Most historians have felt the thrill of discovery at some point while in the archives. There is a rush that comes with finding something new. For me, it has often felt as though I was suddenly taking an active role in the history that I study. I’ve experienced some of these moments in the archives when, for example, I realized that the second page of a letter that was listed as “missing” was actually in another collection that I had just been looking at. But in the summer of 2016, I made a discovery that for me was the fabled “mother lode” and laid out my dissertation before me.
On Friday, November 17th, Marvel and Netflix released the newest series in a successful run of shows based on characters from the Marvel Universe. The Punisher expands the story of a character that Marvel introduced last year in the second season of Daredevil. Over the past couple of years, this string of Netflix series based on Marvel characters, including Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and The Defenders, have become increasingly popular among binging viewers. However, The Punisher expands on this run of shows in a troubling new way: it brings gleeful gun fetishism to the fore.