Mike Baron Spins New Vigilante Out of Thin Blue Line: Private American

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Private American

Marvel Comics has emasculated their fan-favorite vigilante, taking away the Punisher’s guns and replacing his skull emblem to make him kinder and gentler for modern readers, but fans of writer Mike Baron’s acclaimed five year run on the street-level sentinel can revisit his no-nonsense, gritty take on vigilante justice with Baron’s newest hero, partially inspired by Gerry Conway’s creation.

Mike Baron’s upcoming graphic novel is Private American and it marks a return to form for the Eisner winning writer of brooding, complex, and often violent protagonists. Hot on the heels of his hilarious Florida Man comics (American Mythology), Private American is a Cuban American living on the US southern border, whose frustration with the migrant crisis turns to retributive violence when its consequences touch his family circle.

The title is also a riff on the moniker of Captain America, Marvel’s beloved star-spangled nationalist, who has also been rewritten by modern writers into a hero that’s grown ashamed of his country and seems to embrace a globalist approach to crime fighting. Baron’s Private American is a slightly more pulp take on familiar themes.

“I had been thinking about a vigilante character,” says Baron. “His purpose here is born of tragedy, devoted to war, an unstoppable, raging force who holds these cartels accountable.”

“Marcos Zamora was dishonorably discharged for killing a man who was torturing a dog,” Mike continues, “and Marcos is similar in many ways to my take on Frank Castle. He protects the innocent while striking cold fear in the heart of ruthless killers.”

While Baron wrote the Punisher longer than anyone at Marvel Comics, the character was created by Gerry Conway, who openly disdains the character’s popularity now and opposes to the US military and law enforcement’s embrace of the Punisher logo. Baron hoped to discuss Punisher with Conway during a recently scheduled panel at the Colorado Springs ComiCon, but Gerry was unable to make it due to health problems. 

Baron isn’t one to shy away from controversy. His Thin Blue Line was about two cops trying to survive a riot-torn night in the city. Thin Blue Line readers will notice that Private American fits into the same continuity, where that story’s main antagonist is also deeply involved in this thriller. Thin Blue Line struck a chord with readers, and garnered rave reviews, raising over six figures in crowdfunding. “I don't know why this is controversial,” remarks Baron. “You're either for the rule of law or you're not."  

Next on Baron’s calendar is another installment of his wildly successful sci-fi creation Nexus, coming in December from Dark Horse, and illustrated by Richard Bonk, who collaborated with Mike on Private American. This fall the two will be devoted to crowdfunding Private American and taking it directly to their readers.

This is the Punisher that Mike Baron fans remember. Preview the graphic novel and learn more at theprivateamerican.com.