Ennis/Robertson Punisher Prequel Coming in 2003

Everything old is news again. Or, if you're Marvel Comics, the story before the old stories is news:

In the wake of their highly successful "Origin" miniseries, which finally told the secret origin of Wolverine, and the upcoming "The Truth" miniseries, which explores who else received the Super Soldier formula before Steve Rogers took it on the way to becoming Captain America, Marvel announced at a press conference Wednesday that the Punisher is next on the list to get his pre-superhero origins plumbed in a deluxe miniseries format.

Coming in late 2003, "Born" will be written by Garth Ennis, with art by Darick Robertson, the comic looks at the events that shaped Frank Castle before the fateful day when organized crime retaliated against the New York City police officer.

"If you think the Punisher's origin starts the day his family was killed, you're very wrong," Marvel Editor in Chief Joe Quesada said at the press conference. "Every 10 years or so, we look at our iconic heroes, and reimagine them. ... This goes back to Stan Lee in the 1960s giving us more realistic superheroes. And this is just the same thing."

When it came to telling the back story of the Super Soldier project, the Kyle Baker/Robert Morales book was originally not going to be part of Marvel continuity.

"Originally this was designed for the Ultimate Universe, but the real brain work was when we looked at it and decided it could work in the regular universe" Quesada said. "We sat down and said 'you know what, that's what we're doing.' I think it changes the perception of this project. It makes it somehow 'realer' in this fictional world."

"When Joe and Bill said 'let's make this continuity,' my eyes were like saucers, because that gave us so much more freedom on how to do this," editor Axel Alonso said. Alonso and Marvel are keeping many details of the project -- the first of its five issues hits stores in November -- close to their vest, such as how the revelations from this book will affect the contemporary Captain America series.

In other press conference news, Marvel representatives were somewhat taken aback by a question submitted by a CBR News reader: Why the 9 cent issue of "Fantastic Four" #60 ended up costing him $2.25 at his local Waldenbooks, despite the indicia on the book's front page still listing the book as a 9 cent book.

"The nine cent offer was not extended to newsstands," Marvel spokesman Bill Rosemann said at the press conference. "We did not want newsstands to skip the entire issue 60, but this was a promotion designed for comic shops."

Marvel representatives indicated that a press release regarding the issue could be expected later today.

Marvel Comics declined to comment on their new policy of accepting returns on certain books, which was seemingly prompted by legal action by a major comics retailer, citing the ongoing legal case.

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