Marvel is making major changes to The Punisher – down to retconning his entire origin story to set up his new role as a major villain in the Marvel Universe. Writer Jason Aaron Thor has been at the forefront of guiding Punisher through these new changes in Aarons new Punisher 2022 comic series Frank Castle has taken up the mantle of the King of Killers of the ninja death cult The Hand and been endowed with the powers of the Beast god of murder.
However the most recent issue of Punisher has expanded Frank Castles story with The Hand even further – all the way to Franks childhood. In Punisher #3 Jason Aaron with artists Jésus Saiz and Paul Azaceta reveals that Frank Castle actually started killing way before he was a marine in combat or became The Punisher. Franks first kill turns out to have occurred when he was only a child A neighborhood mobster got into it with a local couple and ended up beating them to death in the streets – while no one did anything about it.
Frank Castles Punisher persona was already in place by his adolescence/young teen years he put on a Captain America mask and followed the mobster home setting him on fire and letting him run the streets while he burned to death. The entire point of Aarons new reframing of Punishers younger years is to reinforce the point of this new semireboot story arc for the character. The Punisher is a major figure in The Hand because he is the living avatar of killing/murder – because hes always been that by nature and The Hand and The Beast have always been aware of that.
This new characterization of Frank Castle is further complicated by the mystical aspects of the story which have brought his wife Maria back to life in a way that makes us and Frank reweigh the tragedy that used to define his origin against the karmic weight of his own sins. It is probably the most interesting Frank Castle has been – and Aaron manages to sidestep the utter cringe that we got when Punisher was resurrected as a divinepowered killer by the angel Gabriel.
This is also not the first time that pivotal moments of death in Frank Castles life have been revealed to have larger mystical ties. The angel story arc had the reveal that former archangel Olivier manipulated events to murder Franks family so that the Punishers kills would fuel him. So far Jason Aarons story of Punisher serving The Hand and its Beast is much more interesting.