book kicks off.
CBR News: When past writers have talked about the Punisher, they all seemed to fall in love with Frank Castle’s straightforward nature and really enjoyed writing the character. I assume that’s happened with you as well? What have you enjoyed most about writing the Punisher?
Becky Cloonan: Totally honestly, I never in a million years thought I’d be writing Punisher! And although I am a big fan (shout outs to “[Punisher] War Journal” and “[Punisher] Max”!) I was really surprised to get an email from Marvel. I joke that everything I know about guns I learned from “Halo” — which isn’t too far from the truth!
I’m so glad Steve is on this book — he more than makes up for it. Really getting to the meat of who Frank Castle is was my first order of business — what is it that makes this man the Punisher? I found out really quickly that Frank is a character you can push to his limit and beyond. He won’t break, and he doesn’t have any safe words. As I’ve challenged him as a character, he’s challenged me as a writer. And I think I’ve come out tougher for it — and I know a lot more about guns now than I did one year ago! [Laughs]
In the past we’ve seen Punisher stories from Frank’s point of view, but we’ve also seen ones from the perspectives of the people he’s up against. Can you talk about the perspectives you’re interested in exploring? Will you take us inside Frank’s head?
I pitched this book as Punisher meets Jason Voorhees! Frank is a force of nature, a dead man walking. We get to know him more through his actions than his words and how he reacts to new characters and situations. I think with a character like Frank, good foils are so important, and so Steve and I have built him a strong supporting cast and a plot that really puts him through the wringer!
Like the previous volume, your “Punisher” series is part of the shared Marvel Universe. Is this a series that will find Frank regularly running afoul of the heroes and villains of the Marvel Universe?
Steve and I have created a really fun cast of new supporting characters for Frank to work with (or kill, as the case may be). So far there are no planned run-ins with any other well-known Marvel characters, but who really knows where the Punisher’s bloody trail of bullets and bodies will lead us?
What can you tell us about the new characters you and Steve created?
First, there are a few shady figures from Frank’s past; an enigmatic man named Olaf who served in Special Forces with him, currently working for a mercenary group named Condor; and an unpredictable henchman known only as The Face. There’s a fun new drug in the mix too called EMC that alters the user’s perception of time (among other things), none of which makes Frank very happy.
Hot on the trail of this new drug (and Frank!) are a couple of DEA agents, Ortiz and Henderson. These two are a lot of fun to play off each other, and Ortiz might be one of my favorite characters to write. She’s just as hungry as the Punisher, but has to stay more or less within the constraints of the law. Everyone’s got their own agenda, but none of them expect The Punisher.
Frank has traveled all over the country, but primarily his stories are usually set in a particular city — most recently Los Angeles. Where will your initial stories take place? And is this a series where a city or a geographical area will be a supporting character?
We start out in Brooklyn. This is pretty familiar territory for Frank (and for me!), but I’m moving him further and further out of his comfort zone, northeast up through New England. Frank’s survival skills will be put to the test and he’s going to meet a slew of horrible people that play by a whole different set of rules. I grew up in New Hampshire, so I’m excited to have Frank set the whole region on fire! There’s a lot of inspiration there for me, and the stories just keep coming.
Let’s talk a little more about the tone of the series. Will your “Punisher” run feature some of the black humor the character is occasionally known for, or is it more of a dark crime-action thriller?
I hope people get a few chuckles out of this book! It’s a lot of fun — in a violent, bullet-riddled, bleeding kind of way. I like to think this book walks a line between some very serious moments and situations, balanced by the gallows humor that accompanies them. And as an artist too, I’m trying to write scripts that will be fun to draw — and Steve is knocking every page out of the park!!
Finally, can you leave us with some hints or teases about the action Frank will become embroiled in during this initial arc?
Let’s see — Frank packed a rocket launcher that I’m really excited for him to use!!
“The Punisher” #1 is in stores today.
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