The QAnon cult has started appropriating the Punisher skull logo, too

Eh, but no because he specifically targets organized crime, for the most part. He is a vigilante.

And he is hardly unique, more or less being a carbon copy of The Executioner.


That was then, this is now.


Essentially a pulp fiction to comics transition that has always been pretty common.


The Punisher’s been a favorite of teen boys who just go WOO HE HAS A LOT OF GUNS, COOL since at least the eighties. It’s the same phenomenon as people lionizing Rorschach; these vigilantes for whom the means justify any ends are not really supposed to be heros, but people who have not learnt to consume stories on anything but the most basic level look at them and see a fantasy of being a lone force of justice and/or vengeance.

Wolverine had a lengthy run of being that sort of character in the eighties too, but he seems to have pulled back from it? I dunno, I don’t really consume any superhero media any more.


Yeah the only way to really make that work is to acknowledge it, and use the character to address mass shootings and domestic terror.

Which could badly backfire, and would almost certainly feed the beast.

That was a big mistake. They seem to have noticed the character’s following among the military and decided the best way to go was a “supporting veterans” take. Use the character to address issues of PTSD and what have. But PTSD Veteran Spree Shooter fights PTSD Veteran bomber and PTSD sociopath corrupt military contractor isn’t exactly a positive depiction of veterans or realistically dealing with their concerns. And the whole approach just ignores the base problems with the character, and directly plays into the right wing use of the logo.

He’s a guy with a very rigid ideology and psychological problems. Who addresses what he views as a societal ill by shooting large numbers of people in public places. He has a van full of unregistered assault weapons and a bunker.

And he hasn’t really “specifically targeted organized crime” for a long while. He’s been placed against minor criminals, super villains, super heroes, political groups, supernatural beings, pretty much whatever. He was also recently a Frankenstein.

And while he’s hardly unique, he’s a lot more prominent and current than a lot of the things he was drawn from. And unlike Dirty Harry or The Executioner, we’re not seeing actual spree killers reference those guys. Or cops and soldiers stitch their logos into their uniforms as a “warrior symbols” and political statements.


Which spree killers have specifically referenced The Punisher? I’ve seen the tacticool morale patches and the thin blue line branded decals, but not aware of it being found on someone like Roof or what have you. If you know of specific examples I’d like to learn more.

I guess my problem with demonizing or writing off the Punisher is that there isn’t a whole lot of difference between him and many other anti-heroes. I don’t really have a problem with the character, nor do I think he is the problem per se. There has always been a problem with the wrong people idolizing the anti-hero for the wrong reasons. Whether that be Dirty Harry, Taxi Driver’s Travis Bickle, Walter White, Conan, Deadpool, Venom, Lobo, etc etc. Or in certain circles you have Scarface and Tony Soprano as the idol. You will always get this confusion for from people who want to use a character as an avatar for their beliefs or as an expression for their own frustrations.

Certainly what sets the Punisher apart is his iconic and instantly recognizable logo. But IMO they latching onto a cool looking symbol and co-opting it with their one ideology. If the Punisher didn’t exist they would be latching on to something else. We would see more “Who is John Galt?” decals or what have you.

And to your last point, Cops shouldn’t be using the Punisher or any other symbol like that on their uniform. Pretty sure it is against regulations, though maybe they clear it through their chief or something. Such symbols are problematic and they should be banned along with any other overt polemical messages. The police should be a neutral public service (haha, I know that isn’t true, but it should be the strived for ideal.)


This sort of storyline would not be without precedent. Back in the 40s the Superman show had him taking on the KKK. And it worked. The Klan was pushed to the fringes of society, no longer welcome at parades and for photo-ops with mayors and state government.


How they see themselves:

How others see them:



Don’t recall off the top of my head. But he’s popped up in some of those manifestos and online positing in a few of them. Especially altright/incel shooters. Though the Joker is more of a thing there.

Not what I’m doing. I’m criticizing. Nothing should be immune from criticism, and not acknowledging the issues with the character just lets shit like this go unaddressed. You might have noticed I’m pretty familiar with the character, cause I’m a fan of the character. That doesn’t mean I’m going to ignore poor use of the character by creators. Or wash my hands of his place in the culture at large. Whether they like or not Marvel and anyone working on the character need to consider these things if they intend to make anything of value using him.

A lot of the similar characters have similar problems, and have been similarly criticized. Or even faded from relevance as a result. The punisher is less a generic, typical anti-hero than he’s a specific out growth of a certain type of anti-hero popular in the 70’s. The Executioner is a big one. But you’ve also got a huge influence from films like Death Wish and Dirty Harry. Both (and much of the genre they’re part of) were drawn explicitly from conservative politics. Based in fears of moral collapse, and providing a fantasy of the white man breaking with the law to re-assert societal norms. Presented as revenge or vigilante justice stories in the context of “urban crime” (most often presented as brown people and hilariously misfigured punk rockers).

They embody an outdated and traditionalist image of masculinity, fundementally rooted in control and violence. Fetishise certain very large, and militaristic guns (that were at the time "bad ass). And present violence as a positive, and a solution to obstacles. And it’s all framed in that classic Nixon/Reagan “tough on crime” mentality.

Now Marvel and Conway in part created the character to capitalize on that trend in movies and popular fiction. Just like Luke Cage was meant to capitalize on Blacksploitation, and Iron Fist on the Kung Fu boom.

But Marvel being Marvel. Conway’s intent was to use those tropes to highlight the way that this “societal failure” was a failure of (basically) social services and the social safety net. And depict a bad guy who lashes out as a result. But you know, safe for comic books.

This creates the same problem that Taxi Driver, which was a similar response to the trend, has. The Taxi Driver depicts a deeply disturbed man who expresses his violent urges and entitlement towards women through a macho hero fantasy. Essentially justifying his actions to himself by wrapping them in the sort of story line the action movies and paper back sold un-ironically. But because it offers this without explicit criticism, with that person as the protagonist, it becomes very easy to interpret it as positive depictions or advocacy.

More over this specific trend in media has dropped from mass American culture as they’ve lost relevance and their problems have become less apparent and less appropriate. So there’s a big context problem for the Punisher. The thing it’s reacting to isn’t really present anymore, just leaving the tropes it’s built out of. What is present is exactly this sort of disturbed person, actually lashing out, for similar reasons and justifying it with the exact toxic masculinity and social fantasies present in these works. And movements that celebrate and prompt such actions.

This isn’t a general anti-hero thing. Han Solo, another classic anti-hero, isn’t at all this. Even some of your examples. Lobo and Deadpool are explicit parodies of a broader group of anti-hero tropes common in comics at the same time, and hyper masculinity more generally. However poorly that might have been carried off at times.

For however much the punisher may have been meant to criticize and undermine this shit. And however well that’s been done at certain times. He’s very easy to read superficially as a simple good guy. And often enough just used that way on purpose.

That sort of failure shouldn’t be attacked as advocacy for bad stuff. But it needs to be criticized and called out. Marvel and anyone writing Punisher stuff needs to account for it. Especially as the cultural presence of the character is shifting towards the public embrace of the character as a symbol of the shit he’s supposed to undermine.

Best case scenario anything Marvel publishes handles it all perfectly, directly confronts the problem, and very publicly realigns the character with calling out these elements. But then we’ve probably got a “social justice ruined Star Wars” gamergate shit show on our hands. So it’s probably better to not feed into it by down playing the character. Get real active about lawsuits and calling people out. And do better when everything is less fucked.


I’d say it’s there already.

The character totally went full “Marvel” to the most absurd extremes - most recently he apparently became a Ghost Rider, on top of which he then became a Herald of Galactus (“Cosmic Ghost Rider”). Also a time-traveler. And adopted dad to baby Thanos. Because reasons. (I assume there are also some Punisher comic lines where it’s still gritty vigilante narratives…)

The other post is like a god damned term paper so I’ll put this here.

A bunch of departments have put the logo in official patches and the livery for their vehicles. It’s not against regs, or the action of individual officers when it’s part of the uniform.

They seemed to have initially picked it up off military units who did the same. As part of the whole militarized policing, cops are soldiers thing. And then it jumped to the blue lives matter crap from there.

That’s sort of the other best use for the character. Going full comic book. To a certain extent it’s a good way to do away with the problems. Since it makes the character fundementally rediculous, and tends to divorce it from the man in van of guns opens fire on a playground dynamic.


I’ll read your term paper later (trying to be productive) but that is one trend I very much disagree with - cops and skulls. Less of a problem with the military, their job is to kill people. So fine.

Cops aren’t supposed to be killing people except as a last resort. So a skull, Punisher or otherwise, is not appropriate. But you’re right, it is a symptom of the militarization of the police.

1 Like

They’re not there to punish either. That’s the judicial branch.


Any time any an organization or military, or law enforcement puts any kinda skull or deaths head on their stuff it presents several problems with how they’ve chosen to present themselves.

All of which remind very much of this:

It’s more understandable for militaries but it’s still not good.


The English language truly is mind-boggling. And I’ve been speaking it my entire life! I don’t know how non-native English speakers ever learn to navigate the language.

1 Like

Inconsistencies apparently own the libs, so are exempt from any constraints.


I’ve got a feeling it’s not the article who’s dumb.

1 Like

QAnon reported that Donald Trump wants to be impeached and to lose the election as part of his secret plan. He realizes that he’s done all he can to thwart the nefarious plot while being stuck in the Oval Office.


That’s why he needs to leave the Presidency - to get the proof. Once and for all.


That’s just what the deep state wants you t think.