Thursday, January 3, 2013
12 Days of X-Mas: Wolverine and Punisher #1-4 (2004)
Oh man. Is there anything more annoying to the OCD comic collector than picking up a limited series to re-read and realizing you are MISSING THE FINAL ISSUE? I don’t think I actually read this when it came out, because I know I would have tried to get the conclusion. What the heck was I thinking???
Peter Milligan is one of my favorite comic writers, but his approach to super-hero comics has always been unique. He often uses satire to play up the ridiculousness of the genre, but he doesn’t really do that here. Instead, he has a pretty basic Punisher plot (guest-starring Wolverine) and just lays it out there. I’m sure he’s still got a smirk on his face, because the dialogue all sounds so stiff. No one talks like this. It is worse with the villains than with the heroes. One criminal is named Napoleon, another is “the Lady,” and the accountant character is another almost-stereotype. The Punisher actually convinces one con to hand over his weapon by asking “who is it you really hate?” I mean, that level of introspection is not normal for a Punisher comic.
Much of the first issue tracks Napoleon as he draws the attention of the Punisher, then flees to Erehwon. Erehwon is a haven for those who have caught the Punisher’s eye and have to flee civilization. After years and years of hiding, the council that rules the jungle town has set up an ambush for the Punisher where he will need to deal with Wolverine and the killer known as the Atheist. … Really. The Atheist. He’s dangerous because he believes in nothing. No way was Milligan being serious.
So the story is a strange mix of the generic and the absurd, but I can’t say that about the art. Lee Weeks is one of my favorite classic pencillers. His Punisher has a receding hairline and Wolverine never gets close to a costume. No character’s face is generic; each “actor” has his own features and tics.
Rest assured, I’m now hunting down the last issue of this series.