I am about to commit comic book nerd suicide. You ready? Oh, I’m scared. Should I really admit to this on my first comic book post? You know what, fuck it, I’m going for it.
I hate Spider-Man.
Okay, no rocks through the window yet? Good. There, I said it. Oh, it feels good to let this out. So many years of repression. Of pretending, and nodding.
I could go into why, but, well, to be honest I already wrote that draft, and ultimately, do I need a reason? You know how sometimes you meet someone, and you’re not even sure why, but you hate them? Well, that’s basically Spider-Man for me. I could try to explain it away, but they’d all just be excuses for my initial reaction.
Which brings us to my favorite Marvel, well, antihero, character, whatever you want to call him. Frank Castle. The Punisher. For one, I’m a fan of heroes without powers. It’s far more interesting to see a guy who just happens to be good with guns attempt to take on the Marvel Universe. If Spider-Man were to get in a fight with The Hulk, if shit went south he could always just scurry away via webs and building swinging. Sure, Hulk would chase him, might even catch him, but Spider-Man has that option.
What option does The Punisher have? He can’t fly. He doesn’t have any way of dealing with The Hulk, other than shooting, and running.
Marvel Universe vs. The Punisher is not to be confused with Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe, written by the genius Garth Ennis (one of my favorite writers, in comics or not) and with art by Dougie Braithwaite.
I’m not familiar with the art of Goran Parlov, but it’s fun. Not photorealistic, no Tim Bradstreetiness here. Then again, almost no artists I know of, other than Bradstreet, or Jae Lee draw like that for comics. Parlov gives good Punisher, though his Frank has a very wide jaw and chin, but that’s far from abnormal. Frank’s been drawn this way many a time.
The rest of the Marvel characters are done with a bang (pun not intended, and cat’s out of the bag due to this parenthetical, but hey, pretty witty, right?). Think comic book art, and there it is, Goran Parlov’s style. That’s not meant as an insult. It feels good seeing these panels, familiar, like your favorite food you’ve had thousands of times, yet still crave.
I’m somewhat familiar with Jonathan Maberry, what with me being a horror book nerd. I attempted to get through his first book in the Pine Deep trilogy, entitled Ghost Road Blues. For whatever reason, I just stopped after about 30 pages. Maybe I’ll try a different Maberry book, because I was pleasantly surprised with the story, and dialogue in this. The story is simple. Simple enough for an admittedly casual Marvel fan to hop into and follow without getting confused. And once again, it’s a lot of fun. Particularly all the back and forth between The Punisher and the Merc with a Mouth, Deadpool. There is a running gag where Frank tries to kill Deadpool over, and over, in various ways, and dude just won’t stay dead. It’s pure gold.
So, in general, this book is fun. I picked it up in hardcover on a whim at the local comic shop, and I’m glad I did. If you’re a fan of The Punisher, definitely give this one a read.
Now, let us discuss a character I’m ashamed to admit has only recently been added to my consciousness. A brilliantly crazy bastard named Deadpool. He also has a book where he faces the Marvel Universe, surprisingly titled, Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe. I wonder what this one is about?
This series is also not to be confused with Deadpool Vs. The Marvel Universe, written by Fabian Nicieza and with pencils by Reilly Brow and Ron Lim.
This series is written by Cullen Bunn and drawn by Dalibor Talajic. Again, typical comic art style, but the panels in Deadpool Kills are a bit more intriguing.
The reason Deadpool starts to kill all the Marvel peeps is fairly vague. Something about a small Psycho-Man using some kind of mind control device while masquerading as a shrink, controlling the mental health professional robot from inside his head. He tries to get Deadpool to kill for him. And then of course Wade smushes him, and what do you know, Deadpool starts spreading a pool of Dead.
So which is better? And, most importantly, why didn’t I compare Marvel Universe Vs. Deadpool with Marvel Universe Vs. Punisher, or Deadpool Kills with Punisher Kills? Well, simply put, because the two books I’m dissecting can most likely be easily found in comic shops, and were released recently. The other two books were not, though I plan to get them off ye old Amazon and read them too.
While I love the intros to the Deadpool Kills, (not sure if they left them in, I just found the four issues, not collected, and read them individually) and the sheer meta-ness of the ending of the arc, I have to give this one to Marvel Universe Vs. The Punisher. Maberry’s tale is very reminiscent of Matheson’s I Am Legend. One man against the rest of the world, over run with killers. Instead of vampires, we get Marvel heroes and villains. Likewise, the reasoning behind The Punisher’s actions make sense. In Deadpool Kills, he just finally goes off the deep end, and while that’s fun for the arts sake, there is no real motive behind his kills, other than the love of killing.
Also, the Marvel Universe heroes and villains have been transformed into blood thirsty cannibals in Marvel Vs. Punisher. (All the Marvel characters becoming cannibals happens because of Castle, who attempted to stop a deal between two gangs, and accidentally released some kind of bio weapon that left him immune to the infection, as he was dosed with a lot of it, being near the source.) In Deadpool Kills, they are the same. So, it’s much more fun seeing the goodies and baddies both reduced to baddies, along with the rest of the humans who have changed. There change is reminiscent of 28 Days Later, The Crazies, or the David Moody Hater series.
Likewise, seeing the Marvel characters break up into various gangs is much more compelling than just seeing them offed. And, we get into Frank’s head in Marvel Vs. Punisher. We also get into Deadpool’s head, but it’s less interesting, as he doesn’t seem to have the same awful revelation that Frank does at the end of Marvel Vs Punisher.
Frank decides to stay on the island of Manhattan. Some changed Marvel heroes and villains remain. After sending the 60 or so survivors away on boats, he thinks these powerful words: “This place can’t be healed. This is a place for killers. For Monsters.”
Frank realizes that he is no better than those he kills. Deadpool merely gets meta and discusses how he is put through the wringer for comic book fans’ enjoyment, as he breaks through into our own universe. He doesn’t have such a drastic change about himself as The Punisher does.
Gotta give it to Deadpool Kills. He goes through a dimensional portal for fuck’s sake, it’s insane. Plus, all the deaths are much more exquisitely drawn. That’s a win for Talajic. Though, also for Bunn.
Parlov’s style is fun, but a bit more cartoony than Talajic’s. Personal preference for me is less cartoony, in general. Not that there is anything wrong with cartoony. I loves me some cartoons.
This one goes to Deadpool Kills. This is due to the fact that Deadpool’s deaths are more creative. Punisher just seems to shoot or blow up everybody. We don’t get the same kind of gory details from Parlov and Maberry as we get from Talajic and Bunn.
There seems to be a great many head explosions, with a single eyeball popping out of the red mess in Deadpool Kills. Not so much in Marvel Vs. Punisher.
In fact, the most interesting art in Marvel Vs. Punisher are the heroes and villains heads on spikes, seen through the book. (Too bad this isn’t best afterdeaths. Sorry Frank.)
Marvel Vs. Punisher. As explained above, we don’t get the same kind of gleefully deranged kills Deadpool delivers. This is mainly due to the fact Punisher just wants to kill as efficiently as possible. He doesn’t care about pizzaz, he just wants the infected killed. Again, the art reflects this. Nearly all headshots in Marvel Vs. Punisher.
Best Spider-Man Death
This is a tough one to call. Plot wise, I’m giving it to Marvel Vs. Punisher. The Punisher goes out of his way to help an infected Spider-Man save Mary Jane, who has his baby in her belly. Spider-Man agrees to leave the rest of the non-infected human survivors alone if Punisher rescues Mary Jane from Kingpin’s “tribe.”
Frank does, and he waits until the end of the book, when he has reunited Jane with Spider-Man, and then he just blows Spider-Man’s head off. That’s cold. When asked why, Punisher merely replies “I don’t make deals with monsters.”
But in terms of the art, I give it to Deadpool Kills. And it’s because of the eye, and the huge bloody head explosion. Observe the two kills. First Punisher’s, followed by Deadpool’s.
So much for Spider-Sense
Since comics are primarily a visual medium, I have to give it to Deadpool. While the one in Marvel Vs. Punisher has more weight, the image of Spider-Man’s eye flying off of his exploding head just sticks with you.
Best Kill of the Main Character of the Comic against the Main Character of the Other
Definitely Marvel Vs. Punisher. Castle just kills Deadpool over and over, and it’s a running gag, so you get the satisfaction of Deadpool killed over and over, you just can’t get with Deadpool killing Punisher. Plus, we don’t get a panel of The Punisher at the moment of death. We merely see him dead on the ground, after Wade kills him.
This was a very close battle. Each has its strengths and weaknesses. However, for my money, Marvel Universe Vs. The Punisher, has more to it. More substance. Yes, Deadpool Kills The Marvel Universe has better kills, but I feel I would actually want to reread Marvel Vs. Punisher, and I don’t get that same feeling with Deadpool Kills. Oh, sure, I’d leaf through to look at the kills, but the plot is almost nonexistent; there is no growth of the character. No struggle, really. Despite it being a visual medium, if there is no weight behind those images, it’s hard to get really invested in the book. I’d say each is worth buying digitally, but if you had to shell out for the physical copy, I’d recommend Marvel Universe Vs. The Punisher.
Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Ruins, written by Warren Ellis, with art by Terese Nielsen, Cliff Nielsen, and Chris Moeller. It’s better than both of these books combined. It’s beautiful, in a deranged way. So, if you like Marvel characters dying horribly, definitely look into Ruins.
Cover art courtesy of i.am.mirco