The Punisher

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Fringe reviews the Punisher movie, the latest in a hopefully long line of successful Marvel Comics films, though in this case it's unfortunately not so faithful to some of the basic originality of the character or what's distinctive about the moral perspective on violence that we tend to find in comic books.

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I was never all that crazy about The Punisher. I think I may have a copy of War Journal # 1, which I think is Jim Lee's first appearance for Marvel, and I had some early issues that Klaus Janson drew, but I was never crazy about the book itself. I don't know if the revenge motif was played out for me or if it was just that I liked more fantastic books, like X-Men and Spider-Man. (Well, at that time, Silvestri was doing good work on X-Men and McFarlane was redefining Spider-Man, so I'm sure that was a big part of it.)

I never liked the Punisher either, but it disappointed me that they ignored the insanity that drove his revenge and just made it a standard revenge story. I probably liked most of the same books you did at roughly the same time.

The thing that bothered me about the Punisher was, for the most part, that he was neither Daredevil (the comic, not the movie crap) nor Thor. If you can't call bolts of thunder, nor see without eyes, I don't have time for you in comics-ville. 'Oh, I'm angry and have guns!' Actually, I'm being somewhat disingenuous here. I always liked the Punisher as well, but he was merely Mack Bolan (who I liked, as well as Phoenix Force, as all good male adolescents did), but this didn't seem deserving of the comic book treatment--rather, just the standard non-illustrated pulp stuff.

I liked the Daredevil movie, especially because it tried to portray what it's like to be a bat! Of course I had much less invested in it than I did with X-Men, which turned out to disappoint me in at least two places (the bad uniforms and the offensive joke making fun of the good uniforms in the comics) because of my purist tendency. When you don't know something as well, you can enjoy it more when they ruin it.

I wasn't a big fan of Daredevil, but I do think that John Romita Jr's style was perfect for that book. I can tolerate him on Spider-Man, but the broadness of his portrayals and the density of his inks seemed to be tailor-made for DD.

I've tried to stay away from comic adaptation movies, even though I saw part of Spider-Man (I went to sleep about 2/3 of the way through, picking up the rest sometime last year) and X2. I actually liked the X-Men, although I always thought that Iman (the model) circa 1990 is the physical embodiment of Storm. Plus, she doesn't have an American accent, which Storm wouldn't.

Is Jim Lee the best ever to draw the X-Men? Would his style play as well on a darker book? Even though he got his start on War Journal, I don't know that his style is ideally suited for such a dark book. He needs females to draw.

I'm not familiar with Iman. The one thing they couldn't get right in the movie was that Storm is supposed to have aspects of all the racial groupings of the world in connection with her connection with the earth. The high cheekbones, slanted eyes, blue eyes, straight hair, and completely white hair are completely abnormal for an African.

Jim Lee was my favorite artist period, not just for X-Men. His first or second appearance in X-Men, before he was a regular artist, involved Captain America, and I thought he drew him better than anyone I'd previously seen. I was really disappointed when he left Marvel, though I understood the artist-owned character thing behind Image. I never thought the Image stories were any good, so I didn't keep buying any of them, but the art was certainly excellent.

That's why the only thing I bought from Image were the sketchbooks and the swimsuit issues. Spawn got interesting sometimes, though, with its obviously secular take on the nature of the battle between good and evil. I was never comfortable reading books with a lot of demon activity, though.

I had to get the first issue of all the top artists' books (figuring they'd be worth something someday), and I actually went a few issues or more in with some of them, but the stories were just stupid, so I couldn't justify it for too long. I didn't read past Spawn #1 for pretty much the same reason. I couldn't get into the demon-themed comics.

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