ISB #600: Return of the DCR!
According to the stats provided by Blogger, this is my six-hundredth post here on the ISB, and to celebrate, I'm bringing something out of retirement.
See, back before I eventually narrowed my focus specifically to comics (and you know, the occasional pro wrestling espionage novel or bearfight-related DVD rental), the ISB was more of a freeform attempt at humor writing and, as anyone who's gone back to the archives will attest, we're all a lot better off for the change. But it's not like I wasn't still writing about comics--about once a month, I'd post a review of a comic I'd found in the shop's massive, ever-changing one dollar inventory, but once I was talking about comics all the time, it seemed pretty redundant.
Still, I like the format of those posts a lot, so in celebration of my sexacentennial post, I bring you the one night only return of The ISB Dollar Comic Review! And what better comic for such an occaision than...
Writer: Chuck Dixon
Aritst: John Romita, Jr.
Cover: Totally Awesome
In case you've ever wondered what the phrase "it practically writes itself" means, feast thine eyes on Punisher/Batman: Deadly Knights, wherein the the Joker and Jigsaw team up to take over the mobs of Gotham City, which in turn causes the Punisher and Batman to fight, then team up, then fight again, then team up again, then fight again, and then go on their relatively merry ways, and even though the Punisher doesn't get to kill as many people as he wants, everything still works out okay. That is, aside from a minor battle between Micro and Robin waged entirely over the internet, the sum total of what happens.
It is, of course, a work of purest genius.
- Although it's presented as a stand-alone one-shot, Deadly Knights is actually a sequel to the same year's Batman/Punisher: Lake of Fire which, like most things that feature both Denny O'Neil and Jean-Paul Valley, could be charitably described as not very good. There is, after all, a scene where Frank and Ol' AzBats visit a bath house and, after dosing everyone with knockout gas, proceed to "check them for disguises" while they sleep, and that tends to overshadow any attempts at making Jigsaw's attempt to use stolen rocket fuel to set the entire Gotham City water supply on fire actually sound threatening.
- Speaking of Jigsaw, he returns as the Punisher's contribution to the villainous side of the story, along with the Joker, whom I assume was chosen because he's the most iconic foe in Batman's formidable Rogues Gallery. With Jigsaw, though, it was more a matter of being the only surviving Punisher villain, whic is a problem you're going to run into when your protagonist is built solely around shooting people in the face.
If only this thing had come out ten years later, they could've used The Russian, because honestly: If there's an better partner for the Joker than a massive, wisecracking, dimwitted indestructable Slavic transvestite, I haven't seen it.
- Back to the story at hand, while the plot leaves a lot to be desired in terms of actually having a plot, it does have one gigantic thing working in its favor: John Romita, Jr.
- The whole thing's full of absolutely gorgeous panels like that, and considering that JRJR's been exclusive to Marvel (with the exception of his creator-owned series The Grey Area) for thirty years, seeing him draw Batman and the Joker is not something that happens very often.
- Dixon, however... Well, he's Chuck Dixon, and like most of his work over the years, he turns in an interesting and perfectly readable story that gets the job done in a fairly enjoyable manner without anything being wrong with it.
Except when Tim Drake opens his mouth.
- Admittedly, I'm not a super-computer-genius like Micro or Tim there, but I'm not even sure that's actually English. And it goes on for four pages, with the epic struggle of fat nerd and teenager blasting each other with logic bombs and mouse-arounds intercut with Matches Malone tailing Frank Castle to the Joker's hideout, and the whole thing ends with--get ready for it--Robin turning off the Batcomputer. Those guys are like... Web 4.5.
- One of the plot points of the story is that the Joker's arranged for Jigsaw to have plastic surgery to repair his face, but--as you might expect--said repairs last a grand total of five panels before the Punisher chucks a grenade directly at his head and resets him to the status quo, marking, if memory serves, the fifth time this exact sequence of events has happened.
Although to be fair, the time before this one involved both Satan and a cactus.
And now, I give you the entire reason the ISB, and quite possibly comic books as we know them today, were created:
Oh but wait. It gets even better.
The moral of the story? You only get one.