365 Reasons to Love Comics #186

DITKO WEEK is over, but I realize I forgot to mention the upcoming BBC documentary on the man himself from British favorite Jonathan Ross. It will probably be excellent. Look for it. And I've heard rumblings of a Ditko book from Blake Bell called The Mysterious Traveller. Did anything come of it?

Anyway, today's entry is about one of the greatest single issues ever produced, and easily the best crossover of all time. It's mind-shatteringly awesome! Thanks to Trey for suggesting it in the suggestions thread. And here's your archive link.


186. Archie Meets the Punisher

If, by chance, you haven't seen or heard of this comic before, then I am truly sorry for breaking your brain. Trust me, though. It's worth it.

In the summer of 1994, worlds collided. The Punisher invaded Riverdale in a smashing ad-free 48-page spectacular written by Batton Lash, cool creator of Supernatural Law. The Archie bits were drawn by the amazing Stan Goldberg and the Punisher bits were drawn by the legendary John Buscema-- even when the characters were interacting within the same panel! It's a glorious, all-star affair.

The plot starts with a standard case of mistaken identity. There's a mobster called "Red Fever" (alias Montana Bob, a tribute to Archie creator Bob Montana) running around, and the Punisher and his pal Microchip follow him to Riverdale. But, oops, Red looks a lot like Archie Andrews. And then, hilarity ensues.

The Punisher shakes Archie down for a bit before they team up to find the real baddie. Frank ends up chaperoning a school dance for Archie and his pals, and then things turn sour. In the end, the good guys win, the bad guy loses (and Frank lets him live), and everything goes back to status quo. And yeah, there's a really cool last page, which involves a letterman's jacket, Frank kissing Miss Grundy, and a set-up for another crossover that I wish actually existed:

This comic is a lovely little art object. In an age of over-rendered Image styles, grim and grit, and crappy stories, we got this, a ridiculously fun and silly comic by classic creators. The entire thing is played pretty much straight, with neither Archie nor the Punisher veering from their usual portrayals. The entire Archie universe shows up or gets a mention, even Sonic the Hedgehog and the Shield. Everything is done with absolute class and complete levity. I liked that both companies felt perfectly okay with poking fun at themselves.

I really miss simple, wacky books like this one. I wish we had a lot more of them. It never takes itself seriously and it delivers a rollicking good adventure. What more could one want?

Really, I can't find much to say about this comic, aside from reiterating how wonderful it is. If you call yourself a comic book fan, you have to read it. It isn't just another funnybook-- it's a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Track it down now!

Strangely enough, there are actually annotations on the web for this issue. I'll also link you to a few reviews, from Craig Bogart and Richard Meyer, and this one by Chris Sims that calls it the greatest Punisher comic of them all. I couldn't agree more.

Who else here has read it? And is it as awesome as you had hoped?

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