Comic books are something that has steadily evolved throughout this country over many years. We have seen characters change costumes, special skills, backstories, and even now gender. Now Co-creator of the iconic Punisher series Gerry Conway is ready to re-imagine the fabled Frank Castle again.
Yet, this isn’t the normal reimagining. It’s not happening because society has changed (albeit an underlying part of his explanation), it’s not happening because he needs new tools. No, this is happening because Conway is experiencing extreme white guilt over the use of the iconic skull logo that became synonymous with his character.
“For too long, symbols associated with a character I co-created have been co-opted by forces of oppression and to intimidate black Americans…You know, there’ll come a time, just like in the 80s, when that character can be rebooted, you know, and turned into something new…personal preference would be that the next iteration of The Punisher would be a black vet, you know, who comes back and faces the issues that minorities in the world face today. Again, as I say, like a Rorschach test. And when he does, you know, I’ll be proud of him again.”
So, we need to completely re-do a character because you feel bad over his logo being used by the military and the police? Does he not know that great black men have worn that logo while serving in the military and the police force? Just because the character does not share the same racial story as them does not mean they cannot identify with them. While he claims that wearing the Punisher skull brands them as an outlaw and criminals and enemies of society, he is tripping himself up to re-cast the race of Frank Castle with that explanation.
The use of the skull in the military was meant to be seen as a symbol of the people looking to take justice. Vengeance for being done wrong. For many who served, that’s exactly what deployments were. Revenge for an uncle who fell with the towers on 9/11. Getting even for having their team leader blown to bits in the truck next to them as they hit an IED. For the police, it was a symbol of strength and doing the rough stuff the desk jockeys and traffic cops didn’t have the stomach for like SWAT, narcotics, and terrorism.
While this is still his co-creation, there is a massive problem with the way this is being set up. A reason to stop being proud of him never existed. The character is legendary and should be preserved for generations to enjoy. The story of Frank Castle has been an iconic and inspirational one for people of all ages, races, and backgrounds. The color of Castle’s skin never made a difference for anyone.
All this destruction of history needs to end. This concept of putting historic characters into other skin tones to continue or re-telling the story is horrific. If anything, it is akin to the same blackface people were destroyed for doing decades ago. Those stereotypes cause a lot of heartache according to the stories, and as such, it is beyond taboo these days. Likewise, to take a story and break it back down just so the character can be another race is beyond ignorant. Given how quickly information, ideas, and stories are passed these days, it would not take long for them to get the word out about a new comic. One that can be an authentic version of what the Punisher would be if he were black. It’s already ironic enough that it’s a white man wanting to tell his version of the black narrative, isn’t it?