Frank Castle is preparing to walk away from his skull logo on a variant cover for his new Punisher series from writer Jason Aaron and artists Jesús Saiz and Paul Azaceta. The skull logo has become synonymous with The Punisher, though it has also become a controversial topic after it was co-opted for political means, with the symbol being branded on police uniforms, cars, and military garments. The announcement of a Punisher "prestige" series brought with it a new skull logo, with some speculating Marvel is looking to replace the symbol. The variant cover by artist Goran Parlov will only fuel those beliefs.
Revealed in Marvel's March 2022 solicitations, the cover is reminiscent of Amazing Spider-Man #50 by iconic artist John Romita, which finds Peter Parker stepping away from his web-slinging persona in the "Spider-Man No More" storyline. Here, Frank Castle is walking away in a cloud of smoke in the background, while the forefront features a discarded bulletproof vest with The Punisher skull logo on it. An open hole covers the left eye that focuses on Castle.
Punisher features 13 oversized issues, with Saiz drawing the present-day portions and Azaceta focusing on the flashbacks. The story sees The Punisher working with The Hand, which leads to the skull redesign resembling a ninja warrior. Marvel touts the series as the "definitive culmination" of Frank Castle's journey in the Marvel Universe.
"After writing the Punisher over the years, I've always been fascinated by the character of Frank Castle. What moments made him the Punisher, even before that fateful day in the park? And how far will he go to win the war that has consumed his life? Spoiler: as far as it damn well takes," said Aaron. "This story is the destined next step in the dark and tragic evolution of Frank Castle, from troubled kid to heroic soldier to revenge-driven vigilante...to the duly anointed King of Killers. Believe me when I say, I am as excited about this story as anything I've ever written for Marvel."
"A few years ago, Jason Aaron came into one of our creative summits with a pitch for Frank that made our collective jaws drop," said Marvel Editor-in-Chief C.B. Cebulski. "The story Jason is telling – a truly epic tale about darkness, violence, and choices – can only be told with the Punisher at its core. This series will build on Frank's legacy while introducing us to a side of him we've never seen before, setting the stage for an evolution that we'll find was inevitable."
Born of tragedy. Devoted to war. Unstoppable in his rage. As the Punisher, Frank Castle has become the most accomplished killer the world has ever seen. Now it's time for him to face his true destiny. What shocking secret from Frank's past will convince him to take the reins of the Marvel Universe's most notorious clan of assassins? And once Frank becomes the warlord of the deadly ninjas of the Hand, will it also mean an end for the Punisher? Or a whole new bloody beginning? Join the superstar team of writer Jason Aaron and artists Jesús Saiz and Paul Azaceta for an epic exploration of the dark and violent past and inevitable future of one of Marvel's most iconic characters.
Punisher #1 goes on sale in March from Marvel Comics.