Saturday, 16 January 2010

Amazing Spider-Man #162. The Punisher and Nightcrawler

Amazing Spider-Man #162, Spidey and Nightcrawler from the X-Men are confronted by the Punisher sat on top of a New York cable car
(Cover from November 1976.)

"Let The Punisher Fit The Crime!"

Words by Len Wein.
Pencils by Ross Andru.
Inks by Mike Esposito.
Lettering by John Costanza.
Colours by Glynis Wein.


They say you should never hate in life. You should merely try and understand.

But you know what? I hate this tale. Just the fact the Punisher's in it's enough to make me hate it. The fact that Spider-Man yet again, and for no good reason, chooses to team up with him, straight after the gun-toting imbecile's threatened to kill him, only makes it worse. Why Spider-Man doesn't just smash him in the face and hand him in to the police is beyond me. Instead, he teams up with him and blah blah blah blah blah.

Fortunately, although Nightcrawler ends up fighting on the same side as the Punisher, he never actually formally agrees to team up with him, so at least the X-Man comes out of this with his hands clean.

Anyway, it turns out the real killer's some nutjob called Jigsaw who captures Spider-Man and holds him hostage to try and force the Punisher out into the open. It also forces Nightcrawler who, by means totally unexplained, has been following the Punisher, to come out into the open too and, suddenly, there's a mass brawl going on in the middle of a street party. Quite where the police are while all this is all going on is anyone's guess.

The presence of Frank Castle apart, there're other problems with this tale.

How come Jigsaw just happens to be at the cable cars at the same time that Spider-Man, Nightcrawler and the Punisher are?

How come Spider-Man loses all ability to fight when confronted by Jigsaw's two-a-penny hoods, enabling them to beat him up?

How come...?

Aw who cares how come? The story's loathsome. That's all there is to it. Even Ross Andru's dynamic layouts can't disguise how repellent the whole thing is. It's just a shame the issue that ends the era I'm reviewing has to be such a contemptible one.

What could have saved the tale and made it into something worthwhile (apart from Spider-Man smacking the Punisher in the jaw) would've been if the story's obvious ethical question had been addressed.

It isn't.

The point is this - and it leaps out at you - the only reason Jigsaw's a deadly homicidal maniac who's killed four people and is out to kill more is because of what the Punisher did to him back when he was a minor crook. The Punisher's lunatic methods have created a monster who's modelled himself completely on his ex-persecutor. And yet neither the Punisher nor Spider-Man nor Nightcrawler pick up on this at all.

The truth is the only parts of the issue I enjoyed were the parts that had nothing to do with the main story. First, Mary Jane and Flash Thompson colluding to try and make Peter Parker jealous. And second, J Jonah Jameson meeting up with the enigmatic Dr Marla Madison for reasons yet to be revealed. If only the rest of the tale had been that appealing.

4 comments:

cerebus660 said...

You're back! Well, sort of.....
I got all excited there for a moment!

The Cryptic Critic said...

I like to feel I was put on this Earth to disappoint people. :)

Bruce said...

I agree that the story's plot holes are huge, but the main enjoyment of this two-parter was the appearance of Nightcrawler outside the X-Men. It was one of the first times a new X-Man had appeared in another comic, and it is interesting how Nightcrawler is concerned about being seen because he isn't sure Professor X wants the world to know about them yet.

The Cryptic Critic said...

Hi, Bruce. The presence of Nightcrawler is definitely the high point of the tale.

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