Comic book characters, we know, never really die. A superhero’s suitably spectacular death is invariably followed by reincarnation through some more or less clever ruse, or the character’s powers, his logo'ed costume and worldsaver’s mission are carried on by a substitute alter ego. Superman’s highly publicized demise in 1992 drew mainstream media attention, as did Captain America’s own flirt with the Grim Reaper in 2007, but both characters were soon reactivated.
In comic books, death isn’t fatal. It’s just an excuse for a series reboot.
For all the violence inherent to American comic books, rarely has a character’s dispatch been as brutal and apparently irreversible as that visited recently upon Marvel Comics’ Frank Castle, aka The Punisher.
First introduced as a Spiderman adversary in 1974, The Punisher is a former Marine turned vigilante after his wife and child were murdered by the Mob. Recently, after 36 years of dishing out mayhem, the character’s ultimate and very gruesome defeat — chopped and diced into bloody component parts — came at the claws of Daken, problem son of Wolverine.
The Punisher’s scattered remains were collected and taken to a secret sewer laboratory where an extreme makeover was operated, literally, by vampire scientist Morbius. The stitched-up jigsaw result, complete with neck bolts and robo parts mixed in, now stalks the Marvel Universe as FrankenCastle, and serves as the new leader of the Legion of Monsters that includes Dracula, Werewolf By Night, The Living Mummy, and the swamp creature called Man-Thing.
The illustration at top is a variant cover for Punisher no. 10 penciled by Tom Raney, with inks by Scott Hanna and colors by Frank D’Armata. The lab scene is from the June 2010 Franken-Castle no. 17, art by Roland Boschi.
An interview with writer Rick Remender on IGN Comics
Marvel Comics website