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By Marc Strom
Mike Benson likes to punish his characters.
The writer who recently "killed" Marc Spector and set the Merc With a Mouth up for a major fall brings his protagonists into the Punisher
's crosshairs with DEADPOOL: SUICIDE KINGS #2 and MOON KNIGHT #30, hitting shelves on May 13 and 20, respectively.
The upcoming issue of MOON KNIGHT brings the series' current story arc, "Down South," to an explosive and bullet-riddled conclusion as the Fist of Khonshu and Frank Castle both set their sights on a particularly dangerous Mexican mobster. Up until now, though, the Punisher has stuck mostly to the shadows in "Down South," something that Benson says made the story more interesting to him.
"When I was breaking the story, [series editor] Axel Alonso and I would have these conversations about how we didn't want this arc to be just another team-up book between Moon Knight and the Punisher," the writer relates. "We wanted to construct a story where the two would both be down south for different but overlapping reasons.
"So their paths cross in a profound way, but they never, ever do what you'd call a team-up. It was an attempt at trying something a little different than what might be expected and the two characters do dovetail at the end rather nicely. I like how it all came together."
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Given the volatile nature of both characters, any potential meeting between the two could end any number of ways.
"This is more about two guys with history, in the same place at the same time, but with different agendas," Benson notes. "And because of their contentious history it could've gone either way at anytime."
Benson, who also scripted Frank Castle in 2007's PUNISHER ANNUAL #1, makes no secret that he "thoroughly enjoy[s]" writing the character.
"David Chase, creator of 'The Sopranos,' once said everyone loves Tony Soprano because, secretly, everyone wants to be the toughest guy in the room," Benson says. "That statement always stuck with me, and it holds water for my love of the Punisher. He's the ultimate badass. He's an unstoppable force. And I've enjoyed so many of the different interpretations of the character, my favorite being [writer] Garth Ennis' by a long shot."
Writing Marvel's most ruthless vigilante in a number of different series has allowed Benson to offer up multiple interpretations of his own, as his approach to the character changes depending on the specific context.
"The DEADPOOL: SUICIDE KINGS Punisher is much less serious in demeanor than the MOON KNIGHT Punisher," Benson points outs. "It's a tonal thing. In SUICIDE KINGS, Frank has access to all these far-out Marvel Universe weapons that he acquired in Rick Remender and Jerome Opena's PUNISHER series. But that's because [SUICIDE KINGS] is a bigger, broader, in-your-face book. Some of the weapons we have him using are way out there. It's been a lot of fun."
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And when the Punisher goes after Deadpool next month, he'll need all that ordnance and more. Despite Wade Wilson's occasional dalliances with a conscience, he shouldn't expect any quarter from Castle.
"The Punisher sees Deadpool as a mercenary who committed an extremely heinous crime that he was likely paid for," Benson offers up. "To the Punisher, Deadpool is pond scum who needs to pay for his crime."
While readers know that Deadpool's most recent employer framed him for an explosion that leveled a New York apartment building, the Punisher doesn't. As a result, Castle thinks he has all the reason in the world to track the Merc down.
"Frank thinks Deadpool murdered a ton of innocent people, and on his turf," Benson simply states. "He's got Frank's attention."
However, the Punisher may not fully realize the amount of insanity an encounter with Deadpool entails, and if Benson could offer the vigilante one piece of advice, it would be to "throw logic out the window and don't believe anything you see."
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