Grumpy Young Supermen

Columbus Alive | July 8, 2005
He’s a blind, Batman-like vigilante who fights crime with his super senses and bouncing billy clubs, but refuses to kill. He’s a grim psychopath who uses firearms to exterminate criminals like cockroaches.

They have nothing in common except that they live in the same city (well, and they both wear skintight body unitards). They’re Marvel’s original odd couple—Daredevil and the Punisher, and in the appropriately titled new series from David Lapham, Daredevil vs. Punisher, they make like the superheroic Oscar and Felix.

The pair duke it out on a fairly regular basis—the funniest being in the Garth Ennis/John McCrea Punisher: Confederacy of Dunces, in which Daredevil, Spider-Man and Wolverine team up to pay back Punisher for the embarrassing defeats he handed each of them, and together suffer an even more embarrassing team defeat. But what makes this match-up exciting is Lapham, the writer/artist responsible for the highly recommended indie crime series Stray Bullets.

So how’s his Marvel crime series? Well, if your only experience with either character is their godawful movies, then it’s frigging Shakespeare. Otherwise it’s pretty so-so.

In the first issue, a couple of Dick Tracy-style villains are moving in on Hell’s Kitchen; Punny wants to kill them, while Ol’ Hornhead wants them to stand trial (his secret identity is a lawyer, after all).

Lapham goes a little deeper than usual into the Punisher’s character and motivation, making him a little more real and little less fun. (In his own series, Ennis portrays the Punisher as a soulless and unstoppable force of nature who kills criminals with the ennui of a bored stock boy shelving groceries.)

But Lapham’s art is crisp and clean and more brightly colored than either of the heroes’ shadowy solo books, looking more like classic comic book art than the expressionistic renderings usually assigned to these “dark” characters. The downside—instead of the long black coat of the Punisher monthly and movie, Lapham gives the anti-hero back his white gloves and go-go boots, and nothing says sissy like white gloves and go-go boots.

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Founded in 1983, Alive is the Capital City's oldest and only independent alternative and is known for providing a forum for the area's free thinkers. The paper's spirited and original perspective on music, arts and culture distinguish it from the...
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