Tuesday, February 21, 2012

First 10 - The Punisher

The Punisher is Batman. No, he's not literally Batman (it's Bruce Wayne, but don't tell anyone you heard it from me) but he fills a similar space in the Marvel Universe. There are many similarities between The Dark Knight and Marvel's man in black. They both lost their families in an act of crime and vowed to avenge their loss. Both stalk the night and act as vigilantes, doing the job standard law enforcement can't do. Neither of them have super powers. They both avail themselves of technology. There are probably other similarities, but I'm too lazy to bust my noodle about it right now. Just know that The Punisher is Marvel's Batman.

So I found myself with a conundrum in reading the first 10 issues of The Punisher. He started showing up in Marvel titles in the 70's, but didn't get his own series until the late 80's. He first got a 5 issue limited series which was drawn by Mike Zeck and written by Steven Grant. That was the jumping off point for the continuing Punisher series as written by Mike Baron and drawn by Klaus Janson. I figured there would be some dissimilarities between the limited and  ongoing series, so I decided to read the 5 issues of the limited series as well as the first 10 issues of the continuing series.

The limited series was fan-dang-diddly-tastic. There was a great deal of character development in a short period of time, and the plot had some unexpected twists and turns. When the limited series was done, I found myself wondering how they would start off the story for the continuing series. The limited series storyline was so well-written and everything wrapped up so tightly that it almost felt like The Punisher's work was done. That's a whole lot for 5 issues to do.

The first 10 issues of the continuing series were slightly less awesome than the limited series. The problem with the continuing series is that The Punisher doesn't have great villains. There is no Joker to his Batman. I understand that in order to be The Punisher, Frank Castle has to bust a few caps and put a few baddies in the morgue. He just doesn't have a white whale. His modus operendi of killing every bad guy he meets gets a little old. Nobody he meets is his equal and the tension you normally get from knowing that the good guy might lose (even though deep down you know he won't) is not there. It's still a very well-written gritty comic. I enjoyed the first 10, but Fantastic Four is still the clubhouse leader.

I don't know what I'll be reading next, but I should pick something in the DC Universe. I tend to be a bit Marvel-centric (the nerdiest compound word I have ever seen). So stay posted. Or not. Nobody reads this blog, and they certainly don't read it for my thoughts on comic books.

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