Marvel replaces controversial Punisher logo
The Punisher has been a Marvel icon ever since Frank Castle’s first appearance in The Amazing Spider-Man back in the 1970s. The character’s famous skull logo has become equally iconic, becoming a symbol of the anti-hero who takes things a little further than other Marvel heroes in his pursuit of justice.
However, the logo has also generated controversy, although through no fault of Marvel’s own. In recent years, the symbol has been appropriated by several far-right groups, perhaps most famously the Proud Boys. The icon has also been seen amongst the US military and used by the police during Black Lives Matter protests.
The adoption of the logo by the far right came to light in 2012, Navy SEAL Chris Kyle used the symbol during his deployment in Iraq. “We all thought what the Punisher did was cool: He righted wrongs,” Kyle stated in his 2012 book American Sniper. “So we adopted his symbol — a skull — and made it our own. We wanted people to know, ‘We’re here, and we want to fuck with you.'”
The logo was seen at the US Capitol insurrection in 2021 and at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in 2017, after which Punisher creator Gerry Conway condemned those using the skull logo. “They’re despicable human beings, and Frank Castle would have all of them in his crosshairs,” he said. “The fact that white nationalists and Nazis embrace it is a tragic misunderstanding. It’s a misappropriation of the character and a blatant disregarding of reality. They literally do not know what they are fucking talking about.”
A new era for the Punisher
Disney announced a new logo for the Punisher was coming back in December. Marvel revealed that a new 13-issue miniseries would begin a new chapter for the characters, with images showing a new, more stylized version of the logo.
According to ScreenRant, fans have suggested that the new symbol resembles the Oni, a demon from Japanese mythology. The inspiration will be perfect for the series, with Castle joining a Ninja clan, the Hand, and using swords in place of guns. In mythology, the Oni were once villainous figures, but today are seen as protectors who ward off bad luck. It remains to be seen whether the new logo will also be adopted by the same groups who appropriated the skull, whether there will be other changes to the narrative to avert this.
“After writing the Punisher over the years, I’ve always been fascinated by the character of Frank Castle. What moments made him the Punisher, even before that fateful day in the park? And how far will he go to win the war that has consumed his life? Spoiler: as far as it damn well takes,” said writer Jason Aaron in the original Marvel press release. “This story is the destined next step in the dark and tragic evolution of Frank Castle, from troubled kid to heroic soldier to revenge-driven vigilante…to the duly anointed King of Killers. Believe me, when I say, I am as excited about this story as anything I’ve ever written for Marvel.”
The synopsis for Punisher (2022) issue one reads:
WILL THE PUNISHER’S WAR END? Born of tragedy. Devoted to war. Unstoppable in his rage. As the Punisher, Frank Castle has become the most accomplished killer the world has ever seen. Now it’s time for him to face his true destiny. What shocking secret from Frank’s past will convince him to take the reins of the Marvel Universe’s most notorious clan of assassins? And once Frank becomes the warlord of the deadly ninjas of the Hand, will it also mean an end for the Punisher? Or a whole new bloody beginning? Join the superstar team of writer Jason Aaron and artists Jesْs Saiz and Paul Azaceta for an epic exploration of the dark and violent past and inevitable future of one of Marvel’s most iconic characters.
Punisher (2022) #1 was released on March 9, with the 13-issue series running until April 2023. The writer is Jason Aaron, with art from Jesus Saiz and Paul Azaceta.
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