Here we have the cover to The Punisher #38. It was brought to my attention, in the comments of Chris Sims' review, that the fellow pistol-whipping Frank Castle resembles X-Factor scribe Peter David. At that time, no one seemed to know why Mr. David would do such a thing, and no answer has since been forthcoming.
Well, being the helpful fellow I am, I've decided to put what I know of him to use in trying decipher his actions. Granted my intel may be a tad limited:
1) He currently writes X-Factor and Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man for Marvel, as well as Fallen Angel and various Buffyverse books for IDW.
2) He's had well regarded runs on The Incredible Hulk, the previous incarnation of X-Factor, Supergirl, even Aquaman.
3) He likes to add little pop culture "Easter eggs" to his stories, sometimes to a detrimental extent.
4) He and Todd MacFarlane do not get along. Or, didn't get along. I don't know, maybe they patched things up.
Taking all this into account, I know why he would smack Frank Castle around like that.
Frank Castle is the guy who advised Peter David that having an alternate universe Uncle Ben shoot people would be a good direction to go with a Spider-Man book. Frank felt that would send an important lesson about not screwing around with the timestream, and that the message would resonate all the more if the killing of Spidey of 2211 was committed by kindly ole Uncle Ben. David figured that since Frank isn't the sort to make rash decisions (what? Frank is very calm and matter-of fact about his work, as long as you don't dig up his family and urinate on their remains), it couldn't be that insane.
Having since had time to think about it, Peter David has come to the realization that this was a horribly silly thing to do, and is taking a little time to let Frank know future suggestions will not be appreciated. Have no fear, once he's worn himself out, Peter David will get right back to work making Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man more, you know, friendly. To be fair, I have heard good things about this Mysterio story, but it's got that loser from Kevin Smith's Black Cat mini-series, and well, no thanks.
Do you have a better theory? *arches right eyebrow imperiously*