Characters Appearing: Angel, Beetle, Black Panther, Bulldozer, Daredevil, Equinox, Falcon, Hulk, Human Torch, Iceman, Janet Ruiz, Jeff Piper, Kingpin, Luke Cage, Moon Knight, Piledriver, Punisher, Spider-Man, Stegron, Sub-Mariner, Thing, Thunderball, Vengeance, Werewolf By Night, Wrecker
Code of Honor #1
Issue(s): Code of Honor #1
Jeff Piper is a rookie New York City. His partner, Mike Badilino, will eventually become Ghost Rider supporting character Vengeance, something that readers would have known already when this was coming out.
At the personal/human level, the story works quite well so far. The first hero Piper encounters is Luke Cage...
...and seeing him he feels a mix of pride at seeing a black super-hero (Piper is black) and uselessness at seeing what Cage can do, both in terms of his powers and the fact that he's not restricted by Miranda.
We then go through a string of additional super-hero encounters and those feelings of helplessness and resentment get amplified.
There's a fun scene where Jeff and Mike think they're chasing down a runaway dog and it turns out to be a stray dinosaur from the Spider-Man/Black Panther team-up.
All the while, there's debate amongst the police about the Punisher, who unlike the other heroes, deals very directly with the type of crime that they're concerned with. Piper encounters the Punisher at one point...
...and lets him walk after seeing him shoot two armed men.
He also picks up a $1,000 bill dropped by the Kingpin in a vague sort of bribe.
Piper is a very passive character. His decision to let the Punisher go is conflicted and mostly due to fear, and the bribe situation is similarly due to him just sort of standing there dumbfounded as the Kingpin drops the bill out of his limo.
Same thing on the homefront. Piper has fallen in love with a hispanic girl named Janet Ruiz that he rescued during an armed robbery. But his mother is bigoted against hispanics, and he just sits there dumbstruck while his mother makes racist remarks when they all go out to dinner.
It's frustrating to see Piper as a bystander in his own life, but it's entirely realistic so i approve of that. This guy isn't a typical comic book protagonist.
Later, he proposes to Janet and she accepts.
Dixon paints a nearly apocalyptic situation when it comes to crime and drugs from this time period. I'll accept that crime was bad at this time, but i feel like Dixon is overemphasizing it. You'd also think with all the street level super-heroes, it'd be a little better than it was in the real world.
I don't like the art at all. Like most painted art, it's stiff and there's no storytelling; it's a series of scenes that don't flow together very well. For someone like Alex Ross you can forgive that and focus on the nice pictures, but in this book, everyone is super-clenched and ugly. Sometimes you can see veins right through the costumes, which i guess means they're actually wrapped in cellophane.
The civilians are at least not grotesque but they are still stiff. The picture i've posted of the Punisher above looks different than everything else in this issue, and different than other Punisher shots in this book, like this one:
I see there are two artists on this book. I think that top Punisher must be Brad Parker's and that's his only super-hero contribution (it looks like he also painted some of the civilian scenes, which are some of the best looking parts of the book).
The others i'm guessing are Tristan Shane's. Having two completely different art styles in the book is a bit incongruous.
In each issue of this series, there will be a shot of Angel flying overhead. I'm sure his various costume changes are meant to symbolize something, although i'm not quite sure what (although i guess in issue #4, his Archangel persona will represent the violence of late 80s and beyond). In this issue he's in his ugly, ugly graduation outfit.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: As expected, the continuity on this book isn't given the care that Kurt Busiek gave to Marvels. It has, for example, scenes from Marvel Team-Up #23, which was published in July 1974, taking place after Werewolf By Night #32, which was published in August 1975. The only way to make that work is to shuffle a year's worth of Werewolf By Nights prior to their publication date. And based on other mistakes in the Code of Honor series, it seems likely that Jeff Piper just continually mixes up the order in which events occur; i guess he has a really bad memory.
Angel's appearance might raise an eyebrow, because he's been missing since at least Avengers #111, and won't be found until Captain America #174-175. But that just means the scene that shows him has to take place before Avengers #111. The only dependency is that Avengers #111 takes place before Luke Cage is active, and that's not a problem.
Marvel Team-up #19-20 taking place in between Marvel Two-In-One #2 and Daredevil #108-109 is also problematic for me because the Two-In-One and Daredevil issues are part of a tight set of events related to the end of the Thanos War and Captain America's resignation, but that's potentially workable. It's also excusable; from a publication point of view, the books are more or less in the right order. But given the other mistakes in this series, i'm just ruling this as Piper describing things out of order again.
With the exception of the Werewolf By Night/Moon Knight appearance, this seems to be a retrospective of the years 1973-1974. As i did with the Marvels series, i've placed this issue after the last referenced event, even though it actually spans a large period and could be considered to be taking place concurrently with all of the issues listed below. For Werewolf By Night, maybe Moon Knight had been stalking him for some time or it's just a coincidence that they pass through the same area in a short period of time. I don't think we know how long Moon Knight was active before his first appearance.
Continuity Insert? Y
My Reprint: N/A
This was indeed supposed to be a Marvels follow-up, but it was initially solicited as purely Tristan Schane and a different writer.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | November 21, 2011 1:23 AM
Weirdly enough, that shot of Angel looks way more like his early Champions costume (except for the fact he's wearing a belt with an X on it) than the one from UX 39-60.
BTW, you've left Angel out of the list of Characters Appearing.
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | November 25, 2013 4:10 PM
Added Angel. Thanks.
Posted by: fnord12 | November 25, 2013 5:27 PM
So now that you've done almost all the Werewolf issues, are you going to move them (and Fear 25-26) prior to this issue?
Posted by: Michael | January 12, 2015 8:26 PM
I reserve the right to not think about Code of Honor at least until i cover issue #4 and possibly forever.
Posted by: fnord12 | January 12, 2015 9:41 PM
Here's the story of how Marvels 2 became this book, according to Kurt Busiek in Comics Journal #216: Busiek and Alex Ross discussed a Marvels sequel, but Ross bailed early because he didn't want to draw Wolverine and the Punisher. Tristan Schane then got assigned to it, but Busiek got a bit worried when Schane admitted that he really couldn't do big crowd scenes and multi-character reaction shots. Then the editor informed Busiek that although he liked Marvels, he felt that Ross' art was too "quiet" too often and would have been better off if it was more "Image-y". Busiek, wary of further boneheaded interference, also bailed and took his story with him. He later transformed it into the "Dark Age" story in Astro City. He also mentioned coming up with a Marvels 3 as well just after Ross left, but didn't say what he did with it(possible it became Eye of the Camera).
Posted by: Mark Drummond | June 6, 2016 11:29 AM
Yeah Mark and Busiek's early ideas clearly had an infuence on this story -the black cop/Punisher thread is also present in the (far superior imo) Astro City arc "The Dark Age" you mention.
Posted by: Hugh Sheridan | March 3, 2018 12:12 PM
Comments are now closed.
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