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Meta-Messages – Grant Morrison Spoofs the Punisher

All October long I will be exploring the context behind (using reader danjack’s term) “meta-messages.” A meta-message is where a comic book creator comments on/references the work of another comic book/comic book creator using the characters in their comic. Each time around, I’ll give you the context behind one such “meta-message.” Here is an archive of the past installments! If you have a suggestion for a future meta-message, e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com.

Reader Tyler G. suggested I spotlight Grant Morrison’s satire of the way that characters like the Punisher and Wolverine were written with Doom Patrol #45’s introduction of…the Beard Hunter!

In this issue, Morrison spoofs the way that characters like the Punisher and Wolverine are written via their over-the-top captions.

The issue also has a nod to Alan Moore….

Weird but funny stuff!

22 Comments

Strangely The Bearded Gentleman Club is from a Jimmy Olsen tale and they did plan to put a formula in the reservoir.

God bless GM love of 60’s quirkiness

This is especially hilarious to me because I’m currently working on growing a beard.

You’re a bad, bad man sandwich eater.

“Handman has a familiar logo on that first page…and how about “Our Founder” in the final panel of that last posted page? Ha!

Whoops! I see the All-Knowing, All-Seeing Cronin already mentioned the Moore!

At the risk of sounding like a stick in the mud, is every spoof, parody, or joke character now a “meta-message”? If so, I’d like to nominate every comic book that has ever featured Lobo, Ambush Bug, or G’nort.

Yeah, I agree with Kyle that this probably isn’t a “meta-message” — but it’s cool stuff, certainly worth seeing!

I think there is a meta-message, not so much about the Punisher but about certain types of comics fans who take things like “mint condition” and their favorite writers being insulted Very Seriously. T

he Beard Hunter is motivated by his literal and figurative puerility: he can’t grow facial hair, lives at home with his mother, and is obsessed with superheroes and guns and bodybuilding. He’s a preadolescent in an adult’s body — well, except his still-childlike follicles — stuck on weird feelings and power fantasies, a bundle of impotent rage…until he gets his gun out, that is.

If that was a meta-message, you may as well have featured Grant’s Doom Force one-shot. It skewered mid-90s comics quite successfully.

I just noticed that he wears beards around his belt as trophies. That is just too awesome.

I can see this working in a short 2000AD story featuring Judge Dredd – it’s been done plenty of times before. It’s weird seeing it in a 22 page DC comic. I haven’t read it, but I’d be curious to know if it held up well over 22 pages or just got old and embarrassing. Did this type of storyline happen a lot in Doom Patrol?

It was a good issue.

And yeah, stuff like that happened in Doom Patrol frequently. Flex Mentallo, for instance, was a parody of Charles Atlas. And as someone else noted, Doom Force was a sharp commentary on books like X-Force.

Shouldn’t the Beard Hunter have referred to a third big mistake rather than a second second big mistake?

OK guys. Yes, you’re right, there are a lot of meta-messages. And we get that you know what they are already. If all you’re going to do is show up in the comments section and bitch about how if this is a meta-message then everything’s a meta-message, maybe this isn’t the feature for you.

Forgot about this one. It does work well over 22 pages.
Love the 1st panel ‘Clockwork Orange Juice’ getting in a reference to Kubrick and Morrison’s Scottish pop contemporaries (Edwyn Collins’ band)! Love the pre-emptive strikes against internet fanboys plus Punisher & ‘best at what I do’ Wolvie satire!
Is this Morrison’s 1st dig at Moore? I understand they’ve had a feud going on, more from Morrison’s side from what I know.

This would indeed have been more typical in 2000AD but worked here too (and some issues later DP had a full issue homage to “This man…this monster” and Lee-Kirby FF in general…)

And yeah, there is a wide variety of meta-messages, from blink-and-you-missed it nods to plot points to extended parodies. It is true that within this feature it would be a bit too easy just to pick the most obvious parodies (e.g. Lobo, Marshal Law, Cerebus and She-Hulk have not yet been featured) but doesn’t mean one should leave them out completely.

Huh, I always interpreted this meta-message as a dig at Frank Miller’s writing style and his generic, over-the-top characters.

He did this again in The Invisibles when he had Jill Thompson draw a King Mob action sequence in the style of Rob Liefeld.

The comic writing references in The Filth are about as hyper-meta as you can get.

I hope that you do have an opportunity to do an entry on the Doom Force special, Brian. That was one long series of meta-messages. I’ve sometimes felt that Grant Morrison was often too keen to do weird-for-the-sake-of-being-weird in Doom Patrol. But Doom Force totally nailed things on the head concerning a lot of the trends in early 1990s superhero comics. And it was actually very funny.

This is one of the best stories Morrison ever wrote.

Mychael Darklighter

July 29, 2012 at 10:04 pm

i love when the head of the bearded gentlemen’s club notes how when the professor was confined to a wheelchair, “he… he.. lost the use of his beard…”
*GASP!*

To anyone who hasn’t read Morrison’s run on Doom Patrol: go buy the TPBs right now. As much a part of comic history as Sandman and Watchmen.

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