Monday, January 21, 2008

MARVEL KNIGHTS #3 Marvel Comics, 2000

I've always enjoyed comics where The Punisher interacts with the rest of the costumed Marvel Universe. Usually The Punisher spends his nights aerating, defenestrating, and disintegrating street-level criminals, but on occasion he runs afoul or teams up with a superhero like Spider-Man or Daredevil. Because let's face it, The Punisher is sort of a superhero himself. Purists might take issue with that description, but the guy wears a spandex costume with a big skull logo. If you're wearing spandex with a logo, that makes you a superhero in my book - with the possible exception being Olympic downhill skiiers.

Sure, The Punisher would seem a little out of place teaming up with The Silver Surfer or (ugh) Quasar, but there are certain superheroes who gel nicely with the Man in Black. Therein lies the premise of Marvel Knights, the 2000 flagship title ofJoe Quesada's Marvel Knights imprint. This book and other MK titles like Daredevil sold very well - so well in fact that they gave Joey Q the keys to the proverbial kingdom and made him Marvel Editor-in-Chief, and then he totally fucked up Spider-Man and there was much vex and wroth in the land.

But we're not here to bitch about Spider-Man, much as I'd like to. Others have done so at greater length and more eloquently than I could. (Although what's up with the guy on YouTube who burned his copy of One More Day? Burning books is creepy, even comic books. You're not in good company if you burn books.)

Anyway, back to Marvel Knights. Chuck Dixon wrote this three-parter in which The Punisher assembles a gang of "do-gooders" to help him take down a mysterious new underworld menace in New York City. He ropes in Daredevil, The Black Widow, Motherfuckin' Shang-Chi, and Dagger (of Cloak & ...) to help him crush these new players in the NYC mob scene.

Turns out the bad guys are Asgardian monstroids led by Ulik the Troll, Thor's old sparring partner. The Punisher's ad hoc team quickly come to blow with these otherworldly creatures - and that means...


In this final issue of the storyline, the heroes have broken into three groups, more or less. The Punisher and his seemingly endless supply of weaponry take on Ulik in a suicidal battle before he can chop down a skyscraper with his bare hands. For reals, yo. Ulik is a Thor-level bad ass who can shrug off anything The Punisher can throw at him. Things don't look good for Frank Castle.

Meanwhile The Black Widow, Dagger, and Shang Chi defend a subway car from wave after wave of giant cockroach things. Oh, wait. That's Mimic. They defend a subway car from generic mindless Asgardian troll-things who all shop at the same tattered loincloth store. Things look bad for our heroes.

Here, the Widow supplies one of the civilians with a sidearm before the three heroes march out into the tunnel to bust some monster heads. The panels on this page overlay a big picture of The Black Widow in the background, but since I only scanned the bottom part of the page it looks a little odd: Panel 1, Panel 2, Panel 3, CLEAVAGE SHOT! You can't go wrong with out-of-context cleavage, no sir.

Unless I'm mistaken, there's a slight spelling error in the second panel, above. I think the phrase they were looking for was "repel boarders" and not "rebel boarders," unless The Widow is talking about Confederates in a hotel.

Moving on, Daredevil gets to the bottom of this whole Ulik Kraziness. The trolls are in town to recover a magic Asgardian horn, which an effete mobster has aquired as part of his art collection. I'm not sure what the signifigance of the horn is. Perhaps it contains the ashes of Waggy, Ulik's beloved and deceased troll dog. Regardless, Ulik is so pissed about the horn that he's willing to chop the whole frickin' building down. I'm not sure why he has to destroy the building to get the horn - Ulik has evidently never heard of elevators.

Thankfully, Daredevil kicks some mobster ass (off panel) and gets the horn just in time to stop The Punisher from getting crushed. Everybody's happy and goes on their merry way.

Inker Klaus Janson classes up the joint - it's great to see him drawing DD again. Dixon's Daredevil dialogue seemed out of character, but overall this first Marvel Knights arc was some decent plot-driven slugfest fun. It ends a little too abruptly, though - I would have liked to see a panel of misty-eyed Ulik hugging his horn and remembering better times when he frolicked in the spring meadows of Jotunheim with Waggy.

"Ulik will always love Waggy."


Standard Deviations said...

Good to have you back, Dave.

How does Daredevil know that those sealed containers have relics in them? For all he knows, the relics are in a drawer and the pedestals have books on them.

Jeff said...

I love the first Marvel Knights series. The best single issue, though, may be the one where Frank gets put on trial.

Or the one where ninjas attack the team's shiny new headquarters and beat the shit out of Moon Knight.

Danx said...

Welcome back Dave!!

Jon H said...

Daredevil says: One of these... aquariums contains a... fish that Ulik wants... or maybe one of those bubble-animated skeletons or a little treasure chest. Whatever. You know which one it is. Get it.

buttler said...

Little known fact: Ulik's last name is Mianus.

Just like on the Internet, trolls are not very refined.

ghostman said...

"Rebel boarders". Heh. I think the letterer was also distracted by the gratuitous cleavage. I always preferred Natasha in the black costume, but she usually didn't have her, um, babushkas on display like that. Nice.

I think a good rule-of-thumb when attacking Ulik is: If your weapon won't do structural damage to a concrete wall, don't waste your time with it.

Back in the late '80's, a friend of mine who ran a comic shop had a book-burning experience. One day some people came in, bought some old back issues of SON OF SATAN, and proceeded to set them on fire in the parking lot. He stuck his head out the door and said, "I don't care what you do on your property, but if you don't put that out, I'm calling the cops." They bailed. Fucking idiots--especially since you didn't get much more anti-Satan than the '70's Daimon Hellstrom.

Lewis Lovhaug said...

I don't know about invoking Godwin's law when it comes to book burning, Mr. Campbell. ^_~ After all, there's a difference between burning books because they may contain eeeeeeevil Jewish mind control and propaganda techniques that put down herr fuhrer and the aryan race and burning it because said book has no better use than as kindling.

On that note, you can never go wrong with karate-chopping buildings in half.

An Unrefined Troll said...

They defend a subway car from generic mindless Asgardian troll-things who all shop at the same tattered loincloth store.

Listen, mortal, you try finding a decent loincloth maker--the technical term for which is loinclothier--in Manhattan. Most Midgardian fabrics aren't even close to being up to the rigorous demands of tunneling, pillaging, meadow-frolicking (with or without faithful troll-dog companion), and other essential troll activities. One word, buddy: chafing. And don't get me started on the viciousness of the Jotunheim Loincloth Flea. Hence the old Asgardian saying: "Verily, judge not a troll until thou hast tunneled a mile in his loincloth."

Harvey Jerkwater said...

" can never go wrong with karate-chopping buildings in half."

Can and have.

Long story.

Thats a great idea guy said...

How is that cleavage shot out of context? Did it originally advance the plot line? It was originally a rallying point for the navy guy? "These trolls are gonna come mess with that cleavage!?! -- Aw Hell No!"

Anonymous said...

Keep in mind that Ulik Mianus (ha!) isn't just any old kind of troll, he's a Rock Troll. (As opposed to say, an Easy Listening Troll, I guess.) Which probably explains his wild hair and desire to break shit.

He probably got to New York and was all like, "New York City, are you ready to ROCK?! No? Well, screw you, then. And your buildings."

Edward Liu said...

This might not be a question anybody here is qualified to answer, but does any military guy actually think things like "I dump 100 rounds of ammo in him at 13 RPS" in the middle of a firefight? I know that's been a staple of Punisher comics since forever, but it seems more like code to show the reader that the author has done his Gun Homework.

Anonymous said...

"Superheroes don't kill people, they save them."
Stan "The Man" Lee

Paul said...

So, let me get this straight...

Ulik is smashing his way through anything and everything in order to get an ancient Asgardian horn. And the big superhero solution to the problem is to beat up the current owner and give the troll the horn?

Just give the bad guy what he wants, and everyone's happy. Brilliant.

And what if it turned out that it was the Horn of Asgardian Butt-Kicking? The one object which would finally allow him to overthrow Odin, Thor, and anyone else who got in his way?

Great job, DD.

(OTOH, I must say that the unrefined troll several comments up makes some excellent - and hilarious - points.)

Ken Lowery said...

I want to be a fly on the wall for the plotting session that really gets going when someone comes out with, "we should have the Punisher fight a Thor villain."

john said...

You are so right about the book burning thing. I used to clerk at a Barnes & Noble, and despite my extreme distaste for the whole slew of crackpot political books that I'd be happy to see wiped from the shelves (Ann Coulter? Michael Moore? Bleah...), burning or otherwise destroying books just because you don't like their contents always struck me as kind of Nazi-ish.

Krod said...

I was worried for a second that you were going to shred (figuratively) this awesome comic.

Anonymous said...

I think the thought process about the horn or whatever was "Hey, Ulik ain't too bright. Richards or Thor or somebody can deal with him if the horn has any secondary uses." Frankly, the end of justice league unlimited was a whole lot worse from that prospective.

Anonymous said...

Whoa, a Mimic reference. Old skool, man.

LurkerWithout said...

I can picture the Punisher thinking about who to recruit to fight these guys.

*Ok, no one with REAL powers. They won't talk to me. Bunch of jerks. I've got Daredevil's number. No idea why, but I do. And he knows Black Widow, and she's too damn hot for me NOT to get in on some team action.

Who else? Who else? Spidey? Nope. Can't see listening to his jokes for three freaking hours.

Screw it.
Tosses the names of all the Marvel Street-level heroes into a hat

Ok, Shang Chi and Dagger.


Whatever, I'm just to seperate from them so they won't object to me gunning down scum. Bunch of weak sisters the lot of 'em!

Anonymous said...

Heh. There's a town in Sweden named Trollhattan--that totally should have been the name of this storyline. Maybe even "Terror in Trollhattan!" I bet you wouldn't have any trouble finding a loinclothier there, at least. Heck, I bet the Trollhattan Chamber of Commerce is mostly made up of loinclothiers and other sellers of crotch haberdashery.

Word verification: phhishi. As commonly used in Trollhattan: "Ludvig, something smells phhishi about that loincloth."

xrundog said...

Glad you're back Dave. There are many comic bloggers, but only one like you (that's YOU man!). I was in the Navy. The phrase is indeed "Repel Boarders". Screwing that up is mighty lame.

Anonymous said...

Is this collected in a TPB - is so, which one?

Kara Z L said...

Yeah, I've always assumed that Daredevil's radar sense is rendered useless when he's inside a car... I'd think about the same with regard to an object inside a glass case.

Kingpin should invite Matt to visit him next he's in prison and make funny faces from behind the glass partition.

Paul said...

A couple random thoughts:

1. What if it had been the mystical Horn of Hilton-Spears, whose emanations are so mind-numbingly painful that they command the complete attention of all who hear them, regardless of what else may be going on around them? Ulik might just be evil enough to use it. Can you imagine what he could get away with while all the good guys stood enthralled, helpless to stop him?

2. The loincloth-clad troll minions could have been worse. They could have been been the kind of Trolls who show up naked, with vapidly cheerful expressions and freakish chromaic hair.

3. I think DD's radar sense would still give him some image of what's going on, even through a glass window. It wouldn't be sharp, but it'd be something. Depending on who's writing, he can hear the sound of a bullet being loaded into a chamber, smell the gunpowder and oil, etc from half a mile away.

Not sure about the display cases, but perhaps with the vibrations running through the building from Ulik's attack...

4. Making faces at a blind man is not likely to earn Kingpin much respect. I mean, there are other people who could see through the window, even if Matt couldn't.

(Word verification: nohyic - the sound of a victim being cursed by the mystical Horn of Hiccups, Heimdall's least-known but most effective means of guarding against ninjas attempting to sneak past him over the Rainbow Bridge.)

Anonymous said...

To be fair, it's entirely possible that Ulik has, in fact, never heard of elevators. Trollheim isn't the most technologically advanced place in the multiverse, and they almost certainly don't worry about wheelchair access issues.

Felicity said...

Hey! I like Quasar! At least, the Quasar from 1989, by Mark Gruenwald and Paul Ryan. I haven’t bothered to check out this new lady Quasar yet. I stopped reading Quasar, the comic, back in the early ’90s when it started crossing over with other titles so much that I couldn’t follow the story from one issue to the next.

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