By Tim Stevens
This summer, Frank Castle heads toward the stars in the four-issue limited series SPACE: PUNISHER, from writer Frank Tieri and artist Mark Texeira.
“Sure, the concept of SPACE: PUNISHER is one of the most off the wall things I’ve ever done,” admits Tieri. “Out of this world weapons and bizarre alien criminals. Hideous monsters from outer space. A secretive Intergalactic syndicate.”
“But if you put all that stuff aside, you’ll find that all the things that make for a Punisher story are still here: it’s still a man’s obsessive quest to avenge his murdered family and wipe out crime in all shapes and forms. We’re just changing what those shapes and forms are, that’s all. I think the better question might be ‘Why not space?”’
“Frank relates to all of mankind's basic need for righting a wrong,” Texeira says of The Punisher, echoing his writer’s beliefs. “The elements would work in any environment; water worlds, desert worlds, jungle worlds, and so on.”
For purists bristling at the thought of Castle going off world, or those whose minds become boggled by the very idea of it, rest assured, you’re meeting this Frank Castle for the first time. He might resemble The Punisher we all know and love, but he, and the world of the story, stand separate from the classic Marvel Universe.
“Frank doesn’t go into space; he’s already there,” Tieri reveals. “Our whole world is there. That’s what this is—its own animal. Different Frank Castle. Different universe. Different threats. Whole different ballgame.
“So if you want to know if there might be a SPACE: SPIDER-MAN or a SPACE: WOLVERINE or a SPACE: AUNT MAY if this thing takes off? You bet ya. And SPACE: AUNT MAY [is] gonna be huge, kids.”
As fans know, The Punisher exists as a one man destroyer of crime. In SPACE, that crime comes predominantly from one source.
|Space: Punisher #1 cover by Mark Texeira|
“The main threat Frank faces comes from the mysterious cosmic mafia known as the Six Fingered Hand—the six fingers representing the six heads of the organization,” explains Tieri. “They’re the ones responsible for the death of his family and believe me when I say taking them out will be a lot easier said than done. Put aside that they’re the dominant force in the galaxy they’re also sort of the universe’s Keyser Sözes—more underworld myth than anything.”
Tieri indicates, however, to expect some aspects of SPACE will be a mirror to the more familiar Marvel Universe:
“If it’s recognizable villains you want, recognizable villains you’ll get in the form of the reputed 6FH’s capos: The Red Skull, Magneto, Ultron, The Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus and the Sym-Brood-ant Queen—in this universe, the Brood and the Venom symbiotes have merged into a single race. Fans can also expect to see versions of The Hulk, Doc Samson, Corsair, Deadpool, Sabretooth, The Leader, Rhino and Barracuda, just to name a few.
“Oh, and did I mention the other dominant force in the universe? The Avengers Federation”
While no one will know fan reaction until the book arrives, the reimagined characters certainly receive the seal of approval from the artist.
“I get to develop new ideas [for] many characters,” Texeira describes. “For example, the Goblin, not as a character but as a member of a Goblin race.”
Between the Six Fingered Hand and the Federation, life in SPACE comes as no easy endeavor.
“The state of our Marvel Universe is pretty much like forever living between a rock and a hard place,” says Tieri. “On one side you’ve got the heavy-handed Avengers Federation which is what passes for the law. On the other side you’ve got the Six Fingered Hand which controls everything outside the law. And then you’ve got the force of nature that is The Hulk, causing havoc and basically acting like a space Moby Dick, destroying any ship that’s unfortunate enough to cross his path.”
Dropping Punisher, any version of him, into this universe stands akin to tossing a match into a barrel of gasoline. Things will get rough in a hurry.
“There’s Frank, the most hated man in the universe,” Tieri asserts. “Frank is the wild card nobody wants to mess with. He’s determined to find out who or what is the real power behind the Six Fingered Hand. And if he has to bring down the whole universe to do it, then so be it.”
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