This dawned on me recently when I wrote, as a joke, that Marvel should kill off Frank Castle when Garth Ennis leaves the Punisher MAX title: Marvel should kill Frank Castle.
Think about it: Punisher is a character anchored to the Vietnam War. More than any other character in the Marvel Universe, he is tied to a specific time. It’s tenuous enough now, with an almost 60 year-old Castle mopping the floors with thugs over 30 years his junior: in ten or fifteen years it will be a joke.
If Castle is killed off, he’s never in danger of being a punchline, or being forced to resort to some sort of half-assed “fountain of youth” excuse, the way Nick Fury has since the 70’s. With Fury, you can just about suspend your disbelief, because of the insane superspy nature of the character. Frank Castle? Not so much.
So please, Marvel: allow him to die. In a hail of mafioso gunfire, a single headshot from a kid he orphaned years before, a heart attack moments after saving some child’s life, setting off two tons of C4 to incinerate the assembled east coast crime families, run over by a mail truck, etc.: I trust you to make it good. Just please consider it.
(And, if the Marvel Universe wants to include stories about a grim urban avenger, it wouldn’t be too hard to make another one, would it?)