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Hey, guys, LOOK WHAT I BOUGHT!
That’s right. In August of ’94, a group of madmen prayed to their twisted, glorious crossover gods and a meeting of Punisher and Archie was born. I had always known this was out there, a common sight on “weirdest crossovers” lists, but I never, never, thought I’d actually have it in my hands.
Even from the beginning, I love so much about it. The way Punisher is drawn in a gritty, grounded style, but then you have Archie’s big dumb cartoon face right there, staring at you. Help me, he pleads, please, this shouldn’t be. I love Punisher’s nonsense gun. He’s holding the magazine? It has a long scope, but he’s just holding it against his bicep? It’s somehow the crossover we’ve been dreading, as if it’s not some kind of aberration that can only confirm the inherent beauty in life.
Alright, enough of this, lets crack it open.
The basic set up is that Frank is after a drug dealer named “Red” who escapes to Riverdale. The twist? This guy looks kinda like Archie. Or should I say, a horrific Dick Tracy villain disguised as the guy from Mad Magazine.
It seems Punisher is in league with Uncle Sam on this one, which means he can’t resort to his usual super-murder methods. Which is, honestly, a bit disappointing. I was looking forward to Punisher, bloody and beaten, screaming into the rain from atop a pile of Riverdale corpses. Betty or Veronica? No problem, I’ve got two friends for the both of them. Smith and Wesson.
Here’s the thing, though. When we meet Punisher, the world is very real-looking (well, comic “real” looking). All the Punisher supporting characters are “realistically” drawn, all throughout the comic, but when he goes to Riverdale, everyone is in there classic cartoony style.
What does this mean? Is Riverdale some kind of refuge for victims of grotesque deformities? He’s surrounded by these saccharine, flailing, weird-haired monsters. It’s like a town filled with Church approved fever dreams. It’s what I would image Frank Castle’s hell to be. Exactly.
So anyway, Frank infiltrates a school dance under the guise of a new gym teacher and chats up a woman named Grundy and a man named Flutesnoot. I’d like to remind you all that Frank saw his entire family brutally shot to death in front of him. He sees the drug guy Red, shoots a lot of dudes, blah blah blah.
In the end, because of his government deal and the persevering effects of Riverdale, he ends up letting the bad guy “go”. Though, in this context, that means he ties him to a giant balloon of The Shield and lets it rise into the air. Sharp-eyed readers will note the villain saying “can’t breathe“. Frank “If I Don’t See Them Physically Die, I Didn’t Do It” Castle, everyone.
This was a great buy. Every time I look at it, I see something new. And it’s crazy. It’s just a mishmash of two wildly different properties. Judging by Archie vs. Predator this kind of thing happens often. And it’s my new favorite thing.