web stats

CSBG Archive

The Wrong Side: Punisher vs. A Bar of Supervillains

1 2
Next »

In this feature, I examine comic book fights that were particularly notable in the wrong side winning (or at least that the fight wasn’t won the “right” way). This really isn’t a big deal, of course, as it doesn’t really matter if the “wrong” person won a fight. But it’s fun to talk about!

If you want to suggest a fight for future inclusion in this feature, drop me a line at bcronin@comicbookresources.com. Don’t suggest a fight in the comments!

Today, based on a suggestion from reader Tom A., we take a look at the time Punisher took out practically half of the Marvel Universe’s most famous supervillains at once…

As always, the first page spotlights their power levels and the second page examines the fight itself.

And as always, the first question we need to ask is…

How did these people do when they fought Spider-Man?

Right from the get go, the Punisher has done pretty well against Spider-Man, going back all the way to his debut in Amazing Spider-Man #129 (by Gerry Conway, Ross Andru and Frank Giacoia), but while he does well, it is still pretty clear he’s not on Spidey’s power level…

punisherspiderman1

punisherspiderman2

punisherspiderman3

There are a bunch of supervillains at issue in this fight, so let’s just take a look at two of the more powerful ones.

The Absorbing Man is so tough that Spider-Man has actually never really defeated him! They’ve faced off a few times, but they always end without a decision.

For instance, in what is likely their first fight, in Amazing Spider-Man #283 (by Tom DeFalco, Ron Frenz and Joe Rubinstein), the Absorbing Man takes a quick dive against Spidey to compel his girlfriend, Titania, to get over her fear of Spider-Man (there is no official phobia for when you’re afraid of Spider-Man, since being afraid of Spider-Man is just common sense)…

spidermanabsorbing1

spidermanabsorbing2

spidermanabsorbing3

spidermanabsorbing4

Spidey’s first battle with Sandman went about as well as any fight Spidey would have with Sandman in the future, as Sandman quickly figured out the whole “get out of a vacuum” trick pretty soon after this fight…

sandman1

sandman2

sandman3

sandman4

I like this fight mostly because of how hilariously shady Spidey is at the end of the fight…

shadyspidey

Now that I think of it, this is probably how Spidey beat Firelord. Some cosmic bad guy must have knocked him out and then Spidey just faked the whole fight, Weekend at Bernie’s style. I bet his webs could create some badass pulleys and stuff like that.

Anyhow, let’s take a look now at the fight at hand…

1 2
Next »

52 Comments

According to Ron Frenz, that splash page was not part of the original art for Amazing 283- Priest added it and Frenz hated it, since it wasn’t clear how Peter and Titania went from being relatively easily matched to Peter holding Titania by the hair.

in what is likely their first fight, in Amazing Spider-Man #283

They fought very, very, very briefly before that in the original Secret Wars (if I recall correctly that’s at least in part how Spidey’s costume got torn up, leading to his black one), but you can hardly call it a fight because it mostly consisted of Spidey jumping out of the way.

Just like his encounter with the X-Men in that same miniseries!

This story sort of illustrated the fundamental flaw with the Punisher in a shared universe or even the basic premise of heroes using deadly force against bad guys.

If just one of those bad guys is established enough to have even three fans, they will get resurrected or have their deaths retconned.

I didn’t get the Wasp joke at the end? Could someone please explain the joke?

Easy enough fix for this, Punisher just broke up a cos-player convention focusing on villains.

The Punisher should win some of these fights, regardless.

Some of ‘em, but against dudes that fight Thor on a regular basis and still have their heads attached? Eeeehhhh ….

“Absorbing Man could absorb the bullets”

I recall one story (I think it was by Reginald Hudlin) where Frank nearly killed Creel, shooting him in a surprise attack. Creel survived by shifting, but couldn’t return to his default state because the bullets that were still in his body would start killing his human form again (or something).

I took it more as Punisher shot up the bar and left, but he didnt actually kill guys like Absorbing Man or Sandman. They just let him leave after because why deal with it when the world is ending.

It’s not like there isn’t precedent for this exact scenario. What If Punisher Killed Spider-Man literally has Punisher – armed with an uzi – walk into a bar and murder every Spider-Man villain. It’s great.

None of this really mattered anyway since “Secret Wars” was effectively a [overly long and expensive] throw away event. As a loyal Marvel reader for the past 35 years, I found the whole event to be an insult. Here’s a small sampling why.

1. There were no stakes. OMG! The multiverse is going to be destroyed. POOF! It’s gone. No. Wait. Everything’s back again. No harm. No foul. Characters who died (eg. Dr. Strange) got revived the moment the event ended. Eat your heart out, Jean Grey.

2. The individual stories didn’t matter. Who cared if there was a serial killer whacking the various Jane Fosters of the multiverse? Who cared if these kids were being killed and hunted in Runaways? Barons are fighting. Mutants are dying. Cap & Tony are engaged in a new Civil War. Kitty Pryde’s kids are out to kill each other. Cartoon Avengers kids were fighting cartoon X-Men kids. In the end, almost no series in this entire event had any lasting ramification. They were continuity free cash grabs that filled the better part of 6 months.

3. The 2+ year build-up to this event was more exciting. There was so much hype over this event. Marvel has never hyped anything this hard…EVER. For what? The entire thing was anticlimactic. Even the bad guy of the event, Dr. Doom, got away scott free. Worse yet, he was rewarded. One could argue that nobody would have survived without him, but it doesn’t change the fact that Hickman positioned him as Battleworld’s enemy overlord.

4. Marvel now has a God problem. Let’s start with this. If there’s a God then how could the Beyonders be allowed to destroy everything in creation? Go a level deeper. Maybe this was all a test from God, right? Doom shall save them all until, y’know, he becomes God Doom. Mind you, his reign didn’t last a week. God Doom reigned supreme for EIGHT YEARS.

I know what you’re saying. They toppled him and all is good now, right? Yeah, except for the part where we now know for a fact God Doom was replaced. The Marvel multiverse is being recreated and shaped by its new gods: Reed, Sue, Franklin, Valeria, Owen Reece, and the Future Foundation. Marvel has created a pantheon of gods out of this handful of characters.

Here’s where it goes wrong though. If these characters wer to ever come back…. The Marvel Universe no longer has a god. Marvel will now have confirmed the beliefs of atheism in their new universe. And what of the “real” god that created everything before all of this? Did I forget to mention that Hickman stated that the creation of all reality was thanks to the Beyonders? It’s a good thing that nobody in that universe rememebers the events of this mini because they’d all lose faith immediately. Bye-bye world religions.

5. Didn’t we already have enough books before Secret Wars? I think that there was somewhere in the neighborhood of ~50 in-continuity ongoing titles in early 2015. There must be close to 70 now. How’s that a problem? Marvel had a huge problem keeping books afloat before the event. They’ve only made the problem worse. A number of titles spinning out of this event have already been announced as being cancelled. That says nothing of the talent pool which is no doubt being stretched thin.

6. What was the purpose of this event anyway? Think about it. Back in the early 80s, DC had a huge problem with continuity. Their entire line was weighed down that something like their original “Crisis on Infinite Earths” was designed to get them back to something simpler and more streamlined. Creatively speaking, what was “Secret Wars” supposed to accomplish?

Marvel very clearly hasn’t rebooted their line like DC did. They didn’t realign things to match their movie universe. They didn’t even eliminate the multiverse, as a number of new universes are already popping up or were restored. They didn’t use the event as an excuse to retcon silly things like giving Red Skull Xavier’s brain, making Steve Rogers an old man, or making Cyclops a bad guy. Marvel may have eliminated the Ultimate universe, but they didn’t even use the event to remove the complication of having other ongoing books featuring other alternate universes.

In the end, many characters returned to just about where they were before the event even started. Those who didn’t, such as Cyclops or Spider-Man, had the changes in their lives explained away by an all too convenient 8 month jump into the future. They could have done that without “Secret Wars”, tbh. Likewise with bringing Miles Morales to the prime Marvel universe.

“Secret Wars” true purpose? To earn money. “Secret Wars” legacy? It accomplished nothing while simulataneously overcomplicating things.

– Marvel’s got that new pantheon of gods in Reed, Sue, & Co.
– Marvel can’t settle on just one version of a character anymore. Thor. Wolverine. Hawkeye. Most of the O5 X-Men. Captain America. Apocalypse. Spider-Man. Spider-Woman. (Don’t even get me started on the Deadpool Corp or the Web Warriors.) Even Marvel’s dupes have dupes; X-23, a gene twisted dupe of Logan, has her own clones.
– Mutants have effectively been condemned to hell (aka. the demon filled Limbo). Plus, they’re all sterile and/or dying of a plague. Marvel’s going to stick by their assertion that they don’t have a beef with FOX though, right?
– Marvel’s allowed their focus to shift away from one unified universe. Contest of Champions. Spider-Gwen. Web Warriors. Weird World. X-Men `92.
– They’ve got ongoings with some pretty major stuff happening that isn’t (yet) being reflected in other parts of the universe. For example, notice now none of the Avengers books have made mention of Vision’s new family?
– Marvel has radically ruined some of their classic characters. Wasn’t the main selling point of Spider-Man that Peter Parker was just like us, but with powers? Peter Parker now looks a whole lot more like Tony Stark, but with spider-themed gadgets. Another example? Hulk. Like Batman, there can only be one. Marvel wants us to accept Amadeus Cho as the Hulk, which makes no sense. Post-SW Marvel has done a lot to spit on the legacy of Stan & Jack.

Marvel always jokes about how reboots are for DC, not them. Keep on laughing, Marvel. You’ve gotten so close to needing a full reboot that it’s not even funny. Marvel’s a mess now.

When you talk about how this Punisher fight looked cool, but made absolutely no sense…. That’s “Secret Wars” in a nutshell.

It’s hard to identify the other villains but I think I see Scorpion, Hammer and Anvil, and Bullseye. Punisher could kill Kingpin and Bullseye could easily be killed with bullets. I don’t remember if Scorpion is bulletproof or not, but Punisher has explosives that should do the job. This is assuming Punisher has a flawless fight against these very dangerous characters.

I suppose it’s even possible for Punisher to kill Creel if he manages to shoot him before he can absorb anything, and assuming that absorbing the bullets isn’t automatic.

But yeah, there’s nothing Punisher carries that would have any effect on some of these guys.

Yeah, I just took it as Frank shot the place up, threw a few IEDs and grenades in there and watched as they died or ran away.

The main problem I found with Edmonson’s Punisher Last Days book is he should’ve just told his story first and ended it with Punisher catching wind of the villains meeting up at the bar and then going there to end it all with a bang. So he saves those hostages and kills that terrorist cell thinking he did his last work as the Punisher only to find out about all of these villains in one place.

It kinda bent suspension of disbelief that he’d have the time to fly to Tikrit of all places and kill a bunch of terrorists before the last incursion.

Ditto! But that is the future of comics. Creators- held hostage by fanboys- unable to just tell stories. Instead they must tell “Events”. Some are well done but none have any significance. As soon as publishers think they can squeeze a nickel out of a cage by going another way they will. Fans like to scream boycott but as declining sales for the last 25 years show the economic incentive can be trumped. I think the future of comics will be based on a platform that can somehow incorporate the interests of both new and veteran readers without pandering to both sides.

A.Z. The problem with the Creel thing is he has been shown having the ability to absorb the metallic properties of bullets right as soon as they touch his skin. Of course this is the same guy that has been taken out by Ant-Man and Wasp so well…

@Matthew: Where are you seeing Hammer and Anvil? That would be weird, because they’ve been dead for almost 30 years.

there is no way the punisher would really be able to kill all the big villains he would have maybe gotten a few shots off but the strength in numbers would have stopped him plus unless the howling commandos had like super sonic jet there is no way the punisher could get to that bar in time to finaly end his story whacking almost all of marvels big bad.

….I really enjoyed Secret Wars.

I love those email addresses! I don’t know who who@whocares.com is, but oz@amazinghair.net (hairnet!) is hilarious!

@Rob: Love the way you turned a friendly article discussing a comic book fight into your soapbox for why everything’s wrong at Marvel and you hated their latest event.

@ A.Z. — I think Hickman forced Edmondson’s hand in this by having that happen prominently in Secret Wars — which is why I think Edmondson barely showed anything of that and merely handwaved as happening right before going to the middle east to kill some terrorists as the world was ending.

Seriously, as much as I loved Avengers/NewAvengers by Hickman, I thought it was pretty distasteful of him to try to wrap up Punisher’s story for Edmondson when Edmondson clearly had other ideas.

@Rob

I love that you either: a) typed ALL of that up in response to something barely related, or b) copied and pasted it from what are probably numerous, numerous raging blog/forum posts, with that little bit at the end so that it doesn’t seem like you went on an epic tangent

Rob. What you described is the wonderful world of fantasy that is the Marvel Universe. It’s comics. Maybe you should read other things?

I guess I’m alone here apparently, but I really loved Rob’s comment and it was very thought-provoking.

I’m glad he wrote it and thank him.

I didn’t get the Wasp joke at the end? Could someone please explain the joke?

Just an acknowledgement of how powerful the Wasp is.

This ain’t no Wrong side… Look closely: one of the guys in the Jeep is obviously Chuck Norris. He looked at the villains and they died of fright.

The Punisher can be great in street-level stories, but trying to play him as a badass against supervillains just makes him look like a joke. Sandman is right in front of him and can take him down in less than a second. Sandman could kill a hundred Frank Castles.

Hickman’s one-pager sets up the epitome of going out with a whimper, as Frank accomplishes absolutely nothing other than giving these guys an amusing diversion.

Isn’t that Hickman wrote Secret Wars #2 first than #1? I actually enjoyed that scene because at least Frank would put the remaining bullets into good use. Whether he killed the villains in the bar or otherwise was actually immaterial because that one was an afterthought, leaving the readers to use their imagination. Well, that’s Hickman.

I also appreciate Rob’s rant. Marvel’s been a mess for quite some time now, but DC seems to draw all the heat. It’s poor management/editorial across the board.

Since Rob opened up the can of worms about Secret Wars, can I also ask a question? What’s the deal with Old Man Logan? His story started right after the original OML run ended: Logan raised little Hulk in the OML wasteland. However, little Hulk already grew up, joined a superteam, came back to our time with his foster daddy, then known as The Hooded Man, clashed with the FF, retired to another place, dimension or what not, formed Fantastic Force, and was last seen tending to a destroyed Earth in the future with Gaia whom he made pregnant (now that’s EPIC, what else can any male aspire to?…). How is it that his history was rewound?

@Rob – Totally agree.

Isn’t there also an older Punisher story (not a What If) that had the Punisher wipe out an entire bar of super villians that should have creamed him? I seem to remember this same scenario occuring in the 90’s.

I couldn’t even read all of Rob’s nonsense. All I kept thinking was Old Man Yells at Cloud

HellRazor- Maybe you’re thinking of the Scourge of the Underworld, who pulled off something similar in the ’80s?

Alaric – no, Hellrazor is right. There is an old Punisher What If? with the exact same gag. It’s “What If Punishr Had Killed Spider-Man?” In it Punisher kills SPider-Man after being tricked into believing he was a villain by the Jackal. He learns otherwise later and is full of regret. A bunch of Spidey villains track him down and surprise him with a party in his honor. Punisher mows down the whole party of villains similar to how he mows down the bar of supervillains in this Secret Wars scene.

@Rob. I like your views and wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

Punisher did similar at the beginning of his post Civil War series.

@Will: I typed it. No ctrl-c ctrl-v for me. Sorry. =)

@butters911: I totally get what you’re saying, but the rant was not nearly as pointless as it might seem.

Do I think that this Punisher fight was silly? Sure. It’s an all style and no substance sort of scene. We all know that Punisher would lose horribly, but it sure looked cool for him to walk in and, for a moment, believe that he could clean out the place in a blaze of glory. In fact, Frank probably would have gotten the crap kicked out of him 10 times over before he squeezed off a second shot.

This one scene really illustrates my point about Secret Wars though.

Frank stands in the doorway. There’s a tension about the scene. A huge boast about doing something big is made. In the end, nothing really changes.

This, in a nutshell, was Secret Wars. There were years of hype and build up. The usual promises of “nothing will ever be the same again” were made. The entire Marvel Universe was faced with this epic event. In the end, however, nothing really changed.

Like Frank’s situation, the entirety of Secret Wars was all bluster, but no real action. It looked cool to have Frank walk in and attempt to wipe `em all out. However, we knew that it was all for show. We knew that Frank was out-classed, out-manned, and that none of this could come of anything without seriously damaging Marvel’s stable of baddies.

With Secret Wars, Marvel doesn’t have it in them to pull the trigger on sweeping, lasting change. If they did then this event would have been the PERFECT opportunity. That’s not what happened though, right? Instead, we get lots of hype, a big show where everything looks like change, and then we go back to the status quo as if nothing happened. This is the Punisher’s fight in that issue. It really is.

It certainly looked like my comment came out of left field, but it didn’t. If we’re to wonder why the fight looked so ridiculously one sided then we also have to examine the circumstances under which it took place. There’s a framework to it all. Punisher’s stupid, stupid scene didn’t exist in a vacuum. It arose from something that was, frankly, far more insipid and shallow.

Here’s the thing. Marvel makes no bones about this, btw. As a writer, you get to come in an play with all of their fabulous toys. Within reason, they’ll even let you dirty them all up and smack them around. However, when it’s finally time for you to stop playing, you have to clean things up and put the toys more or less back the way you found them. It might have been JoeQ who phrased it similarly some years ago.

As a business, for longevity’s sake, this is kinda how Marvel has to do things. Punisher’s fight looks woefully stupid? Don’t worry. All will be undone. Still looks cool though. Captain America was assassinated. Eh. He’ll be back in a year or two. The entire Marvel Universe is going to get wiped out and nothing will ever be the same again. Just kidding. We got you to buy our totally off-topic titles though, eh?

Marvel writing/editorial, at the end of the day, has to return the toys the way they found them. There’s too much at stake. There’s that big picture to think of, the one that extends beyond the print world.

On CBR, when we see discussions about fights where the wrong guy one, it’s usually chalked up to bad writing or simple pandering. The writer got too lazy to research previous matches or had to play to a certain audience in a crossover. Stuff like that.

With the Punisher fight, we’re looking more at issues of habit and policy. As a long time fan, you know that it makes no sense. In the moment, however, you probably don’t care. In the long term, you probably care even less because you saw the mandated retcon on the horizon. It was a cute throwaway gag and not much else.

Expand that the spirit of that one scene to its logical conclusion and you end up with Secret Wars. Except, at this scale, it’s not so cute anymore. It’s expensive for the fans, especially the completionists since it’s all thunder and no lighting. (Almost) none of it matters. It’s insulting to those who read this stuff for its quality storytelling. Instead of a filling meal, it’s a massive tray of junk food.

To frame this all another way…

Think about the most epic storylines or fight scenes in comic history. Most of them probably had a huge impact, right? That epic fight between Spidey & Green Goblin that resulted in the latter’s death. DC’s original Crisis that not only resulted in the death of characters like Barry Allen, but also the rebooting of DC’s universe itself. When you look at the Punisher fight scene and compare it to that other fight, well, this falls short by a large margin. It makes no impact and has no substance. When you look at Secret Wars and compare it to Crisis, one changed the landscape of a universe for decades while the other just kinda moved around the furniture a few inches to the left.

It may sound like Old Man Logan screaming at the cloud, but there’s a sort of reason and rhyme to my initial post. Whether or not you agree is another thing, but this is where I stand on it.

Punisher’s fight is stupid, but there’s a very good reason for that.

Pardon my bad spelling in the above post. What I wouldn’t give for an EDIT button.^_^

@Javro: No. You can’t just chalk it up to “comic” and leave it there. This is just bad writing and event planning. As an art form, it should be bigger than these cheap gimmicks and crass commercialism. Marvel has done way better in the past. I’m 100% confident that they’ll do way better in the future. This is not that. If you’ve been reading comics for any period of time then you know exactly what I mean. I’d argue that the turning point was in 1986, but that’s another discussion.

Rob

Are you referring to the New Universe? Or are you talking about the overall comic book medium at that time?

@Hellrazor: Probably it’s not the one you recall because it wasn’t in the 90’s but i remember that Frank tried to take out a bar full of villains during Civil War. Only that time he went through proper planning and preparation. During the wake for Stilt-man He poisoned their drinks and bombed the place. “Obviously” being that a practical and logic plan almost, if not, everybody involved survived.

@Alaric: That episode “shocked” me as a kid, Scourge had already been around Captain America killing villains but i wasn’t ready for the scale of that shooting. Also, Gruenwald worked well to make it believable, all the villains attending at the bar were non powered ones, mostly relying on gimmicks, gimmicks that they had to leave at the door, with any other weapon they were carrying, for safety reasons.

@Ronconauta – Yep, think that is the one I was thinking of! Thanks!

This is now REALLY off-topic, but I just wanted to address Travis’ question.

@Travis:

Let me start off by saying that I’m a huge fan of what Marvel did in the 1980s. Some of my favorite stories and series come from that time period.

That said, Marvel’s 25th anniversary year (1986) proved to be an interesting one.

– Marvel got sold off
– Jean Grey got resurrected, which really opened up a Pandora’s box that included popularizing retcons and freeing characters from consequences
– The back 1/2 of the critically panned Secret Wars II came out
– Marvel started testing the waters with cover gimmicks (eg. New Mutants #45)
– New Universe was a stillborn mess with lots of hype, too many titles, and not enough cash or internal support
– Family-wide annual crossover events really started to take a life all their own.

These are just a few points. (I’d love to toss in a few more points and elaborate on it all, but I’ve already taken too much of your time.)

As fans, we often look back at the 80s as a high watermark for Marvel. Newer comics may have more sophisticated writing, but there was something very semenal about the 80s stories. Movies and TV adaptations are still mining that era. That’s why it’s easy to forget that the 80s were also not so pretty for Marvel. It’s easy to point fingers at the 90s for the excess that contributed to Marvel’s bankruptcy, but that excess had to start somewhere.

To me, Marvel’s 25th anniversary was the tipping point. 1986 was right in that meaty part of the 80s. Primetime soaps were HUGE. MTV defined youth culture and trained it to love style over substance. It would then make sense that Marvel would go equally big and ludicrous. After all, comics often reflect the world in which they’re made. The thing is, Marvel never really left that mentality behind. The 90s bankruptcy taught them to temper it with a modicum of self-restraint and moderation, but only just.

Marvel’s first 25 years are qualitatively different than the 25-30 that followed. Of course, none of that change happened overnight. However, for me, I find that using the 25th anniversary as a tipping point seems more or less accurate. The 1986 events listed above all had a profound effect on Marvel’s comics, the way they’d do business, and how they’d perceive their readers. It’s a sort of perfect storm.

TBH, one could probably write a book on the subject.

@Rob-

The did. It’s called “Marvel Comics: the Untold History” by Sean Howe, and it is really quite good. It address many of your points from above, to include the bankruptcy, gimmick cover craze, and New Universe debacle. If you’re interested, I recommend it. It’s worth reading if you are interested in the history of Marvel.

(also, sorry for my multiple typos as well…an edit button here would be hugely beneficial)

Rob –

Don’t worry about going off-topic on my account. I also thought your “rants” were very instructive. I stopped reading Marvel Comics in 2010 or so, but your post confirmed that these latest SECRET WARS event was exactly what I was expecting it to be.

Yes, Marvel and DC have lost their way in a mess of “events”. Yes, the 1980s were mostly awesome for Marvel Comics, but the rot also started then and there. Yes, the rot took hold in the 1990s, had a brief remission from 1998 to 2004 or so, and then took hold again, with a vengeance.

The only good stuff you can find in Marvel/DC those days are the oddities at the margin of their universes.

Maybe Frank pulled out his Angel powers, it being the end of the world and all. :p

Hey, if The Punisher can Kill the Marvel Universe, he can take out some of just the bad guys, right? No, it’s actually rubbish. But it may be only the third dumbest thing in it. Because the idea that the Kingpin would hang out with all these low lifes and treat them to drinks is ridiculous. And Frank goes in wearing traditional Punisher garb, but somehow fighting all these guys has times to chance and put on that silly mask thing. A bad situation made worse.

And hey, I think the “rant” was tangentially related. And agree big time with 6. At a time that everyone claims we need to make the characters more like their movie versions, lets make everything more confusing and more comic booky and more convoluted than DC was even at the time of the Crisis. There may have been 5 Supermen, but they generally didn’t all live in the same world. It’s all corporate, so it’s all who can show a profit line this quarter, and no one is there to oversea and be concerned with the state of the properties in 5, 10, 50 years. Guys like Shooter are reviled, but he did just that, watched over the properties of the company that are the real value, and are really the only reason comic books even still exist in that form is because of how valuable they are in other media.

I’m late to this party, but I’ll throw my two cents in re: Rob’s thoughts on Secret Wars

I’ve been reading comics since I learned to read, but I’ve never understood this idea that stories have to “count” to matter.

Secret Wars may not have had a big impact on continuity, but I find that refreshing. Most big events end up with a number of cosmetic or seemingly-important changes occurring to the characters of the Marvel Universe, but very few of them last more than a few years. The only changes to come from Secret Wars are practical ones to do with publishing, such as Miles Morales being folded into the Marvel Universe, and in that sense they “matter” far more than the average Event-inspired change in continuity or character.

As for the books instead, you seemed to be quite hung up on the question of why you should care about the characters in the various miniseries. This, to me, seems like a can of worms that comic book fans, or fans of pop culture in general, shouldn’t open. If you can only enjoy a story because you think it “counts”, then you’re denying yourself too many great stories. The Dark Knight Returns and Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow, for starters.

I enjoyed some (though not all) of the Secret Wars titles I read precisely because they were free of continuity. The vast majority of superhero stories are permanently stuck in the second act, so reading a series of short stories with strong beginnings, middles and ends was a nice change of pace. The nature of the publishing event allowed writers to have complete freedom, and that showed (in both a positive and negative way) in every Secret Wars comic I read.

I suppose my fundamental belief on the topic is that a good story is a good story. Whether it’s the first issue of a comic or the six-hundredth, an annual or a licensed Pizza Hut giveaway comic, good writing can stand on it’s own merit. And, though I realise this is subjective, many of the SW series I read had good writing, and were good comics.

To crib from the aforementioned WHttMoT, they might be imaginary stories, but then, aren’t they all?

Danny –

I am okay with stories that are “unimportant” for the chronology, but I always disliked stories with the infamous “And then he/she woke up” ending. Stories about alternate realities that are undone after the ending of the story always reminded me unpleasantly of that. If superhero stories are usually stuck in Act 2, these stories have no Act at all.

I am okay with it when it happens in the course of regular issues of a character’s title and it’s kept to a reasonable length. Examples are two classic storylines that are deserving of their reputation: Days of Future Past and the Kulan Gath saga. I am also okay with stories that are advertised from the get go as not impacting the regular titles at all, like The Dark Knight Returns or the various Imaginary Stories in the Superman titles.

However, stories like Secret Wars (2015) and Age of Apocalypse are the worst case, the most dishonest case. They usually lie to you (“nothing is gonna be the same!”; “this is the new reality”, etc.), they drag on across a big number of issues and titles, and then it STILL was all just a dream! It’s as if a huge book saga like Harry Potter ended with Harry waking up and everything about Hogwarts and magic was a dream.

akkadiannumen

March 6, 2016 at 4:31 pm

“I didn’t get the Wasp joke at the end? Could someone please explain the joke?”

I think it’s a reference to how Wasp defeated the X-Men in Secret Wars.

TBH, The Punisher should just have stolen some high tech stuff by this time. Though his look would not be as “cool” if he was fighting crime with a laser rifle and power armor. He’s much more canny than most of Spidey’s villians, and they can scrounge this stuff up, so certainly frank can get this stuff (from Roxxon, Stark, the government, SHIELD, HYDRA, whoever). Then he’d be a threat to whoever. But that hurts his marketability. Logic and the marketplace don’t always make the most sense. But there probably is a way to give Frank some stealth power armor with his theme that COULD work… though regular criminals wouldn’t pose a threat any longer (he’d tear through them like butter…)

Leave a Comment

 

Categories

Review Copies

Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.

Browse the Archives