From the moment I read the first Punisher story I knew this was a character that seem to make
sense to me. Up until then Daredevil and Batman were a tie for my favorite comic book
persona. Frank Castle was a vigilante that was grounded in reality. He could exist in the real
world. A Vietnam vet who had his family killed by gangsters and wages a war on all criminals. I
am sure there are quite a few people who would be more than happy to put motherfuckers to
task. Writers like Mike Baron and Garth Ennis help take Frank Castle to another level then just a
minor Spiderman character. The moment I saw that punisher skull t shirt at the newsstand I got
my comic books at the time I knew I had to have that. But I had come there to buy comics and
not a awesome punisher death skull t shirt. I was on a limited income so the death skull had to
wait for two whole weeks for me get her. The day I bought that punisher death skull t shirt was
a great day in my comic book history. I treat that T like it was a hundred dollar designer shirt. I
took it to the cleaners whenever it got dirty. That death skull made me feel stronger when I had
it close to my skin. It actually put me in a different state of mind.
The early 90’s were a great time for the comics. You had great artist and great writers creating
great things. Thanos, the mad titan in love with death who himself had been brought to life in
the pages of Silver Surfer by the great Ron Lim and the demigod Jim Starlin, became God
with the use of the Infinity Gauntlet. All the hero’s of earth were no match for him and were
batted away like gnats. The various cosmic powered being received the same brutal treatment
as the Avengers, Fantastic Four and the various costumed superman of earth. The Infinity
Gauntlet also brought back Adam Warlock (who stole the Gauntlet) ,Gamora, and Pip the Troll.
Armageddon 2001 was a storyline that took place across all of the DC comics annuals that year.
One hero in the near future would destroy all other super beings and become a evil dictator
known as Monarch. A new time travelling character known as Waverider ventured into the past
to find out which hero would turn bad and try to stop him or her. The concept was great but
when they revealed which hero turned evil it was a huge let down. I wanted someone big.
War of the Gods started with powerful sorcerous Circe manipulating the gods into waging war
against each other so that she could kill the earth goddess Gaea. Captain Marvel under the
infulence of the Roman gods gets into a huge fight with Wonder Woman who is preventing him
from killing the Greek Gods. The art by George Perez was just awesome.
The most popular comic at the time were the X Men . Jim Lee was the artist of that era. Nobody
was as good as Jim Lee. He drew the Uncanny X Men at the time and Marvel decided that the
book was so popular “Why not make another book just called X Men? better yet why not make
several covers for the book with same story inside. And to top it off we will make a deluxe
edition that will have all the covers together!” My brother and I were fanboys at the time and
fell for that shit hook line and sinker. I am not sure if X Force came out before or after X Men
but they had a similar marketing ploy. Same comic, poly bagged, with like five different cards!
WOW! This may not have been the first mass produced but the trend for gimmicks in comics
was just around the corner. By the by Wikipedia informs me that X force came out first followed
by X Men.
In the fall of 90′ I came a across a miniseries for a minor Marvel character known as the
Foolkiller. There had been two previous Foolkillers unrelated to Kurt Gerhardt the man who
would become the third Foolkiller. It started with Gerhardt’s father being beat to death by a
bunch of skinheads for six dollars. They show the false teeth being kicked out of the old man
head. Everything begins to spiral down from there. The company he works for downsizes and
he gets laid off. After months and months of looking for a job he is past the breaking point and
is severely depressed . His marriage is over and the only thing he wants out of it is the computer
and his clothes. He moves into a rundown apartment building and is hired at a pseudo
McDonald’s slinging burgers. During a robbery Gerhardt loses it and attacks one of the robbers
while screaming “six dollars!” and has his ass handed to him for this.
While watching a Morton Downey jr. knock off talking to the second Foolkiller from a mental
institution and becomes intrigued. They use a computer bulletin board to have conversations.
As they are kindred spirits the second Foolkiller tells Gerhardt to get in contact with a
associate of his by the name of Merle Singer who the second Foolkiller “help” after her
boyfriend threw acid in her face. She gives him a extra costume and the purification gun.
As he leaves he is confronted by skin heads who try to rob him. The Purification Gun
turns them into ashes and they become his first victims. He over comes the sickness he
feels at watching the skin heads die and dons the costume and proceeds to turn a number of
filth and criminals to freeze dried shit until he runs into a hardcore criminal known as
Backhand and gets his ass kicked and barely escapes with his life.
After this confrontation he realizes he needs to toughen himself for the job he is about to
do. After working out and doing various things to harden his body and mind he dons a costume
made by himself and proceeds to “purify” a gang of youths attacking women in Central Park. I
will not tell you anymore about this miniseries because I would love for you to go out a buy or
order one of the best written stories in comics ever. I am sure you could buy the entire series
for five bucks or less. There are a number of reasons why this book never became popular.
There were no superheroes in this comic, the adults themes may have put younger viewers off,
Marvel did a shit job promoting this book, and last but not least the artwork was not very good.
Being a writer the story is always more important than the art work but you need that to draw
people in. This miniseries is as good a story as Watchman or the Dark Knight Returns with a
more realistic story line. This could be such a awesome movie. That and Blood and Shadows by
Joe R Lansdale.
Reading a comic involves all the senses except taste which is why I drink a nice beer or smoke a
Partagas whilst reading. The art of a great comic artist can be more distinctive then the style of
any movie director or painter. Any real comic book fan can recognize the art work of Jack Kirby,
John Romita jr, Alex Ross, Alan Davis, George Perez, John Byrne, Joe Quesada, Barry Windsor
Smith, Mark Texeira, and Whilce Portacio without the benefit of any cover or title pages.
How many modern day writers in any genre are better than Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, Garth Ennis,
Mark Gruenwald, Steve Gerber, Mark Waid, Bill Willingham, Brian K Vaughan, Jeph Loeb, Mark
Millar and Neal Gaiman? It bright, shiny and fits right in your hand. It’s not just for
superheroes any more. You go as silly as you want( Milk and Cheese, Quantum and Woody) as
serious as you need (X men God loves Man Kills, Miracleman) to just fucking horrific (Crossed,
Blood and Shadows) to Indie gems (Stray Bullets,Love and Rockets,). Comics are like a Nevada
whorehouse they will have what you want and if they don’t they will find it for you. If I know
you I have at least a miniseries you will enjoy. I got my wife hooked on the Preacher, Y the
last man, and Fables for a while.
One of the hardest times I ever had was when I had to stop collecting comics for about
six months. I was just starting at Wal Mart and Stacie did not have a job yet. I am not so
obsessed that I had to think about if I should feed my child or got get my comics. The boy and
my mate would always come first but that doesn’t mean liked it one bit. I had to drive past the
comic shop everyday day to work. I was more irritable and snapped quicker then usual. I could
have gotten two or three books at a time but that would have just made it worse. Do you know
how much can change in the comic world in six months? When my brother came over with his
books I decline to read them. I needed my own books in full in my fucking hands. When the
glorious day came for me to get my books I bought a few pints of Paulaner from Stang Kelly and
a Baccarat cigar 50 ring with a dark maduro wrapper. I was drunk, a little high from smoking the
cigar too fast and in heaven having waited six months for my comics.
Some of my fondest memories are getting certain books. I bought what if series 2 # 4 second series
the day I saw Batman (89′)which was playing either the Esquire or McClurg Court. The first
comics I ordered from a comic book ad was from Mile High Comics and I brought the maxi series
Crisis on Infinite Earths. I bought the last three issues of Vigilante when I got off work early
from work.I was totally shocked when the main character blew his own head off. My brother and I were
watching The Transformers when my mother decided to be nice to us and bought us a bad of
comics and one was the first issue of Secret Wars first series. I of course have many fond
memories of many other people and places. Losing my virginity, getting into fights, spankings
from my mother, the joy of having my first job, having great lovers, meeting the woman whom I
would marry and have kids with . The family are the truly the only part I hold more dear then
my comics. Some my equal but only one surpasses.
Back in 87′ I was a year from collecting comics seriously but I was still consumed them every chance
I got and honestly a lot of the times my decsion to buy a comic would be based on how the
cover looked. The Amazing Spiderman 294# cover by Mike Zeck who did the art for the
Punisher mini series looked fucking awesome. Kraven with gun and spear in hand with
Spiderman in the background waiting to pounce on him really drew my attention. Like most
comics then and now what was on the cover had nothing to do with the contents of the book.
In this case it was actually better!
An insane Kraven had drugged the Spiderman, buried him alive and taken over the role of
the newly married Spiderman. Kraven /spiderman proceeded to beat the living shit out of
any bad guy he crossed and even killed one. Kraven /spider manage to
even beat a minor villian Vermin spidey could not defeat on his own who had been eating
people around New York. To top all of this Kraven having succeded where spiderman could not
(catching and beating Vermin) puts a shotgun to his head and pulls the trigger. I was fucking
blown away by that story and gave that comic to every kid and adult who would read it. Now
that is story telling.
Go get the trade paper back somewhere and match that storyline up to any
crappy sitcom or reality tv today.