Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Punisher #60

The Punisher #60 - 365 Days of Comics
Marvel walking the thin line of racism.
Before Robert Downey Jr. played a man who underwent surgery to make himself black, in the film Tropic Thunder, Frank Castle underwent an operation to become a black man.

The Punisher #60 is a crazy issue I was unaware existed. I'm sure there were plenty of out-there stories, such as a man changing his skin color, by 1991; however, the fact that it happens in a mainstream brand aware publication like Marvel is pretty surprising. The issue itself features the Punisher getting his skin color changed so that he can lay low from the authorities, due to his recent brake out of prison. Later in the issue, Frank is still pulled over by the police, but this time because he is driving awkwardly. Once the cops notice he is a black man they are very aggressive with him and even call him a "coon."

The fact that the cops used such a horrible slur in the Punisher #60 is the most surprising aspect of the comic of the day. I do not believe changing a character's skin color is offensive, but a slur...well, that's ridiculous! I can't believe Marvel got away with it. Personally, I think it is fine to use depending on the context of the story. Obviously, the story is trying to point out the racism in our society and pointing out the discrimination that occurs even from our officials. Marvel isn't just throwing around slurs in this case, which is why it works as a shocking moment which identifies problems we have as a society.

Marvel handles the the Punisher #60 well except for the cover, which I think is penciled by Val Mayerik, the interior penciler. The cover features Luke Cage and a black Frank Castle, and they look exactly alike! Black people all look the same, huh? The men are so similar looking they had to draw a gun with one man to make sure people know that one is the Punisher. The only argument I can think of in Marvel's defense is that maybe they are supposed to look the same and be out of their uniforms to play on a theme like: outside of the rolls we (Cage and the Punisher...at the moment) play, we are one...a black man. Eh, I don't know. This is a crazy issue.

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