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CSBG Archive

365 Reasons to Love Comics #186

DITKO WEEK is over, but I realize I forgot to mention the upcoming BBC documentary on the man himself from British favorite Jonathan Ross. It will probably be excellent. Look for it. And I’ve heard rumblings of a Ditko book from Blake Bell called The Mysterious Traveller. Did anything come of it?

Anyway, today’s entry is about one of the greatest single issues ever produced, and easily the best crossover of all time. It’s mind-shatteringly awesome! Thanks to Trey for suggesting it in the suggestions thread. And here’s your archive link.

7/5/07

186. Archie Meets the Punisher

Archie Punisher 1.jpg

If, by chance, you haven’t seen or heard of this comic before, then I am truly sorry for breaking your brain. Trust me, though. It’s worth it.

In the summer of 1994, worlds collided. The Punisher invaded Riverdale in a smashing ad-free 48-page spectacular written by Batton Lash, cool creator of Supernatural Law. The Archie bits were drawn by the amazing Stan Goldberg and the Punisher bits were drawn by the legendary John Buscema– even when the characters were interacting within the same panel! It’s a glorious, all-star affair.

The plot starts with a standard case of mistaken identity. There’s a mobster called “Red Fever” (alias Montana Bob, a tribute to Archie creator Bob Montana) running around, and the Punisher and his pal Microchip follow him to Riverdale. But, oops, Red looks a lot like Archie Andrews. And then, hilarity ensues.

Archie Punisher 2.JPG

The Punisher shakes Archie down for a bit before they team up to find the real baddie. Frank ends up chaperoning a school dance for Archie and his pals, and then things turn sour. In the end, the good guys win, the bad guy loses (and Frank lets him live), and everything goes back to status quo. And yeah, there’s a really cool last page, which involves a letterman’s jacket, Frank kissing Miss Grundy, and a set-up for another crossover that I wish actually existed:

Archie Punisher 3.JPGArchie Punisher 4.JPG

This comic is a lovely little art object. In an age of over-rendered Image styles, grim and grit, and crappy stories, we got this, a ridiculously fun and silly comic by classic creators. The entire thing is played pretty much straight, with neither Archie nor the Punisher veering from their usual portrayals. The entire Archie universe shows up or gets a mention, even Sonic the Hedgehog and the Shield. Everything is done with absolute class and complete levity. I liked that both companies felt perfectly okay with poking fun at themselves.

I really miss simple, wacky books like this one. I wish we had a lot more of them. It never takes itself seriously and it delivers a rollicking good adventure. What more could one want?

Really, I can’t find much to say about this comic, aside from reiterating how wonderful it is. If you call yourself a comic book fan, you have to read it. It isn’t just another funnybook– it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Track it down now!

Strangely enough, there are actually annotations on the web for this issue. I’ll also link you to a few reviews, from Craig Bogart and Richard Meyer, and this one by Chris Sims that calls it the greatest Punisher comic of them all. I couldn’t agree more.

Who else here has read it? And is it as awesome as you had hoped?

15 Comments

Punisher and Miss Grundy?

The mind boggles.

Wolverine meets Jughead? I guess it would make more sense than the current Wolverine solo titles.

I stopped being an Archie Reader around 11 or 12, but I had to check this one out.

I read it online.

Oh yeah, I got this a few weeks ago. Just the premise makes this worth checking out, and then the story inside is actually good.

I have no idea how this crossover was even thought up, much less actually published, but it just shows that sometimes the craziest ideas are the best.

I bought this when it first came out and it is indeed excellent. The great thing is that it not only takes advantage of the abundant humor in this ridiculous crossover, but seriously considers what the Punisher’s thoughts about a place like Riverdale would be.

I only wish there could be more Archie crossovers with other companies so there could be a trade of this. The Jughead/X-Men cross-over is a good idea. I’d also like to see an Archie/Superman crossover that would take advantage of Archie’s similarity in looks and character to Jimmy Olsen.

I lament passing this book up at the time. This kind of insane creativity is truly a reason to love comics.

Oh thank God yes.

The only crossover that ever worked.

Thank you thank you thank you! I read this when it came out, as a big fan of both Archie and the Marvel unis – it delivered in spades.

The extraordinary thing is how simple it actually is to mesh the two worlds. The uber-cynical Punisher is bowled over by the small-town sincerity of Riverdale. Naiive Archie and the gang are all starry-eyed over the big-city anti-hero. Comic mayhem commences in five, four…

I have no idea how this crossover was even thought up, much less actually published, but it just shows that sometimes the craziest ideas are the best.

Might want to have Brian verify it, but the legend goes that a bunch of Marvel execs were sitting around with a bunch of Archie execs, and somebody made the standard joke…and then somebody said ‘hey, why not?’

I bought this when it came out. It was bizarre, wacky, and just plain fun. I wish they did more things like that.

I remember seeing this at a convention years ago, and wishing that I’d picked it up just so that I could prove that it existed. Of course, these days, all it takes is a trip to comics.org… or someplace like this.

I bought this when it first came out. Of course, to cover my bases, I bought the more grim “Punisher cover”. Now, years later, I am an unashamed Archie Comics fan, and wish I had bought the cover you posted.

I actually dug it out of my stash and re-read it just a couple weeks ago. I caught all the references you pointed out, which made it even more fun now than when I read it a dozen years ago.

Excellent post!

I’ve never seen this comic but I’ll definitely pick it up when I come across it, it sounds even better than the Powdered Toastman (of Ren & Stimpy fame) vs Spider-Man crossover.

That issue of Ren & Stimpy, if I remember correctly, was written by Dan Slott. I know he wrote the first couple of issues of Ren & Stimpy, which were edited by Fabian Nicieza (I think, I’d have to pull them out of the lnog boxes to verify)

I was 9 years old when this comic came out, and not a Marvel fan at all. I remember seeing ads for it in Archie comics and thinking it looked like the craziest thing ever. I finally read it about a decade later, and it turned out I was totally right.

Awesome.

The fact that both this crossover and the Christian Archie Comics exist without cancelling each other out boggles the mind.

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