Wednesday, February 15, 2012

PC POST #14: Exclusive Punisher interview with Greg Rucka: PART 2

This exclusive Punisher interview with Greg Rucka is part 2 out of a 3 part series. Please feel free to provide feedback and enjoy the interview!

By @neil4LOST , Lead Punisher Central Contributor


Neil Byce: How are you feeling about the aspect of Frank’s eyepatch? Frank’s eye and other injuries are healing but it has now been over 100 days since his encounter with the Vulture…are the wounds that Frank is compiling right now going to stay with him through the series to cause him to break down physically?

Greg Rucka: He will recover from the wounds, a majority have healed but not every single one of them. And the next two to three issues that have followed  the 100 days have been within the space of two to three days, at the most. Time has not past significantly enough at this point for the him to be completely healed.

You touched on the reason why I am doing it this way, which is that Frank is human. There are others that can shrug off injury ,that have an incredible array of super-powers ,but Frank is entirely human. It is important, and it’s one of the things that makes him so awesome , and I never want anyone to forget that he is human. Here is a guy that freaks Spider-Man out and Spider-Man can cling to walls. But Frank Castle gives Parker the heebie-jeebies. In the “Omega Effect” coming up , Frank is face to face with Daredevil, he doesn’t back down, he’s not in any way intimidated by him, or by what DD can do to him. That to me is one of the things that makes Frank so cool. He is always entirely human. So when he does get hurt it is important to hurt him like any other human being, not like Wolverine. He will eventually lose the eyepatch. But speaking as someone who has had an eye injury  himself, they do not heal quickly at all. It’s going to linger.

Neil Byce: Now that the “Omega Effect” crossover between Punisher, Avenging Spider-Man and Daredevil has been announced, I have been wondering….in your take on Frank, how is he going to be able to deal with other super-heroes?

Greg Rucka: There is this great line that Mark Waid wrote at the end of Avenging Spider-Man where Spider-Man and Daredevil have turned to Frank and said “I want to do this thing and I want you to help me do it” and Frank says “Give me forty minutes”. Then Daredevil says, “Without killing anybody,” and Frank responds “Give me forty-five”. That is the last line from Frank for that issue and the thing that I loved about it was that for everything that Frank does he has to be tactical. He has to be very smart to survive. He is never going to charge into something blind if he can help it. Every time he has to deal with someone like Daredevil and Spider-Man he has to be asking himself what happens when they try to take me in? They are, however, offering him something he is willing to play their game for.

The other thing about Frank, I think, is that he is a man of his word… up to a point, I think. He will keep his word if he can when he gives it, but he doesn’t give it lightly, ever. Everything he does is because he is on mission. Either it is to promote the mission or it is going to assist the mission. If it doesn’t do any of those things than he doesn’t have the time for it at all.

In issue eight, when Frank is looking at Cole and they are gathering all of the electronics up, he’s looking at her and thinking is she in my way or not? The decision there was that she wasn’t  and then he says, “Stay out of my way.” He does not have a problem with what she is doing because they can work towards a similar agenda.

When Mark and I were first starting to work on the “Omega Effect” crossover Mark wanted to call Rachel Cole Frank’s apprentice and I was like, NO, NO, NO! She isn’t at all. Not only is that an incorrect assessment of who she is but it is also – to me – an  incorrect assessment of who Frank is. Frank has no interest in an assistant. He does not want to be teaching somebody how to do what he does. There is a further implication in that, in that people want to divorce a sense of morality in Frank, but  for my purposes, he knows exactly what he is doing…he is not crazy. This means that he has made a choice and he knows that he has made a horrible choice to live a life that is an immoral life. Why in the world would he want anyone else to do that? Frank wouldn’t approve of this type of life for anyone else but himself. He is not going to create a bunch of Bat-acolytes. There is never going to be a Punisher family in the way that there is a Bat family. The difference there is that both Batman and the Punisher believe 100 percent that what they are doing needs to be done, but Batman believes that he is absolutely right and I don’t think Frank believes he has the moral high ground at all, I don’t think he would argue a moral imperative or right to what he is doing. He knows that he has recast himself as a soldier in a literal war on crime, and in so doing he has absolved himself of the fact that he is committing murder on a gloriously huge scale. But I hate the interpretation of Frank that says that he is crazy, because the second you do that you end up taking away the responsibility for the choices that he has made. I find it far more compelling to think that Frank is making a series of choices that have had an element of sacrifice to them and he can argue that he had no choice in the matter but the fact is that he could stop if he wanted to…but he is not going to. Not ever.

Frank is the revenge story that keeps on going. You cannot argue now that what he is doing is for revenge, it’s not. He is doing it because he feels it needs to be done and somebody’s gotta do it. He may dress it up and say that he is doing it because of what happened with his family but  the people that were responsible died a long time ago. And as I have said in other interviews before, if you are a member of the mafia and you are living anywhere in the New York area you are an idiot! At this point that story is done and he has killed them all. If he hasn’t gotten them all you would expect that they have figured out that at some point he will and they need to get out of town ASAP.

Neil Byce: Do you intend to further shed light on Frank’s past, the stuff that has already been visited and dealt with or do you intend to shed new light on Frank through some of the other more centralized characters in this series?

Greg Rucka: I’m not sure I know anything about Frank that everyone doesn’t already know.. Jason Aaron added the part about Frank and Maria separating in the MAX version and it worked there, but it doesn’t work in the series that I am doing. It works in MAX where you are fraught with issues of self-doubt and guilt. We have to take what we have offered up from Frank at face value, I think. I don’t want to change his motivations so I don’t feel that there is any light that I can shed on his past. The origin works and I don’t need to tinker with it.

We talk often about feature film adaptations and how many bad ones there are. People come along and say that they are going to change this thing about the origin of a character that has been around for sixty, seventy or eighty years. It’s like, well, that is a stupid thing to do. Frank works as he is, and so what I am more interested in is something that comes up in issue 12 where Frank sort of lays thing out in a scene with Cole. He basically says to her, “if you are doing this than this is the way that it works and these are the things that you have given up.” You don’t get to bitch and moan about it…you made the decision and here you are now. Frank made a choice and that choice is now dictating the rest of his entire life. It is all that he is ever going to do until the day he dies. Honestly I think that’s the way it should be. If I came along and I wrote a story where Frank is going to get remarried and he and his new wife are going to live happily ever after I should be booed off the stage and readers wouldn’t believe me, anyway. Readers would take it in and say, “Well that isn’t going to last.”

Frank doesn’t want to be happy. It isn’t about happiness.

Neil Byce: Did the “Omega Effect” collaboration that is coming in April alter any original plans that you had for ‘The Punisher’ series?

Greg Rucka: Ironically enough no…it ends up working in very well. I hadn’t planned for it at exactly this moment in the story, but it works there too. I would have liked to have had it tied a little bit more strongly to the story with the Exchange plot. But that being said, the Exchange fits into it very well. You actually see it begin to tie in at the end of issue 9. It also feeds very well into a different story that we want to tell further down the line.

Check back soon for PART 3 of this interview coming soon to Punisher Central!


  1. Again great interview, keep them coming Neil. :D

  2. Thanks for all the support! I am really looking forward to sharing the last part of the interview! We are only getting started :)

  3. Neil, just stumbled across this through Greg Rucka's twitter. Thanks for asking some really good questions. Looking forward to part 3.

    1. Hey there partner,

      Thanks for the encouraging words. We are really trying to bring quality content to the community through the site! BTW, part 3 of the Rucka interview should be coming very soon!

      - Neil