Mar 26, 2016

Comics Fans Don’t Matter For Comics Movies

Comics Fans Don’t Matter For Comics Movies
Travis Hedge Coke

I’m not going to see Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in the theater. Many will. Much less may see it the following week, or more will, depending on word of mouth and trusted reviews. Most people I know, don’t care one way or another if I see it, but from other comics fans, I’ve heard that I have to support it for the sake of future comics movies. That I have to see it to stay informed, especially if I’m going to keep writing here. Don’t I want to see Batman and Superman fight?

And, see, that’s the thing, really. I have seen Batman and Superman fight. I’ve seen them fight multiple times. I’ve seen them team up multiple times. That’s not a sell for me that’s going to work.

It’s live action?

I read comics. I watch cartoons. I read prose. I listen to music. I like expressionist and impressionist paintings and symbolist poetry. Movies are cool, but “it’s live action,” doesn’t impress me. How much of that live action is CGI or touched up in processing, anyway? It’s not like I can smell the bat-cape and feel the wake of Superman’s supersonic flight. Live action isn’t any more real than a comic is.

I need to support comics-based movies? Why? Are they going to come take away my Crow and St Trinian’s DVDs if I don’t see this movie?

I was too vague up above, perhaps, because it’s not comics fans who think I need to support this or we won’t get another Spider-Man movie, it’s fans of superhero comics (who lack perspective). I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure the release of a new Lupin III movie or Luc Besson’s Adele Blanc-Sec or upcoming Valerian adaptations probably aren’t greenlit or pulled from production based on how well a Batman movie does. For all we make of the dramatic eight years between Batman and Robin and Batman Begins, during that time, people were being paid, constantly, to pitch or craft other Batman movies, and there were four animated feature films released direct to video during the same time, as well as comics, shirts, and six video games. Batman and Robin, even as the low bar, is still widely available for purchase now.

“The fans” not supporting a major production like BvS isn’t going to change anything. Certainly not the comics fans, who are an extreme minority in terms of Batman or Superman fans.

So, why should you go see the movie?

Do you want to? If the answer is “Yes,” then go see the movie.

Mar 23, 2016

10 Wonder Woman Covers by Brian Bolland

Superman v Batman: Dawn of Justice is out here in the Philippines in two days, and as much as the buildup to it and the trailers haven't been to my tastes and as much as I've never liked anything that director has done, I do have to say Wonder Woman, as played by Gal Gadot, looks awesome. I'm rooting for her in this movie, in part to shut up a bunch of sexist dicks on the internet, but also because this is Wonder Woman's first time on the big screen. I went through, a while back, all the common reasons given as to why Diana didn't have a movie, and also went issue by issue on the Wonder Woman reinvention by my favorite creator ever, George Perez.

So now I'm just going to treat your eyes, because in the mid-90s, Wonder Woman's covers were drawn by maybe the greatest cover artist (meaning his covers outnumber his interiors) of all time in superhero comics, Brian Bolland. So I picked 10 Bolland covers from his run and am putting them here. Enjoy!

Wonder Woman #0: Let's start with Bolland's take on an iconic image: bullets and bracelets. Dynamic stuff.

Wonder Woman #91: The first time Diana loses her costume and Wonder Woman identity to Artemis of the Bana-Mighdall has a cover that shows them fighting. In the age of pin-up covers, a cover like this looks great and tells us what's in the comic.

Wonder Woman #97: On the other hand, here's a pinup cover that still shows you what's in the comic.

Wonder Woman #88: And sometimes all you need is a guest star, and the pinup cover can show him, even when he has a terrible mullet.

Wonder Woman #63: Here's a pinup cover that was Bolland's first. It still works in context because the title had been on hiatus for a few months.

Wonder Woman #94: I like this one because it shows Diana in her non-Amazon costume and she's fighting two awesome supervillains, Cheshire and Poison Ivy.

Wonder Woman #74: Not really sure why I like this, but I do.

Wonder Woman #99: Costume aside, I think it's a powerful image. Having said that, how the hell did her hair just change with her costume? The moment she goes back to her regular costume, her hair's all curly again.

Wonder Woman #78: Cover's eye-catching, and it has the Flash. What's not to love?

Wonder Woman #72: Probably the most famous of Bolland's covers, it's had statues molded after it and may have been the inspiration for those iconic Jim Lee Superman and Batman images, which I'm pretty sure if you Google "Jim Lee Batman and Superman," are the first results.

EXTRA: Here's a cool pinup from Wonder Woman #50.

So there. Go see Superman V Batman: Dawn of Justice and remember four things: Diana is awesome, Superman can toss Batman into outer space in the blink of an eye, Ben Affleck will be the best Batman since Adam West, and Frank Miller himself has admitted that he'd have never written Superman the way he did in Dark Knight Returns if it had been a Superman story. And Diana is awesome.

Mar 21, 2016

Things Common Only in Comics, Part 1

Things Common Only in Comics, Part 1
Travis Hedge Coke

There are things we take for granted, as regular comics readers, as fans. When I encounter someone who really doesn’t know comics, any genre, any publisher, or, more to the point of this article, comics made and first published for the English-reading market, American and British comics, it can be hard for me to have, ready in my mind, the things I’m going to take for granted that they won’t even be prepared for.

Most people do read comics. They read more comics than they realize, because they reflexively discount the comics they read. That’s not a comic, it’s just a comic strip they read because they were waiting for the train. That’s not a comic, that’s a meme their friend posted on Facebook. That’s not a comic, that’s just graffiti with a dialogue balloon next to the dude.

So, let’s take a look at a couple things that all us crazy diehard comics people take for granted, but would probably throw your average person for loop.

Merging Universes

Comics love merging universes. Temporarily. Permanently. Smashing all the people and places together or stitching them like Frankenstein monsters into amalgamated versions. These can happen subtly, as with a recently purchased or licensed set of characters being merged quietly into a larger base universe of characters and scenarios (the integration of Captain Marvel properties or the Milestone Universe into the DC Universe), in a celebratory cavalcade of connections and visitations (DC vs Marvel and the Amalgam Universe; Kurt Busiek and George Perez presenting a montage of annual meetings between the two teams in JLA/Avengers), as thematic mashups (the 90s Image-verse during Savage Dragon’s worlds tour; Stephen Pastis’ borrowing other comics famous faces for Pearls Before Swine).

Does this show up in other media? Naturally, yes. But, nowhere with such frequency or readiness. You just don’t see The One Where The Friends Live In the Star Trek Universe and a Disaster Is Merging It With the Xena Universe So Now Chandler’s a Centaur. And, if you did, it would be novel. It would be super really weird. It could be an SNL skit, but not a serious, “real” story.

DC Comics has done a merging universes storyline almost yearly for my entire lifetime. Grant Morrison has only written about half of those. (And, I can make that joke, because it is that common. And, because I’m incredibly geeky and without shame.)

Where It Gets Weird: American comics also has this weird received wisdom that you can’t legally talk about other people’s comics as comics. It’s on its way out, as we get more creator-owned comics and more educated and legal-savvy comics talent, but still pretty pervasive. You can miscolor a character and call them an original, or do parodies, but you can’t, goes the reasoning, have Character X from Publisher X talk about Comic Book Y from Publisher Y.

The Fourth Wall

Comics tips its hand, when it comes to fourth walls and borders more readily than any other medium. A movie may have a character go knock on the inside of your tv screen - this was, in fact, the only scare I had during an entire bad feature-length torture clown movie last year - but it will be rare. Cartoons get a little more into it, because Duck Amuck was that much of a game changer. But, even then, it’s not a given, it’s just used when it’s the point.

In a movie, or a novel, it would be an incredibly rare piece wherein a character, being erased from reality, would be reduced to the letters she’s made up of in the book, the separate colors of early film stock, or the digital elements and pixels on the screen. But, in comics, when someone is degraded in this manner, that’s practically the go-to method of illustration. The character fades to black and white, to blue line pencils, or similar effects.

Imagine an episode of any television show where the protagonist perpetually leans against the edge the screen instead of a wall we can see. Flashbacks on a modern sitcom that replicate 70s or 50s television broadcasts down to clothing styles, even though it’s supposed to only be a flashback of five or ten years.

Fourth wall breaking does not have to be the point, in comics. From Stan Lee’s innovation of the ever-present editor’s notes that chummily and cheerily addressed the reader like an informant and friendly dealer, to Spider-Man climbing or perching on the edge of panels, comics readers are inured to how much the barrier between the “real” of the comic and the structural stuff, the panel borders and thought balloons gets blurred.

Where It Gets Weird: Comics fans can get ridiculously uptight about this “meta crap,” even while they buy Deadpool like the issues will come to life and eat us if we don’t purchase them. Most of the fourth-wall breaking actually goes right past the majority of comics readers, unless it seems to be politicized.

Mar 19, 2016

Spider-Man vs. The Punisher: A Time-Honored Tradition

Spider-Man vs. The Punisher: A Time-Honored Tradition
Not So Much the Versus
Ben Smith

Since the Punisher is on the tips of everyone’s fertile tongues as of late, I figured I’d share one of the more memorable Punisher stories from my youth. Full disclosure, like most Punisher stories, the reason I liked this comic had very little to do with him being in it. I’ll always have an appreciation for the character based solely on his beginnings as an occasional Spider-Man annoyance, but he’s never really been a favorite. (Annoyance might be overstating it, because as I read these early appearances again, Spider-Man generally has almost no problem working with the Punisher, despite his murderous ways.) The Punisher is one of those characters I’ll always keep trying, based on the good buzz of whatever his latest comic is, but it almost always disappoints. (Rucka’s run, and the original Zeck mini-series being the exceptions.) I’ll forever believe he works best as a guest-star in other characters books, and not as a solo character.

Let me put my grumpy old fan hat and onion belt on for a moment, and say that when I was a kid reading comics in the ‘80s, the main marketing tool comics had were the cover. Unlike comics of today, you could actually get a good idea of what was going down in the comic based on the cover. There wasn’t the internet, or even a Wizard magazine (I know there were fanzines, but I never read any) to tell you what comics to buy. As a kid, I wasn’t much of a forager in terms of expanding my comics palette, I was a nester. I found the character I liked, and stuck with him. That started with Transformers, and then Spider-Man, and then Wolverine & the X-Men. So, when I was into Spider-Man, I was looking for the best Spider-Man comics I could find, and that search mostly relied on the promise put forth by a stellar cover.

All that is to say, in my long-winded roundabout way, that there was very little chance I was going to pass up this comic once I saw that wonderful cover.

Writer/Editor: Len Wein; Illustrator: Ross Andru; Embellisher: Mike Esposito

Quick tangent: looking at Andru Spider-Man art fills me with a sense of comfort and joy. Like a soft and warm blanket for my soul. It makes me feel safe, and that the world is going to be okay. When I close my eyes, his Spider-Man is probably the Spider-Man I see. Yes, I’m old.

Why this cover was so appealing to me when I’ve never been a big fan of Nightcrawler, I can’t explain. It’s not that I hate him, but he’d probably be at the bottom of the list of my favorite All-New X-Men cast members if Colossus didn’t exist. Maybe it’s just a really dynamic-looking cover? Don’t know. Only intense therapy could determine.

Nightcrawler is reading his morning paper while his X-Men colleagues Colossus and Wolverine work out nearby. Wolverine decides to be annoying, and ends up ripping up Nightcrawler’s paper, sparking a confrontation between the two.

Nightcrawler rises above the situation and leaves. Something he saw in that paper is more deserving of his attention anyway.

Peter Parker is having a night out with Mary Jane at Coney Island, along with Harry Osborn and Liz Allen. (Liz Allen had so much potential as a supporting Spider-Man character, but they saddled her with that wet blanket Harry instead. Too bad they can’t erase the mistake that is her kid with Harry and have her strike up a romance with Peter again.)

A man riding the roller coaster is killed by a sniper shot, and Peter is forced to slink away and change into Spider-Man.

Coincidentally enough, Nightcrawler was there to pay a visit to the man that had just been murdered, an old friend from his carnival days.

Nightcrawler spots the sniper but is unable to catch him before he can get away. However, the sniper dropped his rifle, and Nightcrawler decides to keep the rifle it as uncompromised as possible for the police. Spider-Man sees Nightcrawler cradling the rifle, and assumes him to be the gunman.

Nightcrawler, based on Spider-Man’s reputation, assumes that he is the killer and has returned to collect his gun.

With the proper misunderstandings expertly concocted, it is now time for the two heroes to fight. (Nightcrawler does have the speed, agility, and teleportation powers to give Spider-Man a headache, but as a kid I thought this fight should have been way more lopsided. Then again, my opinion of Spider-Man versus the X-Men forever has, and forever will be, influenced by Secret Wars #3.)

Nightcrawler is eventually able to get the rifle into the hands of the police, and both heroes quickly determine that neither of them was the shooter. With that out of the way, they both flee the scene.

Yet, Nightcrawler spots Spider-Man grabbing his trusty camera, and decides he must get back that film. The world is not aware of the new X-Men’s existence at that point.

Spider-Man drops in on Joe Robertson to see what the scuttlebutt on the street is in regards to the shooting. Sources say that it looks to be the work of the Punisher.

Jameson spots Joe and Spider-Man talking, prompting him to monologue to himself about how he believes he has uncovered Spider-Man’s secret identity. (I don’t think I ever got the resolution to that plotline as a kid. It wasn’t until many years later that I read the issue where Peter explained away that one.)

Meanwhile, the Punisher drops in on a dice game between some gangster types, looking for some information.

Tangent: As a kid, I was pretty convinced that Spider-Man was the top series for introducing characters that went on to have an impact in the larger Marvel universe. That was clearly my personal bias, because there’s no way that title doesn’t belong to the Fantastic Four. For the Silver Surfer, Black Panther, Galactus, and the Inhumans alone. Not to mention Dr. Doom, Skrulls, and Adam Warlock. I’m not sure what prompted me to believe Spider-Man was the comic with the best debuts. There’s Jameson, the Punisher, Monica Rambeau off the top of my head. Beyond that it’s mostly his rogues gallery. Which, I guess when I was a kid, held more weight than, say, the Inhumans.

Spider-Man is taking a break by the Roosevelt Island tramway, when he’s ambushed by Nightcrawler. Nightcrawler steals his camera and pulls out the film, which is kind of a dick move on his part. Even as a kid, I could never understand when a superhero ever found time to get some sleep. On the list of reasons I could never be a superhero, of which there are many, the lack of sleep would be at the top. I love sleep too much.

They continue to fight, for no real reason that I can determine, other than they just don’t like each other, but their quarrel is interrupted by the arrival of the Punisher. Apparently, the gang member he questioned indicated that one of these two heroes should be the target he is currently after.

The gangster’s name was Snake-Eyes. The only thing that could have made this comic even better was if Snake Eyes from G.I. Joe was in it. Well, that, and if it somehow made terrorists reconsider their life choices. Or if it cured world hunger. But the Snake Eyes part would still be pretty cool.

Writer/Editor: Len Wein; Illustrator: Ross Andru; Embellisher: Mike Esposito

Snake-Eyes had told the Punisher that the killer would strike next at the Roosevelt Island tramway (which is less of a tip and more of a premonition) so of course he automatically assumes it’s either Spider-Man or Nightcrawler. Nightcrawler and Spider-Man temporarily suspend beating on each other, in an attempt to keep the Punisher from killing them.

The Punisher gets the best of Spider-Man, pinning him to the wall using two knives. (I know that expecting comics to be realistic is a slippery slope, but the Punisher regularly being a match for Spider-Man is one of my biggest pet peeves. He would get trounced.)

The three-way fight is interrupted by gunfire. Nightcrawler teleports away, but the effort of doing so leaves him drained. He is able to spot the gunman making his escape. Punisher and Spider-Man have to choice but to work together to uncover the truth. This page gives us the dual hilarity of the Punisher swinging arm and arm with Spider-Man, and Spidey sitting shotgun in a tiny van.

The next day, Peter Parker runs into Mary Jane (looking glorious in an all-white ensemble) on the campus of Empire State University.

They spot J Jonah Jameson, who is on his way to recruit Dr. Marla Madison in his latest plot against Spider-Man. (This appears to be the first meeting between Jameson and his future wife Marla. That’s some blockbuster action for the kiddos.)

Later, Spider-Man and Punisher meet up. Punisher’s information has led him to a block party organized to help save a local fire department. Spider-Man falls for the old “pretend to be in trouble” routine, and is captured and subdued embarrassingly easily (he also refers to one of the henchmen as Joyboy, which brought me much delight).

A short time later, the unconscious Spider-Man is trussed up in chains and hanging from a street sign, when the real killer reveals himself, Jigsaw. (Spider-Man wrapped in chains is a striking image and I will show it as often as possible.)

Apparently Jigsaw was just another member of a gang before the Punisher put him headfirst through a plate glass window, giving him his grotesque appearance. (It’s a star-spangled first appearance like this that made me once think Spider-Man was better at that kind of thing than the Fantastic Four.)

Jigsaw threatens to shoot Spider-Man unless the Punisher shows his face, prompting Nightcrawler to reveal himself and rejoin the fight.

With Jigsaw occupied by Nightcrawler, the Punisher starts taking out Jigsaw’s henchmen.

Spider-Man finally wakes up, just in time to see “one of the great uglies of our time” fighting with Nightcrawler. Spider-Man breaks free and joins the fray.

Jigsaw attempts to retreat using a nearby fire truck, but Spider-Man runs him down. They fight, with Spider-Man telling Jigsaw that he has a face that “could stop an hour glass!” (I don’t know what that means, but it sounds cruel.)

Jigsaw puts up a good fight, but eventually Spider-Man takes him down.

Nightcrawler and the Punisher catch up, and they’re all left feeling a little unsatisfied that all those people had to die so Jigsaw could get revenge on the Punisher. Jigsaw, a guy that the Punisher doesn’t even remember.

Nightcrawler and the Punisher beat feet before the police arrive, prompting Spider-Man to do the same.

And our tale has ended, for now.

Now that I’ve written about how comics marketing used to be much more driven by what the cover looked like back in olden times, I can see how some fans believe that modern comics rely too much on “gimmicks.” But isn’t that more a function of us being able to log online and read an interview where the writers, editors, and artists talk about the impetus of an upcoming or in-progress storyline? Comic stories have always been driven by a gimmick, it’s just that a gimmick like “Nightcrawler meets Spider-Man” used to have much more impact than it could now. When I was a kid, you looked for a comic with your favorite character first, and then you narrowed it down based on which cover looked most promising. That was all comics needed to do because they were selling a lot of them, and everyone was fat and happy. Now, the companies have to do anything and everything to try and get fans to buy a comic, or else that comic is going to go away.

In short, comics haven’t changed all that much, you have. Stop complaining.

Also, the Punisher should be limited to a maximum of 5 pages in any comic he appears in. That’s his sweet spot. He’s the Newman of comic books.

Mar 17, 2016

Daredevil vs. The Punisher: A Time-Honored Tradition

Daredevil vs. The Punisher: A Time-Honored Tradition
Opposites Attract
Ben Smith

As you may have heard, Marvel and Netflix have partnered up to create original television programs starring some of their popular street-level characters. The first (and obvious) choice to launch this venture was the crime-busting attorney Daredevil. The first season of Daredevil was a critical (and apparently commercial) smash hit, and so a second season was quickly fast-tracked. Now, I’m not one to brag, but I pretty much nailed what the follow-up season should be (I may have been off by a season or two, but I had the basics down). Season 2 is set to launch (or has already launched depending on when you read this) featuring the debut of Elektra, which was a surprise to no one, and the Punisher, which was a bit of a pleasant surprise to fans when it was first announced. Now, I only say it was a surprise because no one really expected them to introduce the character this soon. But for anyone that’s read a lot of comics, the Punisher and Daredevil have a long comic book history, and it was only natural that they meet on-screen in a format ready-made for their violent clashes.

The Punisher spent his early appearances as an annoyance to Spider-Man, occasionally guest-starring in that series. While he benefitted from a fantastic character design, and an intriguing concept, it doesn’t seem like the character really took off until the ‘80s, when superhero comics made another leap in the level of their storytelling sophistication. (Translation, they got darker and more violent.) One of the primary figures of this superhero movement was Frank Miller, who was producing a character defining run as artist and writer on the Daredevil comic. Miller never hesitated to borrow any characters from the Spider-Man franchise that fit his superhero/crime-noir style on Daredevil, so it was pretty much a no-brainer for him to use the Punisher. Both are street level crime-fighters, but are diametrically opposed to each other in both philosophy and approach. Sparks, as they say, could only fly.

Let’s take a journey, back to the year 1982.

Daredevil #183
Writers: Roger McKenzie, Frank Miller; Artists: Frank Miller, Klaus Janson; Editor: Denny O’Neil

A girl named Mary Elizabeth O’Koren is hopped up on angel dust, and decides to take a header out of the school window, coincidentally enough during a visit by attorney Matt Murdock.

Murdock disappears into the stock room closet, and Daredevil emerges (normally this would be cause for in-world suspicion, but with Murdock being blind, he’s one of the few superheroes that always has plausible deniability) but not in time to save the girl, who dies in the hospital.

Her brother Billy arrives in time to get the bad news, as broken to him by Daredevil. (Obviously the policy of this hospital is that all bad news must be delivered by the nearest masked vigilante. Also, why are they always named Billy? Does nobody like a good common name like Mark or Michael or Jose in fiction?)

Billy’s on the warpath, and when he’s finished, there’s going to be a bloodbath, of cops, dying in L.A. (Sorry, I got trapped in an Ice Cube lyric and couldn’t stop.) Actually, he’s on the lookout for the dealer to blame, and he goes by the street name Hogman. Daredevil decides that he needs to find Hogman first.

Hogman’s partner, Flapper, is doing some business on the side, selling angel dust to a few kids. Wouldn’t you know it, the drugged out teenagers cross paths with Daredevil. Ain’t life a grand tapestry?

Daredevil’s doing his best not to hurt the attacking youngsters, but they’re starting to overwhelm him. Unfortunately for them, the Punisher arrives, and dispatches the misguided youth with brutal efficiency. (Thus marks the momentous first meeting of Daredevil and the Punisher. Feel free to simulate the tooting of horns in your own head, in the comfort of your own home.)

Daredevil stops him before he can finish murdering the juvenile offenders, but they’re both distracted when a nearby Flapper receives a high-powered bullet straight through his chest.

Daredevil quickly climbs up to the rooftop, where he finds Billy with a smoking gun in his hand. But, the young man swears he changed his mind and fired into the air.

Daredevil looks ridiculous with clothes on top of his costume.

Murdock believes him, of course, and the next day takes the boy’s case as his legal representation in court. That night, he begins his own investigation, as Daredevil. He quickly discovers that the shot couldn’t have been fired from Billy’s location, and finds the spent round to confirm it. His investigation is interrupted when he happens upon the Punisher roughing up a junkie for information.

The two fight, their opening salvos resulting in a stalemate. The Punisher tries to convince Daredevil to join him, and that together they could eliminate the enemy they both share.

Daredevil refuses, and gets a tranquilizer dart to the belly for his troubles (disappointing many a young reader excited to see the premise of the cover come to fruition). As Daredevil tries to fight off the pain, the Punisher nearly beats the junkie to death with his bare hands.

Daredevil is able to successfully save the man from a heart attack, and gets a little tip for his efforts. Hogman had more than enough motive to eliminate his partner Flapper for moving in on his business. Daredevil confronts the dealer personally.

A few weeks later, in court, the junkie testifies to witnessing Billy fire his gun into the air, while the shot that killed Flapper came from higher above, from someone he couldn’t see in the dark. Hogman is charged with the crime, yet as he declares his innocence, Murdock’s lie-detecting abilities can tell that he’s telling the truth. He really is innocent.

The Punisher works out in his secret hideout, as he gets the news over the radio about Hogman being charged for the crime, and Murdock taking his case.

He gears up to dispense his own form of justice.

Okay, I get that Murdock’s sense of justice won’t let Hogman pay for a crime he didn’t commit, but this is still a drug dealer that peddles to kids. Is it really so awful if he goes to jail for the wrong crime? Surely there’s some happy medium between representing every criminal charged with the wrong crime, and knifing some kids in the back because they experimented with drugs. Oh comics, there’s no happy mediums with you.

Daredevil #184
Story and Art: Frank Miller; Finished Art and Color: Klaus Janson; Editor: Denny O’Neil

I’d like to take a quick moment to praise the contribution of Janson. Usually Miller gets all of the credit as the writer and artist on Daredevil, but Janson often was working from sparse layouts and doing a lot of the heavy lifting on the art side. At the very least, they were an excellent team, and should be acknowledged as such more often.

The Punisher has Hogman in his sights, but Daredevil arrives just in time to prevent him from killing the drug pusher.

After the Punisher flees, Daredevil silently expresses at least some remorse over representing a client that absolutely doesn’t deserve to be saved. (Well, there you go.)

Later, in court, Murdock doesn’t really have any actual evidence to prove that Hogman is innocent, but fronts like he does on the off chance someone might believe him and slip up. (As far as I can tell, the prosecution doesn’t really have any evidence either. Nothing other than motive, which is not evidence.)

It works, and a nervous Coach Donahue calls up Murdock to arrange a meeting. (Donahue works at the school where Billy’s sister dove into the pavement, and was present during the incident.)

Turns out, Donahue was Hogman’s connection and dealer at the school, but when Murdock arrives to confront him, the coach is out of his mind on drugs. (Has there ever been a positive portrayal of a gym teacher in fiction? I think not. Possibly for good reason.) Donahue is stronger, and out of his mind on drugs, but Murdock subdues him, reasoning that the coach was drugged and set up by the real killer.

Elsewhere, Hogman puts the squeeze on the prosecution’s eyewitness (well there you go, evidence) offering him some drugs to forget about what he saw. Drugs he quickly overdoses on. (I’m not sure an overdose happens that fast, but I wouldn’t know.)

Without a witness, the case is dropped against Hogman in court. Stupidly, Hogman takes a moment to brag to Murdock that he totally was the one that killed Flapper.

Daredevil pays Hogman a visit later that night, but Hogman knows what’s up. He knows Daredevil won’t hurt him, especially since he has a weak heart requiring a pacemaker (which is also how he beat Murdock’s lie-detecting abilities).

Later, Hogman gets a call from Billy, threatening to go to the police saying he saw Hogman shoot Flapper. They agree to meet up with the little guy. Billy has Hogman at gunpoint, but Hogman’s associates have him dead to rights as well. The Punisher joins them to help even the score, and incapacitates Hogman with some well-aimed shots.

Daredevil arrives there just in time to prevent the Punisher from finishing the job.

Once again, the two vigilantes are at a stalemate. Daredevil knows the Punisher never hurts an innocent, and lets him know as much.

The Punisher calls a truce, and begins to leave, but Daredevil is determined to arrest him for his crimes as well. But the Punisher isn’t going to go easily, and Daredevil is forced to shoot him in the shoulder with one of the dead gangster’s guns.

Billy seizes the opportunity, by grabbing the Punisher’s gun and pointing it right at Hogman’s head.

Daredevil pleads with Billy not to pull the trigger, promising that Hogman will pay for his crimes. Days later, Hogman is indicted for his crimes based on evidence provided by Daredevil, and the testimony of Billy. Billy asks Matt if he can promise that Hogman will go to jail and stay there. He can’t, but assures him that all they can do is trust in the law.

This would not be the last time that Daredevil and the Punisher crossed paths. They make for great polar opposites, as far as superheroes go. The time honored convention of superheroes refusing to murder may sometimes become a bit unbelievable, but Daredevil is one of the few heroes where that philosophy fits. Yes, he may be a vigilante, but he’s also an attorney that believes in the justice system and the law, so it only makes sense he would draw the line at killing. (Sense being relative in comic book context, that is.) However, the Punisher has never hesitated in dispensing final judgement on anyone he deems a criminal. These two would naturally be at odds with each other. This opposition has provided lots of fertile ground for many comic book writers to cover in the years following this story.

I’ve never been a big fan of the Punisher as a solo character, but he’s great when juxtaposed against another hero like Daredevil or Spider-Man. If the Punisher’s subpar movie history suggests anything, it’s that he works best as a supporting character or co-star in filmed entertainment as well. Netflix is unquestionably the perfect platform for a more faithful and appropriate representation of the character, and this time, he doesn’t have to carry the entire load. He’s got Daredevil, the star of the best superhero television show ever made, to carry him to the promised land.