Strange new Punisher era gets #1 variants by Alex Ross, John Romita Jr., Benjamin Su, more

Punisher #1 variant cover by Benjamin Su
Punisher #1 variant cover by Benjamin Su (Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Writer Jason Aaron returns to the Punisher in March 2022 with a new 13-issue prestige format series simply titled Punisher (opens in new tab) that will turn Frank Castle's mission on its head.

(Image credit: Jesús Saiz (Marvel Comics))
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In Punisher, Frank Castle is recruited by the Hand to serve their demonic master known as the Beast, thanks to his unparalleled skills at murder. As part of Frank's time as the Hand's warlord, he'll wear a new logo, don new armor, and even take up a sword, in line with the Hand's ninja style.

Why? According to Marvel, there's a "shocking secret" from the Punisher's past that leads him down this road.

Punisher features art from Jesus Saiz, Paul Azaceta, and colorist Dave Stewart, with covers from Saiz. You can see the cover and some interior pages here.

"After writing the Punisher over the years, I've always been fascinated by the character of Frank Castle," Aaron, who wrote the Punisher MAX title, states about his return to the character. "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."

(Image credit: Paul Azaceta (Marvel Comics))
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It seems that Aaron's story will push Frank Castle farther than ever, even earning him the dubious crown of 'King of Killers.'

"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 concludes.

At the same time, Marvel editor-in-chief CB Cebulski promises the series will introduce a "side of Punisher we've never seen before," which represents Punisher's "inevitable evolution."

(Image credit: Jesús Saiz (Marvel Comics))
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What does that mean exactly? Who knows - but perhaps Frank Castle is heading further into being a full-on villain.

The announcement of the new Punisher title comes as a previously announced Punisher series - Punisher vs. Barracuda by Ed Brisson and Declan Shalvey - remains missing in action after being shelved due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Punisher #1 will come with a main cover from Saiz, along with variants by Jen Bartel, Goran Parlov, John Romita Jr., Ernanda Souza, Benjamin Su, Alex Ross (two versions), Inhyuk Lee (two versions), Peach Momoko, a 'spoiler' variant, and more to be announced. Check out those released so far here:

Punisher #1 goes on sale on March 9, 2022.

While you wait, make sure you've read the best comics of 2021.

I've been Newsarama's resident Marvel Comics expert and general comic book historian since 2011. I've also been the on-site reporter at most major comic conventions such as Comic-Con International: San Diego, New York Comic Con, and C2E2. Outside of comic journalism, I am the artist of many weird pictures, and the guitarist of many heavy riffs. (They/Them)