This June, the Punisher going back to his roots as a U.S. Marine, and series writer Nathan Edmondson has called in some unique back-up to take point.
For June’s The Punisher #7 and July’s The Punisher #8, Edmondson will be joined by acclaimed author/journalist Kevin Maurer. A man who’s covered modern warfare as an embedded journalist overseas with special forces and also co-wrote books like No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission that Killed Osama bin Laden. As it turns out, Maurer is old friends with Edmondson after getting in working as an advisor on the comics writer’s previous special forces book The Activity, and Maurer was called in here to add authenticity and experience to a story about Frank Castle on the frontlines of the U.S. drug war in South America.
“In a nutshell, Frank finds himself with a Special Forces soldier on a mission that has gone horribly wrong,” Maurer tells Newsarama. “Frank and the soldier have to team up to escape. At the end, my hope is readers will get why Special Forces soldiers wear Punisher skull patches.”
The Punisher logo is a popular symbol amongst the military, being used as part of patches soldiers wear, as well as being spraypainted inside firebases in Afghanistan; the Punisher was even taken as a name for a new advanced air grenade launcher introduced in 2013. With this fictional story, Maurer and Edmondson seized the opportunity to illustrate that connection in a story with the Punisher himself.
“It’s a story that helps bridge that gap between the comic book (anti-) hero and the skull icon that’s so prevalent, especially in the world of firearms and combat,” Edmondson explains. “It’s a story about the Punisher being thrown back into the world of a Marine, dealing with other soldiers with none of his usual resources or orientation. And there’s one scary and familiar face in there.”
Although Edmondson is the series writer of The Punisher and will continue solo after this arc, the comics writer let Maurer take point in the writing of these two issues. Edmondson assisted to a degree in co-putting and dialogue to maintain continuity with the series as a whole, but Edmondson says the story and scripts are Maurer’s and that he’s “a complete natural.”
“Kevin’s experience and perspective both bring something fresh to the storyline; but more than that I think his time in the dust, hearing enemy fire, marching with Green Berets and reading comics, gives this story some true grit,” Edmondson points out. “He’s a fantastic journalist who’s sought out some very tough stories and that discipline came with him to the script.”
This will be Maurer’s debut in comics, but he’s been working for a while on another forthcoming project – a series at 12 Gauge called Skull One Six with artist Tony Shasteen. Edmondson describes Maurer as a long-time Punisher fan, and Maurer himself says he loves the unique storytelling nature that comic books as a medium brings.
“Telling a story is the same in books, news stories or comics. But there is something special about merging words with art,” the journalist explains. “It is a thrill to see pages come back and see how the art brings the story to life.”
Maurer says that it helps that his comics debut is with the Punisher, not because he’s a big fan but because he’s “a normal dude.”
“I tried to keep in mind that Frank was a Marine first,” Maurer points out. “Gen. John J. 'Black Jack' Pershing had a great quote about the Marines: 'The deadliest weapon in the world is a Marine and his rifle!' Frank’s Marine background was never far from my mind when I started working on this project. Plus, it helps that Mitch Gerads has drawn the Punisher with a lot of authentic gear.”
Working witih Edmondson and Maurer on this two-part story is Spanish artist Carmen Carmero. Carmero made his professional debut last year in X-Factor, and in a short amount of time has led a diverse career drawing Justice League, Shadowman and Superior Foes of Spider-Man.
Newsarama asked Maurer for his appraisal of Frank Castle, the Punisher, especially in light of his extended tours with real special forces soldiers overseas. Maurer analysis of Castle says part of the appeal of the character is that he’s “revenge personified.”
“There is something satisfying about getting back at the bad guys, and the Punisher does that. But I also like his sense of honor,” Maurer points out. “It is easy to trace his sense of honor back to his training as a Marine. I think the hard part about the Punisher is he is so driven that sometimes he comes off as one note. My hope is this story shows his military roots and his respect for the brotherhood that exists between soldiers, Marines and airmen.”