Every week, we'll tap one creator to browse Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited and pick some of their favorite work from the expansive catalog. This week: PUNISHER WAR JOURNAL co-writer Rick Remender, who flies solo after this week's issue #23, talks classic Frank Castle:
"[Artist] Mike Zeck sold me on the Punisher. When I was 12-years old I was in the shop picking up my pull list when I saw that cover; you know, the first cover of the limited series that launched Frank out of being a second hand Charles Bronson roaming the Marvel Universe just waiting until the next time Daredevil or Spider-Man put foot to his ass. If you haven't seen the cover, or read the series, for shame on you and your family and your neighbors. The cover depicts Frank Castle, both guns blazing, being rocketed backwards into a few garbage cans alongside the wall of a dank alleyway. It's one of those immediate
classic images, a perfect still moment that demands anyone who sees it learns more about what it's all about. I'd only seen Frank in the aforementioned guest appearances and to be 'Frank,' he seemed a bit too self-serious, a bit too 'grrrr-hsssss' for me. He wasn't really a character I bought into, but this image had me so I bought the book. I was a fan by page five.
"The story opens with Frank in jail. We've seen it plenty since, but it's the perfect opening. You know who Frank is, you get the set-up, but here he is, without any of his weapons or gadgets in a high-security prison full of crooked guards, vicious gangsters and, wait for it, Jigsaw. He's totally as screwed as he could be, but he's supposed to be, [and writer] Steven Grant knew that from the start. Frank is intended to have his back up against a wall. It defines what a powerful forced of nature he is by defying the odds and fighting his way out of these impossible scenarios.
Grant and Zeck's first issue is still a brilliant piece of comicery, a 70's Dirty Hairy flick set in the cocaine soaked 80's. The internal captioning is spot on, concise; and the art…let's just say Zeck is the best. Mike Zeck with John Beatty made pages that we just don't see anymore, they infused traditional seamless storytelling with bold iconic art, rendered in ink by a laser-guided brush. Zeck's shadows and light lend realism to pages making them perfectly stylized and realistic at the same time; how comics should be.
"If you're a fan of the character or not, this is a classic Marvel series and not to be missed. Oh, and if you like it, Matt Fraction and I have a new Jigsaw arc finishing up in PUNISHER WAR JOURNAL…I hear that's okay too."
Check out more Punisher at Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited