Last year I bought the Swamp Thing Omnibus and the Punisher Omnibus on the same day. Although I chose to read the Swamp Thing Omnibus first, it had been my intention to read the two back to back, but when I finished the Swamp Thing one I decided to move directly to the Alan Moore material. I got as far as “American Gothic” when my interest shifted, and I never did get back to the Punisher one. Until now. I’ve never been a huge fan of the character, but I thought I’d take a look at the early stories in an effort to discover the reason for his popularity.

SPIDER-MAN #129:

The Punisher enters the story quite abruptly, shooting a plaster statue of Spider-Man on the splash page while his ally, the Jackal, looks on. The Daily Bugle has reported that Spider-Man killed Norman Osborn, and that’s enough proof for the Punisher. While out web-swinging, Spider-Man’s “spider-sense” begins to tingle and he narrowly manages to avoid being taken out by a concussion grenade. Spidey confronts the Punisher on a rooftop, but is bound by a weapon which fires cables. The Punisher is about to execute him when Spider-Man breaks his bonds and turns the tables. The Jackal, hiding nearby, attacks Spider-Man from behind and he falls off the roof, apparently to his death the Punisher and the Jackal assume.

By the time Spider-Man regains his senses and returns to the roof, the Punisher and the Jackal are gone, but he finds a clue leading to the Punisher’s arms dealer. Back in the Jackal’s lair, an argument ensues. Whereas the Punisher was willing to kill Spider-Man, it goes against his “code” to allow him to die by accident. He leaves with the issue unresolved in order to get a new gun from his dealer. When he arrives he finds Spider-Man waiting for him. He also learns that it was the Jackal who left the incriminating evidence behind. Spidey knocks the Punisher out and leaves. The only thing we learn about the Punisher’s background in this initial outing is that he was a Marine for three years. Beyond that, he is clearly a villain,

Views: 649

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

True. Of course in the early days even the Hulk wasn't the mountain of muscle he became later — he's clearly big and strong but he's usually within the limits of human physique.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

"Was it just Jazzy John's taste in drawing, or something Lee always wanted to do that Ditko didn't?"

I have no idea, but big, bulky characters weren't exactly Ditko's forte.

ISSUE #2:

The Punisher attempts to kill the Kingpin, but walks into a trap. There is a dead man of girth similar to the Kingpin seated at the desk in the office, but there is also a bomb. The Punisher jumps to the window and survives the fall just barely. He’s rescued and seduced by Angela, a nurse of Chinese descent whose father and brothers were killed by the mob. The Punisher calls Alaric, his contact in The Trust, for help. It is obvious the Kingpin wants to remain “dead” because no correction has appeared in the paper. The Punisher calls the Daily Bugle and asks to speak to Ben Urich. The Punisher’s plan is to take credit for the “kill,” thereby setting the city’s criminals against each other to fill the power vacuum. His plan works… too well. Mob violence is out of control. Tony siciliano is tracking the Punisher the whole time.

Charlie Siciliano sets up a peace conference late at night at Grand Central Terminal. It is interrupted by a hit man from Detroit, Nolo Contende, who has been hired to wipe out the NYC bosses in one fell swoop. The Punisher pursues him into the subway and kills him. The Punisher is concerned for innocent victims who may be caught in the crossfire due to the situation he helped orchestrate. On his was back to his van, it explodes. He calls the trust, and the reader sees that Alaric and Angela are shacking up.

I forgot to mention last time, this series marks the first time I remember seeing airbrushed art on a comic book cover. (Now watch 10 people find earlier examples.)
ISSUE #3:

The Punisher recruits rival mob boss Santiago to set a meeting with Sciciliano to put an end to the gang war. Alaric has bugged the Punisher and Angela. Tony double-crosses his family. A conference call is set up, the individual locations are attacked, the Punisher is blamed. A little girl is killed in the crossfire. Coriander has set up Alaric to take over the mobs. Angela kills Coriander, then shoots Punisher.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

I forgot to mention last time, this series marks the first time I remember seeing airbrushed art on a comic book cover. (Now watch 10 people find earlier examples.)

I don't know how the process worked, but colorist Jack Adler used a wash technique over Gil Kane on the cover of Green Lantern #8(OCT61). I had "met" Green Lantern in the JLA series but this cover prompted me to buy my first Green Lantern book. Adler did a number of covers using this technique around this time. Here are three examples.

Those are certainbly striking covers. I have heard them described as "wash" technique before (but that's not the same as airbrushing). Steve Ditko used wash technique on some of his black and white stories for Jim Warren's Creepy. In b&w, the artist uses diluted ink; for color, watercolor. "Airbrush" is a tool which applies paint (or ink) via air pressure.

Wikipedia's article on Jerry Grandenetti has a quote describing the "wash" technique and a link to the quote source.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

 It is interrupted by a hit man from Detroit, Nolo Contende, who has been hired to wipe out the NYC bosses in one fell swoop.

The name is a play on a legal term.

Here's a good place as any to note the mistake in the banner on the cover of the first issue of The Punisher (January 1986): "#1 IN A FOUR-ISSUE LIMITED SERIES."

Issue #2 correctly states "#2 IN A FIVE-ISSUE LIMITED SERIES" because writer Steven Grant and artist Mike Zeck notified their editors of the error. They tell CBR (in "Comic Book Legends Revealed #196") that the production department was just used to putting "#X IN A FOUR-ISSUE LIMITED SERIES" on each issue cover because nobody did five-issue limited series ...

... as evidenced by the production department making the mistake again on the third-issue and fourth-issue covers.

Grant said, "Mike and I had a bet with each other that the fifth issue would read '#5 IN A FOUR-ISSUE LIMITED SERIES,' but they managed to get it right that time."

I never noticed that, Kelvin, but it brings to mind a couple of other similar instances I do recall.

WASTELAND #5-6:

The fifth issue was numbered six, leading DC to note the sixth issue “The Real No. 6”.

LEGIONNAIRES #17/LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #61:

Legionnaires #17 was incorrectly designated “END OF AN ERA- Conclusion” leading DC to designated Legion of Super-Heroes #61 “The Real Conclusion”.

THANOS #12:
 ‘Thanos #12 (the last issue of the series) was incorrectly designated “Part 4 of 6” (it was actually “Part 6 of 6”),

DYNAMO JOE #4
: Not quite a mistake, but DynamoJoe was solicited as a three-issue series. When sales warranted that it continue, First Comics slapped the following blurb on the fourth issue:

ISSUE #4:

Punisher traces the Trust through the Ryker’s Island Warden’s aide, but the aide is killed by a Trust assassin. The warden is attacked, too. The Punisher saves him, but then the warden commits suicide. The Punisher is arrested, cuffed and taken away. One cop is killed when the Trust’s death squad, all dressed like the Punisher, attacks. The other cop frees the Punisher in order to give them both a fighting chance. The “death squad” is led by Jigsaw, also in a Punisher costume, all brainwashed. They capture the Punisher.
ISSUE #5:

The Punisher gets the upper hand and beats Jigsaw and the death squad. He confronts Alaric and learns that the Trust’s original intention was to have the Punisher lead the death squad. They wanted to gain control of the mods, yes, but to fight them from within. The Punisher has an epiphany and learns that he doesn’t have to kill Alaric, but instead gets him to sign a written confession. He later encounters Angela who tries to kill him in a car, but he leaves the car teetering on a bridge. He doesn’t kill Angela, but he doesn’t save her, either. That final image is a metaphor for the series. Back in those days, a character wasn’t granted a mini-series unless something game-changing happened to him or her.

This should have been the end of the Punisher’s story (or at least a new beginning), but when he returned in an ongoing series, it was back to the same old status quo. Ironically, the mini-series that put the Punisher on the map in terms or popularity also had its major ramifications ignored going forward.

I think we're all depressingly familiar with the shakeup that doesn't shake up anything. But that would have been interesting.

Fraser

Jeff of Earth-J said:

ISSUE #5:

The Punisher gets the upper hand and beats Jigsaw and the death squad. He confronts Alaric and learns that the Trust’s original intention was to have the Punisher lead the death squad. They wanted to gain control of the mods, yes, but to fight them from within. The Punisher has an epiphany and learns that he doesn’t have to kill Alaric, but instead gets him to sign a written confession. He later encounters Angela who tries to kill him in a car, but he leaves the car teetering on a bridge. He doesn’t kill Angela, but he doesn’t save her, either. That final image is a metaphor for the series. Back in those days, a character wasn’t granted a mini-series unless something game-changing happened to him or her.

This should have been the end of the Punisher’s story (or at least a new beginning), but when he returned in an ongoing series, it was back to the same old status quo. Ironically, the mini-series that put the Punisher on the map in terms or popularity also had its major ramifications ignored going forward.

Reply to Discussion

RSS

Welcome!

No flame wars. No trolls. But a lot of really smart people.The Captain Comics Round Table tries to be the friendliest and most accurate comics website on the Internet.

SOME ESSENTIALS:

RULES OF THE ROUND TABLE

MODERATORS

SMILIES FOLDER

TIPS ON USING THE BOARD

FOLLOW US:

OUR COLUMNISTS:

Groups

© 2019   Captain Comics, board content ©2013 Andrew Smith   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service