“Wokeness” Warriors Going After Marvel Comics’ ‘The Punisher’ Logo Again

As the post-George Floyd protests continue (and the riots), SJWs are pursuing Marvel’s most notable non-superpowered vigilante again, slamming the “appropriation” of the skull symbol by police. The awful Gizmodo has one of the most loathsome articles about this, which goes so far as to claim the skull symbol is literally based on totenkopf imagery(!):

 

The appropriation of comic book character Frank Castle’s skull emblem by police and the military has been an ongoing issue for Marvel Entertainment as it wrestles with the questionable embrace of the anti-hero’s extrajudicial violence by real state and federal employees. But as the “Punisher skull” has re-emerged on officer’s uniforms in current crackdowns on anti-racism and police brutality protests, the publisher is being forced to confront it once more.

As demonstrations continue this week in the wake of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s killing of George Floyd, in all 50 U.S. states and across the world, pictures of two Detroit PD officers allegedly wearing special operations badges emblazoned with the skull designed by writer Gerry Conway, artist John Romita, Sr. and Ross Andru went viral on social media. As a reminder, the Punisher skull logo itself was inspired by similar imagery of the totenkopf, the skull-and-crossbones used by military forces in the German Empire and, most infamously, the Nazi SS, in the 19th and 20th centuries.

 

Excuse me? I’ve checked what the totenkoph symbol looks like, and Frank Castle’s jumpsuit symbol looks nothing like it, and doesn’t even have crossbones. For good ol’ Frank’s outfit, it’s just a skull with long teeth. The Gizmodo writer appears to be basing his allegation on the words of a Twitter poster who claims it resembles the National Socialists’ abomination-representing symbol, that originally came around during the early 19th century. I’m sorry, but this is political correctness at its worst, coming from someone who clearly believes – as Gerry Conway sadly seems to these days – that Frank Castle was a huge mistake that should never have been. The columnist even has a problem with Marvel not officially commenting on the subject:

 

But while this is far from the first time Marvel has had to contend with the Punisher’s imagery being wielded like this, its return to prominence in the current protests against police brutality makes the seeming lack of any public response by the publisher disconcerting.

When asked about its stance on U.S. police officers using its logo – the imagery of a murderous, extrajudicial vigilante – a spokesperson for the comics publisher indicated to Gizmodo 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: “We stand against racism. We stand for inclusion. We stand with our fellow Black employees, storytellers, creators and the entire Black community. We must unite and speak out.” (The same message was shared on other Disney-owned subsidiary accounts, including the official channels for Disney+, Marvel Studios, Star Wars and more.)

When asked about the publisher’s further commitments beyond this statement, Gizmodo was pointed to Tuesday’s news that Marvel Comics’ owners, the Walt Disney Company, would be making a $5 million (£3.95 million) donation to “support nonprofit organisations that advance social justice,” starting with $2 million (£1.58 million) of that fund going to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Well it certainly can be said that the Disney corporation’s one of the worst offenders in political correctness, and they’ve made sure to include BLM on their list for contributions. To make matters worse, the aforementioned Conway, as reported by the UK Independent, is taking a path against the authorities’ use of the symbol:

 

Comic book creator Gerry Conway has encouraged fans to help him reclaim The Punisher’s skull symbol from police in favour of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Over the years, the superhero’s trademark skull symbol has been co-opted by right-wing campaigners. It’s most recently been spotted on police officers fighting against Black Lives Matter demonstrators during the George Floyd protests in the US.

In response, The Punisher co-creator Conway, who also wrote for The Amazing Spider-Man series, started a campaign encouraging Bame artists to work with him to reclaim the symbol.

“I’m looking for young comic-book artists of colour who’d like to participate in a small fundraising project for #BLM to reclaim the Punisher skull as a symbol of justice rather than lawless police oppression,” Conway wrote.

“To be clear, this little project is open to anyone who wants to contribute their time and effort. It’s not a paying gig, it’s intended to raise funds to support BLM. I hope to use multiple artists with a variety of styles and artistic approaches.”

Yup, he’s backing a movement that’s doing more harm than good for the black community. Given the chance, he’d surely throw Romita and Andru under the bus (and come to think of it, already did), since as artists, they’re the ones responsible for conceiving the skull symbol visually. I wonder if Conway’s sorry now he took assignments to write Batman circa 1978-84, where the Masked Manhunter usually led good relations with police staffers like Jim Gordon? If DC’s editorial decides to do a story where the Gotham police department is defunded, will he be in favor of that too, in lockstep imitation of what’s going on now in real life?

Here’s Screen Rant’s take on the topic, which says:

 

The fact police officers have co-opted the Punisher’s logo, in particular, has always been an odd choice. Some cops have used emblems and decals of the logo to show support of Blue Lives Matter. Choosing the logo of a cold-blooded killer who takes the law into his own hands has always been bizarre as the Punisher represents everything police officer’s shouldn’t be. Whether it’s misplaced machismo and/or a clear lack of understanding of the character’s motives and history, some police officers have continued to wear the skull logo as protests continue around the United States and world. Disney has been urged by comic creators to sue police who use the logo, while Marvel recently said they were taking unauthorized use of the Punisher’s logo “seriously.” Even in the comics, Castle has told cops to stop using the logo.

 

Ugh, that earlier article they posted from last year is awful too, and even links to another one in turn declaring that Castle’s a serial killer despised by every MCU cast member, despite how even Daredevil came to respect him over time, and while he may have turned him in to authorities at one point, by the time Frank’s solo books came about, Matt Murdock was helping him, as seen in the first few issues of the War Journal spinoff when it debuted in 1988. So apparently, the Punisher terminating violent, murderous criminals is worse than what they’re doing. Absolutely disgusting.

Even Den of Geek seems to have gotten in on the PC positions, citing a Punisher story written by Matthew Rosenberg:

 

The page referenced in Marvel’s official response to media requests about their plans to enforce their own trademark is from 2019’s Punisher #13, by Matthew Rosenberg, Szymon Kudransky, Antonio Febela, and Corey Petit. On the page, the Punisher castigates a group of cops with his decal on their squad car, telling them if they want someone to look up to, they should talk to Captain America.

To Rosenberg’s credit, he’s been very vocal about his support of Black Lives Matter and various groups doing work with marginalized populations on Twitter, but this page bears more than a passing resemblance to Charles Barkley’s “I am not a role model” commercial: a valuable, thought provoking statement exasperated with mass media culture, amplified into that very culture by a corporation looking to make a buck – in Barkley’s case, Nike selling shoes, and in Marvel’s, ducking responsibility for the consequences of their character’s portrayal among a group of dedicated point-missers.

All this from another site that’s buying into a position that all law enforcers are inherently evil, more so than the criminals they’re tasked with stopping. They may not be impressed with the story per se, but the political position they’re taking is still very off-putting. They even say:

 

As of this writing, there are more than 2,000 results for “trump punisher” on Amazon, many of them shirts with President Trump’s signature hair piece over the Punisher logo. These shirts are the Thin Blue Punisher shirts for people who believe a pizza place without a basement was hiding a child sex trafficking ring in its basement.

 

And this is just more Trump-bashing, and painting certain segments of society as hysterical over nothing, and looking in all the wrong places.

Since we’re on the subject, I wonder if this recent debacle is what’s influencing actor Frank Grillo not to wish he could play the role as Jon Bernthal did on TV anymore. According to this Uproxx interview with Grillo:

 

Gathering will be tough. There won’t even be Comic-Con this year, which reminds me of how you once wanted to portray The Punisher. Is that still in your sights, now that Disney+ might start those shows back up one day?

That’s not in my trajectory now. It’s not where my life is taking me anymore, and my friend Jonny Bernthal did an amazing job. My life and what I want to do is much different now, and I think I’m outgrowing that whole kind-of Marvel and superhero thing. Joe and I have a really good little company in War Party, and we’re concentrating on action thrillers that are responsibly budgeted, and we’re very busy, knock wood, and we’ll go down the path of creating our own material and content and having a good time.

He may not get into details here, but if this was recent enough, it suggests his response was influenced by the current situation. I don’t mind if he wants to “outgrow” an infatuation with the superhero adventure genre, but if politics played into this, it’s honestly a shame.

Whether or not Disney/Marvel actually wish to take legal action against precincts using replicas of the Punisher logo, Business Insider’s quoted a lawyer who says such a step wouldn’t be effective:

 

But Justin Jacobson, an entertainment attorney with with the Jacobson Firm, told Business Insider that Disney and Marvel couldn’t take effective legal action against officers wearing the logo unless they were also selling items that feature it.

“If you buy something and wear it, that’s you’re right,” Jacobson said. “But action could be taken against the manufacturers or distributors of the product.”

That thought leads to one potential action Disney and Marvel could take, which was pointed out by Abraham Riesman, a journalist and author of the upcoming book, “True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee.”

Riesman tweeted that it was time for Disney to “stop selling Punisher merch.”

While I don’t care for licensed merchandise, since I feel it’s only played a part in draining the quality from the zygote, as we see people in entertainment who care far more about the movie adaptations than the original comics, I think it’s atrocious when a propagandist like Riesman, who glossed over the case of a former Alamo Drafthouse film staffer and defended turning Captain America into a villain, makes the case for quitting to make Punisher merchandise. He has no business commenting on the medium if that’s his approach.

It’s a terrible shame all these crises had to occur, and the Punisher had to get stuck in the middle of politics. What are the chances Marvel will eventually put a moratorium on Frank Castle in more ways than one going forward? Let’s not think it’s impossible, if they believe the current political correctness is acceptable.

 

 

Originally published here.

Avi Green

Avi Green

Avi Green was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. He enjoyed reading comics when he was young, the first being Fantastic Four. He maintains a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy of facts. He considers himself a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. Follow him on his blog at Four Color Media Monitor or on Twitter at @avigreen1

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