Happy Mother’s Day from the Shattered Lens!
Evil elitists are plotting to transmit mind-controlling madness, turning America’s citizenry into docile sheep to do their bidding! No, I’m not talking about today’s election (though I could be!), it’s the plotline of CAPTAIN AMERICAN AND THE FALCON: MADBOMB, Jack Kirby’s 1975 seven part epic collected in this 2004 graphic novel release. The King was making his return to Marvel after five years working for rival DC, and took over the reigns of his baby Cap’s monthly book as writer/artist/editor.
Kirby was never a great writer, but he shines in this tale of an attempted hostile takeover of America by a group of elitists using the Madbomb to control the populace and rule the good ol’ USA. Cap and the Falcon are enlisted by no less than Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to thwart the fiendish plot. King Kirby’s artwork is stunning, embellished by inkers Frank Giacoia and D. Bruce Berry. Kirby gives us…
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“What the fuck do you call 125 murders in 5 years?”
“Work in progress.”
With that line, Dolph Lundgren claimed the role of Frank Castle as his own.
Who is Frank Castle? A former cop, he was mistakenly believed to be dead after mobsters killed his wife and children. He has spent five years waging a one man war on the Mafia. When not killing the criminal element, he spends his time naked in the sewers and having conversations with God.
“Come on God,” he says, “answer me. For years I’m asking why, why are the innocent dead and the guilty alive? Where is justice? Where is punishment? Or have you already answered, have you already said to the world here is justice, here is punishment, here, in me.”
Everyone knows him as the Punisher. Only his former partner, Detective Berkowtiz (Lou Gossett, Jr.) suspects that the Punisher is actually Frank Castle.
Frank has been so effective in his one-man war on crime that the Mafia is now permanently weakened. Plotting to take over city’s underworld, the Yakuza arrives in New York City. Their leader, Lady Tanaka (Kim Miyori), kidnaps the son of Gianni Franco (Jereon Krabbe) and threatens to kill him unless Franco turns his operation over to her. The Punisher and Franco team up to rescue Franco’s son and to destroy the Yakuza. Even as the two works together, the Punisher makes sure that Franco knows that he will be punished for being a criminal.
“There’s a limit to revenge, you know,” Franco says.
“I guess I haven’t reached mine yet,” The Punisher answers.
With the current popularity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it is easy to forget that, in the 80s and 90s, almost all Marvel movies were straight-to-video affairs like this one, made with budgets so low that they could not even afford a Stan Lee cameo. The Punisher was one of the few halfway entertaining ones. It may not be a great movie but when compared to the 1990 version of Captain America or the Roger Corman-produced Fantastic Four, The Punisher looks like a masterpiece. When this movie was first released, The Punisher was one of the most popular of Marvel’s characters, starring in three separate titles. While the movie embraces the Punisher’s violent methods and reactionary worldview, it also make some unnecessary chances to the character, not only tweaking his origin story by making Frank a former cop (instead of a grieving father whose family fell victim to random mob violence) but also doing away with The Punisher’s iconic skull shirt.
Can a punisher without a skull still be The Punisher?
Surprisingly, he can. Dolph Lundgren is not only physically right for the role but he is also believable as a psychologically damaged vigilante. This Punisher could teach Deadpool a thing or two. After the Punisher kills one gangster in front of the man’s terrified son, he tells him, “Stay a good boy and grow up to be a good man. Because if you don’t, I’ll be waiting.” When the boy aims his father’s gun at him, the Punisher places his forehead against the barrel and says, “Do it.” When you consider that The Punisher was originally introduced, in the pages of The Amazing Spider-Man, as someone who would shoot jaywalkers because they had broken the law, you can see that Lundgren’s performance really gets to the twisted soul of the character.
Even without the skull, Lundgren’s Punisher is still far superior to the versions played by Tomas Jane and Ray Stevenson. When Jon Bernthal plays the role in the second season of Daredevil (and officially brings the character into the MCU), he will hopefully have learned some lessons from watching Dolph Lundgren.
Rundown: Last Man is a French comic by Bastien Vives, Michael Sanlaville, and Balak. I first encountered it back in 2015 (thumbed through it at Barnes & Nobles). It recently came into my possession as a belated birthday gift.
What I loved: The world is a wondrous amalgam of things I love such as shounen manga, medieval tales, 80’s action films. characters made the story enjoyable. Richard Aldana is the epitome of the action heroes of yesteryear. He has the charisma/confidence of a John MacLane and the combat prowess of a Bruce Lee. Adrian Velba is such a sweet and innocent kid who reminded me of a mix of Son Tony and Uzumaki Naruto. Marianne Velba is an awesome mom who reminded me of Susan Richards (formerly Storm) minus the cosmic radiation powers.
What I disliked: The volume felt too short, I was done in 15 minutes and I have been jonezing for more ever since!
Buy or Browse: If you’re a fan of mangas, a good story, etc… GET IT NOW!
Last year, at this time, we shared some classic romance comic book covers. Starting in the late 1940s, many comic book companies tried to broaden their audience by publishing romance comic books. These comics told dramatic love stories in which young women had to deal with issues of cheating, divorce, jealousy, heartache, and the search for the one.
Because it’s Valentine’s Day, here’s more love and romance.
And remember, while you’re searching for love, be careful and don’t accept a ride from the first guy who offers. Or you could end up with a bad reputation like Toni!
Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!