Friday, November 30, 2012

WOLVERINE AND THE PUNISHER #2 - November 1993



Damaging Evidence - Part Two
Credits: Carl Potts (writer), Gary Erskine (artist), Marie Javins (colors), Richard Starkings w/John Gaushell (letters)


Summary: The Punisher investigates the crime scene, unaware Sniper’s spying on him. Later, Sniper learns that Damage has been assigned the Punisher hit, much to his annoyance. Wolverine also investigates the Punisher’s alleged shooting, and is soon tranquilized by Sniper. He awakes in time to track down the Punisher imposter, who is actually Damage. Sniper watches from a distance as Wolverine battles Damage. Meanwhile, the Punisher learns of another shooting he’s been framed for and begins to doubt his sanity.

Review: Ah, this is one of those “Did I really kill that bus full of nuns?” stories. Years later, Jeph Loeb will do virtually the same concept with Wolverine in the Victims miniseries. Wolverine and Punisher are the ideal Marvel heroes to do this story with, since it’s not a stretch to believe they’ll kill someone, the drama is simply who was killed. Potts, oddly, doesn’t play up the mystery, since it’s fairly obvious by the middle of the issue that Damage is actually the one impersonating the Punisher. Presumably, he guessed the readers will know that Punisher isn’t the true killer and instead focused on a different aspect of the story. The focus instead turns to the Punisher’s growing doubts about his mission. Could he have killed an innocent? Are any of his victims redeemable? Do they have families, like the hitman he killed in Mexico? He normally doesn’t allow himself to think about these things. Thinking, he declares, is an obstruction to his mission. Potts’ Punisher War Journal stories were also notable for humanizing Punisher just enough to make him a sympathetic figure, without wimping out on the concept.

And, oh yeah, Wolverine is in the comic, too. And that hair is still marvelous. Wolverine gets to fight the true villain of the miniseries, who’s physically a duplicate for the Punisher now, so I guess that’s one way to get the obligatory hero vs. hero fight out of the way. Potts doesn’t do much with Wolverine directly, but he has clearly put thought into how someone like the Kingpin would deal with a hairy, psychotic mutant. He knows Wolverine is virtually impossible to kill, and he doesn’t want to attract the X-Men’s attention, so Kingpin’s solution is to tranq him. He also doesn’t want Wolverine using his senses to trace his men back to the Kingpin’s organization, so he makes sure Sniper’s van has been disinfected and that the Sniper is wearing plenty of Old Spice to cover his scent (Old Spice because it's so common; Kingpin says half the men in Manhattan are wearing it). Potts’ stories used to be filled with little details like this, and it’s one of the things I miss from this era from Marvel Comics.

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