Bad news guys, our Punisher title will be cancelled by Marvel after the War-Zone arc.
The good news is that Greg Rucka said that the Punisher will be integrated in a team.
The writer bids adieu to the baddest mother in the Marvel Universe.
July 17, 2012
Please note that this interview was conducted before the cancellation of the series had been revealed.
IGN Comics: Back when we were initially chatting before Punisher #1 even came out, Fear Itself was going on at the time and you mentioned that the greater Marvel Universe had bigger things to worry about than what Frank Castle was doing. So now he seems to be declaring war on the Avengers –
Greg Rucka: No! No he doesn’t! That is a misassumption based on promotional images and the tile or something. He doesn’t declare war on them. They declare war on him.
IGN: Well, what makes this the time for the big conflict between the two parties?
Rucka: They notice him and they can’t ignore him. It really is as simple as that. Something has occurred and they cannot in good conscience go, “You know what? We’ll just pretend that’s not happening and continue on our merry way.” Something has happened and they have to respond.
IGN: Is this something that happens in the mini-series itself or does this carry over from the ongoing book?
Rucka: It comes out of Punisher. It will be, of course, reflected in War Zone. Its genesis is absolutely in Punisher.
IGN: Cool. So then I guess my next question would be: What kind of a chance does Frank Castle stand against the Avengers?
Rucka: Better than you might think, but not as good as he would like. They are the Avengers, you know? [laughs] There’s only so much prep you can do. There’s only so long that your luck is going to hold. I think Frank knows that any conflict with the Avengers only ends one way. There is a certain tactical awareness that he has that makes him not as easy a target as they think he’s going to be. By the same token, well, I don’t want to give stuff away. Suffice it to say that he will deal with them as best as he can, but I never believed in a Frank Castle that would go around murdering heroes, because they are heroes. If Thor goes on a rampage and starts killing people, then Frank’s not really going to have a problem with trying to end him. His ability to do that is a different question entirely. [laughs] But his desire to do so, that, to me, doesn’t exist. Ideally, Frank wants to be left alone to do what he does.
“Frank knows that any conflict with the Avengers only ends one way.
On another level, I think Spider-Man would be like, “We should’ve done this years ago! He needs to be stopped! The man’s a menace! He’s murdering people and I have a problem with that!” The fact that they haven’t gotten off their asses to do anything about it is due primarily to having higher priorities but also because they didn’t want the headache. The Avengers aren’t going to kill him, so what are they going to do? They’re going to capture and incarcerate. Well, that’s not really a problem for Frank. This isn’t as simple for the Avengers as going, “We’ve got to stop him.” How do you stop him? How do you stop him short of killing him? That’s a problem they’re going to have to deal with.
IGN: You mentioned that this spins out of something that happens in the Punisher series. So is there a particular reason that War Zone happens in its own mini-series? Is there a reason you wanted it separate or is that a Marvel decision?
Rucka: Well, it’s a combination of things. The story in Punisher was reaching a terminus. There was a sort of second act of that terminus which involved the Avengers and always did. At some point a few months ago I was informed that Marvel wanted to end the book and would be spinning Punisher out into a different team book and I wouldn’t be writing it. So [Steve] Wacker and I talked about how we were going to wrap this up. It was Steve who proposed that maybe it’ll serve us better if we end the run in the way we want to end it, and then we can do this as its own stand-alone coda to it.
So if you’re reading the series, you’re going to be able to read War Zone and go, “Okay, this all follows.” There’s a logic and causality. But you don’t have to read Punisher to enjoy War Zone because seeing how it got to that point, that’s going to be explained easily and very quickly on the first page of War Zone pretty much. But as a package, it works very well.
IGN: Cool. Well, that’s a huge bummer about the book, man. I didn’t know that.
Rucka: Yeah, well, now you do! It was a bummer to me too, but you know, this is the name of the game. You work in a corporate environment for corporate-owned characters, they own the characters and at some point they say they don’t like the numbers or what you’re doing or somebody else had an idea they want to do, you say, “Yes, sir.” You do the best you can with it. The nice thing here is that we’re still telling the story we always set out to tell.
IGN: That’s good.
Rucka: Yeah. That was never compromised; Marvel never asked for that to be compromised.
IGN: So that being said, does Rachel Cole-Alves have a role in War Zone itself?
Rucka: She is absolutely integral to the events, yeah.
IGN: Does putting Frank in this larger universe environment have any sort of a learning curve as compared to writing him when he’s in his own little pocket of the Marvel U?
Rucka: Learning curve for me, or for Frank?
IGN: How about both?
Rucka: My feeling is that Frank has always imagined that this day was coming, one way or another. He knows where he stands in the universe and I feel very strongly that, as I’ve said elsewhere, I don’t think Frank’s position is a political position, it’s a personal position. I don’t think he looks at Daredevil and says, “Well, you’re wrong and you have to be stopped because you’re dangerous.” I think he looks at somebody like Spider-Man and I think Frank recognizes his heroism. He knows they’re heroes and he also knows that he is not. He’s doing what he must do. He will argue to the end of his days – if he were willing to even engage in the argument – that what he must do must be done. So for him, this does not really take him by surprise. He has contingencies; the man has contingencies for his contingencies.
And for me, yeah. This is a gear change. It’s not even a gear change, it’s a vehicle change. I’ve been driving a military Humvee through the inner city for the last 16 issues of Punisher and now all of a sudden I’ve got to get into a Maserati. The game absolutely changes the second you’ve got Iron Man in the mix; the second you’ve got Thor and Cap in the mix. There’s just no way that doesn’t leave an effect. Frank still lives on the ground, but now he’s got to be looking up a lot more.
IGN: Now, Marco’s handling the art duties on War Zone. With him doing that, can you say who’ll be working on the issues of Punisher leading up to that?
IGN: Oh, wow! He’s a machine.
Rucka: Yeah. Marco is doing #15 and #16 of Punisher and then he’s doing War Zone #1-5.
IGN: Awesome. Well, my next question was if you’d be handling Punisher for a while longer, but I guess you answered that earlier…
Rucka: Now you know! [laughs]
IGN: Well, okay, that being out there – do you have any further work coming up in the Marvel Universe?
Rucka: Not at this moment. Nothing planned beyond War Zone.
IGN: Is there anything you wanted to add about War Zone or your time on Punisher in general?
Rucka: I love the character. The writer’s curse is that the more you fall in love with the work you’re doing the more I think it shows. Writing Frank has been far more fun and far more rewarding than I ever thought it would be when Wacker proposed the gig to me. Saying goodbye to Frank is bittersweet. That said, War Zone – I think, I hope, I pray – will be an exciting and fun sendoff. It’s been very grim and gritty in the first 16 issues of Punisher. One of the things that you immediately get when you add the Avengers to the equation is quite literally you get more color. It brightens the world, even if Frank’s presence in it is a dark one. I think that War Zone is going to be a lot of fun. I think the interactions aren’t going to be exactly what people expect, either. While the Avengers agree that something has to be done, they don’t agree on what has to be done or how to go about doing it.
IGN: I guess another question I have is that back when we were talking about the Omega Effect, you said that you and Mark Waid had more stuff planned. Has that been altered now with the end of the Punisher book?
Rucka: Honestly, I’m not sure. I haven’t finished the War Zone scripts yet, and there is something that Mark and I had discussed at length that I mentioned back in the Omega Effect discussion. This is what I was referring to. I was referring to War Zone. Finding the appropriate way to bring in Daredevil is something I still want to do, but that is contingent on, more than anything, Mark’s willingness to let me play ball. I don’t want to go in and say, “I’m doing this!” and have him go, “Wait a minute…” That’s just rude! [laughs]
IGN: That’s all I’ve got for you. I’m sorry to hear about the book, but I’ve really enjoyed the run, so great work, man.
Rucka: Thank you. I’m hoping that people that stuck with us will stick with us through this, too. Like I said, it’s not a joy having to depart, but by the same token, it’s nice to be able to do it the way we want to.