Dark Reign

Punisher: Lethal Listing

Norman Osborn wants Frank Castle dead, and writer Rick Remender tells us he just might get his wish



By Marc Strom

The Punisher might have a hard time getting his name off of this list.

With DARK REIGN: THE LIST - PUNISHER #1 on October 14, writer Rick Remender and artists John Romita, Jr. and Klaus Janson ratchet up the conflict between Frank Castle and Norman Osborn as the latter unleashes a world of hurt on the Marvel Universe's most notorious vigilante.

"It's personal, not business," Remender says of Osborn's motivation for taking down the Punisher. "Frank tried to assassinate Norman in PUNISHER #1. He then went and showed Norman was a liar in public. Norman wanted the Hood to deal with it. The Hood had other ideas. Norman wakes up one day, calls the Dark Avengers, calls his personal army in H.A.M.M.E.R. and tells them how to spend the afternoon: kill Frank Castle."

The idea for Frank's personal war with the demented Osborn came about during early discussions about the series between Remender and editor

DARK REIGN: THE LIST - PUNISHER preview art by John Romita Jr.
Axel Alonso.

"It's a thing Axel came to me with," Remender remarks. "There needed to be a street guy hunting Norman, [and] Frank was the logical choice. It's so much fun to write the character so badly outclassed power wise. Ultimately I decided it didn't change him at all; just instead of shooting a crack dealer with a rifle he's killing super geeks with a Skrull laser pistol. He moves forward towards his targets like a force of nature, it's always about the target, whoever his current Moby Dick might be."

Given Osborn's power within the current Marvel Universe, the Punisher knows that messing with him could result in a very dangerous counterstrike.

"He's waiting for it," admits Remender. "Frank is a brilliant tactician and soldier; he knows what comes next at every move. The question is can he handle what's coming back on him. He knows Norman is coming, but he maybe doesn't know how much muscle he's bringing."

At the core of the upcoming special lies a brutal confrontation between Frank and Wolverine's son, Daken. And though the Punisher has butted heads with Wolverine a number of times in the past, his slugfest with "Dark Wolverine" might prove even more challenging.

"Wolverine and Daken are different dudes," Remender points out. "I like to see Daken as Wolverine if he never met the Hudsons and was raised by Andy Warhol. He's a killer, but he prefers the finest merino wool

DARK REIGN: THE LIST - PUNISHER preview art by John Romita Jr.
backed Egyptian cotton sheets. Basically, he's Wolverine as played by Patrick Bateman from 'American Psycho.'

"So he's been pointed at Frank, and he's off to joyfully, easily kill this street rodent Frank Castle, or so he thinks. The ensuing fight-you're not going to believe it, is all. They both tear into each other in a way we've never seen. In fact, you've never seen a Marvel comic like this."

The climactic battle between the Punisher and Daken had to happen for a number of reasons, according to Remender.

"It comes down to how this issue needed to play out," the writer elaborates. "How to end it and what would come next in the Franken Castle stories I'm doing with my pal Tony Moore on art. It's all part of the next year's worth of story; [DARK REIGN: THE LIST - PUNISHER] sets it all in motion and there was only one way I could see this thing going down-the way it does."

Legendary artists John Romita, Jr. and Klaus Janson bring Remender's script to life in the upcoming one-shot, a pairing that made the writer very happy.

"JRJR and Janson are insane, the best, as good as it gets," exudes Remender. "JRJR is not only my favorite all time Punisher artist hand-in-hand with [Mike] Zeck, he's my favorite X-Men artist [as well]. So

DARK REIGN: THE LIST - PUNISHER preview art by John Romita Jr.
to see him draw Punisher vs Dark Wolverine-to be able to write for a couple of legends-what a treat.

"He's perfect for the entire issue. To children of the 80's, JRJR's Norman is the Norman. The book is a tribute to all the things JRJR draws best. I wrote the thing knowing they'd be the team and tried to make my dream book. Not to get all super gushy but it's the highlight of my career."

Leaving off, Remender let fans know that only a fool would miss this story.

"If you miss it, you hate comics."

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      I think this could be a good story if i can get through the art.He is my least favorite artist ever. It feels painful to me.