Marvel Comics Addresses Police Usage of Punisher Imagery

Police using the character's logo has sparked controversy for a while

"Marvel's The Punisher" New York Premiere
Actor Jon Bernthal attends the "Marvel's The Punisher" New York premiere at AMC Loews 34th Street 14 theater on November 6, 2017 in New York City.
Jim Spellman/WireImage

In the last few years, some police have adopted a curious symbol from the world of superhero comic books. That would be the distinctive skull-themed icon of the Punisher, a Marvel Comics antihero with a penchant for, well, violently killing his enemies. The character has appeared on film and on the small screen — most recently via a Netflix series.

The history of police adopting Punisher-themed imagery has proven controversial — given that, well, the character himself is a murderous vigilante whose appearance soften serve as a contrast to the more overtly heroic characters in the Marvel Universe — Spider-Man, Captain America, etc. But the Punisher/law enforcement crossover has continued — and has grown to include such things as Fox News host Sean Hannity wearing a Punisher-themed lapel pin on the air.

At io9, James Whitbrook has the news of Marvel Comics addressing this new controversy. This raised the question of whether Marvel might take legal action against unlicensed use of the Punisher logo. Unfortunately, Marvel’s response stopped short of anything definitive.

… a spokesperson for the comics publisher indicated to io9 that while it is “taking seriously” any unlicensed use of its imagery by officers, in terms of making any new statements, Marvel Comics was standing by the message delivered on social media by the Marvel Entertainment account this past Sunday …

Whitbrook also notes that the publisher’s spokesperson alluded to a recent issue of the comic book that addressed the phenomenon of police using Punisher-themed imagery. (Quick version: the character literally tells police to stop doing this.) Whether or not Marvel’s current statement will have any more of an effect is currently an unanswered question.

Subscribe here for our free daily newsletter.

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.