I picked up a couple of trades from the library of the current Punisher series by Nathan Edmondson and Mitch Gerads a couple of months back. I thought the art was nice, but felt the storytelling made me uneasy. I’m not upset about the alternative take on the Punisher himself: long-running iconic IP has to be flexible, and if Edmondson/Gerads’ take on Punisher is that he’s a sardonic, handsome man who has a regular diner he posts up at and befriends the other regulars, so be it. But beyond the character himself, the stories make out Punisher to be a role model not only to random street vigilantes, but explicitly to active members of the military and the police. There’s even a cop who is taken off the force for trumped up charges and decides that maybe her best recourse for TRUE JUSTICE is to go Punisher and start indiscriminately mowing down all of the “urban” “savage” “thugs”, which is to say a bunch of youthful minorities. Similarly, the Punisher saves some military folks from a Mexican drug cartel, and they are so inspired by his example they take his war over to Afghanistan, in scenes that also involve indiscriminately mowing down a bunch of people who aren’t white.
As highlighted by some heated exchanges yesterday on Twitter, part of this second story is an allusion to real-life figures like “American Sniper” Chris Kyle, whose group really did wear Punisher skulls while fighting overseas. Early on in that discussion, someone off-handedly commented somewhere that both Edmondson and Gerads are “avowed conservatives” and while that is certainly an easy inference to make from the book itself, any sort of personal avowal was news to me, so I started Googling.
One of the hits for “Nathan Edmondson” “conservative” is an interview from 2009 that doesn’t have anything to do with his own beliefs, but happened to mention off-handedly how “[Edmondson] recently “retired” from [his] position (as Director of International Programs at the Leadership Institute) to write full time.”
That name rang a bell, and sure enough, The Leadership Institute “provides training in campaigns, fundraising, grassroots organizing, youth politics, and communications. The Institute teaches conservatives of all ages how to succeed in politics, government, and the media.” According to Wikipedia, its alumni includes luminaries such as Grover Norquist, Ralph Reed, Jeff Gannon, Mitch McConnell, and Mike Pence. As to Edmondon’s involvement with the Institute, there isn’t much out there besides a number of references to his position, including one in a 2008 newsletter from the World Congress of Families, a group that not only actively opposes gay marriage in the United States, but straight up repped for Russia’s “homosexual propaganda” laws last year.
While I have no idea what Ales Kot was referring to, and have no way of seeing into the heart of Edmondson or anyone else involved with this book, he certainly does seem to be a conservative! Which explains a great deal about this current run on the Punisher.