Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the six hundred and fifty-third week where we examine comic book legends and whether they are true or false.
Click here for Part 1 of this week's legends, which are all about comic book crossovers!
Archie Meets the Punisher was based on a gag in the Comics Journal.
I'm Going With False
Reader Cliff B. wrote in a while back to note that he read in a book that the classic 1994 team-up of Archie with the Punisher was based on a gag cover in the Comics Journal.
I've written in the past about how a Comics Journal gag DID lead to the creation of a female Robin in The Dark Knight Returns, but I don't believe that was the case here.
You see, in the early 1990s, comics had gone a bit crossover crazy, but damned if they weren't selling really well. No offense to Valiant's Magnus, Robot Fighter, as I actively enjoyed Valiant's Magnus, Robot Fighter, but there is no way in the world that so many people should have been as excited about Magnus and Predator facing off against each other and yet it was actually a super big deal back in the day. It defied logic.
Therefore, Archie obviously wanted to get in on this crossover action (amusingly, years later, they actually did their OWN Predator crossover). What made things nice for them was that their top editor, Victor Gorelick was good friends with the Editor-in-Chief of Marvel Comics, Tom DeFalco, who had actually broken into comic books working for Archie Comics. Gorelick and DeFalco would sometimes joke with each other about possible crossover ideas between their companies, including a rather dark idea where Archie's parents are murdered and Archie is forced to become a killer vigilante and teams up with the Punisher. However, that was just a joke.
Gorelick, though, was having lunch with another good friend of his, the independent comic book creator, Batton Lash, creator of Wolff and Byrd, Counselors of the Macabre. Gorelick talked about Archie wanting to get into crossovers and Lash suggested teaming up Archie with DC Comics' Jimmy Olsen. Gorelick instead told him about he and DeFalco joked about Archie meeting the Punisher. Lash surprised Gorelick, though, by saying that they really should do that! Lash then described a way that it could work and Gorelick was so impressed that he had Lash work up a pitch for the series and Gorelick sent it to DeFalco and DeFalco loved it and so we got Archie Meets the Punisher (published by Archie and Marvel simultaneously - Marvel called theirs Punisher Meets Archie and had a die-cut cover, because it was 1994 so of course it had a die-cut cover).
Lash's brilliant idea was not that the Punisher would travel to Riverdale to track down a criminal who looked like Archie, where he would then meet the real Archie...
That wasn't a bad idea, in and of itself, but the brilliant idea was to play up the idea of Riverdale as this place that struck the Punisher as a bastion of innocence, a place where he knows he no longer fits but that he will do anything in his power to protect, even resorting to non-lethal violence!!
The Punisher (and Microchip) were drawn by John Buscema and everyone else was drawn by Stan Goldberg and then Tom Palmer made everything work as the inker.
It's a great comic book and, as far as I can tell, was not inspired by the Comics Journal.
Thanks to Batton Lash, Victor Gorelick and Tom DeFalco for their information on this topic (Lash from his writings about the experience and Gorelick and DeFalco actually wrote about the project in the introduction of the comic book itself).
Check out my latest Movie Legends Revealed - Did James McAvoy accidentally shave his head for the wrong X-Men movie?
Part 3 will be up in a half hour, as it is also about Archie Meets the Punisher! Feel free to write in with suggestions for future legends to either firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com!