By Kevin Mahadeo
Sometimes, people just need some hardcore punishing. Frank Castle lived for that purpose and brutally died for that purpose, but even death can't stop The Punisher.
Now, Frank Castle continues his mission as a stitched together re-animated corpse, dishing out damage to the thugs and villains of the Marvel Universe every month in the newly re-titled series by writer Rick Remender, FRANKENCASTLE.
Last October's one-shot DARK REIGN: THE LIST-PUNISHER shocked fans of the gun-toting vigilante after he met a grisly demise at the hands of Norman Osborn's stab-happy lackey Daken, the dark Wolverine. However, an even more unexpected twist came a few months later in PUNISHER #11 when the Legion of Monsters found the chopped up remains of Frank Castle and rebuilt him-very much so bigger, stronger, faster and ready to shoot as many bad guys in the face as super-humanly possible.
The recent issue #17 of the title reflected this change through a new name-FRANKENCASTLE-and served as a prelude to book's the upcoming arc "Payback."
In the calm before the coming storm of bullets, Remender took a moment to talk about the new title, his love of the comic classics and what it's like to finally allow the down-trodden Frank Castle some much-needed payback.
|FRANKENCASTLE #17 cover by Mike McKone|
Marvel.com: With last week's issue #17, the Punisher series got renamed to FRANKENCASTLE. Now, you've said before that you kind of see this as a way of reaffirming that the FrankenCastle thing isn't just something that's going away overnight?
Rick Remender: Yeah, that's my assumption. It's an internal Marvel decision and I just view it as the company getting behind the idea, which is nice. We're having a lot of fun with it. Obviously, it's not going to go on forever, but it's definitely going to be going on for the time being and the foreseeable future. It's nice to see Marvel get behind it and try and brand the book with it.
Marvel.com: It's funny you say it's not going on forever because this book is rather known for throwing us things we never see coming. Perfect example being not only the death of Frank but also seeing him returning as a Frankenstein-style monster. Just attempting to think about how he may come back from that is mind-bending in the most awesome way possible.
Rick Remender: Yeah. I think the joy of comic book is that you don't have to stick to formulaic television or film. We can do things that are imaginative and inventive and constantly keeping readers guessing and surprising them with being imaginative high-budget ideas. And that's what this is. I'm a huge fan of the Marvel monsters and I've wanted to get to play with them for a long, long time. When I was playing around with what to do with Frank after he is killed, I recalled an idea I had about the Marvel monsters moving into the old Morlock tunnels, since the Morlocks have been mostly wiped out. There [are] all these great Atlas era monsters and 70's Marvel era monsters. There [are] so many great monsters in Marvel history. I mean, that's what Marvel was doing for a long, long time. So, the idea sort of came from, "Wow, Frank is dead and Daken kicked him into the sewers. If the monster metropolis was down there and the Legion of Monsters was trying to protect these last monsters from monster hunters and they find the remains of Frank Castle, well, Morbius has the technology and the know-how of how to stitch him together using the Frankenstein tomes." And there you go. It's a lot of fun to write this stuff and it's important to me to keep it a Frank Castle comic and make sure it reads like The Punisher, but to heavily lean against what's going on in PUNISHERMAX and that it dips Frank into the wonderful insanity that's in the Marvel Universe instead of just having him run around the streets with a shotgun.
|FRANKENCASTLE #18 cover by Mike McKone|
Marvel.com: You talk about wanting to convey emotion and for anyone keeping up with the title, there has been a lot of emotion recently considering what Frank's been through. But, now it's time for some payback, which is actually exactly what the next arc is called.
Rick Remender: Yeah, issue #17 and #18 are the beginning of "Payback" and then they lead into the "Punishment" arc, which is more payback. [Laughs] It's going to be fun. Frank's got his list of guys that have done wrong by him and people that he's had his ass handed to him by. But he has the Bloodstone now and the Bloodstone gives power directly proportionate to the one's desire for revenge. When I was doing my research on what would be the ultimate relic for Frank to get to start his ascension into ass-kicker of doom in the Marvel Universe I was reading about that. The Bloodstone not only has a history with the Marvel monsters, but it powers people in that the more you want revenge, the less tempered you are and more powerful it makes you. So, it seemed like a really good tool to give Frank as he goes out and punches Daken and Lady Gorgon and Microchip and the Deadly Dozen and all these characters he's had run-ins with who have twisted his life up.
Marvel.com: You know, the more revenge you want, the more powerful you get reminds me of the angrier he gets, the stronger he is. That seems like a fight waiting to happen-Revenge Frank Castle versus Angry Hulk.
Rick Remender: [Laughs] There's a lot of things Frank can do with this. The power level he's at now, I don't think it'll work for him forever to constantly be at this level. Or maybe it would. I don't know. But for now, it's nice to get Frank up to a level where we've seen him taken down and laid to waste and now it's time for him to climb out of the sewers. And when he climbs out, he's powerful. He's going to have some success at getting some payback.
Marvel.com: I can only imagine how surprised Daken will be when he sees Frank. I mean, he has no idea that he's been running around as FrankenCastle, does he?
|FRANKENCASTLE #19 cover by Simone Bianchi|
Rick Remender: No, no. It comes from left field. Daken's in the middle of a regular Daken day doing his Dark Wolverine business, trying to acquire a few relics of his own for his own personal battles and Frank interrupts his day like a semi. It's a lot of fun to see how it's cooking up. I'm putting the final touches on the last issue right now and Tony [Moore's] pages are coming in beautiful. It's high-paced, it's got a lot of twists and turns and it's a big, big fight. We're going to lay waste to Tokyo.
Marvel.com: Now, the story with Daken is going to be a crossover with the DARK WOLVERINE series. What's it like working with Daniel Way and Marjorie Liu on this?
Rick Remender: It's been great. They've both got a ton of great ideas. You never know when you go into a collaboration whether you'll butt heads or if you're going to be able to smoothly transition into cooking up stories together. It was very smooth. We got on the phone and they had really great ideas and it mixed in really well with the stuff that I had cooked up and the things that I wanted to do. It was a five minute call. We were in and out. It was like, "This idea, great. That idea, great. This idea, great." We cooked it all up and got to work.
Marvel.com: Looking toward the future, we have "Payback" and then "Punishment," the latter of which will be coming on for some time. What can you say in terms of what we'll be seeing after that?
Rick Remender: You've got another 10 issues of Frank cleaning up from everything that's happened to him in the last two years, which is really nice, especially given that I'm going to be going all the way back to be dealing with the stuff that [Matt] Fraction had set up and that [we] cooked up together [during PUNISHER WAR JOURNAL]. Every single thread that has been left loose in Frank's life, he is now highly motivated and he's reborn to go out and take care of this stuff. It's nice to have this chunk of time here in this big nine, 10-issue space to have Frank go out and take care of everything that has been left untaken care of.
|FRANKENCASTLE #20 cover by Simone Bianchi|
Marvel.com: As a last question, how much face-punching, shooting and all around violence can we expect to see in the coming months here?
Rick Remender: Oh, quite a [lot]. The fun that we're having here is that we're making action comics. It's big, big, big violence. It's the kind of stuff that if this was a film, we'd need $200 million for the kinds of things we have planned. And that's a lot of fun to see Frank rise up and make a big, big stink is a blast. There is a ton, a metric ton of violence and fast-paced action.
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