Marvel’s Next Big Thing: Punisher #1 with Greg Rucka

Today we're talking to writer Greg Rucka and Senior Editor Steve Wacker about next month's all new Punisher #1. 

"We're here to talk about the world's newest mutant, Frank Castle!" Wacker jokes. He says he's been trying to get Rucka back at Marvel for a long time and that all started to come together for an Eisner nominated coda to Siege

Rucka says he had to think long and hard before agreeing to write the Marvel U's Frank Castle as opposed to the Max version, which he concedes is a very different animal. He obviously came up with something he's confident about. Asked about his attraction to the Punisher in general, Rucka admits he always avoided the character early on because he viewed him as a right-wing reactionary vigilante. A shift happened though, and these days he views him a bit differently. "I love characters who do their shit well." 

"Frank doesn't break any piece of china he doesn't want broken." the writer says in response to Wacker's classification of the Punisher as a bull in a china shop. 

Rucka is deeply fascinated by the character's revenge story and the aftermath of that very simple premise. Unlike Captain Ahab, Frank Castle persists upon the death of his white whales. That he hasn't eaten his own gun at this point is the real hook. 

Following Fear Itself, which the series touches on tangentially, the criminal rat maze of New York is in flux. Thirty people get caught in the crossfire of gang violence. A supervillain pops up in issue #3. Later down the line we'll see some of the ramifications involved with being a murderous vigilante in a society filled with superheroes. Rucka considers the superhuman watch group a sword of Damocles hanging over Frank's head. That said, this is still a street level book because that's where the writer likes to operate. He says series artist Marco Checchetto is particularly deft with this aspect. 

Rucka confirms that we do not want to have a beer with this man. We will see Frank's view of his own actions, though there will be no "War Journal" style inner revelations. Rucka also reveals that Frank is operating alone these days. "He's on mission. If you're in the way of the mission, he will solve it." 

We asked whether the many superheroes in New York willingly allow Frank to go about his murderous business and if there's any agreement or policy in place within the Avengers about how to deal with him. Rucka explained that no one is really turning a blind eye, but that hammers falling from the sky take priority over whatever the Punisher is doing. Frank would never shoot Peter Parker, but he would not allow himself to be taken into custody either. 

For Rucka, The Punisher serves as the ultimate capital punishment fantasy. Frank has decided the system of law is inadequate. 

A new detective character named Ozzy offers the other side of the story, working within the law and showing up when the bullets are already in the foreheads. Ozzy's partner is a detective named Bolt who has a history with Frank. 

Asked how readers will be able to view Frank as the good guy in all this without interior monologue, Rucka says he doesn't know that he views The Punisher as the good guy at all. "He's a badass and he's cool to watch." But he's not a great example of moral integrity. He will go great lengths to protect the innocent and he won't go after children or cops, but beyond that…?

Rucka explains that within the Marvel U, he finds it difficult on a logistics level to introduce super villains into the Punisher story because Frank would want to hunt them to the ground and kill them. Since he has a short list of supervillains he's allowed to kill, he's keeping it mostly street level. Two groups he'll be facing in a Wi-fi enabled criminal underbelly include "The Exchange" and another outfit seemingly headed by The Owl. 

We asked about Frank's arsenal and how he'll need to combat these modern criminals and Rucka teased that the character is going to get his hands on a product which has the potential for extensive lethal damage. 

The book, which will come stamped with a parental guidance notice, does not feature gratuitous violence but it will go to the line. We won't see the hole through a corpse's head, but we'll see Frank shoot and we'll see him pass the twitching feet. 

Frank will also be taking a brief, black-humored vacation to Spider Island

A tagline? "How do you survive revenge? And can you?" 

Here's a preview from Punisher issue #1 including covers by Neal Adams and Sal Buscema. 



And here's a peek at the covers for issues 2,3 and 4. 

Look for Punisher #1 and #2 in August. 



  1. Can’t wait for this book, The Punisher and Greg Rucka almost feel made for each other. I think he’s going to have an EPIC run!

  2. Wow who is the artist on that? It ALMOST looks Manipul-esque, much grittier.

  3. This looks good but I just can’t bring myself to read yet another book trying to make Punisher ‘tie-in’ into the Marvel U. He’s clearly better suited where superheroes aren’t around otherwise he’s pointless. Then again Aaron isn’t wowing me with his run on the MAX book so I guess I got no where to go for now.

  4. Nevermind I see it now. Learn to read.

  5. Isn’t that Neal Adams, not Art, on the cover?

  6. I’m excited to see Rucka’s take on the Punisher, but man, I just can’t bring myself to like any of the covers for #1.

  7. Avatar photo Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    @davidaprice  You are correct, sir. 

  8. Whos the artist on this?

  9. Avatar photo Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    @JaqueNargg  Marco Checchetto

  10. Reminds me of Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver.

  11. @TheNextChampion  I’m of the same mind: I don’t like Punisher crossing over with the heroes and villains of the regular Marvel U. I’ve been really enjoying Aaron’s run. He’s no Ennis, but who is?

  12. I love Aaron on Punisher Max. And Rucka on the MU book? I might be reading TWO Punisher books a month. And I typically HATE the Punisher. Weird.


  14. Avatar photo captamerica101 (@Autobot_Hunter) says:

     what SpiderTitan said.

  15. I’m beyond excited for this. Aaron’s work on PunisherMax has made it possibly my favorite title currently, and Rucka giving his take on the character should be awesome. I really liked what Remender did with keeping the Punisher tied into the Marvel U, so I don’t see how Rucka could do a less than great job.

  16. I thought that Rucka left DC and Batwoman to do “creator owned” books? What a load of crap. The Punisher is just a character that seems to be a one trick pony in the Marvel Universe. I mean the last run of “Frakencastle” was horrible. It was so bad that my local shop gave money back on it!  I will be skipping this all together. Go back to Batwoman and DC!

  17. @ccarney  
    Couple things wrong there.

    DC pissed off Rucka about something (Batwoman related). There’s a reason he’s not there anymore.

    And Frankencastle was amazing. Best book of 2010. Remender wrote the shit out of that book. One of the smartest books on the stands. 

  18. Love the panels in the 2nd row.

  19. One problem I have with the interview is that Rucka state he didn’t want to do the character because of what he felt he represented in the past.

    Now other then the obvious storyline of him turning into Frankenstein (which is bizarre to type and read I must say): What exactly has changed so significantly with the 616 Punisher? You could read a Punisher book from 1994 and a Punisher book from 2011 (again sans Frankencastle) and you have the same character with the same motivations.

    So I’m not sure what he really thinks is the big change here with this version. 

  20. @TheNextChampion  Frankencastle was a pretty great humanization of the character.

  21. I think the change isn’t with the Punisher, but how Rucka sees him. That said, there’s a good case to be made that different writers have addressed different dimensions of Castle. 

    I dunno; I’m not a huge fan of the character. I liked Fraction’s run coming off of Civil War, but I can rarely maintain interest in him for long. Rucka’s stuff looks and sounds pretty cool, but I really don’t know if I want to be buying a Punisher book again.

    If the announcement had been Rucka on Daredevil, this would be a no-brainer for me.

  22. I think I will be skipping this one, Too many DC titles to add to my file once September gets here. It is funn when I first collected comics as a kid and teenage I collected more Marvel than DC, but now as an adult I collect more DC than Marvel.

  23. @ccarney  I was thinking the exact same thing.

  24. Love Rucka’s work, so I am getting this.

  25. I am really looking forward to this. Nothing wrong with having Max Punisher and MU Punisher.

  26. I’ve never liked the Punisher, but I will read anything Rucka writes. Total buy.

  27. Punisher Max was the best Punisher ever, I could never take him seriously after that.  Just the mere title and covers, ‘FrankenCastle’ makes me wanna punch myself in the balls… I don’t care how many Fan Boys say Franken Castle is ‘alright’.  No way, no thanks.

    But Greg Rucka… the man himself plus this interview convinces me that I can love my Punisher again and I can love him back in the spandex world of Marvel U.  Totally stoked about this series. 

  28. Hmmm, I’m intrigued. I think it’s a good match up but would rather see it in the Max book. I’ll see…

  29. Not sold on the artwork. It’s not bad, just not my thing.

  30. Loved Ruka’s other work, looking forward to this.

  31. Oh ok I get it now, every announcement Marvel makes is the Next Big Thing, right?

  32. @IroncladMerc  Yep. It’s how Marvel brand’s their press calls.