Marvel Comics executive editor Tom Brevoort is laying out lofty goals for Jason Aaron, Jesus Saiz, and Paul Azaceta's upcoming Punisher limited series which puts Frank Castle under the command of ninja criminals the Hand, comparing the upcoming story to Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli's landmark story Daredevil: Born Again, which redefined Matt Murdock's place in the Marvel Universe.
"The best way I've been able to describe it to people so that they can understand what it is, we set out to craft a story that was, to Frank Castle, sort of what 'Born Again' was to Daredevil," Brevoort states in an interview with Forbidden Planet TV.
Brevoort goes on to describe the new Punisher series as a "transformative experience" that will "redefine and change Frank Castle in very meaningful ways."
Here's video of the interview, queued to the relevant portion, which starts around the 5:07 mark:
Brevoort's description echoes series writer Jason Aaron's previous statements on the title.
"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." Aaron stated at the time of the title's announcement, with Marvel editor-in-chief CB Cebulski also promising the "inevitable evolution" of the controversial character in the story.
What might that evolution look like? Well, it may have something to do with moving him away from his murderous methods as a gun-toting vigilante bearing a symbol of death on his chest.
Punisher's logo, which undergoes a change in the new title (however long the new version may last), has become a source of controversy when displayed by members of law enforcement organizations and the military, especially as the issues of militarized policing and police violence have become prevalent topics in the United States.
Widespread criticism of the issue has centered on Punisher's violent tactics, which go far above and beyond the bounds of what US law allows police and military officers to do in the line of duty, with little to no oversight or consequences.
So what can move Punisher away from those themes? Though previous attempts to redefine Frank Castle have made him a heavenly avenger and even a rebuilt zombie monster, the latest attempt at moving Punisher forward from his traditional legacy seems to center on something in Frank's past - which may likely tie into his upcoming association with the Hand.
"It delves very deeply into Frank Castle's youth and upbringing and history as we learn the various forces throughout his life that guided him to becoming the Punisher, even before the deaths of his family in that Central Park shooting," Brevoort explains. "And we're really trying to make something that is an enormous touchstone for the character."
Could this imply that the new Punisher title will establish a previously unknown element of Frank Castle's background that in some way explains or redefines his actions as a vigilante killer? We may find out when Punisher #1 arrives on March 9.
Daredevil: Born Again centered on the Kingpin learning Matt Murdock's secret identity - a memory he recovered in the current Devil's Reign limited series.