New York Comic Con 2012

NYCC 2012: Punisher: Nightmare

Writer Scott Gimple and artist Mark Texeira take Frank Castle down a frighteningly familiar path!

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Punisher: Nightmare #1 preview art by Mark Texeira

By TJ Dietsch

What do Nic Cage, zombies and The Punisher all have in common? Scott M. Gimple, that's what.

Gimple co-wrote last year's “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance” film, currently works on the hit AMC series “The Walking Dead” and will now take on an upcoming five-issue limited series called PUNISHER: NIGHTMARE with artist Mark Teixeira.

The series, which launches in January, finds Frank Castle dealing with a very familiar situation: a recently returned soldier whose family gets murdered by some nefarious characters while at the park. Gimple will throw some new elements into the mix, however, including a villain called Johnny Nightmare.

“There are mobsters aplenty in this story, but the central baddie Frank will face is Johnny Nightmare, a super strong, psychotic villain with regenerative powers,” Gimple says. “The Punisher can shoot him, stab him, try to blow him up and it'll just make him stronger.   “

But the focus of NIGHTMARE will remain soldier Jake Niman, whose family gets murdered in Central Park, and Punisher's reaction to the situation.
“Jake's put into a coma from his injuries, but just like Frank, he survives the attack,” Gimple shares. “While Frank is hunting down Jake's family's killers, he learns more about Jake from his blog entries during his time serving in Afghanistan. Jake's story is complicated, and it forms the picture of someone very different from Frank in many ways, but in other, frightening ways, very much the same.”

Punisher: Nightmare #1 preview art by Mark Texeira

Those similarities could translate into Frank and Jake becoming friends with a great deal in common, but the relationship also brings more evil and strife into Frank's life.

“Jake is very much Frank's ally in the book,” Gimple says. “But Frank's alliance with Jake leads to him encountering Johnny Nightmare, who is a 'chaotic evil' kind of villain. Johnny isn't about taking over the city or robbing a bank. He's about mayhem, terror and death.”
When asked about why the very jaded Punisher decides to get himself involved in Jake's problems, Gimple brings up some central aspects of Frank Castle's character.

“Well, The Punisher punishes,” he explains. “If it was anyone's family gunned down in the park, he would go after their killers—it's what he does. And yet, this particular case hits home with Frank. However hardened he's become, the thing that drives him in his mission stems from a very human hurt: losing his family. So that spark of humanity is always present in Frank; he very successfully fights against it, but it's always there. That spark actually causes him to hesitate in his mission early in the story, and things get messy because of it, which makes it that much more personal to help Jake.”

Gimple found another important key behind what makes The Punisher, one that shows the character straddling the line between good and evil.

“One of the central aspects of the story was exploring how close The Punisher is to being a villain,” the writer notes. “Whatever benevolent impulse drives Frank, ultimately what he does is kill. Frank doesn't think he's a hero at all, yet the only reason he does this is to make the world a better place. And he doesn't derive any satisfaction from what he does; he does it because, basically, after his family died, he died too. This is all that's left for him. I just really like the gray area that the Punisher exists in that way, so I wanted to explore it a bit.”

Punisher: Nightmare #1 preview art by Mark Texeira

Co-writing “Spirit of Vengeance” did not mark Gimple's first foray into Marvel Comics. In fact, he penned a story called “What If Thanos Turned Galactus Into A Human Being” in WHAT IF? #84 back in 1992. He's wanted to get back to the House of Ideas since.

“I've been involved in TV, movies, and comics and I've really, really, really wanted to do some Marvel stuff for a long time now,” Gimple says. “I've done some things for Marvel in the past, but I was hoping to do a longer story. I had met [Senior VP – Executive Editor] Tom [Brevoort] through Mark Waid, and I wound up pitching a few things; PUNISHER: NIGHTMARE was one of them.
Gimple already felt great about getting making PUNISHER: NIGHTMARE, but labeled working with Mark Teixeira as “amazing.”

“I've been a fan of his since I was in high school, and when I was told he'd be doing the art, I was thrilled. There's something about his stuff that feels immersive to me, he puts you right there into the environments he creates. I feel unbelievably lucky to be doing this book in the first place; to be paired with Mark on this story was insanely lucky. His layouts in this book are unbelievable and the way he portrays the action is electric.”

Can’t make it to the convention? Follow along on the Marvel Events App & events.marvel.com, and visit marvel.com/nycc2012, the best way to get exclusive videos, real-time announcements from the convention floor and up-to-the-minute panel, in-booth, and signing schedules of all your favorite Marvel creators!

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