Archive for Punisher

Friday Night Fights: Punisher Punishment!

Gotta get this finished in a hurry today, so here’s our weekly dose of… FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Tonight’s battle comes to us from December 2012’s Punisher: War Zone #1 by Greg Rucka and Carmine Di Giandomenico. There’s a reason why people without superpowers should not get into a fistfight with Spider-Man.



That’s it — you guys have a great weekend!

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Friday Night Fights: The Butler Did It!

It’s been a busy, horrible week, and I’m reliably informed that this weekend will be much too short to make up for it. And after that, another long, busy, horrible week is going to start again. I’m afraid our only recourse is to indulge in… FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Tonight’s battle comes to us from November 2012’s Space: Punisher #3 by Frank Tieri and Mark Texeira, in which the Punisher — or, I suppose, the Spaaaaace Punisher — expects to make quick work of Spaaaaace Jarvis.





That’ll do it for me. Please do your best to survive this weekend and the coming workweek. Things have got to get better eventually, right? Right?!

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Monkey Business

Hit-Monkey #1

Marvel’s been talking this one up a lot. “Character creation of the year” and all that. It starts out focusing on a hitman, injured and on the run. He gets inexplicably taken in, cared for and healed by a small tribe of Japanese macaque monkeys — he is accepted by all of the monkeys but one. While the assassin heals up enough to be able to move about, he doesn’t have a lot of bullets and knows he’s still not well, so he starts training himself in unarmed combat, observed by the one untrusting monkey. In time, the people who tried to kill the hitman come after him, killing him and all the monkeys but the one outcast who didn’t trust the assassin — ironically, he’s learned enough about martial arts and gunplay by watching the hitman that he’s now able to take his revenge for the death of his tribe.

Verdict: Thumbs down. It’s actually a fairly dull story, and it certainly doesn’t live up to the hype that Marvel has given it. We never see the monkey in the snappy suit from the cover. We never get any indication that he’s actually smart enough to care about wearing a suit, much less figuring out how to use a handgun. Oh, I know, you should never ever expect too much logic from comics — especially not from comics about monkeys. Nevertheless, I was hoping for better.

JSA All-Stars #3

Hurray! It’s the happiest cover ever! Maybe DC really is figuring out that everyone hates Magog…

On the other hand, this is a pretty danged awkward issue. The JSA annual came out just last week, but this entire issue is set before the annual. So at this point, Magog is still a member in moderately good standing within the All-Stars. Most of the action in this issue takes place during a team training session, where Magog mainly tries to encourage everyone to kill their opponents, and Power Girl eventually clocks him a good one. But there’s some background stuff, too. Johnny Sorrow kills Killer Wasp mostly for grins, Atom-Smasher has been kidnapped by some evil magic user, and Sandman is waking up from his dreams with a mission. Oh, and Power Girl apparently has a new costume without the infamous/celebrated “boob window.” The backup story about Hourman and Liberty Belle is full of lots of good comedy, mainly stemming from Tigress and Icicle buying a plane ticket from Liberty Belle while she’s in civvies, giving the two married superheroes some extra cash to spend in Venice.

Verdict: Ehh, thumbs up, I guess. Nothing much to recommend it, but at least there’s nothing particularly bad either. The background elements are actually more interesting than the main storyline. And I do wonder why the decision was made to alter Power Girl’s costume, since I doubt her uniform will change in any of her other comic appearances.


Punisher #13

I missed an issue of this one a while back, but Frank Castle is still a stitched-together Frankensteinian killing machine, trying to save a bunch of monsters from cyber-samurai trying to destroy all monsters. That’s really the whole summary of the issue. There are some good fights with Morbius the Living Vampire, Werewolf by Night, Man-Thing, and lots of scenes with the Punisher shooting the heck out of samurai.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots of good fights, lots of fun monsters. I heartily approve.

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Frankenstein’s Vigilante

Punisher #11

Okay, I think we all know by this point that I’m a sucker for monsters. And this one was high-concept enough that it was particularly appealing. In the previous issue of this comic “Punisher: Dark Reign – The List #1” (Thanks for the heads-up, Todd), Frank Castle met up with Wolverine’s rotten son Daken and got cut to pieces, literally. And I’m not using the word “literally” for emphasis — I mean, there went Punisher’s head, there went his arm, there went his leg… So Frank Castle’s dead, right? Well, maybe not. A bunch of mole people collected the Punisher-chunks and carted them away into the sewer, under the protection of the Man-Thing. And Frank gets stitched back together and returned to life by Morbius the Living Vampire, with half-hearted assistance from Jack “Werewolf by Night” Russell and a bunch of other monsters. Why? The monsters of the world are being hunted to extinction by a bunch of high-tech samurai, and they need a soldier like Frank to help them with battle tactics. Unfortunately, Frank’s brain isn’t really firing on all cylinders yet, and he tends to have trouble with anything outside of his personal war on crime. Is he going to be able to help the monsters who saved his life?

Verdict: Thumbs up. And not just because of the mad concept of turning Frank Castle into a patchwork monster. If that was all there was to this, it wouldn’t be worth squat. What I enjoyed about this was Frank’s reaction — even in the midst of his post-reanimation freakout, he expresses deep cynicism, and the trigger point for his rage is the memory of his dead family. And even when he’s calmer, he has the old Frank Castle attitude, and he seems deeply conflicted about having to deal with a bunch of monsters, freaks, and bug people, when he normally focuses on organized crime. There’s been some serious thought put into Frank’s character and reactions, and the results are pretty entertaining. Is it bizarre? Oh, yes. I’m sure Frank will be back in his old body eventually, gunning down mobsters left and right — but I’ve got no idea how they’ll get there from this point. I hope it stays cool, because it looks like it’ll be a lot of fun to read.


Wonder Woman #38

Wonder Woman’s enemy Alkyone has married Achilles and been declared Queen of the Amazons. Wondy, meanwhile, is in prison, under a death sentence. She refuses to escape because if she does, Hippolyta, her mother, will be killed. Artemis plots revolution, Achilles chafes at Alkyone’s plots, Donna Troy searches for Hippolyta, and much darker bargains are made with much darker powers.

Verdict: I’ll give it a nominal thumbs up. The story isn’t that bad, but as I’ve said before, I’ve pretty much had my fill of grim stories here about gods and mythologies — it’s gotten to the point where that’s almost the only story that’s being told in this title, and that needs to change.


Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! #10

Billy is still unwilling to change into Captain Marvel because Cap has started acting evil. He and Mary are on their way to see the wizard Shazam about this, but they get distracted by a bunch of normal passersby who are robbing a bank — they’ve all been hypnotized by a felonious rocker named Axe. Mary tries to handle the problem solo, but gets hypnotized, too. Can Billy save everyone without resorting to changing into Captain Marvel?

Verdict: I’m gonna thumbs-down it. Part of it was that Axe just wasn’t a very good villain. Part of it is that this is the first all-ages title I’ve seen that combined a complicated multi-part storyline with no recap of previous events. If you’re going to go with continuing storylines in an all-ages book (something I’m just not convinced is a good idea), you’ve got to give new readers some idea of what’s gone on before.

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Friday Night Fights: Punishment!

So it’s Friday, it’s night (or at least night-ish), and we’re all in the mood for some comic-booky fights? Sounds like the perfect time for…FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Today, we’re turning to 1974’s Amazing Spider-Man #129 by Gerry Conway and Ross Andru, featuring the debut of the Punisher:


Ain’t nothin’ wrong with a good old-fashioned kick-to-the-face.

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Opposites Attract

You may remember we discussed the concept of the comics crossover a while back. Well, the problem with a lot of them is that their primary purpose is marketing — stick a couple of popular characters together and hope people will buy some extra comics. The story may be alright, or it may not be. Not that many people care. What they care about is the fact that we’ve got Superman and Spider-Man together in this comic! Or Wonder Woman and Witchblade! Or Wolverine and Deathblow! We need to sell a lot of comics, think the company bigwigs, and we sure hope the suckers are willing to buy this one…

No, they’re not all that way. You find some where it’s clear that the folks involved said to themselves, “Wow, we can have a heck of a lot of fun with this. We can tell a cool stories about both of these wildly different characters, we can tell ’em so the fans won’t get mad, and even if it doesn’t sell that well, everyone who reads it is gonna LOVE it!”

Which leads me to what I believe is the greatest crossover in history.


Yes, it’s “Archie Meets the Punisher.”

Just the backstory on this one is great. The people at Archie Comics were sitting around joking about comics crossovers and picked out the Punisher, Marvel’s grim-and-gritty vigilante, as the worst possible crossover candidate for their all-American teenager. Batton Lash, the creator of the “Wolf and Byrd, Counselors of the Macabre” series, heard the idea and wrote up a story proposal. The Archie folks sent it on to Marvel, still half-thinking of it as a joke — and the Marvel publishers decided they wanted to do it. Lash ended up writing the story, with art chores shared by Marvel’s John Buscema, who drew all the scenes with the Punisher, and Archie’s Stan Goldberg, who drew all the scenes with Archie.

The comic was published in 1994. The serious comics fans rolled their eyes and passed it over. The oddballs grabbed it, cackled over it, and loved it.

So how the heck do you bring two characters this different together into one comic book? Well, you start with Frank Castle pursuing a dangerous drug pusher named Red Fever — and he has to bring him in alive, because the government thinks they can get lots of info about the underworld from him. Unfortunately, Red gives the Punisher the slip, heads for the bus station, and buys a ticket. Gee, this guy looks strangely familiar…


Holy moley, you don’t think this is gonna lead to some uncomfortable mistaken-identity mix-ups later, do ya?


Hmmmm. Could be!

So the Punisher thinks Archie is Red, Archie’s friends think Red is Archie, a bunch of thugs from out-of-town are gunning for everyone, Jughead really, really likes hamburgers, and then there’s the big sock-hop over at the high school! Miss Grundy falls in love with Frank when she thinks he’s the school’s new coach, Frank marvels at how clean and crime-free Riverdale High is, and all the excitement has Arch starting his own version of the Punisher’s War Diary…


The story is almost unbelievably weird, but it’s still fun to read, and it’s still one heck of a good story. The characterizations and artwork are perfect — you don’t get stuck with either Archie or the Punisher acting out-of-character. It spotlights the great stuff that make both the Punisher and Archie work so well. Yes, the concept is bizarre, but it works because the creators loved the characters and because they were having mad, crazy, howling fun when they put it all together — and that comes through when you read the story.

If you can find it, check it out — but be prepared for a long hunt, and be ready to shell out some serious cash. This one’s reputation has grown steadily over the years, and it’s not at all easy to find any more. But it’s worth the time and worth the price.

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