The Co-Creator of “The Punisher” Wants to Reclaim the Character for Black Lives Matter

Marvel's popular vigilante currently has a huge fanbase amongst police and military

The Punisher
The title character from Netflix's adaptation of "The Punisher"

That skull you see adorning the uniforms of some law enforcement officers is taken from a popular comic book called The Punisher. But one of the character’s creators wants to reclaim him for the Black Lives Matter movement.

Some backstory: The Punisher was co-created by Marvel Comics writer Gerry Conway in the early ’70s. Frank Castle, a Marine Corp vet, starts a one-man war against crime after his wife and daughter are killed by the mob in Central Park. Castle is usually seen wearing a skull-embossed shirt, the symbol of which has become a popular icon and sticker for police, soldiers and even Fox News’s Sean Hannity.

It seems that an anti-bureaucratic and ultra-violent enforcer of “good” captures the hearts and minds of people who claim to be on the side of law but are less enticed by the “order” or process part of it.

Conway, however, sees the character differently and has started to fight back. In a recent series of tweets, the writer has asked for comic book artists of color “to participate in a small fundraising project for #BLM to reclaim the Punisher skull as a symbol of justice rather than lawless police oppression.”

This request has lead to a “Skulls for Justice” online shop featuring the Punisher logo on several t-shirts, with all proceeds going toward Black Lives Matter Los Angeles.

Admittedly, there aren’t a lot of layers to Marvel’s non-superpowered vigilante, and outside of a few arcs of the comic book, other media creators have had a hard time making Castle an interesting and/or sympathetic character (witness: several mediocre movies and a forgettable Netflix show). Meanwhile, the comic book has recently distanced itself from any association with the police.

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