Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Tales From The Quarter Bin--Sqaure Peg, Round Hole

Quite a while ago, we discussed how the comic companies would use their annuals to run their line-wide events.

Generally, I liked it better that way.

But there was one drawback. Sometimes, if you insisted on running the tale through all, or most, of your annuals, you'd come up with stories where the characters don't really fit in the the concept or the tale.

Case in point:

Yes, Punisher Annual #1 (1988) was part of "The Evolutionary War." The High Evolutionary, you see, had gone bonkers (well, more bonkers than usual), and decided to upgrade the whole human race and ensure their genetic purity and guide them until they were superior to the Beyonders. [editor's note--this was back when the Beyonders were a whole species of extra-dimensional god-like beings, and not just one mutant Inhuman, as the Bendis retcon would have you believe].

Obviously, all this godlike capering around and genetic bombs and stuff is a little outside the Punisher's milieu. But, ape law says we have to make his annual fit into the story. So how did Marvel do that?

Frank Castle is in Bogota, Colombia, to wipe out El Caiman, notorious drug lord. But before he can act, someone else starts shooting up the streets:

OK, so we're already in strange territory, and it's barely page 4.

The guy is invulnerable to Punisher's gun, and has some weaponry of his own:

Fortunately, Frank has a grenade--just one, sadly--and manages to stun Rom Jr. So what's his story?

The guy passes out before he can name the High Evolutionary as his boss. But clearly he's a bit shell-shocked...they're going to "weed out" the "junkies and crazies"? And the Punisher is "both"?? Crazy, perhaps...but how is he a junkie??

Anyhoo, there's not just one Eliminator--there's a whole horde of them marauding Visigoths. Frank has conveniently saved the like of El Caiman's daughter, and they flee to the drug lord's crib. Where...

Yes, the Punisher teams up with a drug lord, to stop guys who want to...kill drug lords. No, it's not terribly coherent, but Mike Baron does attempt a bit of rationalization:

Ah, it's to protect the civilians. because that's what Castle is all about.

They flee to El Caiman's luxury mansion, Frank deduces that (despite their ridiculous high tech) the Eliminators are vulnerable to Teflon bullets, El Caiman just happens to have a basement full of those, and Frank takes out the whole horde, except for one last guy.

And the, 27 pages into Chapter Two of The Evolutionary Wars, we finally learns the boss' name and plan:

Now, I know the High Evolutionary, and his followers, are kind of insane. But...

**The High Ev decides to eliminate "genetic pollutants"--and he starts with cocaine? Really? Not tobacco, or various chemicals, or radiation...but cocaine?
**He sends his "Eliminators" after drug dealers...but leaves their high tech advanced super-armor vulnerable to weaponry that many drug dealers possess?

Ah, well, Frank takes the guy out with his penultimate bullet, takes out El Caiman with his last bullet, and drags the daughter off to "find a way through the jungle." The end.

Obviously, the story that has frak-all to do with the High Evolutionary's schemes. But it's an annual, so we had to make the Punisher fit in, somehow. Although, in fairness, the Amazing Spider-Man Annual that year had his "Purifiers" killing drug dealers, which draws in the Kingpin and Daredevil and Spider-Man and Speedball, which leads to them stopping his real plan, sterilizing New York City. So, again, merely an arbitrary way to draw in unlikely heroes into plot that really shouldn't involve them that much.

Square peg, round hole.

1 comment:

ShadowWing Tronix said...

Still works better than the ALF annual entry. That was tacked on.