Published August 20, 2018

The Punisher Goes to War this Wednesday

Writer Matt Rosenberg sends Frank Castle to battle against the Mandarin in Punisher #1!

It has been perhaps the most chaotic year of a violent and bombastic career for the vigilante called the Punisher. In the aftermath of the Secret Empire campaign, in which Frank Castle sided with the terrorist sect Hydra under the control of a man he believed to be Captain America, the skull-chested angel of death donned a suit of War Machine armor at the behest of Nick Fury and sized up targets ambitious in scope even for him.

Matt Rosenberg, author of the new ongoing PUNISHER series that debuts this week, steered Castle through the storm of these recent events; now, alongside the ace art team of Szymon Kudranski and Antonio Fabela, the writer drops a man forever altered by the crucible hes withstood back into the world that shaped him.

How does the aftermath of recent turmoil reshape Frank Castle and can he go home again? We requisitioned Rosenberg for answers and plans when it comes to all things Punisher, including a couple unexpected A-list Marvel villains who target our questionable hero! Frank Castle has been through some tumultuous upheavals as of late, from his turn in Secret Empire to his time in the War Machine armor. While these events are in his rearview now, in much the same way the Fantastic Four were never the same after encountering Galactus for the first time, how does all this weigh on the Punisher?

Matt Rosenberg: The Punisher is going after Galactus!

...No. That's not true. 

But the last year has changed Frank in some ways. He doesn't feel guilty for following Captain America to Hydra. I'm not sure guilt is something he really feels ever beyond not saving his family. But he does want to set things right. And that means he has big plans and big targets. And this time he's going after some of the biggest. His list has two names on it that folks might be excited about: Baron Zemo and the Mandarin. Legitimate Super Villains with whole armies behind them. And Frank isn't stopping until they are in the ground or he is.

Frank's coming war with Zemo and Mandarin is going to be unlike anything Punisher fans have seen before. And it's going to get ugly real fast.

Punisher #1 Until recently, with the occasional exception, Frank has always been his own man, calling the shots when it comes to his actions and choices. Now, the Punisher has been aimed, so to say, first by an evil Steve Rogers, and then by Nick Fury. How does this impact Frank and strengthen his resolve to control his own destiny?

Matt Rosenberg: Aimed is the perfect word. Because Frank is a weapon. And Steve Rogers tried to wield it and Frank hasn't forgotten. That was about all the trust Frank had left in the world, and he burned it. A lot of that is what will drive this book. As for Fury, it's a slightly different situation. While Fury was trying to use Frank, Frank was trying to use Fury. Neither man got exactly what they wanted and both still hold a bit of a grudge. 

So now we have a Frank Castle who trusts even fewer people, who is even more determined to go forward with what he believes is right in the face of all else. It may be the most dangerous he's ever been. While wearing the War Machine armor, Punisher went after corrupt dictators and took on whole armies, a big step up from his usual routine. What kind of longterm effects does this have on Frank? Is it easy for him to just go back to his old ways?

Matt Rosenberg: When I was a kid I remember being told once that when a bear kills a human that bear develops a taste for eating people and won't stop. As an adult I'm pretty positive that that isn't true at all, but it's a cool as hell idea. And it's true for the Punisher. Frank has his eyes on bigger prey. He took down a fascist army. He overthrew a government. And now he can't get that taste out of his mouth. He's not above killing his local crime boss or drug dealer, but he is on the hunt for the people behind the people. And that's where the Mandarin and Baron Zemo come in. They aren't just bad guys, they are the guys who control bad guys. And that is why Frank wants them. With so many years waging this war on crime under his belt, does Frank still take motivation from the death of his family, or has the Punisher evolved in some ways beyond that?

Matt Rosenberg: Yeah. That will never go away. He is trying to build a world where what happened to them can never happen again. It's an impossible mission, and deep down he knows that, but he's going to die trying. For them. What will we see in the first arc of the new PUNISHER book that defines Frank's status quo moving forward? What will be familiar and what will be new?

Matt Rosenberg: I think the big thing we're giving is classic Frank Castle, teeth gritted, guns blazing, no [expletive] given. But his feet are fully planted in the Marvel Universe in a way we sometimes don't see. He's in the shadows, he's in the seedy underbelly, but he's there. Who and what he comes across will surprise some people, but we are aiming to launch Frank back to the Marvel Universe in a big way. A way that can't be ignored. Finally, Id love to get your thoughts on the art team for PUNISHER

Matt Rosenberg: This is my first time working with Szymon Kudranski and I can't believe the job he's doing. His Punisher is terrifying. I know the first time we see Frank Castle, fans are going to lose it. His world just feels so real, so rich with detail, that the level of violence and chaos he brings to it is actually jarring. I write the scripts and they come back and I still find myself being a bit shocked. Each page almost feels like an old school movie poster. They are over the top, complete works of art. I'm so lucky to get to work with him on this, and I can't wait for fans to see it.

This is my second book with Antonio Fabela on colors. We worked together on ROCKET RACCOON and he turned a funny book about a space raccoon into this brightly colored circus in the best way. I was honestly shocked to see what he did here over Szymon's lines. It's the opposite. It's the real world turned noir. It feels grimy on the page in the best possible way. Antonio is one of the great unsung colorists working right now and I think people are really going to get that on this book.

And of course the Greg Smallwood covers are unreal. I don't know how he does it. Greg captures the essence of each issue in the most jaw dropping way. Each month I'm expecting him not to be able to outdo himself, and each month he does with ease. 

Take aim with PUNISHER #1 courtesy of Matt Rosenberg, Szymon Kudranski, and Antonio Fabela when it unleashes Frank Castle anew this Wednesday, August 22!