There are a few symbols in the Marvel Universe that have reached iconic status. Peter Parker’s Spider-Man symbol. Steve Rogers’ Captain America symbol. The famed Fantastic Four symbol. And Frank Castiglione’s iconic Punisher symbol.
The Punisher symbol is easily the most badass symbol in all of American comics. The Punisher skull symbol creates a sense of dread and fear in the hearts and minds of criminals when they see it. The Punisher symbol effectively conveys the death and carnage that is soon to follow. Frank’s chilling and intimidating logo is a huge part of his psychological warfare against criminals. When it comes to logos, the Punisher logo is simple and yet devastatingly effective. It also is incredibly cool looking, too.
As a result, the Punisher symbol is plastered all over clothing and hats at a rate rivaled only by the Superman logo and the Batman logo. People have always loved to wear anything with the Punisher logo on it.
And therein lies the problem that Marvel seems hopelessly bewildered by at the moment. Police groups and Blue Lives Matters group love to wear the Punisher logo. Some of the rioters at the Capitol also wore the Punisher logo. This is what caused eternal hand wringing and gnashing of the teeth over at Marvel. Guess, what? Do you know who else wears the Punisher logo? A massive amount of regular comic book fans like you and me. The percentage of jerks who wear the Punisher logo is probably the same as the percentage of jerks who wear the Batman logo or the Superman logo. The police groups and protestors who wear the Punisher logo represent a tiny fraction of the people who purchased Punisher merchandise. Sadly, Marvel is preoccupied more with scoring Twitter points and engaging in moral grandstanding than they are with protecting their treasured and profitable intellectual property and making great stories.
As a result, Marvel has decided to trash the iconic Punisher logo. This is a stunning movie that conveys a company that has zero pride and confidence in itself and its intellectual property. Guess what? Assholes across the world wear all sorts of logos from various companies and characters. It is both impossible and idiotic to expect that only “good” people will every wear your merchandise.
Take for example the renowned fashion maker Fred Perry who has a long history of making some fantastic polo shirts. Now, unfortunately, the Proud Boys love to wear Fred Perry shirts. Evidently, the Proud Boys like the Fred Perry laurel wreath logo. Whatever. The point is, some jerks decided to wear Fred Perry polo shirts. What did Fred Perry do? Did they trash their logo and stop making polo shirts? No. They put out a public statement in the media and on their website that they actively oppose the beliefs of groups like the Proud Boys. That’s it. That is all Marvel had to do. It is not that hard. You never give in to a tiny fringe group of crazy people.
Another example would be Doc Martens back in the 1970s and 1980s. The classic eight-hole black Doc Martens were beloved and worn by skinheads. But, guess who else wore these iconic Doc Martens. Literally millions of normal regular teenagers and twenty-somethings during that same time period. Did Doc Martens cancel their iconic boots and rename their company? Nope. Because the skinheads who wore their shoes represented a tiny fraction of the people who loved to wear Doc Martens.
Marvel Comics looks like fools for canceling their iconic Punisher logo. They let the terrorists win. They failed to protect their intellectual property. They also alienated their loyal comic book fans (whatever population that is left these days) who love the original Punisher logo.
Marvel should have simply made public statements that they do not support the fringe groups who have worn the Punisher logo. Marvel could have even had Frank partake in fighting some of the groups who have worn his logo in a story in his comic book. Or Marvel could have realized that feeding these trolls simply gives them more attention and power and, therefore, Marvel should have just ignored them and moved on.
Instead, Marvel does what Marvel does and chooses the path of foolishness. No surprise. As a result, Marvel fans get treated to an all-new Punisher logo. Here it is. Go ahead and soak it in.
As longtime readers of the Revolution know, I am fascinated by logo design and costume design. I mean, who else spends their time obsessing over the costume design history of various Legionnaires. Yeah, I know. I have problems.
At any rate, let’s critique this new Punisher logo. Let’s get the obvious out of the way at the start. This is a shit logo. It is absolutely awful. This new Punisher logo is everything that the old Punisher logo was not.
Trying to replicate an iconic logo is incredibly difficult and nearly impossible for any company. That is why you rarely see any company engage in such an endeavor. What made the original Punisher logo so iconic was its simplicity. The design is not too busy nor overly ornate. The original logo was ominous and effectively conveyed a sense of dread. The logo reflected the Punisher’s mission statement: To kill all criminals. The original logo excludes intimidation. The cool factor is off the charts.
Now, we turn to this new Punisher logo. It is immediately noticeable for being way too detailed. Gone is the simple skull outline in favor of a far too stylized skull outline. Further, the iconic logo’s cold and angry skull design is replaced with a far more cartoonish skull design. The new Punisher logo does not look like cold death. The new Punisher logo does not look angry. The new Punisher logo does not look intimidating. The new Punisher logo also has zero cool factor.
Instead, the new Punisher logo looks like generic clip art. It is obvious that Marvel put zero effort into this new Punisher logo. It is also obvious that Marvel wanted the new Punisher logo to be kid-friendly. It is also obvious that Marvel did not want this new Punisher logo to have any cool factor at all. After all, if the new Punisher logo was cool then the same groups who wore the original Punisher logo would immediately start wearing the new Punisher logo. And this is the biggest sin of this new Punisher logo. It is clear that Marvel designed this Punisher logo to purposely make it so uncool that no group of people would ever try and co-opt it again. However, the result is that the Punisher now looks like a total dork. Also, what regular comic book fan is going to want to wear anything with this dorky-looking logo on it?
Instead, the new Punisher logo looks like a generic and bland skull design that you would expect to see in a children’s cartoon. The silly cartoonish horns and fangs are simply awful. The goofy shape of the skull’s head gives it a bobblehead look of an infant. This is simply a bad design from top to bottom.
Upon further reflection, I could see the new Punisher logo being worn by a generic villain in a Ninjago cartoon. In fact, this is the real lasting impression that the new Punisher logo has on me.
Do you know what would be absolutely hilarious? If Marvel goes through all of this idiocy to roll out the new Ninjago Punisher logo only to have the same Blue Lives Matters groups and protestors immediately start wearing the new Punisher logo. What would Marvel do then? Quickly roll out yet another new Punisher logo? This is the fallacy of Marvel’s decision to change the Punisher logo. You never let the terrorists win.