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Joss Whedon Shows What He Thinks About the Punisher

by  in CBR Exclusives Comment
Joss Whedon Shows What He Thinks About the Punisher

In Meta-Messages, I explore the context behind (using reader danjack’s term) “meta-messages.” A meta-message is where a comic book creator comments on/references the work of another comic book/comic book creator (or sometimes even themselves) in their comic. Each time around, I’ll give you the context behind one such “meta-message.” This time around, we look at Joss Whedon taking his views about the Punisher into the pages of the Runaways.

The Punisher is clearly always going to be a character that people are going to take issue with to a certain extent. As we have seen from the work of Garth Ennis, the Punisher really is a character that works best when he is not part of an overall comic book universe, despite the fact that obviously he DEBUTED right smack in the middle of the original Clone Saga in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man.

The problem is that, as created by Gerry Conway, the Punisher was a decent adversary for Spider-Man, but in the context of Spider-Man’s world, the Punisher really only works AS an adversary. You know, someone that Spider-Man might be forced to team-up with in a pinch, but otherwise will hunt down just the same as any other murderer that Spider-Man comes across. The issue, of course, is that the Punisher was SO awesome that fans wanted more and more of him and he became basically an outright superhero.

Just a superhero who still kills hundreds and hundreds of people.

The dichotomous nature of his character – hero but also killer, has always lent itself to stories that were not directly involved with superheroes, because it just gets too messy. It makes Spider-Man look like a bit of a sap if he just lets the Punisher operate freely.

This is the basic position that Joss Whedon took years ago when he said a rather popular quote, “Here’s why I’m not running Marvel: If I was, I would kill the Punisher. I don’t believe in what he does. The Punisher just shoots up places. And if you’re telling me he’s never hit an innocent, then I’m telling you, that’s fascist crap.”

Whedon’s views on Marvel characters didn’t really matter much when he wasn’t writing anything for Marvel, but eventually he DID start to write for Marvel. His most famous work was the Astonishing X-Men series with Joss Whedon, but he also took over Runaways from Brian K. Vaughan for an EXTREMELY short run that began in Runaways #25 (with artists Michael Ryan, Rick Ketcham and Christina Strain).

The Runaways open the issue trying to work out a deal with Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin of Crime, as they are now technically the successors of their parents, the criminal organization known as the Pride…

The Runaways agree to obtain something for Fisk, but when Chase and his dinosaur, Old Lace, are in a building getting the object, they realize that they are about to be hit by a missile! They jump out of the building just in time and Old Lace uses her claws to slow their fall down the building, while holding Chase in her mouth…

The missile, it turns out, was fired by the Punisher and he is irked that the Kingpin has kids working for him, but he’s willing to deal with it…

Forget that winged guy behind him, the Punisher’s problems come in a much smaller package…

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