Tag Archives: Super Blog Team Up

Two Wrongs Making a Right-SBTU-Punisher Meets Archie!

Hey, folks!  I hope you have enjoyed the last couple of weeks as Sparky Ryan brought you the history of the Marvel UK incursion into the states from the early 90’s.  I had a great time with some of those books back in the day, and his work was a great trip down memory lane, but now your good 90’s comics aficionado and pal Dean Compton is back, and I am back just in time for one of my favorite elements of this blog…THE SUPER BLOG TEAM UP!!!!!

If you weren’t around last time or haven’t had the chance to look at the Super Blog Team Up subpage here, the SBTU (I ain’t gonna keep typing that out folks; I ain’t getting paid by the word.  Hell, I ain’t getting paid at all!) is a quarterly gathering of sorts where many blogs publish on the same day about the same topic.  At the bottom of my random meanderings, make sure you click the links and take a gander at what all the great folks have shared in SBTU.  We all work really hard, and we all appreciate every view and comment we get.  Except for the ones from spammers.  It’s really sad how excited I will get when I get a notification for a comment, only to find it is poorly written spam imploring me to spend some money on something to filter out spam comments.  As an aside to this aside, I think I’d like spam comments better if their grammar was correct.

But I have digressed so far that one might believe this not to be a blog about comic books at all!  You’d be sorely mistaken!  As I was saying about SBTU, the concept is that all of these blogs look at the same subject on the same day.  This time, the subject is Team Up, Tear Down, and from the second I heard that, I could not help but think of the team up that never should have happened, but somehow tore down every preconceived notion one would have about this comic working or being good.  I am talking about the time comic book hell froze over.  I am talking about Punisher Meets Archie…

That's the most honest blurb in the history of comments; many, myself included, dreaded this one.
That’s the most honest blurb in the history of comments; many, myself included, dreaded this one.

The dread was punctuated with the entire “why are they doing this?/oh my god, they’re ruining everything/they don’t know what they’re doing” mentality that seems to permeate every fanboy’s good sense at some point.  This time, though, our cynical malaise seemed justified (to the max, as we would say in the 90’s) because how could this be readable, let alone good?  I mean, it’s Punisher Meets Archie, for Christ’s sake!

The answer to the question of how could it be readable or good can be found on the  credits page:

Punisher Meets Archie - When Worlds Collide #435 - Page 3

Indeed, that is the fine talent of the late John Buscema and the late Stan Goldberg combined with one of the best inkers of all time, Tom Palmer, to bring you this tale.  You see, the first element of this endeavor that would have doomed it to disaster, would have been seeing the character drawn in a style dichotomous to what we usually see with them.  Punisher in the Archie style would have made all the Punisher fans angrier than Hulk driving a compact car while he is stuck in rush hour traffic.  Now try getting that image out of your head!

Conversely, seeing Archie done up all grim and gritty would have made Archie fans feel angry and betrayed as well.  I’d come with some metaphor or simile for the anger of Archie fans, but based on their choice of comic fare, I am unsure that they get angry.  I mean, nothing in that world can’t be solved with just a waltz down to the choklit shop, right?

So that solved one problem, but the elephant in the room would have to be how one would mesh such strikingly disparate worlds without compromising the integrity of either, or in Punisher’s case, without compromising what was left of the integrity of an emotionless and psychopathic mass murderer who was being used as a guest in seemingly every book at Marvel to increase sales.  We talked about his ubiquity here at The Unspoken Decade when we covered Darkhawk.  I mean, who could possibly bridge this chasm?

Punisher Meets Archie - When Worlds Collide #435 - Page 6

According to both of the publishers involved, enter Batton Lash:

Punisher Meets Archie - When Worlds Collide #435 - Page 4
If they had gone with the whole metal detectors story that Victor mentions, it would have been a debacle on the level of the Segway, a vehicle that PEOPLE STILL RIDE.

Batton Lash concocted a premise that would work for both universes, and the only caveat that any Punisher fan might have a quarrel with is the fact that Punisher is working with the feds in order to bring in our villain, and he has agreed to bring this quarry in alive.

Being the gigantic Punisher fan I am, I understand their point.  Frank Castle ain’t known for playing nice with the feds.  It’s basically the real world equivalent of teaming up Kruschev and Kennedy.  That’s something that just won’t and should not work; however, if one thinks about it, Punisher is always compromising.  I have seen numerous Punisher team-ups with Spider-Man, Daredevil, and Captain America where Castle agrees not to kill anyone (one example being The Omega Effect).  I think too often, folks think Punisher=murderer, and while yes, he is indeed a serial killer, what one should really think is Punisher=Force of Nature.  While Punisher would greatly prefer to murder his adversaries, it is much more important for him to achieve his goals.  This means making temporary alliances, such as the ones I named earlier (or even the times he makes temporary alliances with criminals, such as in Punisher:  P.O.V. ) in order to get done whatever it is that Punisher needs to get done at that time.  That’s what makes him a force of nature to me; he allows nothing, not even compromise, to stop his forward progress.

So to me, this isn’t a big deal, although again, I get why some Punisher fans cannot sign off on it.

The twist of the story, though, is almost 100% an Archie gag, and man, it is a good one.

No character in an Archie comic book has ever looked sleazier, and that's saying something because REGGIE MANTLE is an Archie character.
No character in an Archie comic book has ever looked sleazier, and that’s saying something because REGGIE MANTLE is an Archie character.

So Punisher heads for Riverdale in search of the mookiest doppelgänger in the history of mooks, doppelgänger, and mooky doppelgängers.  Of course, this leads to trouble due to our mook’s resemblance to Archie.  Also, call Guinness and let them know I just set the record for more uses of mook in a paragraph.

Are these the first crosshairs in the history of Archie?
Are these the first crosshairs in the history of Archie?

Could it really end this quickly?  Nope.  This is a crossover folks, and you don’t need ‘ol Dean Compton to let you know that crossovers can’t end this fast, especially not when there are 48 PAGES!  NO ADS!  to fill!  So in what is the biggest swerve since Vince Russo ran WCW (WARNING: WRESTLING JOKE), Archie was only shot by a water gun.  In true Archie fashion, though, this instance leads him into a disagreement with Veronica!

Punisher Meets Archie - When Worlds Collide #435 - Page 11
What does Archie mean about his costume being ridiculous? Isn’t that what he always wears?

So, in true Archie fashion, having already asked one of the ladies out, Archie goes with his second choice, Betty.

I feel really badly for Betty here; who likes being second best?  Betty is a pretty lady; she’s nice, she’s funny, and she’s smart.  Why does she just wait for Archie to call her AFTER he has ruined his chances with Veronica?  Betty should play second fiddle to no one, and neither should anyone reading this.  Learn from Betty, folks!

Punisher in the meantime, heads for Riverdale, very unaware of it and very prepared for it to be a cesspool.  Even his super genius partner, Microchip, apparently has never heard of Riverdale, despite it being a suburb of New York and how, with a name like Microchip, he is required to know EVERYTHING.  That’s one of the few things I learned from 80’s movies.

Punisher Meets Archie - When Worlds Collide #435 - Page 13

Of course, it takes little time for Archie’s doppelgänger to insert himself into Archie’s circle in Riverdale, and of course, what would an Archie comic be without Veronica (or possibly Betty) making Archie jealous via the most emotionally devastating weapon in the history of mankind:

THE DATE WITH ANOTHER GUY!

Punisher Meets Archie - When Worlds Collide #435 - Page 14

Punisher Meets Archie - When Worlds Collide #435 - Page 15
How did Mr. Lodge and Veronica miss Melvin’s act of child abuse that occurred right in front of them?

Emily and I often watch this show, American Greed, on CNBC that focuses on how folks scam rich people, and we both find it shocking how easy rich folks get scammed.  Like, it seems that the only thing required to scam a rich person is to know one and to then ask them for money.

Mr. Lodge is no exception, as it seems that Melvin just SHOWS UP and tells him of his business exploits, and Lodge cannot unlock all of his safes and vaults fast enough.  Also, doesn’t it seem like acquiring a business would be small potatoes to Mr. Lodge?

Speaking of safes and vaults, wouldn’t you like to see Uncle Scrooge and Mr. Lodge have a crossover?  I have seen Mr. Lodge do regular swimming in one of those old timey swimsuits that are always hilarious, but I bet he could swim though coins just like Uncle Scrooge.

BAM!  There’s the premise!  They can have a coin swimming race.  You.  Yes, you.  Call Archie and Disney and let them know about my idea and tell them to GET IT BOOKED.

Still, fun times are happening, at least until Punisher shows up and has the emo Punisher moment he always has that we all love him for. It is the one shred of humanity that makes us feel compassion for everyone’s favorite skull-chested psychopath…

Punisher Meets Archie - When Worlds Collide #435 - Page 16

Punisher’s last shred of humanity causes him to pass over a malt, which would have led him to those guys in the corner, something I believe would cause even Riverdale denizens to take notice.  Alas, Pop’s dedication to the dollar and fear of government overrides his sense of danger, and those shadow punks take Archie, who is apparently upset that his second choice for a date dared not to wait for him to see if he called her.  Well, Archie is about to have bigger troubles anyhow.

Punisher Meets Archie - When Worlds Collide #435 - Page 18
Archie’s patriotism is not be questioned, but neither is Jughead’s insatiable power to mooch.

I wonder what Pops is hiding that he doesn’t want to be audited.  Maybe Riverdale ain’t so squeaky clean after all!

While Archie’s life is in danger, the faux Archie shows up at the dance with Veronica.  He quickly shows the biggest difference between him and Archie is that he’s such a giant dick that perennial dick Reggie Mantle is put off by him.  If Reggie Mantle thinks you’re a creep, you must be a creep on a galaxy level.  Or at the very least, the type of person Punisher likes to kill catch for the feds.

Reggies smile as he puts his arm on Melvin always makes me smile.  It is the best creepy smile in the history of comics, and if you disagree, you can start your own blog and talk about it.
Reggie’s smile as he puts his arm on Melvin always makes me smile. It is the best creepy smile in the history of comics, and if you disagree, you can start your own blog and talk about it.

Man, Betty is awesome.  She’s the only one who wonders where Archie is and what’s going on.  Archie is making our crossover complete, as Punisher follows the criminals who kidnapped him.  Get ready Archie, because you are about to meet The Punisher.

Punisher Meets Archie - When Worlds Collide #435 - Page 20

Yes, Archie, The Punisher.

Punisher Meets Archie - When Worlds Collide #435 - Page 24

That may be the image that makes the book.  Also, Punisher would probably have had an easier time differentiating Melvin and Archie if he had, you know, OPENED HIS EYES.

Of course, no matter how ominous that panel may look, Punisher at some point decides that pointing a gun is just a smidge safer if one opens their eyes, and he realizes that Archie is not his prey.

Archie manages to get away with an assist from his pal Jughead, which I love.  In the face of imminent death, Jughead and Archie are best friends, and he finds a way to help his pal.  We’d all like to be that person; perhaps you can find the Jughead in you.  I have done so via massive consumption of fast food.  You’ll have to find your own path, however.

For real though, this is an incident that exemplifies what I spoke of when I sad that Batton Lash showed us these characters together without violating the integrity of either set of characters, and this little bit with Jughead helping Archie speaks volumes to that.

Archie does exactly what America’s favorite whitebread teen would do, or also what most sane folks would do, and that is telling the cops that Punisher is loose in Riverdale and that some mob guys have kidnapped him.

Hopefully, you have not been as big an idiot as Mr. Andrews has when he has called the police in the past.

I am not sure that Archie blew that undercover cop's cover so much as the uniformed cop did when he informed the entire world that this guy wasn't a spy, but rather he was an undercover cop.
I am not sure that Archie blew that guy’s cover so much as the uniformed cop did when he informed the entire world that he was an undercover cop, not a spy.

Why are Archie and Jughead winking like they got over on the cops?  I mean, not only are the cops obviously not going to help, but you asked them for help.  You didn’t fool anyone.

I do enjoy the touch here where Archie’s concern is for his parents, not himself.  Again, Lash shows us Archie’s character simply and naturally.

Also, that is the worst undercover cop ever.  He looks like every stranger I was warned about in elementary school, and he would fool no one into believing he is not with the fuzz.

Of course, once we see Punisher interact with Riverdale’s finest, we see that maybe they don’t know much about policing, possibly because they have no crime.

Punisher Meets Archie - When Worlds Collide #435 - Page 29 Punisher Meets Archie - When Worlds Collide #435 - Page 30

Riverdale cops don’t put up with anything.  They hadn’t even run the tags and they were already demanding that Microchip get out of the van!  Where’s Occupy Riverdale to deal with this?

Archie goes to the dance where his doppelgänger is, and that’s when we see some gunplay and some great infiltration skill displayed by Punisher.   Also, Archie and his pals are sharp, except for Jughead, who has more courage than brains, it seems.

Do they really need Reggie to warn Veronica?  Wouldn't that really just take one of them?
Do they really need Reggie to warn Veronica? Wouldn’t that really just take one of them?

Punisher gets emo again during his infiltration of the school, and he also stumbles upon the reason that Betty tolerates so much from Archie.  Graffiti.

Punisher Meets Archie - When Worlds Collide #435 - Page 33
The way he is looking at that sign, I feel as though Punisher would murder a litterbug to maintain Riverdale’s innocence.

Melvin proves he is not Archie in another way, but the really fun thing is the little Easter Eggs stuck in everywhere.  One of my favorites is a conversation between Katy Keene and Millie the Model!

But let’s not make light of Veronica sticking up for herself, or the cluelessness of Mr. Weatherbee.  How can folks really confuse this guy for Archie once they are up close?

Punisher Meets Archie - When Worlds Collide #435 - Page 34
Mr. Weatherbee’s response to being physically accosted is to make sure his tie is cool. That seems appropriate.

Punisher’s infiltration works like a charm, maybe too charming, as Miss Grundy basically offers to marry Frank Castle on the spot, while Flutesnoot gives Castle the cover he needs to continue to monitor this dance, as Riverdale High is expecting a new gym teacher.

Also, the caterers now have guns and are after Melvin, but you’ll have to read that to find out how that happens; I can’t give it all to you, folks!

Punisher Meets Archie - When Worlds Collide #435 - Page 35
Mr. Weatherbee know that if the food ain’t out for the guests, a party will die.

Miss Grundy knows what she wants when she sees it!  You have got to like that!  Miss Grundy is also a woman who would never let you down and definitely carry her fair share in a relationship (probably more, as my beloved Emily does.  Check out some of her work under the Archives!)

Oh Moose, you want to help so badly.

Punisher and Archie finally find themselves able to sort out their identity crisis, and they pool their resources, which leads to what s, in my mind, the funniest moment in the book.  Archie’s War Journal.  To think of it is to chuckle, but to read it is to laugh until one’s ribs ache.

Jughead apparently managed to pay off his tab, as he is waving that hamburger around like that drunk guy at 4th of July parties does.  You know the one.
Jughead apparently managed to pay off his tab, as he is waving that hamburger around like that drunk guy at 4th of July parties does. You know the one.

There’s lots more, but if I keep going, I am just going to wind up ruining the entire book for you!  The last image I shall leave you with is one of the best Easter Eggs in the book, that being the Spider-Man/Shield crossover!

Note that I said Shield, and not S.H.I.E.L.D.  Shield, for anyone who doesn’t know, is an old patriotic Archie character, and I believe he is the first patriotic superhero, predating even Marvel’s Sentinel Of Liberty, Captain America himself!  At this point of the 90’s Shield had been in limbo since the end of DC’s Impact Comics line (which we will definitely be covering here at The Unspoken Decade and soon!).  I don’t known when the next time after Archie Meets Punisher we would see him, but I do know it would be a while.  We also have Sonic the Hedgehog, which Archie licensed and published.  If memory serves, it was quite successful for quite some time, and it had appeal to multiple markets, as kids like my cousin would buy it, even though they did not care for comic books in general, because it had Sonic, Tails, and all the characters from that universe in it.

It only happens in balloon form, but it happens, kids.  It totally happens.

Punisher Meets Archie - When Worlds Collide #435 - Page 45

To find out how Archie, Punisher, and the gang save the day, you’ll just have to read the rest yourself.  Normally I have no qualms about spoiling comic books published twenty years ago, but in this case, I don’t want to reveal all of the magic.

There’s a true art to combining franchises that is usually done in a heavy-handed manner and appears clumsy.  Take a gander at the first Aliens vs. Predator movie if you need to reminded.  Actually, don’t.  I don’t want to ruin movies forever for you.

In this case, the amalgamation of the Archie/Punisher universes is done so effortlessly that one almost instinctively knows that this was a lot of hard work, as nothing so slick could ever be easy.  Lash, Goldberg, J. Buscema, and Palmer are to be commended over and over for taking these two wrongs and making them into something right.

I also cannot help but believe that this was the genesis for Archie publications like the Afterlife with Archie zombie stories or the recent death of Archie in Life with Archie.  Hell, without this comic book, we might not even have had the adult Archie stories in Life With Archie that preceded his demise.

I think this is the first time in a long time that Archie Comics stretched what an Archie comic could be, and while it may not have paid immediate dividends, it did impact the line in the future.  For Punisher, not so much, as he dove right into another crossover right after this one.  In fact, despite my saying that was the last image earlier, here’s one more.  Check out the rest of the Super Blog Team Up at the links under the pic, and thanks for dropping by the Unspoken Decade!

Punisher Meets Archie - When Worlds Collide #435 - Page 50

Super Blog Team-Up 4:  Team Up, Tear Down

  1. Bronze Age Babies:  FF/Doom, Red Skull/Cap, Joker/Batman
  2. In My Not So Humble Opinion:  Solomon Kane and Conan!
  3. Between the Pages:  World’s Finest Couple: Lois Lane/Bruce Wayne
  4. Flodo’s Page:  Green Lantern and the Little Green Man
  5. Superhero Satellite:  Superman & The Masters of the Universe 
  6. Longbox Graveyard:  Thing/Thing
  7. Superior Spider-Talk:  Spider-Man and the Coming of Razorback
  8. The Daily Rios:  New Teen Titans/DNAgents
  9. The Middle Spaces:  Super-Hegemonic Team-Up! 
  10. Chasing Amazing:  A Once in a Timeline Team-Up
  11. Retroist:  Dr. Doom/Dr. Strange
  12. Fantastiverse:  Superman/Spider-Man
  13. Mystery V-Log-Avengers #1

Super-Blog Team Up Presents-GODKILLERS: Doomsday & Bane!

 OTIwToNO

 

Hey there!  Welcome to a very special installment of The Unspoken Decade, as this is our first foray into the AMAZING Super-Blog Team-Up!  After you’re done enjoying our article here, check out the other great blogs participating in this go-round of the Super-Blog Team-Up!  Aw, who the hell am I kidding?  Those blogs are so great, you’re probably going to go read them first.  Reckon I can’t blame you, so go ahead and scope them out!  I will wait.

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You’re back?  Fantastic!  Hope you had a most excellent time, and I just want to say how honored we are here at The Unspoken Decade to be a part of the Super-Blog Team-Up, even if it has meant one of the busiest weeks of my life!  Regular readers of the best 90’s comics blog in the universe know that our usual post date is Monday, and I know that all of you enjoyed that kickass X-Force article. A few of you even enjoyed the Mike Mignola X-Force surprise post yesterday, but this is now our third straight day with a post, a first here, and between this and the two LIVE radio shows I know all y’all listen to every week (Compton After Dark and Her Dork World/His Dork World), and working 6 days a week at my regular job, I have been working my fingers to the bone!

But no matter how bad I have had it this week, two of the greatest heroes of all time had it much worse in the early 90’s.  There’s no way anyone, superhero fan or not, who was alive and cognizant in the early 90’s could forget the furor and hoopla over the death of Superman and the breaking of Batman’s back.  The latter did not create the firestorm that the former did, most likely because it came after Superman’s demise and at the same time as his rebirth, but it still caused ripples in the mainstream media, a place that comics were rarely able to venture into in the early 90’s, although that notion seems silly now, as we are in an era where super hero movies routinely dominate the box office.  But as usual, I digress.

From what I understand, it was Jerry Ordway’s idea to kill Superman.  Superman had four monthly titles then, and the creative teams worked closely together so that the four titles (Superman, Action Comics, Adventures of Superman, Superman:  The Man of Steel) basically meshed together to make what was essentially a weekly series.  Not being a giant Superman fan, that seems like more than a bit much.  I’m sure the Superman fans were ecstatic, but I didn’t know either of them.  None of my pals were into Superman.  He was seen as a relic, and the four titles were ignored by us and the world; they were to be seen as a stepping stone to license underoos and usually shitty video games.

Then they decided to kill him.

The Death and Return of Superman #1992 (1993) - Page 11
Doomsday’s suit makes him look like one of the villains from the Sega CD game Night Trap, especially if one of them had been apprehended by Dr. Octopus

 

Don’t let the snark in my statement fool you; I fucking love Doomsday in this suit.  He looks creepy to me, and somehow even deadlier than when he loses the suit and has BONES THAT STICK OUT OF HIS KNEES.  I like his look and all, but I think it is hilarious that the guy who iced the Big Red S has such a feature.  It just seems silly and too “comic booky,” but then again, not only is this guy’s name Doomsday, but this also is a comic book, so I guess I can let knee-bones go.

One thing Doomsday and I have in common is an intense hatred of birds.  DC decided a great way to get me to hate Doomsday would be to have him kill a bird with his hand, and while I am not the kind of person who is cruel to animals, if Doomsday wants to kill a wild bird, power to him.  I fucking hate birds.

The Death and Return of Superman #1992 (1993) - Page 17
I guess the laughing afterwards makes it creepy, but the real question is, why the hell did that bird come to Doomsday in the first place? Did he think he was the world’s scariest and least ergonomic birdbath or something?

 

Seriously, why would that bird leave the flock just to fly over to Doomsday and meet its demise?  Perhaps it was sad and ostracized by the others.  We will never know now.  What we do know is that if we are to take Doomsday seriously as a villain, he must beat some enemy greater than a lonely bird who had no flock friends.

ENTER THE JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA!

I guess technically they were not the Justice League OF America, as their title was just “Justice League America,” and they also had a counterpart in Europe, cleverly titled “Justice League Europe”.   When I was in 7th grade, I “made up” a team called The Protection Agency, and then placed them all over the globe.   “Protection Agency Asia” and “Protection Agency Australia” were two of the teams, and if you don’t get the pattern from those two, I am not sure you should be allowed to read this or any blog.

I was accused, rightfully so, by my pals of just copying Justice League.  Of course, I could not admit this, so I clung as hard as I could to the fact that I put a Protection Agency on every continent and not just two, thus making my idea much different than JLA or JLE.  Yeah, they didn’t buy it either.  What we all bought, or at least tried to buy, was this:

The Death and Return of Superman #1992 (1993) - Page 32
Does Oberon just listen to every police band in the world and wait for something that sounds worth of JLA attention? That’s both the best and worst job ever.

 

The JLA had little identity in this time.  They were past the Maguire/Giffen/Dematteis humorous BWAHAHAHAHA era (which should be checked out by those who haven’t ever seen those JL comics.  They are as good as you have been told.), but they haven’t really established themselves as anything but a generic super-hero team.  They are a group of B-Listers and The Man of Tomorrow.  I’m not knocking these guys; I am a fan of all of them, and I especially love Guy Gardner and Blue Beetle.  My sister, Angel Hayes (who does work here at The Unspoken Decade too), is a giant Booster Gold fan.  But there’s something about this team that just doesn’t work for me.  Maybe it is Maxima, a former Superman villain, being on the team, or maybe it is a lack of Martian Manhunter at this time, but it just doesn’t always feel like the JLA.  I do like them, though, because as I have said in other entries, this is MY era, so this was MY JLA in a certain sense.  Even the JLA with Nuklon and Blue Devil holds a near and dear place to my heart, although Morrison’s JLA did eventually supplant this group as MY JLA later.

I wonder if that powerhouse line-up in Morrison’s JLA could have done better against Doomsday than this Justice League did.  One thing is for sure:  They could not have done much worse.

This is the only time in history someone who used a power ring as a weapon did not go into battle without encasing themselves in a force field first.
This is the only time in history someone who used a power ring as a weapon did not go into battle without encasing themselves in a force field first.

As bad as Guy Gardner got it, he didn’t lose out nearly as badly as Blue Beetle, who was literally beaten into a coma.  I’m not one of those folks who misuses literally, so you can stop cringing now.

The Death and Return of Superman #1992 (1993) - Page 48

Why in the hell would Maxima wear gloves but nothing over her navel.
Why in the hell would Maxima wear gloves but nothing over her navel.

As Blue Beetle lay dying, his best friend was hurtling through the sky, having been punched by Doomsday.  REALLY HARD.  Thankfully, Booster Gold literally has friends in high places.  Now you can cringe.

Booster Gold looks more like a C.H.P.S. officer from the future than a football player from the future.
Booster Gold looks more like a C.H.P.S. officer from the future than a football player from the future.

The books do a fantastic job of very quickly getting Doomsday over as a force to be reckoned with.  What made him even more palatable to readers, especially readers my age when this came out, is the fact that Doomsday was shrouded in mystery.  I don’t mean that he was wearing that awesome Night Trap villain suit; I mean that no one knew who he was.  I think nearly every character that got hot in the early 90’s had a past that was at least cloudy, if not as outright murky as The Everglades at midnight on an overcast night.  Ghost Rider, Cable, and Wolverine all immediately spring to mind as examples of this phenomenon.

Sacrificing the JLA, even if it wasn’t your Daddy’s JLA or even Grant Morrison’s JLA, made Doomsday seem formidable, but the next question had to be how they’d make Superman seem just as formidable.  The answer is an old-school wrestling tactic:  THE NO-SELL!

Oh teenagers, you and your backwards baseball caps and your surly comments.
Oh teenagers, you and your backwards baseball caps and your surly comments.

Then they beat on each other.  A LOT!  This had to be one of the most savage fights in the history of Superman, and it had to happen against the most savage opponent he ever faced.  You would think that whoever killed Superman should have been well-known, but I think having the character that killed Superman (and the character that broke the Batman) comes out of nowhere really showed the inherent danger of being a superhero.  Since we know that these stories are fictional, we can forget how serious these adventures can be.  Having a new guy come out of the woodwork and destroy an established character reminds the audience of that danger, thus inspiring new interest.

Doomsday is also one of those characters, much like Punisher and Hulk, who is more of a force of nature than they are people or people-like entities.  Doomsday seems to exist just to destroy whatever gets in his path, and he had no direction.  That is, until he found pro wrestling.

The Death and Return of Superman #1992 (1993) - Page 109
(I think that Doomsday destroyed this Lex-Mart because he hates the encroachment of Corporate America against small business.)

Once again, wrestling is to blame for destroying everything.  Of course, being the huge wrestling fan that I am, I would actually be interested in WarBash.  This card spelled doom for the citizens of Metropolis, though, as this is the moment that Doomsday became aware that he no longer had to use the Disney secret of calling birds to himself so he could subsequently kill them.  No longer would he have to wait for a cadre of costumed heroes to attack him.  He knew there was a battle waiting for him in Metropolis in the form of Major Mayhem!

Despite looking more like the lead singer of The Village People than a legitimate World Heavyweight Champion, Major Mayhem was able to teach the DC Universe’s most formidable force of nature the geography lesson that led to the death of Earth’s Greatest Hero.  He now knew of Metropolis.  One smashed road sign later, and somewhere in the distance Death of The Endless put on her blackest makeup and coolest ankh and headed for Metropolis as well.  (Spoiler Alert:  She isn’t in any of these comics.)

The Death and Return of Superman #1992 (1993) - Page 123
He smashed The Cadmus Project and Guardian too, but I can’t show you everything here.  This article is too long as it is!

Superman, the world’s mightiest hero, seems to be very out of his league here.  In a single swoop, Doomsday would eviscerate Superman, and punch the 90’s Supergirl (who will one day get a write-up here!)into goop.

The Death and Return of Superman #1992 (1993) - Page 138
Supergirl appears to be made out of Nickelodeon Gak.

 

Fearsome.  I think this was the first time I ever saw Superman bleed.  This was also from the first issue of the storyline I was able to pick up.  Every time I hit the LCS then, the Doomsday stuff was sold out.  My mom managed to snag this one for me.  I remember trying to keep it in near-mint condition as I watched the Wizard articles tell me that its price was climbing higher and higher, but I also was completely overwhelmed by the comic and just had to read it over and over.  This meant an early demise for what I thought was going to be worth a fortune forever, but in hindsight, there were very few comics I loved more than the one where Supergirl fell to Doomsday.

Despite the setbacks and despite Doomsday’s rampant brutality, Superman remains valiant and steadfast in his belief that he will stop this creature, no matter what takes.  The determination shines through, and you believe that a Superman will die.

I had a poster of that tombstone for quite some time; I still have comic shop posters of the event.  I hope I never have to get rid of them.
I had a poster of that tombstone for quite some time; I still have comic shop posters of the event.  I hope I never have to get rid of them.

 

Dan Jurgens does an amazing job with Superman #75.  Every page is a single panel; every panel is a story, culminating in an epic showdown where Superman’s Double-Axehandle is pitted against a big haymaker from Doomsday. Jurgens shows us not just how Superman appeared to the world, but also to those closest to him.  This makes his imminent death personal, and not just the death of an icon that we have all been familiar with since before we could read.  Before we see The Man of Tomorrow die, we must see him live.

 

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The entire saga is amazing, as we see a World Without a Superman, and the Return of Superman was really clever, with four men claiming to be Superman.  Doomsday was the perfect entity to destroy Superman.  He’s a monster from his opening panel until his demise alongside The Man of Steel.  His relentless onslaught was more than even Superman can handle, and even though it cost Doomsday his life, he can say what few villains can; he not only defeated, but he killed Superman.  Such a feat alone makes him worthy of inclusion in the villains entry for this go-round of Super-Blog Team Up.

However, Superman was not the only iconic superhero to fall prey to a villain.  He wasn’t even the only iconic hero to fall to a brand new villain.  In the case of the Caped Crusader,  Bane was able to do something adversaries like The Joker, The Riddler, or even KGBeast had been unable to do, and that is break Batman.

Bane first appeared in the Chuck Dixon/Graham Bolan special, Batman:  Vengeance of Bane.  I actually bought this off the shelf when it first came out.  I loved the cover, and I loved one-shots.  Due to my status as poor white trash, I was sometimes unable to get all the parts of a multi-part story, and so one-shots appealed to me, and how could a cover like this not appeal to anyone?

With the Venom tubes sticking out behind his head, Bane looks like a cross between a Luchadore and a Ghostbuster, two of the coolest things ever.
With the Venom tubes sticking out behind his head, Bane looks like a cross between a Luchadore and a Ghostbuster, two of the coolest things ever.

I said on my entry here on Punisher:  War Zone #1 that Chuck Dixon probably only wrote one masterpiece, but after reading VoB, I have to reconsider my stance.  This is amazing.  By the time you are finished with it, you both feel sorry for and repulsed by Bane.  He got a rather raw deal in life, but he somehow turns it all to his advantage.

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I am sure some politician here will suggest this as a “tough on crime” initiative any moment.
I am sure some politician here will suggest this as a “tough on crime” initiative any moment.

 

You start out feeling badly for Bane, as he has been “trapped in a world he never made!” in a much more harsh way than we ever saw happen to Howard the Duck.  Many folks, myself included, sometimes complain about the cards life handed us, but this story reminds us that there are many, especially in the third world, that have it so much worse than us.    Bane was screwed before he ever tasted oxygen.

Bane could have allowed that to damn him, but he instead rises to the challenge and makes himself king of the prison.   First, though, he has an accident that bashes his head and renders him comatose.  He has a vision of his future self while unconscious that inspires him to rise to the occasion by becoming stronger than all those around him.  Bane starts quickly after emerging from the coma, as the inmate who offered Bane what seemed to be unsavory employment gets his quickly…

It seems like if you want to avoid having your nostril ripped out in prison, you have to drop the nose ring chain look.
It seems like if you want to avoid having your nostril ripped out in prison, you have to drop the nose ring chain look.

Bane gets sent back to solitary for this, and when he emerges this time, he is a man on a mission.  He picks up a few henchmen in the prison, and begins his takeover.  He also learns to read, which I like to think was inspired by pirated broadcasts of Reading Rainbow starring LeVar Burton, but that probably isn’t true.

Batman - Vengeance Of Bane #227 - Page 22
The henchman dumping the books out of the bag, Trogg, is holding that bag of books like it is a trick or treat bag full of candy.

Soon, ruling the prison just isn’t enough for Bane, who has become the pinnacle of prowess via sheer will, concentration, and determination.  His thirst for knowledge in these books means he soon learns of a great world outside of these walls, and he finds himself wanting to know all about it.  He is intrigued when his henchman Bird (who can seemingly talk to Birds, so it isn’t just a clever name) tells him of Gotham City and Batman.  Bane decides he is to rule Gotham.

Batman - Vengeance Of Bane #227 - Page 24

That vision Bane has of Batman would be a sweet Elseworlds Batman.
That vision Bane has of Batman would be a sweet Elseworlds Batman.

Bane is then placed into an experiment in the prison using the drug Venom, which had been featured in the Batman comics prior to this.  Bruce Wayne even got addicted to it.  Bane survives experiment after experiment in the prison, and eventually, engineers a way off the island.

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That teddy bear will need a bigger band-aid now that it has fallen so far.
That teddy bear will need a bigger band-aid now that it has fallen so far.

 

Now that he has escaped the prison, Bane is in Gotham City, learning the ropes, and discovering television, in the early 90’s, I would have had to recommend USA Up All Night to him.  Being the savvy guy that he is, I am sure that he found Rhonda Sheer and Gilbert Gottfried all on his own.

He was also able to start carving a piece of the Gotham City underworld out for himself with the help of his henchmen.  That was just the start of what would eventually culminate in this…

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Batman was broken.  Superman was dead.  The 90’s brought you the villains who fulfilled the promises of all the Golden, Silver, and Bronze Age villains that preceded them.  They destroyed the icons of good, maybe not forever, but more thoroughly than any who came before them.  These two characters also became firmly entrenched in the lore of Batman and Superman, showing up in cartoons, movies, and one of the most underrated beat ‘em up games of all time.

979269-snes_death_and_return_of_superman_the_box_front
(I played this for hours and never beat it, no matter how many late fees I racked up at the video store by keeping it too long. Thanks to emulators and GameFAQ, I will soon though.)

 

These villains had to be larger than life, bigger than Gods and a 90’s kind of extreme in order to triumph over the greatest superheroes of all time, but they did so with aplomb, and remember, it all happened in The Unspoken  Decade…

Now head on over to the articles listed below and enjoy Super –Blog Team-Up!!!  Thanks for stopping in with The Unspoken Decade!  Special post tomorrow, and then next Monday, take a look at Starman!!!!  Also, check me out LIVE on internet radio Thursday nights at midnight for Her Dork World, His Dork World, and on Sunday nights at 11:30 Eastern for Compton After Dark!!!

Bronze Age Babies show us The Frightful Four!

Fantastiverse brings you The Green Goblin!

Check out an edible Boba Fett and Darth Vader at Between the Pages!

Longbox Graveyard brings us the best cosmic villain ever, Thanos!

SuperHero Satellite shows us The Legion in The Great Darkness Saga!

Chasing Amazing gets 90’s like we do here as the monster called Carnage arrives!

Superior Spider-Talk goes old school with The Chameleon!

Silver Age Sensations is bringing us the best Armored Soviet not named Rocket Red!

The Daily Rios brings you JLA vs. Beasts!

Flodo’s Page features Green Lantern villain The Lamplighter!

The Retroist gives you the one villain who rises above all others…DOOM!