Some Christmas miracles need to be helped along with things like time or money, while other miracles can only be realized with assistance from a man with an enormous machine gun. The latter is the case in "Punisher MAX X-Mas Special" by writer Jason Aaron and artist Roland Boschi. CBR News spoke with Aaron about the festively violent one-shot that hits stores this week from MAX Comics, Marvel's mature readers imprint.
Editor Axel Alonso didn't know it at the time, but he was making one of Jason Aaron's Christmas wishes come true when he offered the writer the "Punisher MAX X-Mas Special." "I've always been a Punisher fan, but the MAX series in particular has been one of my favorites," Aaron told CBR News. "What Garth Ennis did on that book was just incredible. It was consistently my favorite read for years and it has to go down as the definitive take on that character. I'm honored just to be working with the character in Garth's wake."
Aaron's take on The Punisher is that Frank Castle is a killer, but not an insane or delusional one. "I don't think he's crazy at all. He hasn't lost touch with reality. He understands perfectly well what he's doing," Aaron said. "He has no illusions about anything. He is just a very hard, very devoted man. Most days, I figure he doesn't even think about his family anymore. He may not even remember what they sounded like or how they really acted. Their deaths were just the trigger to set off something that was already buried inside of Frank, something that'd been waiting to come out and prey upon the world."
Naturally, some might think The Punisher's brutal methods of achieving peace on Earth and good will towards men would make him an unlikely candidate for a Christmas story -- but they would be wrong. Indeed, Marvel has been regularly publishing Christmas-themed Punisher one-shots since 2005, and Jason Aaron feels it's the dark side of the Christmas experience -- the stress, the chaos, and sometimes downright ugly way certain people can behave -- that makes The Punisher such an appealing holiday character. "Judging by how the people in line at Wal-Mart at 5:00 AM on Black Friday tend to act, I'd say Christmas is a time when we need a guy like The Punisher around to help thin the herd of maniacs and assholes," the writer said.
This year's Punisher holiday tale takes place on Christmas Eve and thrusts Frank Castle into the unlikely role of bodyguard. "Frank finds himself having to protect a mob boss and his wife, who's going into labor," Aaron revealed. "There are three hitmen hot on their trail, along with a pimp named Shepherd. And as luck would have it, there's no room at the inn. If there's gonna be a Christmas miracle for this unborn kid, then a whole lot of people are going to have to die at Frank's hands."
This year's "Punisher MAX X-Mas Special" marks the second collaboration between Jason Aaron and artist Roland Boschi, who illustrated the writer's initial arc on "Ghost Rider." "Roland is dynamic and fresh and very exciting, and these pages are even better than what he did on 'Ghost Rider,'" Aaron remarked.
Placing a character like The Punisher in the role of bodyguard on Christmas is bound to lead to some twisted laughs, but this year's "Punisher MAX X-Mas Special" isn't entirely a comedy. "In fact, it's got a couple of the darkest scenes I've ever written," Aaron stated. " There's no way I could ever even attempted a story like this in the Marvel Universe. Axel Alonso would've had me drawn and quartered. And he could do it, too."
"Punisher MAX X-Mas Special" is on sale this week from MAX Comics.