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By Kiel Phegley
Jigsaw's won't be the last ugly mug Frank Castle has to deal with in 2008.
On October 1, the Punisher dives into Secret Invasion for a two-part arc beginning in PUNISHER WAR JOURNAL #24 with guns blazing. According to series co-writer Rick Remender, the series pitting Punisher against some of the Marvel's most uncommon super villains will host some uncommon Skrull action as well.
"The Skrulls wanted to make sure that they could take care of any human resistance that would rise up, and the Super Skrull that Frank encounters would've been made to fight Frank or Daredevil or Spider-Man," Remender explains. "It's a Skrull made specifically for New York street-level guys. And that makes sense. They've made Skrulls for any threat that they thought they were going to deal with, and they've been on Earth long enough to know that guys like Frank and Daredevil and Spider-Man are not to be overlooked."
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Readers of the series know that WAR JOURNAL's uncompromising view of the Marvel Universe often marches to its own drummer, and even though this arc might be a major event tie-in, Remender credits co-writer Matt Fraction with helping keep focus on the long-running story of the series while mixing in invasion action:
"Matt's experience with Civil War has been invaluable on helping us avoid any landmines on the Secret Invasion stuff. With Secret Invasion as a backdrop—and it plays more into the story than there just being a couple of Skrulls running around behind [the Punisher]—it's the best of both worlds because it's the story naturally being told, but it's also incorporating what's happening in the world around them. That's tough to balance in some ways. Depending on what story you were telling, when you've got a crossover event coming up, you could be in something that might not fit at all and have to wedge it in. But that was not the case. We were really comfortable with how this worked out."
And where the payoff hits most specifically will be in the lives of supporting cast like Stuart "Rampage" Clarke and G.W. Bridge who have been playing assistant and antagonist roles respectively to Frank since issue #1 of the series. Clarke's long-gestating plans for the super hero community will be of particular interest in this series, which Remender says is all part of the plan.
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"When people see what's going to happen with Stuart I think they'll be pretty excited" the writer speculates. "Matt's had a lot of plans that he's been building up to, and when we got together and started formulating what the 10 issues we'd be doing together would be, Clarke played a really big role in that. What's coming up here in Secret Invasion is in a lot of ways the big payoff for the entire run so far. It's been something that's been in the works and building up."
Adding credence to the gravity of these events will be Fraction's departure from the series with December's #26. But that doesn't mean a massive shift away from the super villain-stomping specialty that the series has embraced all along.
"It will continue in that vein when I take the book over and go solo with it," promises Remender. "That's the thing that separates it from the MAX book. The Punisher naturally lends himself to ultra-violence and the dismemberment of criminals and gangsters, and that works better in a MAX book. I think when you put Frank in the Marvel Universe, in order to make him interesting and work he needs to be dealing with big, super powered characters. He needs to be dealing with high tech and threats of a Marvel Universe nature. That way it's still fun and ties in, in a way, to what the Punisher was in the 80's, and it does it without having to be gritty and bloody. And it still keeps Frank interesting."
PUNISHER WAR JOURNAL #24, with art by Howard Chaykin, blasts into stores on October 1. For more of Frank Castle's exploits, visit Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited.