In the pages of Jason Aaron's latest Punisher series, Marvel Comics has been making some big swings and perhaps some major changes to the canon of Frank Castle's life. At the core of the comic is that Frank has put away his trademark Skull logo and frequently used firearms and is on his way to becoming The Fist of the Beast and the primary enforcer of ninja death cult The Hand. Throughout the series however there have been flashbacks to Frank's early life, perhaps teasing that he was seemingly manipulated from an early age to not only be stone-cold killer but also to join The Hand itself. That's just the first of the changes to his origin.
There's been speculation that a lot of what we've seen in these latest Punisher flashbacks are misdirects, plants by The Hand to make Frank believe what they want him to believe, but the series has also been making sure to reference specific pieces of The Punisher's backstory and also make some changes. A previous issue revealed what Frank Castle's first actual kill was, a man he murdered when he was just 10 years old, but now Punisher #5 has given us what seems like his first major killing streak as well as a big change to his family life.
First we must note the issue is quick to mention Frank's status as the most feared kid in school. He's seen using his physical abilities and desire to punish as a reason to harm a group of bullies that are picking on a classmate of his, Steadman Sternberger. Though a bookworm, and seemingly the furthest thing from a friend for Frank, the pair form a bond, with Steadman later convincing Frank to join a hockey team so he can get all his rage issues out on the other players. Along the way Steadman is also instrumental in setting Frank up with Maria Falconio, his future wife. Here's where the big changes come in.
The issue is quick to show us that when Frank isn't beating up other hockey players on the ice, he's smooching on Maria every chance he gets. In a moment when he's busy with his young love, Frank forgets all about his pal Steadman, leading to him dying alone in a nasty car wreck, one that doesn't seem like it was an accident or that he was the only one in the car. Later it's implied that not only did Frank murder all the kids that killed his friend, but that immediately after doing so is when he went to enlist in the Marines. When Frank calls Maria to tell her that he's joining the military she reveals a secret of her own to him, she's pregnant.
Previous Punisher stories have said that prior to Frank's time in the Marines that he studied to be a priest, giving it up when he couldn't overcome the need for physical punishment. There's also some fuzziness on when he and Maria previously got together and even had their children, but the latest Punisher series makes it clear that Frank seemingly joined the marines immediately after graduating high school and that he was a teen father to their first child.
Seven issues remain in the series, and there will seemingly be even more updates to Frank's story with each passing month. You can find the cover and solicitation for the next issue of Punisher below.
(W) Jason Aaron (A) Paul Azaceta (A/CA) Jesus Saiz
Frank Castle wants to end his war once and for all. But standing in his way is none other than the God of War himself, Ares, who sees the Punisher as his greatest disciple. A disciple who has forgotten his true self and must be reminded of the ways of war.
In Shops: Sep 07, 2022