Marvel's The Punisher isn't just a fan-favorite comic book character. For many serving in military and law enforcement capacities around the world, the character is a symbol, so much so that the character's distinctive skull logo is frequently worn as a badge of honor among those who serve. But for British SAS troops, that practice has come to an end.
According to the UK's Daily Star (via Bleeding Cool), those serving in the SAS -- which stands for Special Air Service -- have been banned from wearing the logo on their helmet with its similarity to the Nazi SS Death's Head symbol from World War II being cited as the reason why. The soldiers adopted the skull imagery after having served alongside US Navy Seals in Iraq with the troopers being given the skulls by their squad after their first combat kill.
While this sort of use for the skull isn't uncommon, it's not something that Punisher creator Gerry Conway supports. Conway recently told SYFY Wire that he finds these types of uses disturbing and even offensive as the use of the iconography by the military and police completely miss the point.
"I've talked about this in other interviews," Conway said. "To me, it's disturbing whenever I see authority figures embracing Punisher iconography because the Punisher represents a failure of the Justice system. He's supposed to indict the collapse of social moral authority and the reality some people can't depend on institutions like the police or the military to act in a just and capable way."
Conway went on to explain that this co-opting of the symbol, the police and military are fundamentally misunderstanding the character, what he stands for, and are aligning themselves with a criminal.
"The vigilante anti-hero is fundamentally a critique of the justice system, an example of social failure, so when cops put Punisher skulls on their cars or members of the military wear Punisher skull patches, they're basically sides with an enemy of the system," he said. "They are embracing an outlaw mentality. Whether you think the Punisher is justified or not, whether you admire his code of ethics, he is an outlaw. He is a criminal. Police should not be embracing a criminal as their symbol."
But not everyone agrees with that. Ex-SAS Sergeant Trevor Coult, who is now the head of For Our Veterans, told The Daily Star that he thinks the ban is "ludicrous".
"The Ministry of Defense should be doing everything in its power to support the SAS, not messing around telling them what they can and can't wear on operations," Coult said. "This is politically correct nonsense and it's ludicrous."
The SAS' banning of the Punisher logo isn't the first time its use has been banned. Back in 2017 the Catlettsburg Police Department in eastern Kentucky ended up removing a variation of the logo along with the words "Blue Lives Matter" from their police vehicles. The reason for that removal wasn't given, though there had been complaints from local residents about the logo's use.
What do you think about the SAS' decision to ban the use of the Punisher logo? Let us know in the comments below.
Marvel's The Punisher Season 2 is now streaming on Netflix.