Warning: SPOILERS for The Punisher #13
With news of police officers in America using The Punisher's skull logo as a sign of strength and solidarity, it's either kismet or coincidence that the Marvel Comics antihero has chosen the same moment to remind police officers everywhere: if you're on The Punisher's side... then he'll soon be coming for you, too.
For those who already grasp that The Punisher is a serial killer, loathed by just about every character in Marvel's Universe and seen as a 'hero' by absolutely none of them, this insight into his morality may seem like old news. But after St. Louis police unions instructed officers to publicly display The Punisher's insignia (the mark of a lawless, fascist murderer) the comic book community was quick to point out the stupidity, and the frankly horrifying message sent by supposed peace officers endorsing a maniac. So it's a good thing The Punisher personally confirms he hates cops who see him as a friend… making every cop who "wears his mark" or calls themselves a "fan" look like shameful fool in the process.
The latest issue of The Punisher #13 truly is the kind of timely that can only be chalked up to fate, releasing at a time when The Punisher's murdering and ultra-violence doesn't just need to be revisited for normal fans, but actual police officers. To prove the point, the story begins ordinarily enough, with Frank Castle doing what he does best: seeing a man waiting to attack an unsuspecting woman, and leaping in to slit the attacker's throat open with his own knife. After murdering that man and attacking said woman (a secret Hydra operative) to gather information on the whereabouts of the man he really wants to murder, Frank moves on.
Its at this point that two NYPD officers seem to be doing their jobs dutifully. On patrol given reports of a large man trying to attack women while keeping to the shadows (the man Frank has just killed), the appearance of Frank in his signature coat and general air of violence sets off their alarm bells. Frank's attitude turns them against him immediately, which only escalates once the officers see the blood still fresh on his gloved hands. Realizing the meaning behind Frank's claim that they "won't need to worry" about the attacker anymore, the police draw their guns on the presumed murderer. That is, until they notice his iconic chest symbol, and realize how lucky they are to meet their hero in person!
Again, it truly can't be overstated that this fortuitous twist should arrive at the perfect time to contrast the real world Punisher worship among police officers. Attempting to frame Frank as a noble force for order, willing to do 'what is necessary' to 'take back the streets,' the result is transforming a menace despised by every actual hero into a folk or urban legend. As the two policemen holster their weapons in disbelief, they explain to a completely confused Frank that they're part of a 'group' or fan club. While taking some selfies with the vigilante--whose hands are still wet with the blood of the man he just murdered, it should be noted--the officers claim to understand what The Punisher is doing.
And off the record, they even endorse his murderous disregard and defiance for the law they swore an oath to defend with their lives... and his desire to murder the civilians whose lives they are also charged with protecting. It boggles the mind just as much as the real-world respect shown by St. Louis police, right down to the fact that the police are showing their support through--you guessed it--The Punisher skull they have affixed to the their cruiser.
The image eerily reflects the real news story, which means Frank sends an even clearer message when he peels it off immediately. Frank's response is sure to win the approval of St. Louis Police Commissioner John Hayden, Jr., who openly opposed the police union directive claiming The Punisher's symbol goes against every part of the oath police officers take. And as he tears the skull into pieces before the officers, he makes sure they understand their mistake:
I'll say this once. We're not the same. You took an oath to uphold the law. You help people. I gave all that up a long time ago. You don't do what I do. Nobody does. You boys need a role model? His name is Captain america, and he'd by happy to have you.
The scene builds to what is surely the line every outraged comic fan wants to hear coming out of Frank Castle's mouth, telling these admiring cops that "If I find out you are trying to do what I do, I'll come for you next." Made to face such embarrassment and shame, and have their would-be hero point out what a disgrace they are to their badges and their duty to protect and serve, the policemen snap at Frank while heading to their next call. It's a satisfying conclusion to the scene, while clearly showing how The Punisher would respond to having his insignia--the mark of a lost, cold, cruel, and murderous vendetta--associated with the police in any city.
But somehow, we doubt the police who failed to grasp the ignorance beforehand will be swayed by this explicit confirmation. At least comic fans know! Check out the plot synopsis and official details below:
- The Punisher #13
- Writer: Matthew Rosenberg
- Art: Szymon Kudranski
- Cover: Greg Smallwood
- THE HOME FRONT! Frank Castle is back in New York, but being labeled an international terrorist has made it an inhospitable homecoming. One man who is certainly not happy Frank’s back: NYC’s new mayor, Wilson Fisk, the “former” Kingpin of Crime. And Baron Zemo’s not done with Frank yet…
The Punisher #13 is available now from your local comic book shop, and direct from Marvel Comics.