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Nostalgia November Day 01 — The Punisher 2099 #1

Each day in November, I will read and review/discuss/whatever one comic taken from a box of some of my childhood comics. Today, we kick things off with The Punisher 2099 #1.

punisher209901The Punisher 2099 #1 by Pat Mills, Tony Skinner, and Tom Morgan was the fourth series in the 2099 line of books, which followed Spider-Man 2099, Ravage 2099, and Doom 2099. I didn’t buy this issue when it first came out, I got it at some point after — I’m actually not sure when. Looking at the credits, I’m given hope by Pat Mills being a co-writer since his work on Marshal Law and Judge Dredd suggests that he’s got the right sensibilities for a Punisher-like character.

It’s not a bad read, really. In 2099, money is all that matters — the issue begins with a man being chased by street surgeons and calling for police assistance, but he’s four days behind on his payments. He swears he’ll wire them the money on Friday, so they say they’ll send an officer… on Friday. The street surgeons catch up with him and beginning harvesting his organs only to be interrupted by a heavily-armed man who calls himself the Punisher. He slaughters them with guns and a ‘power bat,’ which basically is a baseball with adjustable density. We cut to police headquarters where special agent Jake Gallows has been brought in to help with the investigation into these Punisher killings.

Of course, Jake Gallows is the Punisher.

On all of the security tapes, the Punisher’s face is blocked out with a digital skull graphic and they recount some of his crimes: killing these flying people who were dropping children from the sky, but were untouchable thanks to their wealth; a techno-shaman put a computer virus into a hospital, killing patients, was sentenced to having 15 years taken off his life, but the Punisher uses a plasma gas cannon to burn him alive despite his protective energy bubble; and this asshole burned down a house full of ‘degens’ (mentally impaired, genetically damaged people), but that’s legal since degens have no rights as people, so the Punisher bashes him across the back of the head and then threatens to burn him alive if he doesn’t transfer all of his money to the ‘degen help fund’… and then shoots him in the head. The cops wonder if he’s out to be competition or is working for the mob — when Jake brings up the idea that he believes in justice, the cops all react with shock and scorn.

We then get the origin of Jake Gallows: he was a cop who met his mom, brother and his brother’s fiancee/wife/girlfriend (it’s unclear) at the zoo (which has dinosaurs!) only to have a group of criminals kill the entire family save Jake because the leader, Kron Stone sees that families are really lies, they’re not happy, they are just groups where people are cruel and awful to one another. For punishment, he’s fined a huge sum of money, but he can afford that because he comes from an insanely rich family. We find out that Jake and his brother collected old weapons and stuff like that, including coming across the journal of a man named Frank Castle, upon whom Jake draws his inspiration…

It’s a pretty solid first issue as everything you need to know is laid out. The Punisher in 2099 isn’t simply doing the job cops are unable to do now thanks to the law, he’s doing the job that the cops refuse to do because of systematic corruption. Where ideals of law and due process prevent criminals from adequate punishment now (in some eyes), Mills and Skinner up the ante by taking capitalism to its logical endpoint where the gap between the rich and the poor is so great that the rich are literally above the law in an overt fashion. If the Punisher now seems an extreme psycho, Jake Gallows comes across as a bit more legitimate since his world is more corrupt and in need of some justice — he goes too far, of course, but it seems almost measured, counter-balanced by society.

Kron Stone is an interesting villain — the scene where Astra (Jake’s brother’s wife/whatever) questions why he’s doing it and protests that they are a truly happy family, Kron’s answers are chilling. He knows what families do behind closed doors: “Cruel things.” And, if they are happy, it won’t last, so he’s doing them a favour by killing them now while they are happy. It’s twisted and insane, but in that way where you could see how someone could develop those ideas. I have a feeling that, in future issues, we learn that Kron suffered abuse of some kind in his past.

Tom Morgan’s art is very hit-or-miss here. The panel where Kron says “Cruel things” is absolutely genius, but a lot of it is very rough and generic. But, the storytelling is strong, very clear, and effective. He’s good at showing emotion in that obvious way — which kind of works.

Actually, reading this issue, I’m kind of curious as to where the series went after. It’s not a fantastic read, but it’s intriguing enough to make me want to see if it introduced other ideas about the future. One idea that’s raised here that I always liked about the 2099 universe is the Church of Thor, which the Gallows are members of (Jake’s brother’s name is Baldur). That will come up again when, on the final Sunday of the month, I do a reread review on the “Fall of the Hammer” crossover that the 2099 titles had. We’ll see how revisiting this book 10 or 12 issues later is.

23 Comments

As Thor is my witness, I thought children could fly.

I remember enjoying what I read of this series as well. Heck, I liked most all of the 2099 line, and am probably the last living apologist for Ravage.

I never read Punisher 2099 outside of the occasional crossover issue (“Fall of the Hammer” being the only one I can remember). I did religiously read Spider-Man and Doom 2099, and dabbled in X-Men. The thing that pleased me about the 2099 line, though, is the fact that even though it was clearly a commercially-driven product, the 2099 titles really did their best to be their “own thing” rather than a 616-spinoff.

Which reminds me: since Marvel’s doing X-Men Forever and Spider-Man: The Clone Saga, I’d like to see them do a “2099 Forever.” It would pick up from when Peter David and everybody quit and continue the story they had planned.

I was actually expecting this to be a really bad comic, so it was a pleasant surprise.

Nice write-up. This book sounds fantastic, actually–seems to get an awful lot accomplished in a single issue. I only ever read Spider-Man 2099 but would like to give this a try, now.

Kron was revealed later on to be the son of the head of Alchemax, the major corporation in 2099.

And if I remember correctly, that made him Spider 2099′s half-brother and he would later become Venom 2099!

Damn,I really liked these comics.

Sounds like Judge Dredd-lite, ya ask me.

You’re way kinder than I would be to this book, Nevett.

It was sad to see the 2099 line get dumped in the fashion it was. Why is it every time Marvel destroys one of their alternate/future lines they fall back on the biblical flood? Really guys, even with the bible it was old hat stuff.

I’ve still got this one. And yeah, it’s easy to look back on the 90s, on 2099, and especially on Punisher 2099 and roll one’s eyes. But FWIW I’ll put this up against the majority of what Marvel is publishing on any given week in 2009. I think it holds up a lot better than “Dark Reign: The List: Whatever” is going to 15 years from now.

And actually, I think Punisher was very middle of the 2099 road. Doom 2099, Ghost Rider 2099; I’d say those were the best of the line. Spider-Man 2099 had the dependable workmanlike entertainment that one expects of Peter David. At the other end, Ravage 2099 as a train wreck; above that, X-Men and X-Nation 2099 were basically unnecessary and lacking any raison d’etre (other than sales-chasing). Hulk and Fantastic Four 2099 didn’t last long enough to establish anything; neither had much to recommend it during its short run (though the original, unpublished origin of the FF 2099 is pretty good). (I’m not forgetting anyone am I?)

Looking ahead to “Fall of the Hammer…” That one, I think, is pretty mediocre. Not bad, just not especially good. It reads like “hey, we just had this great idea, let’s do this multi-part story running through our titles in which the characters meet one another; we’ll call it ‘a crossover.’” Which would have been enough to make the story significant, in the 1960s perhaps; by the 1990s I think one could fairly expect a bit more.

For my money, the Ellis issues of Doom 2099 are not only the best of the series, but the best of the 2099 line and some of the best work Ellis has written in his career.

“the last living apologist for Ravage.”

That’s on your business cards, isn’t it?

If it’s not, it should be.

While I don’t remember this as a good comic, I really did like the scene where the cops review the Punisher’s list of kills. Fit in well among the best “Punisher kills a bunch of people in different ways” montages.

Yeah, it’s listed right under my professional as an “analrapist.”

[...] Nostalgia November Day 01 — The Punisher 2099 #1 Nostalgia November Day 02 — Batman: Shadow of the Bat #63 Nostalgia November Day 03 — Superman annual #3 Nostalgia November Day 04 — Batman annual #15 The Reread Reviews — The Death of Superman [...]

i liked all the 2099 stuff. Some of it wasn’t exactly in line with the mission statement of the 2099 line as a whole, but it was still good comics. Like Adam, i wish they would continue the first 2099 line.

Loved Punisher and Ghost Rider 2099, some good and crazy ideas in those comics.

Peace.

Glad to see that Punisher 2099 gets some love. It was an interesting take on the cyberpunk genre that didn’t deserve the massacre it received when the 2099 AD story took over.

I do find this bit of the review a little disturbing: “Where ideals of law and due process prevent criminals from adequate punishment now (in some eyes), Mills and Skinner up the ante by taking capitalism to its logical endpoint where the gap between the rich and the poor is so great that the rich are literally above the law in an overt fashion. If the Punisher now seems an extreme psycho, Jake Gallows comes across as a bit more legitimate since his world is more corrupt and in need of some justice — he goes too far, of course, but it seems almost measured, counter-balanced by society.” I think a lot of people would disagree that this is capitalism’s logical endpoint. That’s a rather politically charged statement.

I was on the fence with regards to this series (It had RAVAGE beat, at least. That book never established a solid identity). Then, a few issues in, Jake fell in love and decided to give up being the Punisher. Then, his new girlfriend got killed, too and he went right back to punishin’.

I remember the storyline involving his affair as being brief and forced. Ultimately, it was unnecessary to the story and took me right out of it.

@ Nick : Look out of your window.

So, wait, it literally turned in to a Death Wish sequel at one point? Wasn’t that a plot of one of the Death Wish movies? He tries to quit but then someone kills his girlfriend?

Great post about punisher! here’s my site about some super heroes.. :-)

I have one of these comics in mint condition, signed by Tom MOrgan with a certificate of authenticity . Any idea what you can get for one of these, and how to sell it?

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