Every time I clean out my closets and get to take a look at the comics of my youth, I do it with a mix of nostaglia and embarassment over the books I read during my misspent youth. The embarassment is more predominant, mind you, because I grew up during the ’90s, and not even the rosiest colored glasses in the world can make up for the fact that I bought complete runs of Todd McFarlane’s Spider-Man and Rob Liefeld’s X-Force.
That said, I found a couple of curiousities in that mix of total crap and crap I still like, one of which being a Punisher comic where he fights a cross dress, back when Welcome Back, Frank was probably not even a gleam in young Garth Ennis’s eye. Which shocked the hell out of me, for one.
Instead of Ennis, it was Mike Baron who brought the world the Punisher’s (presumably) firstÂ battle against an assassain who is “a really small guy”, according to Frank Castle’s narration, that likes to dress up like a woman in order to blend in.
That’s about all that’s remarkable about this issue; it’s pretty much a straightforward Punisher story, and I have no use for those, orÂ any stories featuring Frank Castle as the protagonist not written by vulgar Irishmen; I don’t really care about Frank unless he’s the straight man in really dark comedy; the only exception is Ennis’s Born, but that’s more because it was Ennis doing a war story, probably his best genre, moreÂ than anything else. I’d give you the issue number, but I honestly can’t remember it, can’t find the issue, and couldn’t find any info on it after a really short web search. This was the kind of thing that popped up on the first page, and I’ll be damned if I’ll go farther than that in my research over this thing; I just wanted to talk about the Punisher killing a crossdresser.
I was also struck by some of the stuff in the Comics Buyers Guide Price Guide I thumbed through. Cliff Biggers, who I think provided all of the content in the issue aside from the price guide (which was, admittedly, like five pages) wrote an editorial about the decline of the trade paperback. People often bemoan how little comics (especially mainstream comics) have changed over time, but you can’t say that’s the case here, all these years laterÂ (this issue was published in 1993).
The other thing that amused me about this book (other than all the ads for the Image/Valiant crossover book Deathmate) was a column where various marketing people at a bunch of differentÂ publishers flogged their hottest books. In amongst DC’s rep talking up Batman #500 and the first issue of Jim Balent’s Catwoman, Marvel’s rep breathlously extolling the virtues of Clive Barker’s superhero line, and Dark Horse talking up future Pam Anderson vehicle Barb Wire’s first appearence, there was Kim Thompson of Fantagraphics trying to sell the speculator given market on the debut of a comic literally called Crap and an anthology called Snake Eyes. Neither seems to have stood the test of time, but the latter had an incredibly impressive group of contributors (David Mazzuchelli, Chris Ware, and Phoebe Gloeckner stood out amongst them), and the formerÂ at least had an amusing name.
Looking at old magazines is something I always enjoys, and is one of the ways I justify being a packrat. It can be greatly amusing to look at these things from a modern perspective, sort of like that gag on the Simpsons about the Time cover with the blurb “Sadaam Hussein: America’s Sweetheart”. Sports Illustrated articles that extoll Barry Bonds and Mark McGuire are really funny in that light. Hopefully I can find similar humor from something about Michael Vick. Of course, the joke will be on me if I stumble upon something about Chris Benoit and hisÂ great marriage or something.
Anyway, I’ll leave with this parting snark; seeing Joe Quesada’s AzBats costume splashed all over this book made me think of this bit of trivia; Joe Q. is the only person to give both Batman and Spider-Man lame armored costumes that led to a lot of publicity but were discarded in less than a year. That’s one to impress your friends and family with.
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