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Marvel First Look: Punisher #1
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‘Punisher’ #1 changes fundamental aspect of Frank Castle’s life

‘Punisher’ #1 lives up to the hype, but does it change the character too much?

Spoilers ahead. You’ve been warned. For more, read our Punisher #1 review.

Ever since Marvel announced Punisher #1 would be evolving Frank Castle’s character hardcore fans have been very nervous. Not only does it appear the Punisher logo emblazoned on his chest is changing, but we also got word early on he’d become the leader of the clan of ninjas known as the Hand. Given these details what could the possible “next step” for the character be?

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The first issue comes out today and opens with a reminder of what happened to Frank Castle’s family. They are bloodied and very much dead which is what inspired Frank to become a serial killer of criminals. Directly after this opening scene, we get a double-page collage of many iconic moments from Punisher’s past, all of which are very violent.

Frank Castle’s entire personality revolves around his wife and children being brutally murdered and the first issue makes it quite clear we’ve gotten all those revenge stories ten times over.

It then cuts to our current timeline where Frank is the head of the Hand. Questions abound like, what would his motivation be to help this organization? Why does he seem calmer and more certain?

Writer Jason Aaron reveals he still kills those who deserve it, and in some cases after the Hand has dragged them in. He’s become an executioner for them and not the judge and jury in all cases.

In a key scene set in the past that ends the issue, Frank is attacked by the Hand. After he has created a healthy pile of bodies he’s given a proposition.

'Punisher' #1 changes fundamental aspect of Frank Castle's life

Courtesy Marvel Comics

The head of the Hand offers Frank Castle a gift. What could he ever want or need?

'Punisher' #1 changes fundamental aspect of Frank Castle's life

Courtesy Marvel Comics

And what could “belong” to Frank?

'Punisher' #1 changes fundamental aspect of Frank Castle's life

Courtesy Marvel Comics

Apparently, it’s his wife, Maria! This is a huge reveal as it not only changes Frank Castle’s entire motivation but also erases the great pain he suffered that set him on his course of killing. It’s not clear if Punisher’s children are resurrected too, but they could easily be used to make Punisher do as the Hand wants if they promise more of his family back.

This change is a huge one for Punisher fans who have found the character has been stale and uninteresting. He now has room to grow. Fans who like the fundamental nature of Punisher are going to be sorely disappointed in this reveal. Not only is Punisher happy, but he’s clearly at a place where his constant need for vengeance has disappeared. Frank Castle is fundamentally changed.

It’s also a bit of a surprise Punisher is okay with this development given some sort of sorcery is required to bring Maria back. There’s also the problem that when the Hand brings a person back to life, they serve the Hand and aren’t themselves.  Maybe he just doesn’t care, or maybe he’s aware and ready for her to turn on him. Regardless, Punisher now has a different motivation, his origin has been augmented by bringing his wife back to life, and his character already appears to have changed. This is an evolution alright, but is he still the Punisher?

Let us know what you think in the comments.

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