Marvel's the Punisher Lays the Beatdown on Cops Who Use His Skull Symbol for 'Blue Lives Matter' Movement

The Punisher, Marvel Comics' murderous vigilante, has become a symbol for the Blue Lives Matter movement, with cops posting the character's iconic skull logo on social media, t-shirts—even police cars.

Now the Punisher himself has told police what he thinks of them coopting his sinister insignia.

In Punisher #13, out July 10, Frank Castle is cornered in an alleyway by uniformed cops who start gushing over their idol when they realize who he is. The officers even ask to take a selfie with Castle to share on their Punisher fan page.

Tearing a Punisher skull decal off their patrol car, Castle gives the officers a beat down and explains why they shouldn't worship him.

In Punisher #14, Frank Castle encounters police officers who see him as a role model. Marvel Comics

"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."

The officers tell Frank he's making an enemy of the police who support them, but he warns them if they don't stop their antihero-worshiping, "I'll come for you next."

punisher skull
a page from Marvel Comics' Punisher #14, out July 10. Marvel Comics

Use of the Punisher logo by the Blue Lives Matter movement has long been criticized by activists and comics insiders: Even writer Gerry Conway, who created the Punisher with artists John Romita St and Ross Andru for 1974's The Amazing Spider-Man #129, says he's "disturbed" by the character being embraced by law enforcement.

"When cops put Punisher skulls on their cars or members of the military wear Punisher skull patches, they're basically sides with an enemy of the system," Conway told SyFyWire in January. "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."

Conway compared cop cars with the Punisher logo to "a Confederate flag on a government building."

A month later, a police department in Kentucky removed Punisher logos emblazoned with the "Blue Lives Matter" slogan from eight squad cars, citing complaints from residents about glorifying a killer.

The design had been approved by the city council and mayor of Catlettsburg, Kentucky, and paid for with taxpayer money, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.

"We're getting so many calls, and they're saying that the Punisher logo [means] we're out to kill people, and that's not the meaning behind that," Police chief Cameron Logan told io9. "That didn't cross my mind."

Logan said he regretted approving the vigilante's symbol, calling it an oversight.

But not every department is stepping down from embracing the skull: On Wednesday, the St. Louis Police Department's police union posted the with the now-familiar "thin blue line variant" of the symbol on Facebook in protest of an internal investigation into officers sharing the symbol as well as anti-Muslim and racist content on social media.

The "thin blue line" variant of the Punisher's logo, shared on the St. Louis Police Officer's Association Facebook page.

Dozens of SLPD officers were put under review this month after the Plain View Project compiled evidence of police bias online.

Ironically, the St. Louis Police Officers Association called the skull image a "symbol of the war against those who hate law enforcement."

"It's how we show the world we hold the line between good and evil," the statement read. Dismissing the investigation as "political," the post added that "there will always be someone who will find fault with any symbol we identify with or person we choose to carry our message." Officers and supporters were then called on to share the "Blue Line Punisher" image and call for the officers under investigation to be cleared of any wrongdoing.

The post was condemned by St. Louis Police Commissioner John Hayden Jr., who said the Punisher "engages in acts of violence, to include murder, kidnapping, and extortion in his one-man effort against crime," according to an internal memo obtained by St. Louis Today, and that the character did not align with the department's mission "to protect life and property and achieve a peaceful society."

Hayden repeated Conway's statement that "the Punisher represents a failure of the justice system."