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Maria Castle shoots her husband, Frank/Punisher, point blank through the chest in Punisher #11 (2023). Image: Jason Aaron, Jesús Saiz/Marvel Comics

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Marvel’s Punisher series has ended in divorce

That’s one way for Marvel to destroy Frank Castle’s mystique

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Susana Polo is an entertainment editor at Polygon, specializing in pop culture and genre fare, with a primary expertise in comic books. Previously, she founded The Mary Sue.

Punisher, from writer Jason Aaron and artists Jesús Saiz and Paul Azaceta, is not explicitly a book that tries to redeem a character co-opted by hate, but it’s not a book that’s unaware of the context in which it exists.

And that’s never felt more sneakily true than in its conclusion, in which — after becoming an unstoppable god of murder and war — Frank Castle’s resurrected wife undoes his godlike powers, divorces him, and takes all of his money.

What else is happening in the pages of our favorite comics? We’ll tell you. Welcome to Monday Funnies, Polygon’s weekly list of the books that our comics editor enjoyed this past week. It’s part society pages of superhero lives, part reading recommendations, part “look at this cool art.” There may be some spoilers. There may not be enough context. But there will be great comics. (And if you missed the last edition, read this.)

Punisher #12

Maria Castle, the Punisher’s resurrected wife, explains that on the fateful day that her murder occurred and sparked his life of revenge and violence, she was going to ask him for a divorce. Now that she’s alive again, she’s taken all his money, donated half to charity in their kids’ names. “That’s how you honor your dead family, Frank. Not by using them as an excuse for slaughter,” she tells him. Image: Jason Aaron, Jesús Saiz/Marvel Comics

The log line on Punisher was that Frank Castle was the destined avatar of the Beast, the god of murder worshiped by the Hand ninjas from Daredevil comics. And it largely stuck to that gonzo mandate, with Saiz delivering the epic visuals to match. Frank developed a whole suite of superpowers and used them to strike down armies and murder Ares himself — the book was anything but about taking out low-level criminals and earthly mobsters.

Azaceta, on the other hand, delivered the flashbacks to the story, redefining Frank’s childhood in the key of “evil-god-destined serial killer” and telling the story of Frank’s wife, Maria Castle, in such a way as to make it clear that if there was ever anything good in Frank it was from his family — who grew to hate and fear him for loving war more than them.

Is this Punisher series gonna stop people from worshiping the character’s murders as righteous behavior? No. There ain’t no book anybody can write or draw that’s gonna do that. Was it a fascinating read with a conclusion that quietly emasculates Frank in all the ways that those same people consider most important? Yes.

DC Pride 2023

Image: Nadia Shammas/DC Comics

In better news, DC’s Pride special establishes that Batman has a Letterboxd and he gave Weekend five stars. Every time a comic creator adds an another detail casting Batman as an emotionally repressed but well-meaning ally to his queer friends and family, an angel gets their wings.

Amazing Spider-Man #26

Image: Zeb Wells, John Romita Jr./Marvel Comics

As foretold, Kamala Khan was killed in this week’s Amazing Spider-Man, complete with a very contrived callback to her beloved update on “with great power comes great responsibility.” The wait is on to see how Marvel Comics brings her back in time for The Marvels hits this November — my money is on a Krakoan resurrection, with the potential twist of making her canonically a mutant, which would be pretty funny. Not funny enough to make up for how shallow this death arc feels, but pretty funny.

Titans #1

Image: Tom Taylor, Nicola Scott

It’s been a couple weeks since this comic came out, but I just want all the Raven/Beast Boy shippers out there to know: DC’s new Titans series has your back.


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