Funnybook Babylon

April 24, 2015

The Punisher: A Conservative Fantasia Part One

Filed under: Articles — Chris Eckert @ 12:29 pm

I realize all of this is slightly premature since there is one more issue of The Punisher coming before Secret Wars kicks in, one that promises to address “what will happen to those Frank has left in his wake” so it’s possible that this issue will feature a repudiation of everything that has come so far. But having now re-read the current Punisher series by Nathan Edmondson and Mitch Gerads (with assistance from Kevin Maurer, Carmen Carnero, Moritat, Felix Ruiz, Brent Schoonover, and others) I can’t help but notice an incredibly obvious and pretty gross conservative undercurrent that is extreme even for a series about the Punisher. The overall storyline is very much the simultaneous government-fearing/military-worshiping sort of thing you get out of the modern conservative movement, and the downright contempt held for the (primarily minority) criminal class, repeatedly labeling them “thugs” and “homies” and “the have-nots” is hard to ignore. In the interest of brevity, this first exploration of the series is going to focus on the latest in a series of “women pushed too far” who become acolytes of the Punisher. Bear in mind, the pages excerpted below comprise the majority of the pages she appears in, so I feel like I haven’t lost any nuance or depth the character has been given. Wait, she took some night school classes in art so she could identify the skull ring as a “memento mori” because she doesn’t want to be just “a pretty face on the force.” There you go, all the background required or given on the character!

In The Punisher #1, Frank gives a skull ring he took from the bullet-ruined hand of a drug runner (who he subsequently pushed into the water and calmly watched get eaten by alligators) to an unnamed female police officer:

skullring01 (more…)

April 23, 2015

Oh, So THAT’S Why the Current Punisher Series Reads That Way

Filed under: Blurbs — Chris Eckert @ 11:25 am

I picked up a couple of trades from the library of the current Punisher series by Nathan Edmondson and Mitch Gerads a couple of months back. I thought the art was nice, but felt the storytelling made me uneasy. I’m not upset about the alternative take on the Punisher himself: long-running iconic IP has to be flexible, and if Edmondson/Gerads’ take on Punisher is that he’s a sardonic, handsome man who has a regular diner he posts up at and befriends the other regulars, so be it. But beyond the character himself, the stories make out Punisher to be a role model not only to random street vigilantes, but explicitly to active members of the military and the police. There’s even a cop who is taken off the force for trumped up charges and decides that maybe her best recourse for TRUE JUSTICE is to go Punisher and start indiscriminately mowing down all of the “urban” “savage” “thugs”, which is to say a bunch of youthful minorities. Similarly, the Punisher saves some military folks from a Mexican drug cartel, and they are so inspired by his example they take his war over to Afghanistan, in scenes that also involve indiscriminately mowing down a bunch of people who aren’t white.

As highlighted by some heated exchanges yesterday on Twitter, part of this second story is an allusion to real-life figures like “American Sniper” Chris Kyle, whose group really did wear Punisher skulls while fighting overseas. Early on in that discussion, someone off-handedly commented somewhere that both Edmondson and Gerads are “avowed conservatives” and while that is certainly an easy inference to make from the book itself, any sort of personal avowal was news to me, so I started Googling.

One of the hits for “Nathan Edmondson” “conservative” is an interview from 2009 that doesn’t have anything to do with his own beliefs, but happened to mention off-handedly how “[Edmondson] recently “retired” from [his] position (as Director of International Programs at the Leadership Institute) to write full time.”

That name rang a bell, and sure enough, The Leadership Institute “provides training in campaigns, fundraising, grassroots organizing, youth politics, and communications. The Institute teaches conservatives of all ages how to succeed in politics, government, and the media.” According to Wikipedia, its alumni includes luminaries such as Grover Norquist, Ralph Reed, Jeff Gannon, Mitch McConnell, and Mike Pence. As to Edmondon’s involvement with the Institute, there isn’t much out there besides a number of references to his position, including one in a 2008 newsletter from the World Congress of Families, a group that not only actively opposes gay marriage in the United States, but straight up repped for Russia’s “homosexual propaganda” laws last year.

While I have no idea what Ales Kot was referring to, and have no way of seeing into the heart of Edmondson or anyone else involved with this book, he certainly does seem to be a conservative! Which explains a great deal about this current run on the Punisher.

April 1, 2015

The Buyers Guide to DC’s Convergence’s Battleworlds

Filed under: Articles — Tags: , , , — Chris Eckert @ 11:17 pm

So Convergence came out today, and it sets up a story that everyone is calling a rip-off of Marvel’s impending Secret Wars event. Obviously, both stories are callow rip-offs of Countdown: Arena, which itself was a crude homage to when I was a kid and had my Transformers fight my Star Wars toys and invade my brother’s Castle Grayskull. I laughed scornfully at Marvel’s big “Reading List” for Secret Wars, since it assumes you’ll want to read every single little side-continuity that will be thrown into its own mini-series this summer:

secretwarsreading

Come on, do people really need to read Future Imperfect or Weirdworld or Secret Wars II just to get the references coming up? Probably not. But it wasn’t until I read Convergence that I realized it was at least rather smart of Marvel to present readers the option.

DC identified 41 “Universes” that will be mashed together like the Darth Vaders, Soundwaves and Man-E-Faces of my youth. Some of them span thousands of comics, while one of them barely spans a comic book at all. A great many of them are completely out of print. One of them seems to confuse Atlanta with Seattle. Without doing all that much research, here is your Buyers Guide to the World of Convergence! (more…)

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