By Jim Beard
The acclaimed team of writer Greg Rucka and artist Marco Checchetto kick off October with a new Punisher series sporting a classic name. PUNISHER WAR ZONE, a five-issue limited series, details the bloody aftermath of PUNISHER #15 and #16 in which Frank Castle must face off with the Avengers in a death-match that anyone who survives may regret.
“The question is, of course, what do you do with a ‘Problem Named Castle?’” asks Rucka. “Without giving too much away, let's just say that events in PUNISHER #15 and PUNISHER #16 go big enough that Earth's Mightiest Heroes can no longer hope the ‘Castle problem’ will take care of itself. At a certain point, they have to take responsibility for allowing Frank to have run as he has for so long.
“That point is now, and the time has come to do something about it.”
The writer promises that Frank Castle’s view of his world and the threats therein remains habitually long-range and super hero intervention exists as simply another battle to win in his overall personal war.
“If you've been looking carefully at the background of Frank's ‘garage,’ you'll have noted he's been collecting bits and pieces down through the years, pieces of tech and salvage that he can repurpose,” the writer notes. “Some of them have obvious use, some less so, but that's not really his arsenal at all.
|Punisher War Zone teaser by Marco Checchetto|
“The primary weapon in Frank's arsenal is his mind. He is a careful planner, and a long-thinker. To imagine he hasn't known this day would come eventually is to do him a disservice. Weapons? Of course he has them. Of course he knows how to use them. But, more crucially, he knows when to use them.”
Rucka’s not too keen on tipping his hand yet concerning exactly which costumed champions will appear in PUNISHER WAR ZONE, but he’ll drop a hint or two when pressed.
“Spider-Man and Frank have a long history, obviously, and a recent meeting in the Omega Effect [crossover] to call back to,” he says. “The meeting between Wolverine and Frank is one I've had in my mind ever since I began work on PUNISHER, honestly, and it's not going to be the face-off people expect. I'm leery of saying more because I really don't want to give anything away, but I will add that there is one Avenger that can neutralize Frank with three words alone.”
And with a story like this, readers can expect much more than physical confrontations in PUNISHER WAR ZONE. Expect a style of warfare unique to the character as he’s become known to his legion of fans.
“Honestly, everyone and their cousin has seen the traditional ‘two heroes beat each other to pulp,’ and that just won't work with Frank,” Rucka says. “Against almost any Avenger, head-to-head, he's going to be going down. One of the things I'm most excited about for this is showing the different takes on Frank and what he does, and the different approaches and arguments about how to effectively solve the ‘Castle problem.’ I don't want to presume it as arrogance, but the Avengers, when they decide to act, they think they're getting into one thing, and they discover it's something very different.
“Because Frank, while he almost certainly knows he will ultimately lose, he's not going to make it easy, and he's not going to go quietly.”
Standing with the writer on this sojourn, artist Marco Checchetto completes the Punisher picture in a way that pleases Rucka to no end.
“PUNISHER WAR ZONE wouldn't be happening if Marco wasn't aboard; it's as simple as that,” he explains. “I just wouldn't do it. This is the story we've been heading towards since our PUNISHER #1 in so many ways, and it's the end of a long, long journey for the both of us. I couldn't ask for a better collaborator or partner in this; what he and [colorist] Matt Hollingsworth have done on PUNISHER is so far above and beyond what I could have dreamt of at the start.
“Marco’s art has gotten stronger and stronger with every passing issue he's drawn, and I've always felt he was tremendously talented at the start. This is a chance for him to uncork and play with the full palette, for lack of a better phrase; from the dirty streets to the clean skies, from Frank's blood and bone to Thor's thunder, you know?”
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