Punisher 2099 #1
May 13, 2013
Just in case you ever thought the Punisher needed more shoulderpads.
Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. "2099 Month" continues with, in my opinion, one of the more bizarre choices to create a futuristic counterpart: The Punisher.
(Cut to a shot of the cover of today's comic, "Punisher 2099")
Linkara (v/o): "The Punisher" is a pretty simple premise to go on: a pissed-off guy who loses his family and decides to go complete vigilante and murder criminals.
(Cut to a shot of the cover of "Spider-Man 2099 #1")
Linkara (v/o): With Spider-Man, you can give it a futuristic techno spin with a different origin, somewhat similar powers, and a new look and mission.
(Cut back to "Punisher 2099")
Linkara (v/o): The Punisher of the future is the same premise as the original, but dumber, as we'll get into. There's nothing updated here, nothing to give it a unique take on the character in a different setting. This could just be a normal Punisher comic, except there's more techno crap.
Linkara: And how much stupider is this? Well, let's dig into (holds up today's comic) "Punisher 2099 #1" and find out.
(AT4W theme plays; title card has "Polka Party" by Weird Al Yankovic playing in the background; cut to a closeup of the comic's cover)
Linkara (v/o): Much like "Spider-Man 2099", we have another foil cover, but we needed to make this as '90s as possible. Behold, the Punisher if he had been invented by Rob Liefeld: huge, impractical guns; massive shoulder pads; bizarre anatomy – dude's torso is about five times as wide as his head, and his shoulders eight heads wide; and the normally-cool Punisher skull is replaced by whatever the hell this thing is. Maybe the reason he looks so pissed off is because those fake skull teeth are digging into his crotch.
(Cut to a clip of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 gang watching The Undead)
Mike: (watching someone dressed as a knight) There, I'm sure glad I don't look stupid in this.
(Cut back to the Punisher comic's cover)
Linkara (v/o): Also, I have never understood this visual idea for portraying gunfire, where we have multiple different bullet effects next to one another – in this case, stacked – but of course, the guy's arms aren't even in motion. He looks like his arms are completely still where they are, and thus we just have random bullets firing from the air! In addition, if he was supposed to be swinging his gun upward, the angle of the shots is completely wrong, unless he was shooting the friggin' floor or something.
(The comic opens to the first page)
Linkara (v/o): We open on some guy in a pink shirt running down a hallway.
Narrator: Looking that healthy, he must have stood out a mile... This is the wrong part of town to stand out.
Linkara: So... people are really out of shape in the red light district of the future?
Linkara (v/o): The guy runs up to a computer screen to call for the police. In the future, since the police are corporate-run, you apparently need to pay for their protection. Because that's certainly a system that will get people wanting to buy your products.
Man in pink shirt: (speaking into monitor) Street Surgeons on my tail!
Linkara (v/o): And indeed, in the bottom panel, we see a bunch of guys with cutting instruments and surgical masks.
Linkara: Damn, the Surgeon General of 2099 has her own street gang!
Linkara (v/o): The guy says he'll pay his police bill on Friday, which of course results in the police saying "Screw you" to the guy. The Street Surgeons descend on the guy, and they warn each other not to damage his heart when they cut it out of him. Oh, yeah, they've got a bunch of dirty pillowcases with them. That'll preserve a human organ.
Narrator: Street Surgeons... "Organ-Leggers"... With their victim's protection plan canceled, they know they can escape the law... but they can't escape punishment.
Linkara: (as Punisher) I'm gonna ground them for a week!
Linkara (v/o): Apparently, the dirty pillowcase is a "cryo-bag". Yeah, I can buy that kind of stuff in "Schlock Mercenary", since it takes place hundreds of years in the future, but I have a hard time believing that in a hundred years, we'll have cryogenic technology so good that we can just stuff organs in a Ziploc bag for maximum freshness.
(Cut to 2090s Kid wearing a Cyclops-like face mask)
2090s Kid: Duuuude, that's not true at all! In the future, cryo-bags are really common! Here, (holds up a Ziploc bag with a severed human hand in it) check out this human hand I have perfectly preserved!
Linkara: (looking grossed out) Whose hand is that?
2090s Kid: Mine. Radiation mutation in the future caused me to grow a third arm in a very uncomfortable place. Fortunately, surgery removed it, and now I keep it around as a souvenir. And to prank people! (smiles and gives a thumbs-up)
Linkara: (more grossed out than ever) The future sounds icky.
Linkara (v/o): The Punisher himself arrives and without the skull on his chest that he had on the cover. Sure, it looked dumb, but that's what made him the friggin' Punisher. Now he's just some asshole in shoulder pads. The Street Surgeons use their tricorders to analyze his weaponry, including two antique guns and three "grenazers". "GRENAZERS"!
Linkara: (holding up a huge (probably toy) gun) Behold my new weapon: the Microwave Shotgun Rocket Launcher! (beat) Yeah, I couldn't think of anything that sounded as stupid – and as awesome – as "grenazer".
Street Surgeon: Who are you? You're no strolling citizen packing that hardware...
Punisher: I'm the Punisher... and you're deadware!
Linkara: (massaging his forehead in frustration at what he read) Dude, dude, that just... That couldn't have even sounded good in your head, man.
Linkara (v/o): You know, upon closer inspection of his crotch–
Linkara: Shut up.
Linkara (v/o): –it actually looks like what he's got glued there are really big McDonald's drink cups. "Punisher 2099" is made of good decisions, it would seem. And while we're on the subject of artistic fails, in the previous page, we saw that one of the guns was actually a standard revolver, just oversized. However, I was wrong, since, apparently, it can shoot a kajillion bullets and not a one of them is coming from the barrel.
Street Surgeon: I see you went to the Butt-Face School of Charm!
Linkara: I see you went to the School of Crappy Comeback Lines. Clearly, it was money well spent.
Punisher: (narrating) My "heat sink" armor will take the blasts for five more seconds max... I only need one.
Linkara (v/o): And they only need one bullet to put between your eyeballs since you don't wear any kind of head protection, but since this is a fictional world, they can't just have anybody attack the blindingly-obvious weakness you have. Also, it seems that in the year 2099, humans no longer have blood in their bodies; they have lemonade. The Punisher says he could kill them now, but...
Punisher: It wouldn't be punishment enough.
Linkara (v/o): So instead, he pulls out a staff with spikes at one end.
Punisher: (narrating) The Power Bat: Variable density from rubber to titanium, depending on the level of punishment required.
Linkara: (as Punisher) Last week, it was stuck on the "Wiffle Bat" setting.
Linkara (v/o): I'll give it this: that's kind of a clever idea for how could improve on a melee weapon. Certainly makes more sense than a friggin' laser bat!
Another Street Surgeon: (terrified) Hey, man...please-- don't hurt me.
Punisher: Do you think I should let you go?
Street Surgeon: Yes, yes!
Punisher: Well, if you think it-- it can't be right.
Linkara: (as this Street Surgeon, terrified) I think you're awesome! (as Punisher, holding the Microwave Shotgun Rocket Launcher) That can't be right!
Linkara (v/o): The police cameras all over the place pick up on him, but the Punisher has some kind of digital scrambler that hides his face from the cameras, instead projecting a skull over it. The next day, the cops are studying the Punisher, and just to show how awesome they are, they want to deal with him, not because he's killing people, but because he's doing vigilante work for free.
Police Captain: I've called in "Special Operations" agent Jake Gallows... Jake...I want you to look at this...We've filmed this "Punisher" on a number of occasions...
Linkara: (as police captain) In fact, you two have the exact same physical build, even down to how tiny your heads must be compared to your body. And there's absolutely nothing strange about that at all.
Linkara (v/o): The police captain describes how the Punisher went on to kill several criminals in various, horribly-agonizing ways. To further prove how wonderfully nice these cops are, they talk about a guy who set a building on fire that was full of "Degens", who apparently are people who don't have any rights, and thus it's perfectly legal to burn them to death! As such, the Punisher went golfing with the arsonist's head.
(Cut to a clip of the MST3K gang watching The Mole People, showing someone getting hit on the head with a rock)
Tom Servo: Ohh, right in the (?).
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): He then instructed the arsonist, despite a blow like that inflicted on him, to donate all his funds to a charity to help Degens and threatened to set him on fire with high-octane fuel if he didn't. The arsonist agreed.
Police Captain: The "high octane fuel" turned out to be water.
Jake: What...? The Punisher let him live...?
Police Captain: Nope. Shot him in the head.
Linkara: I guess, in the future, gas is still too expensive to waste on burning people to death.
Linkara (v/o): The cops speculate on a motive for the Punisher, from getting his jollies off on it to being an organized crime enforcer. Because I guess the name "Punisher" was too subtle for these knobheads.
Jake: Maybe he simply believes in justice.
Linkara: (as Jake) And together, he can be justice!
Police Captain: Say again?
Policeman 1: Pardon me, sir?
Policeman 2: Say what?
Jake: Forget it.
Linkara: (as Jake, suddenly nervous) Uh, I-I'm totally not the Punisher! Don't even think that!
Linkara (v/o): The cops are confused by his attitude, but then the captain reminds them about the death of his family. We cut to a flashback, where we see Jake Gallows meeting with his family, including his mother, sister-in-law [Astra], and kid brother [Baldur], who looks older than he does, actually, who's also training to be a cop. The rest of his family are members of the Church of Thor, and I actually find it cute how, instead of having a crucifix necklace or something, they have a necklace with a little Thor hammer. It's a neat little visual nod without needing to have too much attention drawn to it. Nearby, this asshole with Dragon Ball Z hair [Kron Stone] is talking with his equally badly-drawn compatriots.
Kron Stone: There's one... a happy family... The smiles... The laughter... The lies!
Linkara: (as Kron) Jake Gallows said he didn't care what they had for dinner, but that was a lie! (holds up fist)
(Cut to Pollo standing in front of the bookshelf)
Pollo: We'll be right back in a moment. Maybe. We'll see.
(Pollo leaves as the AT4W logo appears in the corner and we got to a commercial break. Upon return, Pollo returns)
Pollo: And we're back. Good times.
(Pollo leaves as the AT4W logo appears in the corner; cut back to the comic as the review resumes)
Linkara (v/o): As the family walks along, discussing how, in the future, you need to go through a lot of testing in order to be allowed to have children, the gang of crazies jumps out and attacks.
Kron: (firing a laser gun at the family) You like traditions-- try the family roast!
Linkara: Oh, neat, a gun that shoots roast beef.
Linkara (v/o): Actually, according to Gallows, it shoots microwaves which instantly fries Jake's brother.
Jake: They're using microwaves...but my armor can take it...
Linkara (v/o): Yes... his armor... AKA his jacket. He tells his mother to get behind him... Pretty easy, considering the dude's basically a wall anyway... and he pulls out his ludicrous gun, which has a giant fin on top because it makes the bullets go faster. And I'm sure the intent is to act as a site, but I think, at the size it's at, it stops being a site and starts impeding sight. Speaking of go-faster functions, what the hell are those little cylinders around the barrel? Maybe they're cushioning for the bullets.
Linkara: Really makes you wonder if artists in the '90s knew what a gun looked like.
(Cut to 2090s Kid again)
2090s Kid: Dude! You're just not used to the futuristic technology of 2099! Those are called the (makes "finger quotes") "radical sensors". They make sure that the bullet always hits the center of mass! (gives a thumbs-up)
Linkara: What if you want to hit something that's not the center of mass, like... their head?
2090s Kid: Why would you want to do that? That just means you have to stop firing the gun. (shrugs)
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, he seems to have success in killing one of the guys... I think. The problem when you do something like this with tossing the guy backwards is that it makes it look like it didn't actually hit him, so we can't tell if he's falling back from an impact or if he's just leaping out of the way.
(Cut to a clip of the MST3K gang watching Pumaman. It shows Pumaman dropping one of Kobras' henchmen and he falls rather awkwardly thanks to some poorly synced background shots)
Mike: (as the henchman) Help! I'm falling at a sixty-degree angle, breaking all the laws of physics!
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, Crazy Hair Guy yells...
Kron: Go for his legs!
Linkara (v/o): And they do indeed hit his legs. Wait, was the coat really his armor? I have a hard time believing that he wouldn't have any leg protection otherwise. But this just raises the question of why not aim for his HEAD?! SERIOUSLY! With Jake on the ground, Hair Guy shoots his mom. Apparently, Jake's sister-in-law has no reaction whatsoever to seeing both her husband and mother-in-law getting gunned down in the street. You know what she does instead? She offers to psychoanalyze Crazy Hair Guy!
Astra: Listen, I'm a psychology major...talk to me...
Linkara: Oh, you're a psychology major, eh? Let me introduce you to Peter Parker. He's a science major, and only a science major would tell you to your face that you're a fricking idiot! Well, that's not true; I'll say to your face as well.
Astra: Let's get to the root of why you're doing this...
Linkara: (as Kron) Well, my parents never loved me. If they had, they would have given me a comb.
Kron: But I know why... Because you're liars... You're pretending to be a happy family...
Astra: But we are... We are...!
Linkara: Well, not anymore you're not. Half the family is barbecued.
Kron: No... No... I know what families do... behind closed doors... Cruel things.
Linkara: (as Kron) They play board games together! Horrible board games.
Astra: No, we really are happy...
Kron: It can't last. I must be merciful and kill you before you are disillusioned.
Linkara (v/o): So, did you get that, everybody? He kills Jake's entire family because he's friggin' crazy. That's it. Frank Castle, the normal Punisher, tragically lost his family when they were caught in a shootout during a mob fight. Jake Gallows loses his family because some asshole is insane. "How very imaginative and not stupid at all," said no one. Jake tackles Hair Guy, but the other two members of his gang kick him back to the ground. He pleads to be killed, too, but Crazy Guy isn't done being crazy.
Kron: No...my work is done. You're no longer a family. I have nothing personal against you, Officer.
Linkara: Crazy and stupid. (gives a thumbs-up) Can't forget that.
Linkara (v/o): While at the hospital having his legs repaired, a friend of Jake's [Matt Axel] stops by to let him know that Crazy Hair Guy, named Kron, was caught and will be attending trial. Jake is sad about the whole thing, but the friend, who also has ridiculous hair... Dude looks like Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter... says that he needs to see how useless the legal system is firsthand. And indeed, at the trial, Kron is sentenced to a 2.2 mega-dollars fine and brain surgery to cure his antisocial behavior. He even greets Jake and says that Jake will totally be over his family's death by the evening, and he'll give him a call alter. The one good scene in this thing is where Jake grabs the guy by the neck, trying to choke him, but the other cops grab Jake and say he's out of line and that Kron has paid his fine. In fact, we learn that Kron is actually the son of Tyler Stone, the villain from "Spider-Man 2099", and apparently, Alchemax is the corporation behind the police department. So of course, the dude is allowed to get away with this crap.
Police Captain: What do you want to do...? Go back to old-fashioned brutal punishment...?
Linkara (v/o): Actually, I'm pretty sure vigilante killing has always been illegal, unless the intervening time between 1993 and 2099, there was some period where that was suddenly okay. Anyway, Jake takes that to heart, and we see him in a room full of guns and equipment. He narrates about how he and the Mad Hatter from before had been collecting all these weapons for months.
Jake: (narrating) Frank Castle... The guy in this old journal Matt and I found in police files... He knew what he was doing...
Linkara: (as Jake) Except for that one where he became a Frankenstein monster. (normal) I'm not kidding, either. Google it: "Franken-Castle".
Jake: (narrating) Right down to his final words...
Text: You who find this--I charge you to carry on my work...
Linkara: (as Frank) You will find everything you need at Castle Ahhhhh...
Jake: A crime deserves a real punishment--not a credit transfer. I know would have done...
Linkara: (as Jake) Become a black guy! (normal) Not kidding about that one, either. Add that one to the list of comics I'm gonna review someday.
Jake: ...But he's not here... I'm the Punisher now.
Linkara (v/o): No, you're some asshole with stupid-looking armor, a ridiculously huge and impractical chain gun or something that has wings on it, and from what I can tell, a handgun that is belt-fed. A HANDGUN WITH BELT AMMUNITION. Also, looking down, he apparently wears steel-tipped shoes that are actually high heels. I'm serious, check it out! Those things have a very obvious heel on them.
Linkara: Well, at least in one area, he's fashionable. (closes comic and holds it up) This comic sucks.
Linkara (v/o): The revised Punisher look is just a generic '90s-style gun-and-leather-pouches look, with the only thing making him slightly different is the skull, but he botched that so badly that it's astounding. "Spider-Man 2099" had a better Punisher skull than this one. The origin is just a lamer version of Frank Castle's story, but with the addition of the evil corporations nonsense. Look, I get it, cyberpunk dystopia and evil corporations! But it seriously goes to ridiculous extremes here to push the corruption angle to the point where you have to wonder how this system hasn't completely fallen apart. You want to do corruption and bribery? Fine, but it just goes a little too far in it. And the villains are just too villainous to be taken seriously, approaching cartoonish levels. The artwork is pretty bad. Hell, the guns should be proof enough of that, though we also have unnecessary inking lines on a lot of faces. It is better than a lot of '90s books in that we actually do have backgrounds for most shots, but the guys are all really beefy, and Gallows himself is just a giant waiting for his fifth heart attack. It's been suggested to me that the series was a parody, but the problem is it's virtually indistinguishable from other '90s comics of the time. And this was still in the early '90s when people hadn't really grown sick of that garbage yet.
Linkara: The only reason "Punisher 2099" isn't a villain is because the actual villains are so over the top that you do get some enjoyment out of seeing him slaughter them. But only just (places his index finger and thumb inches apart) Next week, though, we'll see how the future handles a main character who is a villain. (smiles)
(End credits roll)
This comic was NOT Kleenex.
When my NERF look more realistic than the guns you're presenting in your comic book, STOP DRAWING GUNS.
(Stinger: The panel showing the Punisher's Power Bat is shown again)
Punisher: The Power Bat: Variable density from rubber to titanium, depending on the level of punishment required. Or so it says in the manual. I've never used the lower settings.
(Linkara is seen holding up a piece of PVC pipe)
Linkara: (as Punisher) In fact, let me try the setting now. (pushes a button and the pipe makes a humming sound and vibrates) Vibrate? Why would a long stick need a "vibrate" setting? (suddenly stops as he realizes something) Ohh... (looks around nervously)