Writers: C.B. Cebluski, Daniel Merlin Goodbrey, Shane McCarthy,Jonathan Hickman, Christopher Sequeira, Matt Yocum, Jonathon Green, Ted McKeever and Frank Tieri
Art: Keneth Rocafort, Lou Kang, Martin Redmond, Nick Pittara, W Chew Chan, Adiana Melo, Fiona Staples, Ted McKeever and Marko Terini
Published by Marvel Comics in 2009
Review and pictures by Stewart Loud.
A Mini series showcasing a lot of creative talent containing three six part stories and six individual short stories starring a dazzling array of Marvel characters including Wolverine, Punisher, Cannonball, Sunspot, Mojo, Iron Man and Daredevil. The beauty part about this short run of comics is that none of the stories are part of some long running complicated continuity or massive universe wide cross over so even if you don't know much about the characters in each story you can still pick up the comics and enjoy them all without having to add three dozen back issues to the list of comics you need to get hold of to work out what's going on.
Story 1: WOLVERINE AND PUNISHER MADRIPOOR MIX-UP
This story is gonna be the main focus of my review, not just because of the obvious fact that I'm one of the biggest Punisher fans ever to draw breath but because it gets so much right where other Wolverine/Punisher stories and indeed other cross overs between big characters have gotten it wrong in the past.
There's been a few Wolverine/Punisher mini series' over the past couple of decades: Damaging Evidence- not bad at all, Revelation- fucking terrible and a Marvel Knights five parter that given the impressive and exciting looking front covers was just a massive disappointment. What I and every other red blooded comic enthusiast want from a short story bringing two characters like this together isn't a lengthy convoluted plot creating lots of complicated reasons why their paths have crossed. We just wanna see them get together, briefly but heads if at all and then get down to teaming up and kicking some serious ass. And believe me, that's what this fabulously illustrated short delivers in spades.
Not that a half decent story is a bad thing mind you but it's really not necessary when your dealing with possibly the two toughest characters in the Marvel universe who have such a talent for violence and mayhem.
Of course I enjoyed seeing Frank deal out a double helping of punishment to Logan, Loony Tunes style, blowing his nuts off, parking steam rollers on top of him and hitting him with anti tank weapons in Garth Ennis' Marvel Knights comics but these two characters have a lot in common regarding their attitudes to dealing with naughty people so why not just have them get along like a house on fire and cause a respectable amount of destruction and carnage while their at it?
The story starts with Frank and Logan bumping into each other in a Madripoor bar. Frank's there in pursuit of some weapons dealing bad guys, Logan's there 'cause hell, he spends loads of time in that neck of the woods so why shouldn't he be? After a brief conversation they step outside for what looks like it's gonna be a fight with each other but instantly turns into a crazed, ultra violent two against fifty or sixty, street fight with a bunch of Hydra goons and a massive spiked robot dinosaur thing. Wallop! This is what I paid to see.
It's an action packed buddy movie of a comic strip. This is the Lethal Weapon team combo of the comic book world. They're arguing, they're running off jokes, they're occasionally admitting a bit of respect for each other, they're taking the piss out of each other, they're pushing each other out of the way of explosions and other shit that would've killed them otherwise and at the end they both sit down for a nice drink together before they go their separate ways. If Marvel made an ongoing Wolverine/Punisher series written like this, with this standard of artwork, it'd be one of the greatest series' they ever put out.
Another really refreshing thing about this one is Frank himself is a lot more light hearted than usual. Sure he's mean, grumpy, uncompromising and he doesn't think twice about trying to kill whoever he thinks deserves it but at the same time, he cracks wise and comes out with some priceless one liners while he's doing it. He has conversations with people he doesn't intend to kill where he's not just telling them to leave him alone. I'm a massive fan of the MAX Punisher who is just a burnt out almost emotionless killing machine after his experiences in Viet Nam and the deaths of his family but I think this is the sort of Punisher we need in the 616 universe if the character is to survive and become more popular with fans of the other super heroes.
One of the things that made Ennis' and Remenders' 616 runs so good was that even though they were incredibly violent, they were still very funny in places due in large part to Frank's cynical attitude to the super powered community and how he deals with them. He did after all start out as a character in Spiderman so I really enjoy seeing him get involved with other flagship Marvel characters and not just common drug dealers, murderers and rapists. Great stuff. I could read it over and over.
Story 2: IRON MAN 2020 ENDLESS STOLEN SKY
Billionaire CEO of Stark International, first cousin once removed of the now deceased Tony Stark and self confessed “absolute bastard”, Arno Stark, embarks upon the maiden voyage of Stark International's prototype civilian helliliner, The Spirit Of Free Enterprise and unsurprisingly things don't go as smoothly as he would have liked.
It all looks like it could be something from an anime series with all sorts of battle ships, mech suits piloted by small children, attack choppers and cyber punk robots riding flying surf boards rocketing out of the clouds at him firing missiles and exploding all over the place. Parts of it reminded me of the cruise liner scenes from The Fifth Element as well. Nice, crisp art and plenty of action. Great short story on a character I'd never heard of before I got hold of these comics.
Story 3 BOBBY AND SAM IN MOJOWORLD
Sam Guthrie (Cannonball) and Bobby Dacosta (Sunspot or Reignfire or whatever he's calling himself these days) end up getting roped into a contract with the TV obsessed lunatic Mojoworld despot, Mojo where they have to write and produce a large number of B-movies in a very limited amount of time.
Surprisingly cartoony but effective art style and laugh out loud funny with plenty of parodies of popular game shows, movies, Marvel stories and characters as they create a selection truly awful films done on the cheap. Even spotted a scene from Weird Science thrown in there as well and I especially liked the one crossing the Marvel civil war with the American civil war.
Then there's a selection of super short stories, five or six pages, each one focusing on a single character. Some are humorous and some are serious but all are worth a read whether you're a big fan of the characters or not. The characters that star in each short story are:
Shiver Man (who?)
Brilliant little set of comics to pick up and read whether you follow the characters concerned or not. Great stories and great art, can't fault them for how much fun they are to read. This is like the Marvel equivalent of 2000ad. If you like Marvel comics, you'll love it. Published in 2009 they shouldn't be too hard to get hold of. I got mine from mycomicshop.com so find somewhere with a good selection of back issues for sale and buy 'em!
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