The Design Evolution of the Punisher | Yellow Spandex #29 | NowThis Nerd

Frank Castle has long been one of comic books’ most controversial characters, a bloodthirsty vigilante who’s body count dwarfs that of the criminals he guns down on a daily basis and honestly, the only thing separating the Punisher from your run of the mill serial killer, is a cool costume He’s got no powers, paper-thin characterization, and politics that are beyond antiquated in 2019, and yet, he still endures as one of comics most iconic characters, thanks to some awesome writers, oodles of violence, and a stone-cold classic symbol

I’m Andrew, and this is The Design Evolution of the Punisher Let’s start, as always, with The Comics Punisher creator Gerry Conway was inspired by ‘The Executioner,’ aka Mack Bolan, a vengeance-fueled Vietnam vet who guns down criminals in a series of books that are still being written today Originally, Conway’s character was simply called ‘The Assassin,’ but Stan Lee himself intervened to offer a much more compelling codename He recalled a one-off character he’d created for the Fantastic Four, a robotic enforcer employed by Galactus known as ‘the Punisher,’ and offered the new name to Conway who, not wanting to upset the head honcho, quickly agreed

You don't upset Stan Lee If Stan Lee says "I have a better name–" You got with Stan Lee's freakin' name 'Nuff said! Conway sketched up an initial costume design to show artist John Romita what he had in mind: A black bodysuit, white gloves and boots, and a tiny skull and crossbones logo on one side of his chest Much like a LaCoste polo! Romita, who was a big believer in blending design with functionality, blew up the skull to cover the character’s entire torso, and created stylized, elongated teeth that doubled as spare magazines And I'm not talkin' about Tiger Beat

I'm talkin' about bullets The giant white logo also served another purpose, much like Batman’s symbol, the skull acts as a bright, bold target that entice enemies to fire at his heavily armored chest, instead of more vulnerable spots like his completely unprotected head Romita deliberately designed Frank without a mask, to give readers full access to his frenzied expressions, and to show how Castle was a man with nothing to lose The Punisher was a hit, obviously, and after his first appearance in 'The Amazing Spider-Man,' he quickly become a thorn in the side of other characters like Captain America and Daredevil Morning, sunshine

After a few appearances in black and white magazines, the Punisher graduated to his own comic in 1986, just in time for the grim and gritty boom It was the dark night before 'The Dark Knight' Please don't punish the boy Please punish me By the 90’s, he was starring in three concurrent series, two magazines, and a flood of one-shots and guest appearances

Frank Castle had arrived, and now that he was a genuine superhero sensation, the time had come for Costume Changes Frank Castle never really seemed like the spandex type, and those bright white gloves and booties aren’t exactly on brand for a silent, stealthy urban assassin Though he does look good He looks like Elvis, or a male stripper Still, the Punisher’s classic look lasted for a surprisingly long time, and when there’s no storyline reason for him to wear another outfit, 'cause you know, he just kills people, no flash or flair, he still defaults to the skintight suit every now and then As his popularity grew in the ‘80s, artists like John Romita Jr

began adding an edgy trenchcoat to Frank’s ensemble, but beneath he was still the same old Punisher Well, there was that extremely ill-advised storyline where Frank was forced to undergo plastic surgery, which resulted in him briefly gaining the appearance of a Black man Y'know, you can try to be progressive and completely miss the mark, and that's on Marvel Now, we cool? Not really Another equally strange but less offensive alteration came in 1997, when the Punisher was retooled as an undead, avenging angel who slaughtered demons instead of drug dealers

The supernatural slayer dropped the spandex for a t-shirt tucked into combat pants, but any gains in realism or grittiness were outweighed by the ridiculous Diablo fantasy guns What armor set is that? Frank's tortured angel phase only lasted two years Once Garth Ennis entered the picture, he stripped away all the silliness and defined Frank for a new generation For his Marvel Knights run, Ennis retained the skintight suit, but in his followup non-canon, R-rated Marvel MAX series, he abandoned any pretense of superheroics for a stripped down, DIY aesthetic that made more sense for a deranged killer waging a guerilla war on crime That's what I picture when I think of that, when I think of a deranged killer

Frank traded in his spandex for tactical pants, kevlar, and tshirts, made iconic by cover artist Tim Bradstreet’s photo-inspired style Even after MAX ended, the mainstream Punisher continued to enjoy the casual dress code, I mean, who doesn't love casual Friday? mixed with the odd appearance of the classic bodysuit, along with some more drastic departures At various points in the 21st century, Frank has paid tribute to the fallen Captain America with his own twisted interpretation of stars, stripes, and skulls, and been diced to pieces and stitched-together as a steampunk monstrosity known as Frankencastle Not to be confused with Frankencastle's monster He’s switched things up to red during a stint on the Thunderbolts, wore a mask for a hot minute, became a cosmic Ghost Rider when he took on Thanos, and, my favorite, went full-on Punished Frank in 2011, doing his best Big Boss with an eyepatch and a faded, ghostly skull

Someone at Marvel is a big Hideo Kojima fan Most recently, Frank has been flying around the Marvel Universe in a tricked-out set of War Machine armor The idea of this lunatic as a literal killing machine is a scary thought, but lucky for us, Frank has yet to undergo that upgrade On Screen As a character rooted in the schlocky, grindhouse novels and films of the ‘70s, it didn’t take too long for Frank to make the leap to movies

1989’s ‘The Punisher’ came out at the height of the action boom, and star Dolph Lundgren seemed like the perfect choice to portray the ice-cold killer, If he dies, he dies especially with that spraypainted stubble It's painted What, Dolph Lundgren couldn't grow a freakin' beard? It would be blond So? Just go with it

The film itself is a fairly competent triple threat match between Frank, the Mob, and the Yakuza, of course, but it’s brought down by one catastrophic costume decision: Frank never wears his iconic symbol The closest we get are little skulls on the hilt of his knives, but beyond that, he basically looks like he raided Stallone’s closet from ‘Cobra’ and called it a day What the heck do you call 125 murders in five years? Work in progress Frank had slightly better luck in his first animated appearance, showing up on the ‘90s ‘Spider-Man’ cartoon in his classic costume topped with a spiffy headband Sadly, Saturday morning wasn’t the best fit for the brutal murderer

Do not hurt him!!! I won't hurt him I'm gonna disintegrate him Won't be any nerve endings left to feel the pain The show was already so censored that Spidey couldn’t even punch anyone, and Frank’s arsenal was similarly limited to laser guns and electric nets Aside from the odd videogame, the Punisher next appeared in the 2004 film of the same name

Transplanting the action from New York’s grimy alleys and rooftops to sunny Tampa Florida was a fatal blow to the film’s aesthetic, although it does make a lot of sense that the Punisher is Florida Man and the costume didn’t help matters much The skull is introduced as a gift from his son, on a t-shirt he gave his dad to celebrate his retirement from the FBI What a gift! This is interesting Like it? Like it? I– After his entire extended family is killed, Frank dons the symbol in his quest for vengeance against Kevin Nash and John Travolta Mess me up! If ya don't like it, remember one thing: I've got more guns than you Tom Jane did the best job he could with the material, but even though he’s more or less wearing Ennis and Bradstreet’s outfit, without the hulking frame and sleazy NYC atmosphere, he just looked like any dude you’d see at your average indie wrestling show just a real Reaper main

Frank got a fresh start with ‘Punisher: War Zone,’ Lexi Alexander’s wonderfully batshit movie that attempted to blend Garth Ennis’ somber style with the madcap insanity of a Looney Tune Imagine the Tazmanian Devil with guns The craggy, imposing Ray Peterson was a picture perfect Punisher, and his awesome, high-collared Kevlar vest created quite possibly the coolest costume we’ve seen, and that includes the MCU Yes, I said it From his first appearance on ‘Daredevil,’ Jon Bernthal’s gravelly intensity added a ton of gravitas to the character, Bang! and even though he takes his sweet-ass time getting into a costume, (this is Netflix after all), when we finally see the Punisher in all his glory, he’s looking sharp in a tactical vest with a spraypainted skull

Aaand then he burns it in the first episode of his own show We have to wait eleven episodes for him to actually look like the Punisher again, and honestly, maybe all these Netflix superhero shows would still be around if they, I dunno, actually let their characters look like superheroes? No In recent years Frank’s skull has become a symbol, thanks largely to ‘American Sniper’ Chris Kyle It’s transcended comics to become popular unofficial emblem within the military, and lately, the police In 2017, a Kentucky police department realized that it wasn’t the best idea for its officers to drive around in cars emblazoned with the icon of a serial spree killer, a vigilante with a bodycount in the thousands, who spends every waking minute of his life serving as a one-man judge, jury and executioner

That doesn't play very well The Blue Lives Matter movement continues to use the skull as a symbol, an association some fans and comics professionals find uncomfortable None other than creator Gerry Conway finds it ‘disturbing’ to see police embrace the icon of a murderous outlaw, whose very existence is a failure of the justice system, or as Punisher artist Mitch Gerads more succinctly put it, the duty of the police is to protect people, not punish them I tend to agree, but no matter how the Punisher has become politicized, it doesn’t take away from the core coolness of his design It’s stark, simple, and brutally effective, just like the monster who wears it

[a]Split [b]https://twittercom/M- itchGerads/status/835245705576898560

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