"To me you know Punisher is best as a killing machine—I wouldn't really call him a "humorless" one, though, because when Garth Ennis was writing him there was certainly quite a bit of deadpan black humor to him, and that's definitely my take," Van Lente tells Marvel.com. "Likewise, whenever I've done Deadpool I love writing his quips and burns as much as the next person, but what makes him a compelling character is that element of tragedy to him—the sadness, and loss that I think the Deadpool film did such a good job of getting across along with the jokes.
"So our story, 'Bullet to the Brain,' is your classic ultraviolent super-crime tragi-comedy, I guess you could say."
Deadpool and the Punisher used to be teammates as members of the Thunderbolts, but Van Lente is clear that they're not friends. In fact, they're time working together only increased the resentment between the two.
"Oh, they do not like each other, particularly from their [Thunderbolts] days on the same team together," Van Lente says. "Wade thinks Frank is a stick in the mud while Frank thinks Wade's healing factor has made him loud, sloppy and useless.
"I mean, to me the gold standard for these kinds of 'versus' comics is [Christopher] Priest and [Mark] Bright's Spider-Man vs. Wolverine, where the two characters have a genuine reason to go after each other; it's not mind control, it's not mistook-you-for-a-villain, both protagonists are each other's antagonists for legitimate reasons the reader can relate to, and that's where this new character The Bank comes in."
The Bank is a character Van Lente says has existed in the shadows of the Marvel Universe for decades and has a history with Wade Wilson.
"He also happens to be one of Wade Wilson's best friends, having known Deadpool before his Weapon X days, and so when Punisher decides to bring The Bank down, he's got to go through Deadpool to do that, and you know what? Frank doesn't really have a problem with that, since he doesn't like Wade all that much anyway."
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Deadpool vs. The Punisher #1 ships in April 2017. Check out the first issue's cover in the gallery below.