It's bad enough when police officers try to claim the skull symbol of the Punisher from Marvel Comics as their own. Gerry Conway, creator of the character, has spoken out about the absurdity:
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. […] 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.
The Marvel corporation has also gone after weapons manufacturers and others who use their unlicensed IP in their designs. Even the Punisher himself has addressed it in the context of a comic book:
I'll only say this once: We're not the same. You took an oath to uphold the law. You help people. I gave that up a long time ago. You don't do what I do. Nobody does. You boys need a role model? His name is Captain America and he'd be happy to have you.
(This is also a reminder to read Nate Powell's brilliant comic essay on the fashion of fascism, if you haven't already)
But now the Punisher appropriation has taken a step further, with militia groups handing out flyers at QAnon rallies emblazoned with that familiar skull:
This use of the Punisher logo makes at least some sense, as it more encouraging of vigilantism through violent extremist fringe groups. I suppose, if we're being technical, the QAnon-inspired murder of the Gambino crime boss is very much something the Punisher would do. Except the Punisher has the benefit of (a) being a fictional character, and (b) living in a world inhabited by super-beings and narratively satisfying crime syndicates, which negates the need for him to invent elaborate conspiracy theories about pedophile pizza shops to justify his madness.
That being said: this Punisher-avatar'd QAnon tweet is pretty incredible.
Image via Mike Mozart / Flickr
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