A Look Back at The Punisher Meets Archie #1 (1994)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Welcome back, superhero enthusiasts, comic book collectors, fans of 1990s culture, and fans of both Marvel Comics and Archie Comics! Today, I have a retro review of one of the most wild ideas for a comic book crossover that actually got published in 1994. Back then I was still in college and ramping up my comic book collection. Then one day, I saw a print ad for the Marvel-Archie special project about the iconic Archie Andrews crossing over with the Punisher!

That’s right! The unthinkable concept pushed through and way back in 1994, I ordered in advance a copy of the comic book (note: this was actually one comic book published respectively by Marvel Comics and Archie Comics but with their own packaging and slight adjustments to the title) and eventually got to read it.

Behind the scenes, the management of Archie Comics wanted to take part in the wildly popular trend of intercompany crossover comic book publishing not just to boost their sales but also establish a stronger presence in comic book specialty stores. Back then, Marvel Comics editor-in-chief Tom DeFalco and Archie Comics editor Victor Gorelick were good friends (note: DeFalco entered comic book publishing while working for Archie Comics) and sometimes they would joke with each other about potential crossover concepts between their companies. Gorelick eventually had lunch with independent comic creator Batton Lash and talked about Archie wanting to get involved with crossovers. The Archie editor told Lash about he and DeFalco joking about Archie encountering the Punisher, and in response the independent creator stated that they should really push through with it.

Lash went on to make a pitch for the series and Gorelick sent it to DeFalco. Marvel’s editor-in-chief loved it and eventually the concept was approved complete with strategic involvement in the production by key talents from both Archie and Marvel. For the artwork, Archie’s Stan Goldberg and Marvel’s John Buscema worked together to maintain different tones by means of drawing settings and characters that are specific with their respective companies. The inkwork was done by Tom Palmer.

Now you must be wondering…was the crazy crossover any good? We can find out in this look back at The Punisher Meets Archie #1, published by Marvel Comics in 1994 with a story written by Batton Lash and drawn by Punisher artist John Buscema and Archie artist Stan Goldberg.

The cover with a die-cut design.

Early story

The story begins in a city where a man (in a trench coat and a cap) is seen running away from someone chasing him. As he hurriedly climbs over a wall, he hears the chaser’s gun click and responds by firing some bullets at him. The chaser climbs over the wall and he turns out to be Frank Castle, the Punisher. The Punisher notices that his target left his cap on the floor, and look at the nearby station full of people.

Inside the said station, the man who got away from the Punisher has red hair and a sinister looking face. He buys a ticket going to Riverdale.

The next day in the town of Riverdale, Archie Andrews rings the bell of the front door at the luxurious residence of the Lodge family. A little boy named Leroy (cousin of Veronica Lodge) surprises him and makes him wet using a water-filled plastic gun. In response, Archie grabs the hose nearby and unleashes water. He accidentally hits Veronica who got so angry, she decided to cancel her date with him.

Still wet, Archie walks down the sidewalk being followed by a car…

Quality

See your favorite Archie characters among them?

I’ll start with the story written by Batton Lash. To be clear, this comic book has a dominant Archie Comics tone meaning it is wholesome and fun, and at the same time never childish. The Punisher-focused scenes showed lots of signs of restraint meaning in order to connect well with the overall wholesome tone of the comic book, adulterated stuff and violent concepts related to the Punisher are absent. For me, having an overall wholesome tone works given the fact that most of the story is set in Riverdale and there are tremendously more Archie characters than there are Marvel characters.

More on the story, the concept by Batton Lash is wonderful and the way the plot was structured not only ensured a fun story but also made sense. The plot itself is pretty believable and the story is full of nice and interesting moments to read. There certainly were no boring scenes at all!

To have Punisher encounter Archie without ever using the now overuses versus-battle-type approach here was believable, sensible and even impressive. For the most part, as reflected in portrayals and dialogue, Lash captured the essence of the Archie characters and anyone who loves stories about Archie and the gang (plus Josie and the Pussycats and Katy Keene) will have a lot to enjoy here. Even the disruption in Riverdale caused by the gang of crooks and the Punisher has that strong Archie-tone and never went overboard.

Punisher, Micro Chip, the local cops and a familiar face from the Riverdale high school’s cafeteria.

With regards to Lash presenting Marvel’s vigilante, the Punisher here is subdued in terms of seriousness. While he is not portrayed to be gritty (note: he’s also less violent), he is still rugged and you will still see him firing guns during the right moments. With the reduction of violent action, Punisher does a lot more detective work and has his companion Microchip with him. While rugged, the Punisher is not as snobbish as one might think here. In fact, there are a few pleasant surprise moments in the story with regards to his encountering certain supporting characters of Archie. These moments, although they make Punished look like he’s out of character, I still find pretty delightful.

More on the characters, there is a whole bunch of them here! As the story is set in Riverdale, it comes to no surprise that supporting characters of Archie Comics are present and for the most part they were presented to delight those who love Archie and the gang. Mr. Weatherbee, Mr. Lodge, Reggie Mantle, Betty Cooper, Jughead Jones, Pop Tate, Svenson, Ms. Grundy, Professor Flutesnoot and others are here and they don’t just make mere appearances.  

As this is a special project between Marvel Comics and Archie Comics, there is a lot of fan service here and there leaning towards the interests of Archie fans. For the most part, these fan service elements (note: there are some from Marvel Comics) were actually fun to look at and I personally did not find them distracting.

Conclusion

Punisher and Micro Chip explore Riverdale as Jughead and Archie are in Pop’s place.

While it is essentially an Archie comic book in terms of storytelling and visuals and lacks the kind of adulterated stuff that Punisher fans love, The Punisher Meets Archie #1 (1994) is still a very enjoyable crossover to read, and it sure is fun from start to finish. For one thing, the concept about Archie meeting with Punisher with Riverdale as the main setting works wonderfully even by today’s standards. What was an unbelievable concept got executed nicely into a believable and fun product. I should state that this kind of intercompany crossover comic book is still one-of-a-kind and its literary value (as opposed to financial value) is undeniably high. No doubt about, this crossover is a comic book classic!

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of The Punisher Meets Archie #1 (1994), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $53 while the near-mint copies of the deluxe newsstand edition and the direct edition cost $105 and $70 respectively.

If you prefer the Archie Comics-published version – Archie Meets The Punisher #1 (1994) – be aware that the near-mint copy of the comic book costs $70 according to Mile High Comics as of this writing.

The cover of the Archie Comics-published version of the same crossover. This one is more eye-catching than that of the Marvel version.

Overall, The Punisher Meets Archie #1 (1994) is highly recommended!

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back At Superman and Spider-Man

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

I miss the old times when big rivals Marvel and DC Comics would set aside competition temporarily to team up and rely on their respective comic creators to make superhero crossover comic books that the fans can enjoy.

Back in the 1970s, key developments related to the comic book adaptation of The Wizard of Oz brought the two rivals together as partners. In 1976, Marvel and DC’s first superhero crossover Superman vs. The Amazing Spider-Man got published and to this day many comic book collectors and geeks I encountered still enjoy it. A few of them even called it a classic.

The collaboration between Marvel and DC continued in 1981 with Superman and Spider-Man which was published as issue number 28 of the Marvel Treasury Edition series.

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The cover.

This is my look back at Superman and Spider-Man.

The comic book

Scripted by then Marvel Comic editor-in-chief Jim Shooter (with Marv Wolfman mentioned for plot suggestions) with art drawn by John Buscema and inkwork done by Terry Austin, Al Milgrom, Steva Leialoha, Walt Simonson, Bob Layton, Joe Rubinstein and Bob Wiacek, the comic book begins when Spider-Man swings into a construction site where he encounters several armed men and stops them singlehandedly.

Even though he stopped the bad guys, Spider-Man’s spider sense bothers him making him speculate that, because there’s no clear danger around him, the construction site seemed to be a threat.

After Spider-Man swings away from the police who just arrived, classic Marvel supervillain Doctor Doom watches via surveillance video and he was bother by the way things turned out.

“I did not like the way Spider-Man paused and look around after subduing the thieves – – as if he sensed something unusual about the excavation! Those accursed spider instincts of his,” Doom said before proceeding with his master plan.

A day later, the Hulk arrives in Metropolis causing lots of damage. Separately Superman and Spider-Man arrive to contain the green guy. However, things are not what they seem. This is where the story description ends.

Quality

What this comic book lacked compared to the 1976 Superman-Spider-Man crossover is visual impact. Clearly John Buscema had to follow closely the script which called for multiple panels per page and that left him little room to draw scenes dynamically. That’s not to see the art is weak. In fact, Buscema’s art is pretty good and he has deep knowledge about how the characters (including those many supporting characters and other minor characters from both Marvel and DC Comics) really looked from the size of Hulk’s body, the details on Wonder Woman’s costume, the distinctive look of J. Jonah Jameson, Perry White, etc. In short, I recognized the characters very easily.

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This remains fun to read.

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Peter Parker in Metropolis along with the Superman supporting characters. This is one great element that made this comic book worth reading.

While the high number of panels per page limited him, Buscema managed to come up with some action shots that packed some impact.

When it comes to writing and storytelling, this comic book exceeds that of the 1976 Superman-Spider-Man crossover big time! To start with, the plot is much more elaborate, more detailed and yet consistently remained easy to follow.

While the 1976 crossover had the most popular villains of Superman and Spider-Man as the representation of evil, this one instead had Dr. Doom and Parasite. The great news is that these two super villains complement each other nicely and that itself adds good depth into the plot. Dr. Doom is a major schemer and Parasite fitted nicely within his master plan for global chaos.

Regarding dialogue, the script had a lot of strength and was also specific in capturing the personalities of the superheroes, the super villains and the supporting cast. I can easily identify J. Jonah Jameson, Perry White, Lois Lane and others through the dialogue.

Not to be outdone is the deeper approach to the crossover aspect of the story. Right from the start, the comic book creators expected us readers to suspend disbelief and start believing that while the story is non-canon, the respective universes of Marvel and DC Comics co-existed. Because there were TV shows of Wonder Woman and the Hulk playing, the two characters were included in the comic book adding depth to the crossover.

Speaking of crossovers, this comic book was not limited to Superman and Spider-Man. The encounter between the Hulk and Superman was a short but sweet spectacle to read. The encounter between Wonder Woman and Spider-Man meanwhile was short yet fun.

Adding more to the fun in this comic book was how Clark Kent interacted with the Spider-Man supporting characters while Peter Parker interacted with the Superman supporting characters. I enjoyed every moment of these scenes.

As far as narrative is concerned, this comic book is slightly slanted towards Superman. One factor behind this was the implementation of how local authorities interact with Superman and Spider-Man. Whenever he solves crime, Superman is highly respected by the public and the police. This is not the case with Spider-Man who is often perceived to be a social menace even though he helps solve crimes. Another factor was that Superman did more detective-type work (including a visit to Latveria) while Spidey hardly contributed anything to the plot’s development.

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Nothing can be more frustrating than getting attacked by police officers when you try to help them solve their problems.

Regardless, the two icons got a fair share of the spotlight during the final stages of the story and there was enough spectacle to enjoy.

If there is any complaint I have, it would be the comic book creators’ reluctance on fully connecting itself to the 1976 crossover. In the scene wherein Peter Parker was guided into the film editing room by Jimmy Olsen, he recognized Lois Lane and remembered meeting her in the 1976 crossover (which ended with socializing). And yet when Spider-Man and Superman get together in this comic book, there was a noticeable lack of friendliness and personal cooperation between them even though they bonded nicely in the 1976 story.

Conclusion

Overall, Superman and Spider-Man is indeed a highly engaging, fun-filled superhero crossover comic book. For me, it is a true literary classic and definitely worth searching for out there. I read this crossover many times from start to finish and even though I knew the plot and the dialogue, I still had a lot of fun reading along the way. With the combined talents of Shooter, Buscema and many others, this superhero crossover was indeed one of the very best stories ever told by Marvel and DC Comics.

Given the current corporate climate Marvel and DC Comics are now in, it is very unlikely we will see another creatively fun superhero crossover collaboration between them happening soon. For the newcomers reading this, Marvel is owned by the Walt Disney Company while DC Comics is owned by Warner Bros.

Whether you search for the original comic book or its inclusion in a volume of The Marvel/DC Collection: Crossover Classics Volume 1, Superman and Spider-Man is highly recommended!


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com