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The Wrong Side: Punisher vs. A Bar of Supervillains

by  in Comic News Comment

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…




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)…





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…





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


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…

Here’s the thing. You see, Secret Wars #1 by Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribic shows the Marvel Universe seemingly about to be destroyed. So Hickman throws in a cute bit where the Punisher figures that heck, if they’re all going to die anyways, he might as well take out as many supervillains as he can before he dies. It’s a good gag by Hickman.


But that’s clearly what it was meant to be. Just a throwaway gag. The whole universe is destroyed at the end of the issue, ya know? So Hickman could toss in bits like that.

However, a number of Marvel titles did storylines called “Last Days,” where they showed how the characters in the respective title dealt with the end of the world. The creative team on this very nicely done Punisher run, Nathan Edmonson and Mitch Gerards, obviously wanted to do something with the Howling Commandos, a commando unit that they had introduced in this series. And that’s what they did in the last two issues of this volume of The Punisher (#19 and #20), as the Punisher goes to save some hostages in the Middle East.

It appears likely, though, that someone said “but you can’t ignore the set-up from Secret Wars #1,” so Edmondson had to address that situation before he could go off to tell the story he REALLY wanted to tell. So he resolved it as quickly as he could, which was basically by pulling a “Wolverine vs. Lobo behind the bar” routine. Amusingly enough, both scenarios involved bars…



And just like how I don’t begrudge Ron Marz for his making the best of a bad situation like he did in DC vs. Marvel, similarly I don’t begrudge Edmondson for just trying to get this over with quickly so he could go on with the story he wanted to tell.

But, well, yeah, I don’t think Punisher would be able to kill all those bad guys like that so easily. Absorbing Man could absorb the bullets, Sandman can easily avoid being hurt by guns, etc. It’s not like Punisher is the Wasp or anything like that.

Okay, thanks for the suggestion, Tom! If anyone else has a suggestion, drop me a line at bcronin@comicbookresources.com!