Punisher: Monster Mash

Rick Remender talks about the newly-transformed Franken-Castle and his membership in the Legion of Monsters

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PUNISHER #12 preview art by Tony Moore
By Jim Beard

Pity the pieces of the Punisher. Drawn and quartered, his entire existence now seems to be summed up in one word: Monster.

"I'm connecting a lot of dots between things that have happened in Marvel history," explains Rick Remender, writer of the ongoing PUNISHER series, issue #12 out December 23. "In [issue #12] we first see Monster Metropolis, which is a giant underground city, and in its center is the Hall of Monsters. We've seen the Legion of Monsters pop up on occasion, we've seen them work together, but what we've seen is nowhere near the scope of what's really gone on.

"When you see Ghost Rider, Man-Thing, Son of Satan, Dracula and even Doctor Voodoo together I think you start to see a very unique group of characters from the Marvel Universe. I'm trying to create a mythology where on occasion we've seen these characters work together but there's been a lot more that's been going on in the shadows."

To put it another way, Remender agrees that in PUNISHER #12 a lot's going on under the surface, both figuratively and literally, with Frank Castle and the Monsters.

"In terms of these monsters I wanted to explore them, to take them back to where the X-Men and the mutants were years ago where there was a very small band of them and they were hated and feared by almost all," he elaborates. "Some of the monsters that are down there are very noble; the Living Mummy and Morbius-these guys are pushing toward heroism,

PUNISHER #12 preview art by Tony Moore
even. Even though they are externally monsters, very frightening and ugly creatures of the dark, they are all endeavoring to rise well above it, to protect the less fortunate of their ilk.

"It's a very different case with Frank now, he's dead inside, after torching his family, and there isn't any nobility left in Frank. There's always that debate: is Frank a hero or a villain? And I think this is an opportunity to explore that."

As PUNISHER #12 kicks off, Frank's not exactly himself. After a devastating battle with Wolverine's son Daken, the Punisher's found himself gone to pieces and in a very, very dark hole in his life.

"In terms of where he's at now, it's a very painful place," says Remender. "He's having a hard time with his body. His mind is drifting, broken; he's got these pills that Morbius gave him that he has to take to keep his brain working; he's just a slab of meat at the lowest point a person could be and he's contemplating ugly things. One of the things that's weighing heavily on Frank's head is what happened when the Hood resurrected his family and how he made the decision to put them right back down in the grave. Everyone is focusing on his physical injury after his battle with Daken, this is the real injury.

"His reaction at this point is that he's got a fuzzy head, his hands don't work very well, he's in a lot of pain and he doesn't necessarily want to be alive. When the Living Mummy tells him he can be a part to this 'family' [of monsters] Frank remembers the burning casket, when he killed his

PUNISHER #12 preview art by Tony Moore
family. That anguish makes him go wild-I mean he goes absolutely nuts and that is something we'll be seeing more and more of."

The Castle family's resurrection may prove to be a key pivot point in the Punisher's decisions going forward as he wrestles with his new patchwork existence.

"For me the thing that's interesting to explore in this story is the thing that he did when his family was resurrected and brought back," Remender notes. "For him it's didn't take but two seconds to decide to put them back in the ground and I think there can be a lot of different reasons for that. I have my own idea for what that reason is, but I think it's one of those things where Frank shouldn't even know, and by not knowing it should offer him the opportunity to discover a few things about himself."

The Marvel Monsters also find themselves in a situation not much to their liking. Remender's story explains what they see in Franken-Castle and what he might mean to them at this moment in their history.

"They're all in a place right now where every monster in the Marvel Universe has been ushered into the Monster Metropolis for safety," he says. "They're all living there, all the [Jack] Kirby monsters and all the wonderful monstrous things of the Marvel Universe, down in Monster Metropolis hiding. They've been nearly wiped out-they've been

PUNISHER #12 preview art by Tony Moore
slaughtered by these Japanese monster hunters. They need a strategist, somebody with military experience; nobody else is going to help them. They've put calls out, and nobody is going to come to their aid."

Enter Franken-Castle, the ex-Punisher, now a monster like them. Too bad not all of the denizens of Monster Metropolis roll out the red carpet.

"It's a mixed bag," reveals Remender. "You've got characters like Werewolf by Night who sees Frank as only making things worse. He doesn't approve of Frank, he doesn't like Frank, and then you've got other characters who can identify with where Frank is at right now and what Frank's been through, seeing the benefit of having him on their side; ultimately, if he takes their side that remains to be seen.

"PUNISHER #12 is establishing the new status-quo for Frank's life, the new Monster Metropolis beneath New York, and setting up one of the goriest, biggest fights I've ever been a part of, coming up in issue #13. I'm having a ton of fun and [artist] Tony [Moore] is turning out the work of his life." 

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      Comments

      10 comments
      inaquimj
      inaquimj

      I've been collecting Punisher for years. I have the main titles, the mini-series, one shots, variants, appearances and even cameos... if something comes out with the Punisher skrull on any page, I just buy it... but not this time... I will continue to buy the MAX but #11 of this volume is my last one (at least until they stop this "Franken-Castle" nonsense). I'm hoping a lot of other readers do the same and Marvel gets the message.

      silentprocess
      silentprocess

      This actually peaked my interest as well. The only Punisher book I've touched was the Punisher kills the Marvel Universe one shot otherwise I thought the punisher was just a waste of ink. This concept could be interesting and bring back some Marvel characters that if written well could make a very positive impact. Could be a flop, like most other Punisher things as well though. I feel this will be short lived and this is just an attempt to bring new readers to the Punisher character, I'm sure Marvel feels after they "fix" the character the regular Punisher fans will come back to the series.

      Luna317
      Luna317

      This looks great. For the first time in 20 years I actually want to read a Punisher comic. I love this sharp left turn that has been taken into reconceptualizing what had become a pretty dry and predictable character. I realize this isn't the Punisher that his fans know and love, but that Punisher is alive and well in the MAX series. This is far more appealing to me with the Legion of Monsters and the scenario of the Japanese monster hunters. It sounds like Rick is going to explore just what a head-case Frank Castle is as well, which should ad an interesting dimension to things.

      rook187
      rook187

      Can't believe someone looked at this pitch and said, "Yeah, the fans have been begging for this!" This isn't giving a Frank a cybernetic arm or a bionic eye and then after 20 years of upgrades and replacement having a "Deathlock" type character. It would be gradual and a natural progression. But this is just lame. Way to kill a franchise again. If you guys beg, maybe you can get Garth to come back to write the book in 5 years or so, you know, once all the titles have been canceled and multiple attempts to reboot the Punisher have failed. Idiots.

      Grifter02
      Grifter02

      LAME! Who gave this the green light?

      Nova1
      Nova1

      Sorry, but this has rubbish written all over it.

      BuckyBarnes
      BuckyBarnes

      I can just see it going the same way as when Frank was resurrected by angels and given angel weapons. Retcon

      redlitez76
      redlitez76

      why chop up frank? what is the point of this? arent there enough undead people in the marvel universe? Have you run out of ideas on the punisher?