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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Battle You Never Knew You Wanted!

What with all the Jack Kirby tributes and reviews of new graphic novels that you really should buy over the past few days, things here on the ISB have come very close to having an almost-alarming air of legitimate comics journalism.

This cannot be allowed to continue.

And that is why tonight, I turn once again to the continuing saga of The Punisher.

Specifically, I'm talking about Punisher #62, the penultimate chapter of 1992's seven-part "EuroHit," the standard by which all other mid-90s Punisher epics must be judged. It was one of the bi-weekly stories that ran through The Punisher every summer, capitalizing on the fact that the Punisher's target market--impressionable children--were a) out of school, and b) possessed of an uncontrollable thirst for vengeance.

This was, of course, back when Marvel had a publishing schedule.

As you might expect (and as I've mentioned before), "EuroHit" revolves around the Punisher going to Europe for a hit on some bigtime European crime bosses at a meeting called by one Wilson Fisk, alias The Kingpin. And it goes on for seven entire issues. Not exactly the high point of Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, and Dougie Braithwaite's careers, but this particular issue is surprisingly entertaining.

See, this is the one where it all comes together, as the Punisher and his strike team infiltrate the high-rise office building where the meeting's going to go down, with the express purpose of killing pretty much everybody in the room. "But wait," you ask, "The Punisher has a Strike Team?"

Feast thine eyes, dear reader:

Frank, of course, takes center stage, and needs no introduction. To his our left, however, we have Nigel Higgins, The Outlaw. Not to be confused with Inez Temple, Deadpool's ex-girlfriend who operates under the same name as a cowgirl-themed mutant mercenary, Nigel was inspired to become the British version of the Punisher after he suffered a tragic loss of his own, and he's actually the best thing to come out of "EuroHit," even though he only appeared two, maybe three more times after his debut story-arc.

Unlike Frank, Nigel's actually pretty happy-go-lucky, as far as murderous vigilantes go, and is often way too eager for his own good to get to the part where he shoots people and blows things up. You can see the appeal for me.

Unfortunately, he's also completely irrelevant, because the mind-blowingly awesome punch-out of this issue revolves around that dapper gentleman on the right: Spider-Man's old foe The Tarantula (although technically, this is the second Tarantula--third if you count the Western one--but really: I can assure you that nobody cares).

He's brought on as hired muscle by the Punisher to counteract any unexpected security measures that the Kingpin's brought to the party, and brother, does he earn his pay in that regard. Why?

Because this is the issue where the Tarantula fights Batroc Zee Leaper.

It is amazing that it took those two that long to fight each other, especially when you consider that they are exactly the same character, but with slightly different moustaches and accents.

Anyway, they fight for a total of four pages, which is actually the longest sequence in the book, and as far as a pair of third-rate villains wailing on each other goes, it's a throwdown that wouldn't be matched until years later, when their respective daughters would team up to fight the Taskmaster in the pages of Agent X. Seriously, it entertains me way more than it actually should, and that can most likely be attributed to one simple reason: Nunchucks.

Unfortunately, Tarantula's edge is short-lived, and Batroc's able to get the upper hand (or possibly the upper foot), thanks to--what else?--a well-timed kick to the face, sending his opponent careening through an interior window that seems to have been placed there solely for a super-villain to be kicked through.

And thus, everything is once again made right with the world.


Anonymous Ixnay, the Other Chris said...

As always, Batroc Ze Leepair never fails to crack my shit up. The Tarantula never stood a chance, nunchucks or not!

8/31/2006 12:43 AM

Blogger McGone said...

This had to happen as the result of an inter-office dare at The House of Ideas.

8/31/2006 2:11 AM

Blogger Mallet said...

My faveriot Batroc moment (besides this one now) has to be when he fought Iron Fist.

They made the fight into 2 pages really, but 1 had 16 panels of non stop kung fu action. THEN on the next page Iron Fist makes his hand unto a thing of iron and punches Batroc in the foot.

I love Batroc

8/31/2006 2:42 AM

Blogger Nimbus said...

(Pendantry Warning...)

To his left, however, we have Nigel Higgins, The Outlaw

Actually the Outlaw is on his right. However, he's on our left and on the left of the picture.

And that Outlaw... it looks like he's wearing cricket pads on his shins! That's so street and stylish.

Oh and "You think this Tarantula stands for France?!". Classic.

8/31/2006 5:22 AM

Blogger Brandon said...

As an impressionable youth I would often quench my uncontrollable thirst for vengeance by watching reruns of "The Equalizer" with my grandma.

If only the ISB had been around back then to tell me about the Punisher...


8/31/2006 7:52 AM

Blogger gravitybear said...

In that first panel of Batroc and Tarantula, is it just me, or does Batroc's torso seem too long?
Does OHOTMU list him as having 8-pack abs or something?

8/31/2006 9:20 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


says it all, I think...

I also think that the Punisher of the mid-90s *is* the comics equivalent of the highly-entertaining B-movie. The budget is low, the humour broad but goddamn is it entertaining!

8/31/2006 1:46 PM

Anonymous The Mutt said...

Gawd, I had forgotten how bad the art was on all those Punisher books. But who cares? Batroc rules! He went toe-to-toe with Captain America! Hee

8/31/2006 2:47 PM

Blogger jonni said...

Actually, I think you'll find http://uncyclopedia.org/wiki/Batroc says it all really...

8/31/2006 2:55 PM

Blogger Mark said...

Great art: Dougie's cover has hints of Cam Kennedy here & there (not an influence I'd previously detected in his work).

8/31/2006 5:55 PM

Anonymous Christopher said...

Could I possibly love Bastroc any more?

Ze answer is, "mais non!"

9/01/2006 11:38 AM

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