Exclusive: Nathan Edmondson Exploring Frank Castle In The Upcoming PUNISHER Comic
Marvel made some big announcements at New York Comic Con about a slew of new comics that will be launching February and March of next year for phase two of Marvel Now! There were a lot of great titles and some stellar creative teams unveiled, but the one that got folks most excited, around these parts at least, was the new Punisher comic from Nathan Edmondson and Mitch Gerads. The two men behind the hit Image Comics‘ military thriller The Activity will be bringing that expertise over to the Marvel universe as Frank Castle takes a trip to Los Angeles to take on new threats and the criminal underworld of California. I was lucky enough to get a few questions in with Mr. Edmondson about the first arc of the upcoming series and how he’ll be exploring both The Punisher and Frank Castle.
The announcement about your new series made a lot of fans happy. The Punisher is an anti-hero but a lot of people love him. Were you a fan of the character? What do you think is so appealing about Mr. Frank Castle?
Totally a fan, yes. I like The Punisher because he’s a man who’s been stripped–seemingly–of all that makes him a functioning member of society. In that gulf of humanity he finds the shores of his military training and that’s his new humanity. With total devotion to his abilities, he’s unstoppable. What’s so great about writing him is finding the cracks in that exterior where his former humanity shows, and exploring how that conflicts with his mission, with his life as The Punisher.
Your series will see Frank leaving his usual stomping grounds and heading out west to L.A. Can you tell us a little about the threat(s) that draws our anti-hero to the west coast?
I can’t say much right now. Except that it makes sense and feels so right. It works with the goings-on of the marvel universe as a whole while simultaneously offering a fresh and vibrant and explosive new playground for the skull-wearing badass.
Going off of that, I like to think Punisher is playing chess when everyone else is playing checkers. When you have someone who is so focused on doing what he does and is so methodical, how do you challenge him? Do you give him a big bad villain, throw a bunch of thugs at him, change some of the variables he plans for, or something else entirely?
Not in our book. He’s in a universe of super villains, and it doesn’t matter how bad ass he is–a gun may be no match for building-razing powers. So it will take more than brawn for Frank to survive now. He’ll be on the offensive, but he’s up against something he can’t beat down and he’s being hunted by a group–the 131 (Who are they?)–that he can’t outrun.
We’ve seen different Punishers. There’s been the Punisher who crashes through a door with machine guns, gets shot once or twice and keeps chugging along. Then there’s the precise, tactical Punisher whose every shot is a kill shot. What sort of approach are you taking with Frank and his mindset? Realistic or a little more action movie?
Certainly more the latter, but he’s got plenty of grit. Ours is thinking, methodical, clever, merciless.
The Punisher could be deadly with a pencil, but he does have a nice weapons cache. You have some knowledge from The Activity that will probably translate well to Punisher. Will Frank have some special weapons or gadgets he’ll employ in his new war? Anything you can tease?
All I can say is what he needs, Tuggs will get for him.
One thing you’ve said I find interesting is that you’re going to explore Frank’s human side. How do you see the Frank Castle who is a one man killing machine vs. the Frank Castle who has to go out and be part of the world because he has human needs? Sometimes it’s hard to tell, but he is mortal.
He’s mortal, and no man is devoid of personality, emotion and a basic need for interaction. So he does interact, and we see what that looks like, we feel the awkwardness and tug and pull of what he will and won’t let in. Frank has let people in before, and it’s cost him, in one way or another. Dealing with people means dealing with feelings and human realities that are distracting–it’s easier for Frank to let some hollowpoints do the sorting out for him. He’s more comfortable keeping people at gun’s length.
Frank is a lone wolf, but he does have to interact with people on a regular basis. I know you’ve said we may see an animal friend, but can you give us any hints or info on the supporting cast?
He’s got a contact in the military that gets him some special toys. A cook at his favorite diner who seems to have some insight into Frank’s background. A beat cop with a crush–on Frank, not The Punisher. One or two others, on the ally side of things. The enemies list is too full to count.
Are there any Punisher runs you looked at when you were brushing up on the character? Greg Rucka had a good series recently, but were there any writers or just something from some comics that you used for inspiration or drew from?
We didn’t really base our approach on any previous iterations. We’re really coming at this at a new angle that, hopefully, will open doors to more and more readers. We had lots of conversations about what makes Frank and The Punisher tick. What has gotten him to where he is. It’s hot, and has a bleeding edge feel to it. So exciting!
If your first arc was a movie trailer, what would it look like? What would the “Coming Soon” teaser for your first arc be?
One total, tactically capable badass on a mission to climb a ladder of climb and uncover a deadly secret; but he’s up against villains far more powerful than he is and he’s being hunted by a mysterious group known only as 131. The first arc is called BLACK AND WHITE and Frank will have to make life and death decisions in the moral gray between the black and white…
Let’s talk about your artist to close things out. Since the announcement we’ve seen two pieces of Mitch Gerads’ art. One was a very stunning cover for Punisher #1 and the other was an equally awesome piece with Frank wearing an “I’m Not Daredevil” shirt. He has a great style, especially with The Activity, but are those two good samples of what you all have cooking? Those two images seem to me to show a hardcore, serious Punisher with some comic book-ness thrown in for good measure.
You got it. That’s what you see, that’s what you’re in for. Mitch’s art here is every bit as good as it was on THE ACTIVITY but there’s a new edge for it, newly sharpened for a new book with Marvel superheroes. So you’ll see something new from him. But this is art you’ll never have seen coming from Marvel.
Our thanks to Nathan Edmondson for taking the time to answer our questions. It sounds like we’re in for a fresh take for not only Punisher, but Frank Castle as well. It seems we’re going to get a hardcore action Punisher as well as a little exploration on what makes him tick and what it’s like for Frank Castle when he’s not dealing out punishment through the barrel of a gun. All of that would be interesting in its own right, but shaking things up by taking Frank out of his habitat and moving him to Los Angeles adds another interesting dynamic. Edmondson and Gerads will kick off the first arc, Black and White, this February. What do you think about Edmondson‘s comments? Did he pique your interest?