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When We First Met – Punisher’s Battle Van, Hawkeye’s Sky Cycle and Moon Knight’s Chopper

Every week we spotlight the various characters, phrases, objects or events that eventually became notable parts of comic lore. Not major stuff like “the first appearance of Superman,” but rather, “the first time someone said, ‘Avengers Assemble!'” or “the first appearance of Batman’s giant penny” or “the first appearance of Alfred Pennyworth” or “the first time Spider-Man’s face was shown half-Spidey/half-Peter.” Stuff like that. Here is an archive of all the When We First Met features so far! Check ‘em out!

Today we look at the introduction of a trio of Marvel vehicles – Punisher’s Battle Van, Hawkeye’s Sky Cycle and Moon Knight’s Chopper.

Punisher’s Battle Van debuted in Giant-Size Spider-Man #4, by Gerry Conway and Ross Andru and Mike Esposito (an issue which is also noteworthy for being the first time that the Punisher killed someone)…

Hawkeye’s Sky Cycle debuted in Hawkeye #1 by Mark Gruenwald (who drew the issue, as well, with inker Brett Breeding)…

Finally, while Moon Knight had used a normal helicopter in earlier appearances, Moon Knight #1 by Doug Moench and Bill Sienkiewicz is the debut of the famous Moon Knight helicopter, the one that looks like a crescent moon…


I didn’t even remember Moon Knight’s er, Moonplane.

I don’t know what it is, but even through I can accept flying cycles and bathtubs, and a bat-shaped jet, I just can’t believe a crescent-shaped helicopter could fly. Ah well, comics everybody!

intersting for figured the punisher would have any vechile he used be his own weapons lab. plus hawkeye cycle proves in the mu any thing is possible . as for moon knights copter that is kind of taking the moon theme to a new level of nuts

I’m really curious when Superman discovered he was bullet proof. Not the first instance where that power was introduced to readers, but the first time he got shot. I know it can be introduced at any point in his life by any motivated writer, but I wonder what secret origins might be out there at this point. Was he shot while saving someone from a robber, accidentally shot with no idea he could survive it, or did he intentionally shoot himself to test the limits of his power? The things I think about when I can’t sleep at 3am…

Can we also have a entry on when chad first started using punctuation?

I keed, I keed.

Man I was wrong. I always thought that Hawkeye’s Skycycle first appeared in Avengers. He had it built by the guys at Cross when his leg was broken.

That thing I said about Marvel having way better fictional European countries than DC? The reverse is true for notable vehicles. I’m not knocking the feature, which is cool as always, but man, these are some D-list rides.

I remember seeing the schematics for the Moon-Copter in the old Marvel Handbooks, and even at the tender age of 11, knowing nothing of aerodynamics, I knew that thing looked utterly unsafe.


September 18, 2012 at 8:36 am

Maybe the point right below where the rotors are attached to the copter is super dense and makes it balance ok. Otherwise that thing would be all over the sky.

Gruenwald’s art is actually pretty good.

Gruenwald’s art is good. I remember the quality from when I bought the miniseries, back when. And add me to the list of people who knew that moon copter couldn’t fly. I also couldn’t imagine how it changed direction, either.

I remember getting that first issue of Hawkeye’s mini and loving it. All three vehicles are cool and Generation X standards by me. (The time period, not the super teen group.)

joshshcr – I’m going with “hunting accident” as my guess.

Are you sure it was Hawkeye #1?

I thought it was Avengers #234, which I was sure came out right before that mini-series.

It’s where he has a broken leg and get his employer (Cross Tech?) to build it for him so he can continue to function as chief of security.

Re: David P.

That’s what I thought as well. He has the broken leg, he wanted to continue doing the superhero stuff so they made it for him so he could.

Sorry to chime in, but I think these guys are right. Brian. Avengers #234 came out the month before, and included the sky cycle:

Even if you guys are right, it’s pretty obvious that the pages above are its “origin story”, considering that Hawkeye is testing it with the guys who made it. It was probably one of those situations where Gruenwald planned to show its creation “at the same time” as it was shown in the other titles, but the dates were a little off.

On another note, it’s kind of crazy how over-the-top comics were with characters’ accents back then… and these aren’t even from that long ago! The French chick in “Moon Knight” reads like a cartoon character, and the black guy in “Hawkeye” is borderline offensive. I’m pretty sure a respected engineer wouldn’t use words like “howcum” and “hunnert” just because he’s black.

I just looked up the issue. It was a different version of the Sky Cycle in the Avengers issue. A prototype possibly. Clint couldn’t sit on the one in the Avengers. The more famous one does appear in Hawkeye. So while a flying vehicle for Clint was in Avengers, it wasn’t the real Sky Cycle.

The Great Hawkeye Sky Cycle Debate of 2012!

Even if you guys are right, it’s pretty obvious that the pages above are its “origin story”, considering that Hawkeye is testing it with the guys who made it. It was probably one of those situations where Gruenwald planned to show its creation “at the same time” as it was shown in the other titles, but the dates were a little off.

Yes, but based on past installments of this feature, it seems the criteria is when something first actually appeared in published form, not when its origin was first given or where it was first intended to appear.

This really has nothing to do with the Sky-Cycle, but when Clint is talking about reinventing himself as an “aerial archer,” it got me thinking: Did he do any giant-size archery while he was Goliath? If not, that seems like a missed opportunity somehow, seeing as how that’s usually his one thing.

I would feel remiss if I did not note that the battle van derives from Don Pendleton’s Mack Bolan novels.

In fact, I already did. However, I will note that Ms. Linda Pendleton has provided an informative page about this subject.



Couple of other suggestions:

Captain America’s van (many people would name its first appearance as Captain American I#318. However, it actually may have debuted in the Reb Brown TV films)-I would mention his motorcycle, but the 1940?s tales had far too many uses of a motorcycle

The Punisher’s Battle Van: do this, but note that it clearly derives from Mack Bolan’s battle van. Gerry Conway admitted that Mack Bolan served as the template for the Punisher (with a little bit of the Shadow) . (The Vigilante, Foolkiller, Scourge, and Vigilante [Adrian Chase et al.] also have battle vans).

Buttler, I seem to recall him once making an emergency bow from his thick Goliath belt, but I don’t remember if he was giant-sized or not. Drawn by Gene Colan?

The sky-cycle that appeared in #234 was a prototype, slightly different design, and not named; therefor I contend it is not the official Hawkeye’s Sky Cycle.

@butler, I found a Clint Barton Goliath from Avengers # 76 practicing archery; art by John Buscema.

@TJCoolguy, I a always found Howie’s language very stereotyped, but never thought of him as an engineer; I figured he was one of Hawkeye’s security staff. Additionally, I always have to reread Hawk’s response to him; I initially always read the lettering as “Homie” instead of “Howie”

I’m not 100% sure, but I think Moonie had a different “lunacopter” before he had his own series, when he appeared in Peter Parker 22 (’78), fighting a French guy (with ze terrible accent) named Cyclone. That was the first time I’d ever seen MK, and wasn’t sure if he was a ghost or not, but he had a special copter I think. It wasn’t the horizontal crescent one in this article, but I don’t think it was a regular copter either, and had some kind of moon shape.. Or did it? I think he got the one with the vertical moon shape on it after the flat one crashed into a river or something. It’s been a LONG time since I read those!

@buttler Other than all the cool Bat-toys, refresh my memory, what great rides are there in the DC Universe? The Arrow Car? So many of them can fly I’m not thinking of which ones had cool rides. I mean, even these aren’t the Fantasicar or Quinjet. But then probably all better than the Spider-buggie and that Superman jet with the hands and arms.

The whole Bat fleet is awesome, but also pretty darned iconic are the much-maligned Invisible Plane, baby Kal-El’s rocket, the Cosmic Treadmill, the Boom Tube, Brainiac’s skull ship… Also, to a lesser extent, the Zeta Beam, the Legion’s Time Bubble and Rip Hunter’s Time Sphere, etc. I also have love for the goofier Supermobile, War Wheel, Arrowcar and Arrowplane, Cave Carson’s Mighty Mole, the Whiz Wagon, Haunted Tank, Aquaman’s seahorses, etc., but I wouldn’t really make a case for them.

And agreed that Marvel has cooler vehicles than the ones shown here. Quinjets and Blackbirds are neither here nor there as far as I’m concerned, but I do love the Fantasticar.

The War-Wheel is incredibly cool. Certainly one of the most distinctive vehicles comics have come up with.
I don’t know if the Supermobile actually counts–it was less of a vehicle and more of an armored shell to protect Supes from a severe burst of red sun radiation, IIRC.

Well yeah, the Supermobile seemed like it was created as a toy first and then shoehorned into the comic however they could think to do it.

The greatest of Marvel vehicles is, of course, the Thanos Copter.

I’m not sure I’d count devices like the treadmill and Boom Tube, but the Invisible plane completely fits (too bad they’ve neutered it), and I have a warm place in my heart for the Brainiac ship. I would add Blue Beetle’s uh, beetle ship. Love that. I mean they defacto win with Batman.

Of course, to Marvel I’d add Ghost Rider’s hell cycle and the SHIELD flying car. Do any Marvel baddies have cool rides? Other than Thanos and his copter and chair, of course.

Yeah, I bet those old vehicles that laughed at the invisible plane would talk real nice to the Thanos copter!

Willie Everstop

October 3, 2012 at 3:48 pm

The only Marvel villain vehicles I can think of are the Goblin Glider and Galactus’ ship. I’m sure the Red Skull has a sweet vintage Mercedes stashed somewhere.

Red Skull had his own “war wheel” in the Sleepers, but no one really rode the. Though there was the bad guy Big Wheel. There’s a classic. And there was US 1 and Team America. Razorback was a trucker too, wasn’t he?

The glider was a classic. Galactus had different ships, so some more than others. Classic spaceships? The Starjammers? If we count some of those DC ones we should count the Silver Surfer’s board.

Oh yeah, I can’t believe I forgot Blue Beetle’s Bug! Especially because the new flying Batmobile looks so much like Bruce just ripped off the design from Kord Industries.

These vehicles are pretty crappy but they still beat the Ford Escort I’ll have to buy when I can afford a car. A couple of other comic rides that aren’t even as sweet as Frank Castles:

Wonder Woman’s invisible jet
Kite Man’s….kite

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