For the latest series starring of Marvel's "Punisher," writer Nathan Edmondson and artist Mitch Gerads relocated the titular vigilante from New York City to Los Angeles, in part to get away from the super heroes and villains in New York. But in the opening issues, Frank Castle uncovered something just as deadly lurking in the City of Angels: A secret criminal conspiracy involving the Dos Soles drug cartel, the super science terrorist network A.I.M. and a team of U.S. black ops soldiers known as the Howling Commandos.
Castle's initial battle with the conspiracyÂ eliminated the head of the Dos Soles, but left him bloodied. So he fled L.A. to regroup and recuperate. In "Punisher" #12 he returns to the city to uncover and destroy the many headed conspiracy that's plaguing it. We spoke with Edmondson about the enemies in Castle's sights, the family member he'll encounter because of them, and the Punisher's relationship with confidante and occasional comrade in arms Rachel Cole Alves.
CBR News: In "Punisher" #11, Frank begins his journey back to Los Angeles, accompanied by his comrade at arms from Greg Rucka and Marco Checchetto's run, Rachel Cole Alves. What was it like to bring her into the book? What's your sense of her relationship with Frank?
Nathan Edmondson: As you'll see, Rachel doesn't come into the book for that long, but her impact on Frank is significant, and the depth of their relationship is impossible to deny. There are very few in Frank's lifetime since the loss of his family, I think, whom he has allowed as close as he has Rachel. That's important when he hits his lowest point.
Rachel gives Frank a sort of pep talk about unraveling the conspiracy involving the Dos Soles and the Black Ops unit out to kill him, informing him about what the Dos Soles are up to under their new leader, Hector Del Sol. From what we've seen, Hector appears to be almost more of a terrorist war lord than a criminal business man -- are you able to talk about his agenda and modus operandi without spoiling things?
I can't talk about agenda, beyond the fact that Hector is in town to finish his brother's business -- and perhaps avenge his brother. But there is more to Hector's plans than that. There's more to his motivations than that. I would, though, agree that he has a more business-like approach to mayhem than his brother did.
What exactly has Hector done with the Los Angeles underworld when issue #12 begins? Has he unified it?
He's hasn't unified it, because the various L.A. gangs won't share an agenda and can't be convinced to unify. All Hector wants to do -- knows that he needs to do -- is unleash the gangs to general destruction.
While Frank was learning about the Dos Soles assault on L.A., Adam Torchia and his Howling Commandos abducted a woman with the last name of Castiglione -- which used to be Frank's surname until his parents changed it when he was a kid. What can you tell us about this possible relation of Frank's?
The possibility of another Castiglione is something we discussed early on when taking a look at unexplored aspects of Frank's world. Neither she, nor her family, will become major players, but their existence will really show us something important about Frank as a character, as a vigilante, and as a person.
The abduction is bound to provoke a reaction, which has me wondering about your sense of Frank's code when it comes soldiers and cops hunting him. What does a police or military uniform essentially mean to Frank at this point?
That's exactly the question. We'll really see that question raised in issues 15 and 16. And on a much grander scale!
You and Mitch have been telling a long form tale since "Punisher" #1, and I understand issue #12 is where a lot of the pieces you've been laying out start to come together. How important is this next arc, then, to the overall story you're telling?
All that I can say is, yes, from page one we've been building toward a big story. A.I.M., the Dos Soles, the small town in Mexico, the Howling Commandos, Sammy -- all of it will come together. There's nothing incidental here. We plotted out 18 issues to tell a grand, 18-issue story. We're excited to share it!
We've talked about Frank's enemies quite a bit, but will he have any allies in his coming struggle?
Frank's allies are few, and his friends, fewer. I won't make any promises, except to say that we will continue to be just as brutal with the Punisher, and he will continue to be just as isolated, just as desperate -- increasingly more so, in fact.
The action in "Punisher" #12 is being brought to life by Mitch Gerads, who's drawn the majority of this series and also works with you on your Image series "The Activity." What's it like knowing you have a guy like Mitch to rely on to bring this book to a life at a time where long term writer-artist collaborations on mainstream books are rare?
There's no one who can do what Mitch does, who can bring the level of realism to the streets and the gun play and the action as he does. I don't think I could have told this story with any other artist -- though we've been thrilled to have Moritat and Carmen Carnero join us for flash-away issues. But this has been Mitch's book and mine, and like "The Activity" -- which could not have come to be with any other artist, it truly couldn't have -- it's been our story from conception.
2015 kicks off with "Punisher" #14, which features a fantastic cover of Frank wearing a bellhop uniform over his costume. What can you offer up about this issue and Frank's early adventures in the new year?
Well, we're in a hotel! A hotel that's on fire. Okay, so that's obvious from the cover. Issue #13 leads up to a nice, iconic moment in our run that we're very excited to show, and I can say that things will get big after that! Get ready! Punisher started in L.A. He may not end up there!
"Punisher" connects to "Black Widow," and "Deathlok." [Editor: Edmondson writes all three books] Definitely "Deathlok." And maybe -- other places.
Also, don't miss the Moritat-drawn issue of "The Punisher" coming up [#13] -- it's all about the Howling Commandos! We're thrilled to have Moritat join us.