Writing for Time, Rebecca Collard examines how the iconic "long-fanged" skull logo of Marvel's Punisher has been appropriated by Iraqi security forces and Shi’ite militia fighting against ISIS.
The use of the skull is so widespread that Italian journalist Daniele Raineri last week tweeted photos of the emblem -- on a vehicle, on a flak jacket, on pouches -- from several locations across the country. The Punisher may be a distinctly American creation, but the Iraqis have made his symbol their own.
Collard notes that it was actually U.S. soldiers who brought the four-fanged skull to Iraq: The members of American Sniper Chris Kyle's unit referred to themselves as the Snipers, labeling the gear with logo and painting it on walls "to mark their territory." (Norway's Telemark Battalion mechanized infantry unit, which previously wore Punisher skull patches on its uniforms, reportedly painted the symbol on walls in Afghanistan. Some of its members are now in Iraq training local forces.)
Writer Gerry Conway, "an anti-war person" who co-created The Punisher, admits, “I’m flabbergasted by the whole thing.”
The logo of the Punisher spray-painted on the vest of a Sunni paramilitary from Mosul, now in Tikrit pic.twitter.com/N6YKvPTQIY
— Daniele Raineri (@DanieleRaineri) April 8, 2015