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"Punisher" creator Gerry Conway: Cops using the skull logo are like people using the confederate flag

Oct 25, 2017
3,555
Kentucky
#51
That’s a good question.

I’ve always struggled with how I feel about The Punisher. When you read Garth’s run it’s just so...brutal and disturbing and yes grounded in a real world situation. Yes, human slavers are in our world. Yes they almost always escape the clutches of the law and life a life of luxury built on the torture and exploitation of others. In that scenario-wouldn’t you want the Punisher?

But then you realize this is a wish fulfillment scenario. The Slavers are real but the Punisher is not.
All this stuff with cops using the logo has really made me step back and reevaluate Ennis's Punisher run, that's for sure. You can make the argument that he's showing us that the Punisher's a sick, broken person and not telling us, but some of it really does read like a power fantasy.
 
Oct 27, 2017
777
#53
I thought it was always telling Punisher always ended up in wacky situations( angel, etc). The only true end result for him is to turn the gun on himself.
A bit off topic, but it is included in the OP, but didn't Marvel kill of Gwen because they felt that having Peter be in a good relationship went against his character at the time? I don't know if I read that somewhere and it was made up or if I'm making it up myself and figured you would be the person to ask.
 
Oct 25, 2017
6,227
#55
Yeah I'll be honest-Secret Empire was such a fucking mess and there's no way they can square up what the Punisher did. Wanda was controlled by a demon. Vision was reprogrammed. Steve was a magic duplicate. Thor.....explanation doesn't make sense.

fucking Punisher joining HYDRA? They didn't even try to make it seem like he was brainwashed-he was just like "Ok sure, lets go." In his latest Series, Frank is chasing after Zemo - to I guess "make up" for being in Hydra? It doesn't make sense.
This is one of those unfortunate things where a charcter gets fucked up because a head writer or an editor had an idea, and it will take years for them to try and erase them fucking that up. for some they were lucky enough to have that built into secret wars.

People like frank, not so much
 

Slayven

You probably post about me on another board.
Moderator
Oct 25, 2017
29,731
#56
A bit off topic, but it is included in the OP, but didn't Marvel kill of Gwen because they felt that having Peter be in a good relationship went against his character at the time? I don't know if I read that somewhere and it was made up or if I'm making it up myself and figured you would be the person to ask.
Yeah the writer at the time felt Peter's life was too cushy. Good job, nice apartment, girlfriend, etc. And they couldn't kill Aunt May because she been on the verge of death for years
 
Oct 27, 2017
777
#57
Yeah the writer at the time felt Peter's life was too cushy. Good job, nice apartment, girlfriend, etc. And they couldn't kill Aunt May because she been on the verge of death for years
That's what I thought. His answer in the OP just felt kind of weird with that in mind. As though he didn't do it with the male main character in mind.
 

Naijaboy

The Fallen
Mar 13, 2018
1,594
#58


It's been a pat peeve of mine for years. Seems like lots of comics from the 70s and 80s got muddled up, resulting in the 90s.
 
Oct 26, 2017
1,363
#61
What's Garth Ennis think about all of this?
Ennis would agree I'm sure. His is THE Punisher run and it's message is clear. Frank Castle is just this beast, "the tyger", who was broken (or unleased maybe) in Vietnam and is now just roaming looking for more meat and using his dead family and the idea of punishent as an excuse to go get it.

He's never presented as something to emulate or even like. Castle never really solves any problems and while he may kill monsters it usually just causes more misery down the road and other people are left to deal with it.
 
Oct 25, 2017
3,452
#62
That's what I thought. His answer in the OP just felt kind of weird with that in mind. As though he didn't do it with the male main character in mind.
Well, fridging is basically just dumb trope-naming rather than meaningful criticism. Secondary characters are and should be at the service of your main characters and they're a mechanism for conflict and change. There's nothing sexist about fridging; the issue to me is much more about the fact that it's usually women getting fridged because the vast majority of characters are still heterosexual men. It illustrates a deficiency rather than being a problem itself. There's good and bad execution of tropes.

Stacey is a good one IMO, especially because a lot of the pathos isn't wrong out of a usual revenge plot but the realization that it was Peter's own actions that caused her death, and just having a hero actually fail so spectacularly was in and of itself novel at the time.

(Not to mention they'd already fridged Gwen's dad before then and Spider-Man's entire origin is the death of his uncle to propel his character change, so it's not like only the female characters were disposable.)
 
Oct 25, 2017
611
#63
I had two friends dress up as the Punisher for Halloween 2017 and show up at my place of employment, which is a theater.

I told them that it’s not a good look, and they hand waved it away. One of them is currently months into the police academy.
 
Oct 27, 2017
10,979
#67
I had two friends dress up as the Punisher for Halloween 2017 and show up at my place of employment, which is a theater.

I told them that it’s not a good look, and they hand waved it away. One of them is currently months into the police academy.
Not surprising, the police forces in this country encourage that mindset. Many officers believe themselves 'above the law' and as such end up exploiting and abusing the populace to their own ends rather than upholding the law. Them taking on symbols of fictional vigilantes, especially ones like Punisher, encapsulates that 'above the law' mindset, specifically that they think they can wield the power of life and death over the populace without regard for the law, like Punisher does. Such a mindset is antithetical to the mission of "protect and serve" that the police should embody. "Intimidate and abuse" is a much more fitting motto for that mindset.
 
Oct 28, 2017
6,430
#68
The reason the Ennis run of the character is so brilliant and effective is that he paints Castle as a full blown sociopath who - to some extent - uses his one-man quest for criminal eradication (a war he knows will never stop) as an excuse for doing something he clearly loves. (Killing)

He's admittedly tragic and at times even sad and sympathetic and he is capable of great heroics but he's also a monster, albeit one that punishes horrible people.

He's one of my favorite characters but the idea that any cop would utilize his icon is vulgar and distressing for a myriad of reasons, the most obvious being that the character is literally the antithesis of what a police office is supposed to be.
 
Oct 25, 2017
3,555
Kentucky
#69
Ennis would agree I'm sure. His is THE Punisher run and it's message is clear. Frank Castle is just this beast, "the tyger", who was broken (or unleased maybe) in Vietnam and is now just roaming looking for more meat and using his dead family and the idea of punishent as an excuse to go get it.

He's never presented as something to emulate or even like. Castle never really solves any problems and while he may kill monsters it usually just causes more misery down the road and other people are left to deal with it.
The reason the Ennis run of the character is so brilliant and effective is that he paints Castle as a full blown sociopath who - to some extent - uses his one-man quest for criminal eradication (a war he knows will never stop) as an excuse for doing something he clearly loves. (Killing)

He's admittedly tragic and at times even sad and sympathetic and he is capable of great heroics but he's also a monster, albeit one that punishes horrible people.

He's one of my favorite characters but the idea that any cop would utilize his icon is vulgar and distressing for a myriad of reasons, the most obvious being that the character is literally the antithesis of what a police office is supposed to be.
These are both really good reads on Ennis's Punisher. Thanks!
 
Oct 28, 2017
6,430
#71
Whenever I see somebody sporting the punisher skull logo either on their car or on a piece of clothing, I reflexively assume that person is an asshole
Wearing the logo because you're a fan of the character is very different than a cop wearing something on the job that literally represents everything a cop shouldn't be.
 
Oct 27, 2017
777
#72
Well, fridging is basically just dumb trope-naming rather than meaningful criticism. Secondary characters are and should be at the service of your main characters and they're a mechanism for conflict and change. There's nothing sexist about fridging; the issue to me is much more about the fact that it's usually women getting fridged because the vast majority of characters are still heterosexual men. It illustrates a deficiency rather than being a problem itself. There's good and bad execution of tropes.

Stacey is a good one IMO, especially because a lot of the pathos isn't wrong out of a usual revenge plot but the realization that it was Peter's own actions that caused her death, and just having a hero actually fail so spectacularly was in and of itself novel at the time.

(Not to mention they'd already fridged Gwen's dad before then and Spider-Man's entire origin is the death of his uncle to propel his character change, so it's not like only the female characters were disposable.)
Don't get me wrong, I actually have no problem with that arc. That it is one of the biggest and most memorable moments in the characters history shows it's well received and worth reading. I was mostly confused as to how he worded his response, because I remembered it being something mandated because the character was too happy.

I have this:


and it took me a long time to even read that issue, because I liked her character so much that though I binge read everything up to it it was hard to read it and have it be real.
 
Oct 28, 2017
6,430
#73
Ennis would agree I'm sure. His is THE Punisher run and it's message is clear. Frank Castle is just this beast, "the tyger", who was broken (or unleased maybe) in Vietnam and is now just roaming looking for more meat and using his dead family and the idea of punishent as an excuse to go get it.
Not just unleashed but the comic implies that
He basically agrees to live and keep killing instead of perishing in Nam and this decision is why his family is basically served up as an offering and catalyst later.
 
Nov 14, 2017
5,652
#76
I thought the diner scene in Daredevil S2 perfectly encapsulated what it means to idolize the Punisher. It's all fun and games until you're up close and personal with a guy getting stabbed a dozen times and a man begging for his life as his skull is slowly crushed in by the butt of a gun. The reaction shots of Karen dispelled any notions she had that she and this vicious killer were "just the same" because she shot someone in self defense one time.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qWWEte-6sIs
 
Oct 25, 2017
3,440
#84
I work in a police department. I see Punisher skulls all over, on desktop wallpapers, personal cars, and body armor. It would be on weapons if permitted (it is not). I also hear a lot of repugnant racist talk. Conway is right. These cops don't understand, Punisher is a statement on the failure of the criminal justice system and power structures more than anything.
 
Jan 5, 2018
1,412
The Pool
#85
PUNISHER FUCKING BEATS UP COPS ALL THE GODDAMN TIME.

Also: can we just pay Gerry on the goddamn back for not only being cool as fuck, but for being the first person ever to write Spider-Man who was not Stan Lee himself? AT THE AGE OF 19. Conway is a fuckin champ.
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,974
#86
These are both really good reads on Ennis's Punisher. Thanks!
Yea. In the Ennis collection he talks about it a bit and really he considers the punisher this monster character that he had go into the darkest of areas and we went with him. But in no way does he consider him any sort of hero
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,479
#87
The amount of punisher skulls I’ve seen combined with the blue life matter flag just makes me shake my head in disappointment.
Either you are a tone deaf motherfucker or just a shitbag.
 
Nov 26, 2017
1,035
#88
Ya know, I've always had a passing fascination with the Punisher. I didn't read very many comics of his, I only remember owning the final days of the punisher, that one with the real photo. I also blew too much money on an oversized collector card once.

I'm glad that my passing impression of Frank Castle aligns with the thoughts of his creator. I'm glad he's saying this out loud and often. I remember the awkward feeling I had from first picture of police decked out punisher junk. I also remember when a kid who teased me for liking comic books started wearing punisher stuff. Ever since then assumed then I lived under the assumption that the symbol had been co-opted by oblivious toxic masculinity. (Way back before I even had a word for toxic masculinity.)