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The Abandoned An’ Forsaked – Did Punisher Just Shoot That Litterer?

All throughout December, we will be examining comic book stories and ideas that were not only abandoned, but also had the stories/plots specifically “overturned” by a later writer (as if they were a legal precedent). Click here for an archive of all the previous editions of The Abandoned An’ Forsaked. Feel free to e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com if you have any suggestions for future editions of this feature.

Today we look at Bill Mantlo’s particular take on the Punisher…

In Spectacular Spider-Man #81-83, Bill Mantlo essentially has the Punisher snap…

He is arrested and is found to be insane…

Steven Grant addresses this situation quickly in the pages of the Punisher limited series, explaining that Punisher acted so erratically because he was drugged…

A nice, easy breezy fix by Grant.

32 Comments

I honestly have no comment to make on the reinstatement, but I just wanted to say that for a time during 1983, “Littering is a crime against society” was a running joke between myself and my friends. I love that line.

One less litter bug filthing up the streets of New York City. Thanks Frank! haha On another note, that Grant Punisher LS is my favorite Punisher story ever. Mike Zeck on art….just classic.

I remember several angry letteers at the time about the fact that Marvel apparently considered wife-beating a minor offence on the same level as jumping a red light and littering.

I never thought these stories were connected. I read them a few years after publication, and not exactly in order.

I always saw “Punisher losing it” as a recurring trait of the character. Looking back, I suppose this Mantlo story started it all.

Brian, I recall you and I discussed it earlier for some sort of Legends topic, but maybe this Abandoned thread is a good place to discuss Moon Maiden’s retcon into continuity and complete subsequent dismissal of existence (barring one or two background panels of JLA/Avengers).

My suspicions, again, were that she was too much like Marvel’s “The Sentry” (and DC’s earlier historical retcon, who I’m sure you’ll be covering at some point here, Triumph)

But…he just left all those bullets laying around

Brian, I recall you and I discussed it earlier for some sort of Legends topic, but maybe this Abandoned thread is a good place to discuss Moon Maiden’s retcon into continuity and complete subsequent dismissal of existence (barring one or two background panels of JLA/Avengers).

My suspicions, again, were that she was too much like Marvel’s “The Sentry” (and DC’s earlier historical retcon, who I’m sure you’ll be covering at some point here, Triumph)

The problem is that no one ever outright retconned her, so she doesn’t fit this column. She was just abandoned, not forsaken.

That Spectacular Spider-Man comic was one of the first comics I ever read, and I remember it fondly. The scene where the “camera” pans around Punisher’s face was great work by Milgrom.

Something tells me Ennis’s response to Angel-Punisher isn’t too far behind…

Then where does she fit, I ask you? WHY WAS SHE ABANDONED???!!!??? WHYYY-Y-Y-Y-Y-Y!!!!

“In Spectacular Spider-Man #81-83, Bill Mantlo essentially has the Punisher snap…”

I was under the impression that the Punisher had already snapped a long time ago.

always thought the punisher was drugged wrap up was Marvel trying to explain away the punisher being found nuts for after all they used the drugged story to have punisher go after kingpin

I liked that Mantlo story very much and always thought that it was a logical conclusion for such a person as the Punisher. How would he able to differentiate between minor and major crimes when he just sees those people as breaking the law?
Also found the notion intriguing that Spidey might go insane one day like Frank. Of course I didn’t foresee such awful stories as the Shrieking and everything during the “I am spider” period….

But if the Punisher didn’t pick up his shell casings, he’s a litterer too!

That Milgrom/Mooney art looks almost like Rick Veitch

Dave and Dean: I would love to read a tongue-in-cheek scene wherein the Punisher unloads into a bunch of people before getting a broom and dustpan to clean up all of his casings. Because “Littering is a crime against society!”

Steven Grant really hit one out of the ballpark with this overturning. The Punisher was on fire from that moment on and it was Grant who lit the fuse.

Gerson King Combo

December 21, 2011 at 3:55 pm

Bill Mantlo… i remember his run on Alpha Flight, where he changed the origins of almost every character (maybe by editorial mandate).

Doesn´t it fit this column??

Did the Punisher come out at the same time as Foolkiller (in Man-Thing) and the Hangman (in Werewolf by Night)? It’s interesting that the Punisher became an anti-hero while the other two are certifiably insane criminals.

Did the Punisher come out at the same time as Foolkiller (in Man-Thing) and the Hangman (in Werewolf by Night)? It’s interesting that the Punisher became an anti-hero while the other two are certifiably insane criminals.

——————-Oddly enough, they all debuted around 1972/1973.

The Executioner and the Shadow (per Marvel Vision#15) served as an influence.

That Mantlo story was my introduction to Punisher, and I thought that was how he acted all the time…for that reason it was bit odd to notice he was getting his own book. Like, what is that about, shooting the litterers?

Ha! This one’s timely too as Marvel’s new solicitations just announced a reprint of this story in the Cloak & Dagger: Crime & Punishment collection.

That Mantlo story was my introduction to Punisher, and I thought that was how he acted all the time…for that reason it was bit odd to notice he was getting his own book. Like, what is that about, shooting the litterers?

That is exactly what I was going to post. Thanks for saving me the trouble!

…Actually, I didn’t know until today that the Punisher was around prior to the story where he was crazy. I thought, vaguely, that it was his first appearance.

Wow. I thought some of the Punisher parody characters I’ve read (I’m thinking the one in the Dinosaurs for Hire color series, and maybe others) were just going over the top to, y’know, go over the top, but damn, that is WAY over the top on its own.

It also sort of reminds me of the Batman Black and White story by Howard Chaykin, where there’s a vigilante killer focusing on “minor” “crimes” like people talking during the movies or not picking up after their dogs. The vigilante asks Batman if he hasn’t ever felt like doing what he’d done, and the heavy suggestion is of course.

Did the Punisher come out at the same time as Foolkiller (in Man-Thing) and the Hangman (in Werewolf by Night)? It’s interesting that the Punisher became an anti-hero while the other two are certifiably insane criminals.

——————-Oddly enough, they all debuted around 1972/1973.

The Executioner and the Shadow (per Marvel Vision#15) served as an influence.

Thank you for bringing those two up, since they both went away at around the time this tale came out (Hangman perished in Bizarre Adventures#31, Foolkiller went to the asylum around this time). Perhaps they intended to put him away with this tale. As I have noted, they created him as a pastiche of the Executioner and the Shadow.

In the 1970′s, MVL produced two black and white tales in the magazine anthologies which did have a little more of the feel of a sleazy Pinnacle novel. As they had found with Savage Sword of Conan, since black and white oversized magazines did not have to follow the Comics Code, they had less restricitons. However, they did nothing further after these two tales in the black and white magazines, and even the first such story featured force fields, something you would not have found in a Don Pendleton novel of the time. By the 1980′s, the first wave of Mack Bolan inspired vigilante or adventure novels had largely evaporated. I would guess that the success of Star Wars persuaded them that space adventure stories would serve as the normative genre for adventure.

Interesting that DC’s Vigilante (Adrian Chase) received his own regular series in 1983, when this Mantlo written tale appeared. However, the Vigilante series turned into a Mature Readers Only title with #39. Even in the 1980′s to 1990′s, most of the MVL stories stayed Comics Code approved, rarely did they publish For Mature Readers only.

http://dc.wikia.com/wiki/Vigilante_Vol_1_42

So, the switch to Mature Readers may have hurt Vigilante’s sales.

They didn’t really need to come up with a reason why that’s out of continuity any more than DC needs to come up with a reason why “Batman: My Parents Are Dead” isn’t canon.

And yet, at the same time, that story should be included in every single Punisher collection. It’s freakin hilarious.

I’ve always wondered what motivated this story….was it an effort to return Punisher to to his roots as a Spiderman badguy, or was it more political commentary by Mantlo on how vigilantes and killing criminals should be perceived? (Which is in itself always funny for guys who decided to write superhero books where it’s ok to beat a guy within an inch of his life as long as you tie him up for the police; at least since the days when Batman was duly deputized and all that).

And if someone hadn’t gotten the idea to do his own mini, would he have continued down this crazy path? Because the retcon (to what might have been considered very out of character acts, since recent appearances in Daredevil and the like didn’t have him acting this way) is obviously an attempt to make him more of a palatable protagonist. And it worked, in spades. Because they understood that the Punisher felt he was about justice, not law. (Which is why the characterization is so silly…the law failed him, so he would hold no value in silly little laws, while breaking bigger ones himself.)

@ziza9 If you loved that mini-series, I’d say if you haven’t already to take a look at Punisher: Return to Big Nothing, by the same team…and they actually get to finish the story, rather than the unfortunate end to the mini. (It bothers me that there isn’t one of the big companies lining up the bank truck to Mike Zeck’s door to get him to do some work for them).

“Steven Grant addresses this situation quickly in the pages of the Punisher limited series, explaining that Punisher acted so erratically because he was drugged…”

I had no idea that one of Moon Knight’s identities was a comic book writer :P

I had no idea that one of Moon Knight’s identities was a comic book writer

I actually addressed the amusing coincidence in a Comic Book Legends Revealed column! You should check out the archive for the installment.

psychodwarfstar

March 27, 2012 at 3:18 pm

Ennis already addressed, “Angel-Punisher,” the first appearance of Frank in the initial MAX limited series. Basically he said, “F*ck you” when he was offered eternal peace and came back to finish his work. I sooooooooo wanna read the Bernie Wrightson-drawn series. Can’t find it anywhere.

If the trash building up around the gutters and dumpster in our neighborhood are a fractional indication of the fall of our society, we say bring it, Frankie. Filthy humans. And as for Frank’s collateral, that’s what Damage Control is for. That or the local chapter of the Elks Club.

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