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Posts Tagged ‘battle van’

  1. War Journal: November 1988 – April 1989

    July 8, 2012 by Arch Stanton

    Punisher War Journal #1-5.  A three parter followed by a two parter.  If you take nothing else from this post, check the Notes N’ Quotes section at the bottom, you will not be disappointed.

    El Calavera
    The Many Faces of the Skull

    The Murder Kite still haunts every Central Park Mob Execution to this day.

    Here we learn the first of many, many, many origins of the skull.  Out of the gate with a grisly bang we learn that during the Castle family park massacre, the family’s kite landed on the bodies of the dead children, and their bloodstains on the paper made a skull face.  Honestly, once you invoke the blood of dead children, there really seems to be no point in trying to go back and reassess the reasons for Frank’s fashion sensibility.  But that doesn’t stop every writer who ever picked up the character from trying.

     

    OPFoR
    Who’s he fighting this round?

    In our breakdown of the first 5 issues of “Punisher”, Frank invaded two different countries in South America.  War Journal is a bit more focused than the main series, he tends to stick to one or two targets an issue.  However, Frank’s not done with South America yet; we find out that the contras of Santa Angelo and their drug dealin’ ways were indirectly responsible for the botched execution that ended the Castle Clan.  Either the Peruvian kid supplying the blow for the Marvel Bullpen in ’87 burned them with some baby powder, or  Carl Potts had some bad empanadas, but the message is clear, South America is the source of pretty much all crime in New York City, and Frank ain’t afraid to go the source.

    Gomez takes a Ballistic Knife to the Nuts. Even the street punks can’t stop victimizing our friends from down south.

    More importantly, this issue we finally get to see some Street Punks.  They have mohawks, they have facepaint, anarchy jackets, and nazi tattoos.  Its obvious they found Frank while cruising around clinking bottles together looking for the Warriors.  They are hopelessly incompetent, Frank beats the shit out of them in #2 but doesn’t kill them so they can come back in #3 and bumble their way into unloading a full clip in Frank’s chest from his own gun.

    Medal of Survival Recipients –
    Characters who lasted more than one story arc (a select group)

    Solid Snake uses his Electric Glove to get Sniper’s attention long enough for Sniper to stab him in the chest and leave him to bleed out.

    Microchip, Costa Family, Daredevil, and Sniper.  Sniper was one of Frank’s old squadmates from Vietnam, and works for the D.E.A.  Just to obfuscate the shit out of everything for no reason, issue 5 clarifies that the D.E.A. is NOT the Drug Enforcement Agency. It is actually the Defense Espionage Agency, a government agency dealing with Drug Enforcement.

     

    Modus Locomotus
    It is better to travel well than to arrive

    Look closely for the Murder Kite hovering ominously in the distance over the Super Merc.

    Carl Potts heard someone say that Punisher didn’t have enough  Battlevan, so he marched right over to Jim Lee’s house, punched him in the kidney, and told him he wanted to see the Battlevan popping off its whole payload like a San Diego Fireworks show.   Jim gave him a spread in issue 4 featuring more gadgets in two pages than all of the first 6 Bond movies combined.  We have the targeting helmet from Firefox, a minigun, a remote controlled car, grenade launcher, built in jackstands, solid rubber tires, a stereo panel with Apple FaceTime, long range mics, motion detectors, and a remote control system that lets Frank turn the headlights on and off when he’s not even in the van!  But none of this would really matter unless we had something interesting to put Frank’s personal Bolo Mk II up against, and this time we’ve got Sniper’s Super Mercedes.

    The Super Merc has bullet proofing, rear oil spray, rear mounted machine guns, hubcap mines, and surface to air heat seeking missiles.  It also ends its first appearance by blowing the holy shit out of the Battlevan, proving a point that absolutely no one needed to be convinced of: 80’s German Engineering is, was, and always will be vastly superior to the Ford Aerostar platform, no matter how much crap Microchip packs in the back.

    Wha-tocka-POW Bitch!!!

    Weapons Tech
    Guns you can find in Jane’s

    There’s a Barrett .50 that keeps showing up here and there, most impressively Sniper uses it to take out a dude from the top of the Chrysler Building (for those of you like myself who aren’t from New York, the Chrysler Building is the image that pops in your head when someone says Empire State Building), and the gun gets its own playmate pinup at the end of issue 5.

    But the real star of the show is Frank and Micro’s strange obsession with the Goncz 9mm pistol.  Micro gives it to him as a little Happy at the beginning of Issue 1, right after Frank has Micro shoot him in the chest with it to test his new Kevlar.  Which is a good thing, because he gets shot in the chest with it again by the Warriors a couple of issues later before they steal it.  Daredevil tracks it down, crushes it,  and gives it back as a friendly reminder that Daredevil is not Frank’s personal gun-finder bitch, and if Frank can’t keep up with his shit he needs to leave it at home.  Frank says “Fuck That” and buys another one out of spite, and to impress Sniper at the end of issue 5.

    So as a final score, Frank gets two Gonczs as presents, gets shot in the chest twice by Gonczs, and finally gets a compliment on his Goncz.

    Dumbass Weapons Tech
    Guns you can’t find in Jane’s

    I just got offa the night shift down at tha mill, I’m takin’ a bath, and alla sudden this crazy bastad comes bustin’ in yellin’ about his Gonk and askin’ me about child support an tennis rackets while he’s wavin’ this little box with no batteries in my face!”

    One time Microchip gave Frank an electric guitar tuner and told him it was a “Lie Detector”.  Frank just needed to have a suspect speak into the box, and if the needle didn’t move then “Science” would know that he was lying.  Which constantly confirmed to Frank everything he ever needed to know about criminal psychology: they’re all lying all the time.

    Bowed but Unbroken –
    Obligatory Frank capture

    “Fuck you, Frank… FUCK!! MY HALOGEN ALLERGY!!!!””

    This one almost went to Frank getting poisoned and then watching from the ground while the Warriors took themselves out with his toys, but the best has to be Sniper again playing to Frank’s weakness of “walking up behind him with a gun”.  Sniper’s a little more crafty so he gasses Frank first, has plenty of time to slap him around, explain all of the backstory for the benefit of us readers, and set up for what would most likely be the world’s first .50 shot to the face from 6 inches.   I don’t think Mythbusters is doing episodes about guns anymore so we may never know, but I gotta say, as much as I like Frank and all, I’d kind of like to see what would happen.  Luckily for Frank, he was using his Battlevan remote control to change the tire(?!), so he was able to use the automatic headlight button to blind Sniper long enough to get to safety.  $500,000 worth of weapons couldn’t scratch Sniper, but every Battlevan from now on will be guaranteed to have remote headlights.

    The Ladies
    Yes they are

    Helen Shaw is a TV reporter.  Like TV reporters do, Helen likes the ya-yo.  She likes it enough that she’ll offer it to random people she’s interviewing, including one of Frank’s war buddies, who refuses, explains why drugs=dangerous, then immediately gets shot in the for’hed.  I’m not sure what they were going for here, but Helen is wearing a black miniskirt at the time, and the same skirt and legs are seen in the background during the murders of both Red and Doc earlier in the issue.

    You want this, Lady? You’ll never escape my minefield… of Love Bombs, baby.

    Frank’s idea of ‘dating’ is to invite Helen and her news crew to come to Sniper’s booby-trapped house to watch Frank kick his ass and prove his manhood.  This ends about as expected: the cameraman jumps out of the news chopper and immediately gets stabbed in the face.   When Sniper takes the news chopper pilot hostage and forces him to take off, Frank chucks a grenade at the helicopter trying to kill them both just to prove how pissed off he is that Helen would bring other men along on their date.  Then, because Micro Jr. once told Frank that all women drop panties for assholes, he takes the only car and leaves her stranded, telling her to watch out for booby-traps.

     

    That’s what I like about these punks these days: I get older, they stay the same age.

    Aliaseses
    Dress up Frank

    War Journal Frank tends to be a little more direct in his approach, but when he needs to he can whip out a pretty convincing McConaughey.

     

     

     

     

    Postcards from the Edge
    Letter column all-stars

    Skip Kirkpatrick, you’re the true star of issue 4.  I mean, what would we do if we didn’t know how many grains of powder were in a 9mm vs. a .45?  I also noticed that same problem where the collapsing stock Daewoo was OBVIOUSLY firing 5.56 rounds instead of 5.66.  And of course that AK was not an ‘HK’, how could anyone possibly think an HK could fire armor piercing rounds?  I feel you on the whole ‘magazine’ thing, too, nothing takes me out of a good firefight like someone calling it a ‘clip’.  You’re right Skip, these mistakes are so simple and basic they had to have been made on purpose as private jokes just to make sure the readers were paying attention.  It didn’t have anything to do with the ATF asking Marvel to put them in there to help sort you loonies onto their watchlist.

     

    You want a toe? I can get you a toe, believe me. There are ways, dude. Hell, I can get you a toe by 3:00 this afternoon.

    The Fall Guy
    Greatest Stunts

    As always, quite a few, but the top of the class this time around is Frank’s reaction to blowing his own toe off.  Honorable mention for accidentally tazering a dog, hip checking a ballistic knife back into working order, and pinning an arrow through his and Sniper’s forearms so they can dance-fight Sharks n’ Jets style.

     

     

     

     

     

    Notes n’ Quotes
    Quotes, ads, and random junk

    In some magazines, ‘pinup’ means bikini models. In others, it means mashed fruit on a bulletin board.

    I’m going to start this with a disclaimer:  Here at Frank’s Salad Days we appreciate Punisher fans from all walks of life, religious, cultural, ethnic, or otherwise.  We do not condone racism or disparaging remarks to cultural and religious groups.  If you try to add anything stupid in the comments section you will be summarily blocked and potentially mercilessly ridiculed.  Though acceptable standards of entertainment change over time, I don’t believe Marvel or the regular staff from the Punisher books have ever truly intended to exclude or insult anyone based on their personal beliefs, unless those beliefs involved drugs, crime, or being in a freaky cult.  

    The reason you pay an extra quarter per issue for PWJ vs. the main series is you get better paper, and pinup pages in the backs of the book.  Before they were collected and printed in the first Punisher Armory, there were several of these pinups detailing the weapons found in the series.  The strangest of these appeared in the back of issue #4, where Frank makes an impromptu testing target for ballistic knives out of his bulletin board with a bag of grapefruits hanging from it.  Not that interesting, other than the fact that he treats his house like a freshman dormroom and shoots a knife through his roommate’s printer.

    What IS interesting, however, is the clippings hanging on his board.   There’s an article titled “Arson on the Rise”, the actual text of which discusses steroids use including someone buying a car for $25 while on steroids and doing something stupid with it while being filmed, and the effects of steroids on menstruation.  He also has pictures of Khomeini and Quadafi, neither of which he ever managed to add to his “done” list.  But then in the middle, on the page of instructions, we find this Easter Egg:

    First just hold this baby in your good right (illegible), making sure to aim between the eyes of the commie rat and depress firing stud. 10 inches of cold rolled steel will guarantee that Ivan won’t sip any more vodka. You can bet that turban wearer won’t face Mecca today or tomorrow.

    I’m not sure if Florida Knife Corp was or is a real company, but I’d be willing to guess that this isn’t the instruction sheet that comes with their knives.  Granted, ‘Ivan’ wasn’t real popular in this day and age just after Rambo III, but that last statement dips a foot into the kind of poo-poo that ends up with Danish cartoonists on Jihad lists.

    But wait, there’s more in the FBI wanted sheet.  Here we find information on  Dippy the Moll Lopez, the Meanest Scissors in the East, who can also eat broken glass.  And Fishead of Veruna, killer in 3 boats, who can eat babies for lunch.  And finally:

    Raf Abdul Towel Head Wanted for Re-hump(ing?) Camels

    The early Armory pinup page dabbled in a little racism, like that one time in college when your girlfriend got really drunk at a party and disappeared into the back bathroom for two hours with that burly girl from the swimteam. You cryed and banged on the door until they let you in and they were… telling jokes about arabs.  It was a different time back then, but I don’t think there’s any way Marvel would have let this one sneak by if they had actually been paying attention.  The same page is reprinted in Punisher Armory #1.

    Next up: Punisher Issues #6-10. See you in a couple weeks.

     


  2. After Action Report: July 1987 – January 1988

    June 22, 2012 by Arch Stanton

    First up we take a deep dive on  Punisher Vol.2 #1-5.  Two short story arcs bookending a one-shot, this is the origin of the origin of the many layered onion known as the Punisher.

    Its like a cute little white baby alien.

    El Calavera
    The Many Faces of the Skull

    The trademark skull changed many times over the years.  In the beginning here we had the Klaus Janson version, in keeping with previous iterations it still had the big round eyes.  Best use of it would be Frank stopping for Arts and Crafts during his decimation of a Jungle Drug Complex and painting the white skully bullseye on a found bulletproof vest, thus proving to the DEA agent he just rescued that yes, Frank is fucking nuts, and no, you’re not going to get out of this alive.

    OPFoR
    Who’s he fighting this round?

    Crackheads, drug dealers, South American narcotics manufacturers, a Vietnamese colonel, white supremacist revolutionary bank robbers, and a suicidal atheistic socialist cult led by siblings with touch healing and psychic precognition powers.  And a raccoon.  They decided to take it easy and keep things grounded by not breaking out any of the wacky shit for the first five issues.

    Medal of Survival Recipients –
    Characters who lasted more than one story arc (a select group)

    Panel Left is Micro Junior. Panel Right is Robert Smith of The Cure. Not Pictured is How This Happened.

    Two important characters are introduced here in the 4th issue: Microchip AKA ‘Lowell Bartholomew Ori’ (bet you thought his name was Linus Lieberman, didn’t you?) and his son, Microchip Junior, a young angsty computer punk with definitive choices in hair.  Microchip’s association with Frank Castle makes you question his fundamental concepts of parenting, and subsequently involving his son in vigilante murder hijinks pretty much answers that.

    Modus Locomotus
    It is better to travel well than to arrive

    First appearance of Battle Van, so point Battle Van.  It’s a twinturbo Ford V6 (no V8 at this trim level) with a police radio, infrared cameras, bulletproof windows, an escape motorcycle, self-destruct mechanism, and just to remind you this is the 80s, Frank also drops the astonishing tidbit that it can switch into 4WD without having to get out and lock the hubs. And it costs $500,000 in 1987 dollars (to put this in perspective, this is $1,012,698 in today money, or the cost of a Bugatti Veyron).

    In 1986, Ford debuted the Aerostar Minivan. In 1987, Frank debuted the Aerostar Battlevan.

    If you price out all of the individual features of the van except super 4WD, that works out to about $80,000.  Which means Frank spent ~$420,000 on the ability to not have to stop the van before he goes muddin’. This is a man with priorities.  As an honorable mention, in the 2nd issue there’s an Apache attack helicopter with some creative license taken with the seating arrangements.  The pilots sit side-by-side, a design choice which makes it easier for Frank to line them up to kill their asses after he jumps onto the chopper from a rooftop.

    Weapons Tech
    Guns you can find in Jane’s

    80s Punisher loves to sprinkle real weapons throughout their issues; it brought a broad gun-nut demographic of readers to the book, and more importantly, made the Punisher letters column the most disturbing collection of writing extant prior to the invention of gothpassions.com.  In issue 2, Frank is delighted by a Striker Automatic Shotgun, widely considered to be a total piece of shit by most of the poor South Africans who actually had to use it.  You know why Frank boners over it?  Because Frank fucking loves it when his guns jam, so we can move on to the more “non-traditional” weaponry in the next column…

    “Frank thinks its cute. Its cute.”

    Dumbass Weapons Tech
    Guns you can’t find in Jane’s

    Diamond tipped fake fingernails.  In the very first issue he proves his security in his manliness by choosing the most womanly of combat fashion accessories.  They show up several times over the next couple of issues ripping out a throat, opening a cardboard box really fast, and helping an old war buddy shuffle off this mortal coil by cutting his wrists (then throwing him out of a helicopter).

    Bowed but Unbroken –
    Obligatory Frank capture

    In the early days, before Ennis turned him into a bullet-absorbing universal force of unkillableness, Frank was dangerously easy to get the drop on.  In issue 1 he’s captured and tied to a chair for the very first time in what would go on to be a long and lucrative career of getting captured and tied to chairs.  His buddy the DEA agent is captured twice in issue 2.  Frank is temporarily captured in #3 when he’s outwitted by the old master bush tactic of ‘walking up behind him with a pistol’, and he’s nearly killed in issue 4 getting shot in the back the very same way.

    Wha-tocka-POW Bitch!!!

    In issue 5 this works on him twice, first a girl splashes acid in his face, and then later the same issue she walks up behind him and smacks him in the head with a frying pan Tom and Jerry style.  These were truly exciting times, no one knew how long this book would actually last, and though he led the Marvel pantheon in murderistic enthusiasm, he was woefully short in situational awareness.  This dude could literally go at any minute.

    The Ladies
    Yes they are

    Plenty has been posted about Frank’s legendary kill counts, but there’s a far more interesting statistic we’re all missing here.  There are a grand total of 6 females in these first five issues.  And when I say 6, I’m including two who only appeared in a single panel, one in the background.  I’m not even going to begin to open the can of worms, implications, and innuendo about the characters, readers, or authors of this book.  I’m just sayin’, 80’s Punisher has been nothing but honest from the start: if you buy that Punisher t-shirt from Spencer’s, you WILL be walking around with 2 feet of white grinnin’ pussy repellent on your chest.  Of these few brave females who dare these pages, two of them try to sleep with Frank (neither while he’s wearing the skull).  He disturbingly chooses not to tarnish the chastity of the evil cult leader chick, but has no problem banging the brainwashed wife of the police officer who helped him infiltrate the cult in the first place.

    Dear Ann Landers: I’m interested in one of my husband’s friends; tall, dark, handsome, fashion forward, and a penchant for psycho-killery. Should I leave my family and children to end this marriage of lies?

    Clearly, this man is deeply confused when it comes to relations with the opposite sex, though I’m not sure if its in ways the author intended.

    Aliaseses
    Dress up Frank

    Several: Bill Messina-suave drug dealer; Arnold Groetsch-Fordem Industries Armored Cars; Agent Peterson-FBI; Frank Loomis-cuckolded husband; and Joe Rainey-homeless vet from Detroit.  All without any real effort other than wearing clothes without a giant skull on them.  He had identity skills like that old NBC show, ‘The Pretender’, with the added bonus of not being bullshit.

    Postcards from the Edge
    Letter column all-stars

    Issue #4 is where the letters column reveals the first appearance of a darker segment of the punisher audience that I don’t think the Marvel editors were truly prepared for, the Gun-Nerd.  These are the guys that considered the Punisher Magazine to be the Sunday Comics section of Soldier of Fortune.  I grew up around guns, family probably owned 25 or so, got my first BB for my 3rd birthday, and had several guns of my own by the time I was 10.  When I was a kid, I used to see these dudes at gun shows all the time, and even back then I instinctively ID’d the stench of “lose”.

    Before the age of google, in issue 4’s letters column ‘Craig’ is able to give a multi-paragraph lesson on the forestock configurations of the AK-47, the proper methods of clearing gun jams, and some mostly incorrect information on the details of the Striker assault shotgun.  What’s truly fascinating here is probably the earliest written foreshadowing of the internet, as four issues later he’s ruthlessly flamed by a green beret and some other random dude happy to explain how: Craig’s information?  Thats bullshit information.  And so the flame cycle begins, stoked, fired, and printed by the Marvel editorial staff.  Look forward to this section, readers, it only gets better over time.

    The Fall Guy
    Greatest Stunts

    Triple Lindy, Stick the Landing.

    Stunts = Many, including taking out foot soldiers with a handful of rattlesnakes, training brainwashed cultists and children how to use an M16, and being woefully incompetent at camping for someone who stalked the jungles of Vietnam (he was afraid of rattlesnakes crawling into his sleeping bag in the wilds of Missouri, and damn near shot a raccoon sneaking up on his camp).  By far the most impressive was identifying an incoming missile while piloting a helicopter, then quickly diving out to land safely on his feet in the jungle below.  Luckily, he remembers to do a couple of flips on the way down to break his fall.

    Notes n’ Quotes
    Quotes, ads, and random junk

    All the cool ninjas wear their shit upside their head.

    Few memorable early Frankisms: “I have no particular beef with the Rev.  But he smells like a stinker.”  One issue of note to English historians has the last recorded written use of the adage “A cobbler should stick to his last.”  And finally, I thought this book had cracked he Comics Code Authority when I saw “This shit is dangerously overloaded” at the beginning of issue #5, but closer investigation shows that the letterer was just messing with us with his ‘p’s and ‘t’s from way back when letterers actually lettered by hand and weren’t required to list the name of whatever lameass computer graphics company they work for in the book credits.  Two ads for honorable mention attached.

    Meat giving it to Special Olympians so hard he’s shedding tears of Giving It.

    Next up: Punisher War Journal Issues #1-5. See you in a couple weeks.