San Diego Comic-Con 2009

SDCC 2009: Aaron & Dillon on PunisherMAX

Jason Aaron talks about bringing the Write Stuff to the MAX Universe, along with Bullseye and the Kingpin!

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By Kevin Mahadeo

Get ready to give extra thanks this Thanksgiving when writer Jason Aaron takes it to the max and joins artist Steve Dillon on the re-launch of PUNISHERMAX in November.

The new ongoing series follows the final issue of current MAX title PUNISHER: FRANK CASTLE, formerly the original PUNISHER MAX series launched by writer Garth Ennis in 2003. Aaron admits to a long-standing love affair with Punisher, first discovering the character with the 1986 limited series by Steven Grant and Mike Zeck, but immediately shot through the heart upon reading Ennis' blood-soaked take.

"The Garth Ennis MAX series is not just the best Punisher series that's ever been done but it's also one of my favorite Marvel comics of the last several years," enthuses Aaron. "I just loved everything that Garth did on

PUNISHERMAX preview art by Steve Dillon
that run, so I'm excited to get to play with that character, even though it's intimidating to follow in Garth's footsteps because I really think he's done the defining run for that character. It's intimidating, but that's also what makes it exciting-to get to throw your hat in the ring after such a legendary run."

Aaron says the hard-boiled, more mature subject matter and tone of the MAX imprint instantly attracted him to the title, as well as the single-minded personality of its gun-wielding titular star. The new gig not only allows Aaron to follow in the footsteps of one of his favorite writers on one of his favorite titles, but the psychological profile of Punisher also opens the door for him to explore aspects of character contradictory to his own.

"Character-wise [Frank Castle] is so completely simple," says Aaron. "You know what drives him. You know what his mission is. He doesn't waver from that no matter the circumstance. He has his principles and his rules that he lives by. To him, everything is black and white. That's interesting to me because it's the opposite of the way I am. I tend not to see

PUNISHERMAX preview art by Steve Dillon
anything in black and white. I tend to focus more on the grey areas. So, it's fascinating to get into somebody's head like that, which is so different from your own."

Aaron's first arc on the title introduces readers to the MAX version of two of Marvel's most infamous villains: Kingpin of Crime Wilson Fisk and the psychopathic sadist Bullseye. The arc explores Fisk's rise to power through the mob and explores a bit of the Punisher's past in the process. Aaron says that while the villains will be familiar to readers, they represent a fresh take fitted specifically for the MAX Universe.

"The [Marvel Universe] Bullseye doesn't work in the MAX Universe," explains Aaron. "You can't have a guy running around in a costume killing people with toothpicks and playing cards. We're not going to see that, but it'll still be true to what we know about Bullseye."

Besides introducing some new blood into the title in terms of characters,

PUNISHERMAX preview art by Steve Dillon
the writer also promises he'll be keeping with the books violent imagery and over-the-top action, aided in no small part by Dillon, who made his indelible mark on Frank Castle by revamping the character with Ennis nearly a decade ago.

"It's a Punisher MAX story, so it's going to be violent," says Aaron. "And Steve Dillon is drawing it, so you got to feed Steve with lots of crazy stuff to draw. It's still surreal for me to see stuff drawn by him that I wrote. [In his career] Steve has already drawn some of the most bizarre and wildest and craziest things you can possibly imagine, so it's good to try and add a few things to that list with outrageous violence and outrageous situations.

"It's intimidating to be following in Garth's foot prints and it's intimidating to be working with a guy like Steve, who I've been a fan of for so long, but that's what's cool about comics. On one hand, you're terrified to take that job and on the other hand, who wouldn't kill to take that job? Following Garth Ennis on PUNISHERMAX with Steve Dillon on

PUNISHERMAX preview art by Steve Dillon
art is the kind of job I'd crawl through nails for. The intimidating inspires you to do better work. I'm not trying to be a bad Garth Ennis impersonation with my run. I aspire to be Garth Ennis."

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      Comments

      4 comments
      DragoBurro
      DragoBurro

      This is awsome, No one will ever be able to match Garth's run, but I think this may finally come close. Jason has to be one of today's most underrated writers, and I think his syle will be great for the Punisher, and come on with Steve Dillon handling the art, it's practically guaranteed to rock.

      notapotatoe
      notapotatoe

      Very good news, but I'd like really to see more other titles under the MAX banner...I like to read good Punisher stories, but he's not my all-type favourite characters.MAX would be perfect for some Marvel outcast titles...

      TheHutchTouch
      TheHutchTouch

      Yes!!! The more Punisher the better. Ennis was a God to me for so long with Welcome Back, Frank and the Born books, and he's still rockin it with The Boys. Very excited for this new release...

      ThePlaywright101
      ThePlaywright101

      Jason Aaron on vocals and Steve Dillon on guitar! Hells yes! I think Steve Dillon did an amazing job on that Punisher: War Zone Marvel Knights mini...Great artists. Aaron's work on Wolverine wasn't too bad neither!