This February, the city of Los Angeles will be welcoming a new face into town – and boy are people dying for him to get there.
On February 5, Marvel launches The Punisher, an ongoing series by The Activity creators Nathan Edmondson and Mitch Gerads. For this new mission, Edmondson and Gerads are trading in their special forces squad for a one-man army in an “off the books” assault on the California crime world. But as Edmondson tells Newsarama, the long-time hunter Frank Castle has unknowingly become the hunter for what the publisher calls “a posse of Punisher predators.”
Back in October when The Punisher was initially announced Newsarama spoke with both the writer and the artist, and now as the series is less than a month out we reconvened with Edmondson to go more in-depth on Frank Castle’s trip to California, what awaits him in the City of Angels, and the hell he’s bringing down on himself.
Newsarama: When we spoke back in October, The Punisher had just been announced and you had to be pretty tight-lipped. But now that the series is launching in just under a month, I expect you can open up a little more. What can readers expect from the double-shot of The Punisher #1 and #2 come February, Nathan?
Nathan Edmondson: Frank Castle, on a mission, merciless and dispassionate, but human and thoughtful. “The 131,” capable, mysterious, devoted to finding and taking the Punisher down. A cop. A coyote. Coffee.
Nrama: This is a big move for the Punisher, and a challenge for you. Have you booked any trips to California to get down his new surroundings, or how are you getting to know the West Coast?
Edmondson: Los Angeles is my work commute; I’m there often and I had no trouble putting Frank there. It’s the perfect playground, battlefield, war zone and breakfast spot for the skull-clad vigilante.
Nrama: Any specific places or views you're working with Mitch to include in Frank's L.A. story?
Edmondson: We’re all over Los Angeles. We’re in the impoverished neighborhoods and warehouse districts, in the water and out in the desert. Downtown and in mansions. Overall we want it to feel real and gritty; we want the reader to feel the heat of the pavement and the wind over the Santa Monica beaches. Frank has his “home base(s),” which we will slowly get to see, but he doesn’t really have a home. The city is his; he’s not a cat prowling a house, he’s a lion with a den and a hunting territory. He will defend that territory ruthlessly.
Nrama: How does the criminal underworld differ for Frank between New York City and L.A.?
Edmondson: L.A. is spread out more, with a greater variety of terrain and setting. The criminals are thriving, but finding them and identifying their operations is tougher than ever. For Frank, however, the bigger the town, the lonelier his mission is sure to be.
We will see in the first issues of The Punisher that Frank is up against a specific gang; one that is powerful and growing more so; one with military-grade weapons and worse.
Nrama: Since it's spread out, how will Frank be going from A to B? Any chance for the ol' War Wagon?
Edmondson: Frank is not the guy to keep a polished bimmer in a garage; he doesn’t have his “Punisher” truck. Vehicles are utility and he may live out of them or steal them to use as a missile, driving fast into a den of drug dealers. As the covers show you, he’s going to be on a motorcycle from time to time, which makes a lot of sense in a city known for its traffic...
Nrama: Frank has quite the network of informants and allies in NYC – does L.A. have any friendly faces at all for him?
Edmondson: “Friendly” is the right word—“friends” would be too strong, of course. Yes, Frank has some allies, but only a few. One out of necessity of mission, one or two perhaps out of necessity of soul.
Nrama:The solicits for the debut put an interesting name to these government special forces squads after Frank: “posse of Punisher predators.” What can you tell us about this team and why they’re out to get him?
Edmondson: Very, very little. They’re called “The 131,” but who are they really? You’ll find out in The Punisher #1, and you may be shocked.
Nrama: I also hear talk of the Punisher going after a gang in L.A. named Dos Sols. In Spanish that means “Two Suns,” so who are they?
Edmondson: The reason for their name is something that will be revealed later in the series, but they’re a gang with ties to central America who import drugs and weapons to the United States—but as we will learn, they have darker designs for Frank’s new hometown, and they have everything they need to see their deadly plot unfolded.
Nrama: And this isn’t all street level evil here, as I’m promised an appearance by a major Marvel villain in The Punisher #3. What can you say?
Edmondson: You’re promised an appearance by a major Marvel villain in issue #3. But not only issue 3. This is Frank’s story, but we ain’t shying away from the bombast of the Marvel U and the rogues gallery. When Frank tinkers with evildoers, their allies take notice, and it will suddenly become very clear, very quickly that Frank is not a super-power-endowed hero himself…
Nrama: You’ve done work for Marvel before, but with this and this month’s Black Widow you’re storming the House of Ideas in a big way. As someone who made such a name for himself with creator-owned work, what’s it like coming in with two ongoing series near simultaneously into work-for-hire superheroes?
Edmondson: It’s nothing but a pleasure and an exciting one. Marvel has proved fertile ground for me and my collaborators to strike into these series as if they’re our own creations, for the most part. We’re writing Marvel characters but we are allowed the liberty and blank canvas to be true creators, making books that feel fresh and new and have all of our energy pored into them. I think it’s evident in Black Widow, if you’ve read that, and it’s certainly true as well with The Punisher.
I love my collaborators and editors, and that energy translates to the page.