Since the inception of the Netflix show, it has been common to find police officers wearing patches, emblems or stickers with the famous Punisher logo. However, in light of the recent protests against police brutality, these images have become more apparent than ever. That has more than concerned the co-creator of the iconic character.
Reclaiming Our Time
In 1974, writer Gerry Conway, along with John Romita St and Ross Andru premiered The Punisher in The Amazing Spider-Man #129. Conway has been vocal about the misappropriation of the character since the uprising of Blue Lives Matter.
In a January 2019 interview with Syfy, Conway expressed his discern with America’s police units fetishizing the skull insignia as a form of badassery, when it actually is being used as a symbol of facism.
“It goes without saying. In a way, it’s as offensive as putting a Confederate flag on a government building. My point of view is, the Punisher is an anti-hero, someone we might root for while remembering he’s also an outlaw and criminal. If an officer of the law, representing the justice system puts a criminal’s symbol on his police car, or shares challenge coins honoring a criminal he or she is making a very ill-advised statement about their understanding of the law.”
In Plain Sight
Through the various photos and clips gathered from the protests nation wide, one issue became apparent. Police officers were clearing wearing the insignia on their uniforms WHILE abusing protesters. At this point, Conway was done being diplomatic about the the issue.
With this new initiative, Conway has created a t-shirt fundraiser named Black Lives Matter – Skulls For Justice. It utilizes the concepts from the artists who responded to his Twitter call for action. The mission statement says it all.
For too long, symbols associated with a character I co-created have been co-opted by forces of oppression and to intimidate black Americans. This character and symbol was never intended as a symbol of oppression. This is a symbol of a systematic failure of equal justice. It’s time to claim this symbol for the cause of equal justice and Black Lives Matter.
The Marvel Problem
However, as much as Conway is frustrated, confronting the police across the nation for appropriation of the Punisher skull is not on him. That duty belongs to Marvel, and their parent company Disney, who have been awfully silent on the topic. Since 2019, the best Marvel has been able to come up with as a deterrent is from Punisher #13.
That’s it. Simply a comic where the Punisher says he’s not down with cops copying him. Which is clearly not enough, given the current circumstances. What’s the hold up? According to CBR, the issue could be trademarking. As long as the police aren’t making money of the icon, Marvel may not have a legal reason to sue.
Regardless, the time is now to end this wave of police officers utilizing this skull as a means of fear. It’s time to remind them they are frauds for using it in the first place.