Gerry Conway created The Punisher 45 years ago with artists John Romita Sr. and Ross Andru, and he recently discussed his 50-plus years in the comics business in an interview with SyFy Wire. Along with having to answer once again for killing Gwen Stacey (he’ll never live that down), Conway also provided a cogent explanation for why authority figures should never embrace The Punisher’s skull logo. He made the urging for reasons you can probably guess already, but here’s how Gerry Conway succinctly explains it:
To me, it’s disturbing whenever I see authority figures embracing Punisher iconography because the Punisher represents a failure of the Justice system. He’s supposed to indict the collapse of social moral authority and the reality some people can’t depend on institutions like the police or the military to act in a just and capable way.
The vigilante anti-hero is fundamentally a critique of the justice system, an example of social failure, so when cops put Punisher skulls on their cars or members of the military wear Punisher skull patches, they’re basically sides with an enemy of the system. They are embracing an outlaw mentality. Whether you think the Punisher is justified or not, whether you admire his code of ethics, he is an outlaw. He is a criminal. Police should not be embracing a criminal as their symbol.
Conway went on to liken an authority figure wearing the skull symbol to “putting a Confederate flag on a government building,” although we wouldn’t go that far. Government officials embracing a symbol associated with white supremacist ideology is still much more disturbing than embracing pop culture symbols of vigilantism, in our estimation.
The full, wide-ranging interview with Conway is available over at SyFy Wire, and later today we’ll be bringing you a new trailer for Netflix’s The Punisher, which premieres its second season this January 18th.