Divisive logo should be no-go on campus


Brandon Donner

close up of Gator shows modified Punisher logo.

Taijai Wallace, Contributing Writer

The simple, iconic skull logo for Marvel Comics antihero “The Punisher” has been co-opted by several groups in ways it was not intended for by the character’s creators with even Marvel distancing themselves from the Punisher’s skull. The symbol has been spotted branded on the back of campus property – one of the green John Deere Gator utility vehicles – and this is an issue because the variation of the logo spotted has ties to far-right groups with ties to racism and violent vigilante justice. Dallas College campuses are meant to be inclusive and the logo affixed to college property does not promote an inclusive environment. 

In Summer 2020, during the protests to combat racial injustice and police brutality, the symbol began to appear more frequently on law enforcement uniforms and became popular with numerous far-right figures from the Proud Boys to Three Percenters. 

In addition to becoming popular with extremists, some military units have updated their look with The Punisher’s skull as a symbol of force.

Navy Seal Chris Kyle, New York Times Bestselling Author of “American Sniper” said he started embracing the skull during his time in Iraq. “[The Punisher] righted the wrongs,” Kyle wrote in his book. “He killed bad guys. He made wrongdoers fear him. We spray-painted [the Punisher logo] on our Hummers and body armor, helmets and guns. We spray-painted it on every building or wall we could.”

But the character of The Punisher seeks vengeance outside the bounds of law and order as a vigilante. 

Gerry Conway, co-creator of  “The Punisher” expressed his dissatisfaction with the iconic logo being used by these groups. “I want to deny police and militia and the military the opportunity to use this as a symbol of oppression,” Conway said. “The Punisher is representative of the failure of law and order to address the concerns of people who feel abandoned by the legal system.”

A comic book writer and editor, as well as television writer and producer, Conway told science fiction, horror and fantasy news website Syfy Wire he was disturbed to see authority figures and law enforcement embracing the Punisher skull because the Punisher represents a failure of the justice system. “So when cops put Punisher skulls on their cars or members of the military wear Punisher skull patches, they’re basically sid[ing] with an enemy of the system,” Conway said. “He is an outlaw. He is a criminal. Police should not be embracing a criminal as their symbol.”

Conway is right. It is ironic these groups are using a logo meant to represent a character who goes against their supposed values of “law and order” exposing a flaw in their ideology. 

Gator branded with a Punisher logo sits parked outside A Building at Dallas College Brookhaven Campus
Gator branded with a Punisher logo sits parked outside A Building at Dallas College Brookhaven Campus

On Jan. 6, 2021, when Trump supporting Republicans violently stormed the U.S. Capitol, assaulting and injuring about 140 police officers according to the Capitol Police Union, several of those in the violent mob were seen donning T-shirts and flags with the Punisher logo. A Yahoo news headline quoting the actor who most recently portrayed the Punisher on screen says it all: “‘The Punisher’ star Jon Bernthal lashes out at ‘misguided and lost’ Capitol rioters for appropriating Marvel hero’s famous skull symbol.”

Many people on social media called to retire the logo due to the negative association.

On Dec. 2021, Marvel announced a new logo for “The Punisher” franchise, officially launching the new and retiring the original logo in March 2022.

The Punisher skull is now remembered for its ties with groups it was never meant to represent in the first place, which is why the logo definitely does not belong on college property.