- Associated Press - Friday, July 8, 2011

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Frank Castle, aka The Punisher, is not one for the soft touch, preferring to dispatch criminals with the flick of a trigger finger or a well-placed rocket launcher.

Now the Marvel Comics vigilante is expanding his game as a new creative team, led by writer Greg Rucka and artist Marco Checchetto, prepares to launch a new series next month starring the broken but brutal Castle, whose style is more outright execution than bringing the bad guys in for the law to handle.

Rucka said Friday the traditional mob wise guys Castle has battled with will be more contemporary but just as ruthless. The Punisher will be, too.

“We have two established groups _ one is called The Exchange, the other is sort of unnamed and is apparently headed by the Owl,” he said. “The deal with The Exchange is interesting _ they are a 2011 crime organization” that is “Wi-Fi enabled and have access to the cloud.”

The series debuts with the release in August of the first and second issues, and then goes monthly and begins with what’s left of the crime gangs of New York _ already having been hunted to near extinction by Castle _ regrouping and reorganizing.

But Castle won’t be standing idly by as that happens. The Punisher has long been Marvel’s most lethal and driven character, carrying the memory of his family cut down in front of him, victims of internecine mob warfare. That baggage remains, always.

“Frank is incredibly damaged. He’s a broken, broken human being. A price has been extracted from him unwillingly to be what he is,” Rucka said, adding that the new series will keep that in focus as it goes forward.

One part of Castle that will also remain is his use of firepower. The Punisher has no super powers, just the military training he received as a U.S. soldier and his expertise with a host of weapons.

Rucka said Castle will have access to a “tool box” of weaponry to deal with his prey and those who want to prey on him, some “upper echelon tools,” including one he would not divulge.

“If he can get this thing, he can make it a dark day for just about anyone who crosses him,” Rucka said.

Readers will find out when “The Punisher” issues No. 1 and No. 2 are released in comic book shops, with a parental advisory tag.




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