Wolverine/Punisher: Damaging Evidence #1-3
Issue(s): Wolverine/Punisher: Damaging Evidence #1, Wolverine/Punisher: Damaging Evidence #2, Wolverine/Punisher: Damaging Evidence #3
There isn't even any indication that the story is set in the past until issue #2. A reader buying issue #1 in 1993 might think that Damage had been under reconstruction for 3 years! That's assuming they were aware of the original story at all. On the other end of the spectrum, a reader could be forgiven for thinking that this new Arranger was a pre-existing character given the complete lack of an introduction of her above. In fact, these issues constitute her only appearance.
Anyway, the Kingpin starts this program up again after the Punisher shoots up a drug distribution center in Mexico. Sniper was actually on the scene in Mexico, but wasn't able to kill him thanks to some heavy winds that tipped the helicopter he was riding. The Punisher doesn't come out of the Mexican situation unscathed though; he is shaken when he kills one of the gunmen and then hears the screams of the guy's kid. Micro also thinks that Punisher is pushing himself too hard, going up against the Kingpin because it's the anniversary of the death of Conchita Ortiz. And when Punisher gets back to New York, he starts seeing reports of innocents being killed at the sites where he's attacking the Kingpin's operations, and he worries that he's been having blackouts and killing more people than he realizes. But those deaths are really from Damage and Sniper, who are enacting a plan by the Kingpin to psyche the Punisher out. Put it all together and it's a continuation of a theme from Potts' War Journal issues, where the Punisher was questioning his War. Nothing really comes of that in the long run, obviously, but i still wonder what Potts would have done if he'd remained on War Journal.
But to step back for a second, the work reconstructing Damage is completed thanks to technology that the Kingpin buys from Donald Pierce. They make a kind of bet of it. Pierce would like to see the Punisher dead, but it's not that big a deal to him (compared to, say, Wolverine). So if the Kingpin can kill the Punisher, then the technology is free. Otherwise it's triple what it's worth.
Ok, now brace yourself. I've displayed a few scans of the art already. The art is by Gary Erskine, who so far in my project has done a decent job on Knights of Pendragon. The art on that book is subdued, but steady and good for the tone of the book. The scans above in this entry are along the same lines, if a bit rougher looking, with everyone looking like maybe they spent too many years in the sun and got wrinkly. But now we get to a character that is supposed to be Wolverine, and, well...
Yeah, i don't know what the hell that is, but we've got three issues of it.
Wolverine is fighting the Reavers (it's not specifically said to be in Madripoor, but i assume so), and he ovearhears on Reeese's headset that Pierce is selling tech to the Kingpin to help kill the Punisher. So Wolverine defeats Reese and ditches the other two Reavers that are tracking him, and heads to New York to help Punisher.
I really don't know how Marvel let one of their most important money making characters look like this.
Sniper sees Wolverine sniffing around one of the sites where the Punisher is supposed to have killed civilians, and he beams the image back to the Kingpin, who recognizes him as Wolverine and says that he wants him taken out of play without killing him, since he doesn't want any more X-Men showing up.
It should also be noted that Sniper wants to kill Punisher himself, and isn't happy about playing a supporting role for Damage.
Sniper hits Wolverine with a high dosage tranquilizer dart. Sniper then covers himself in Old Spice so that Wolverine won't be able to track him, and carries him to a van and puts him on an IV drip to keep him sedated.
But Wolvie manages to wake himself up and drag him to the next site where Damage has disguised himself as Punisher and is shooting people up. Sniper, since he's mad about playing second fiddle, doesn't call it in to the Kingpin.
Damage is a cyborg at this point, so cutting off an arm doesn't stop him, and he's got an array of weapons.
So it's a long dragged out (and horrible to look at) fight.
Eventually a grenade launcher falls out of Damage (like he's a vending machine).
And Wolverine uses it to blast him. But even that isn't enough.
Wolverine winds up pushing Damage's head into a vat of acid, but he's hilariously impaled on Damage's arm, and remains stuck on top of him.
Meanwhile, the real Punisher goes to the funeral of someone that was killed by Damage while he was impersonating him, but Sniper goes there and ambushes him. And Sniper doesn't mind killing more civilians to rattle the Punisher.
Punisher manages to stab Sniper with a knife. A "thanks mister" from a kid at the funeral resolves his moral crisis, and then he heads to the chemical warehouse where Sniper says that one of his friends is dying. Punisher was expecting Micro, but he finds Wolverine. And helps unstick him.
It's only at the end that the Punisher finds out that Damage was impersonating him.
Wolverine says that the Punisher is like him the sense that they both have "an unsteady line in our quest to do good", and that he came to make sure that the Punisher hadn't "lost sight" of the line. He asks the Punisher to do the same for him if it ever seems that Wolverine is killing innocent people, and Punisher agrees.
The Kingpin is left with Pierce's bill, but he winds up paying even more in return for rebuilding Damage. Pierce is rattled to find out that Wolverine was the reason Damage failed.
In truth, we'll never see Damage or Sniper again.
I wanted to hate this, and i definitely do hate the art. I also hate the fact that we needed a prestige format mini-series featuring two of Marvel's super-popular and violent characters. These should have just been a few issues of one of the characters' solo books, or maybe a crossover. The glut of extra books in the 90s is just overwhelming.
But i do like Carl Potts' effort here. Potts is building off of a lot of story points from his and other Punisher runs, which i think is admirable. Despite the delays, and with the exception of the complete lack of explanation for the new Arranger, i am glad that Potts was able to get to this story, but i like even more the way Potts ties things in with various other Punisher stories, like the death of Conchita Ortiz and the self-doubt that Punisher was experiencing. I also think he constructed a good plot for the Punisher and Wolverine to deal with. Something that makes the Punisher question himself, and what should have been an awesome fight between Wolverine and the Terminator-like Damage. It should have been a decent story, but it wound up being a disaster.
Quality Rating: C-
Historical Significance Rating: 1
Chronological Placement Considerations: A note at the beginning of issue #2 says, "These events took place prior to Uncanny X-Men #248-281 and Daredevil #296-300". The latter makes sense; that is the Last Rites/Fall of the Kingpin arc. That is quite a wide range for the X-Men story, and trying to place this prior to Uncanny X-Men #248 (Sep 89) while also placing it after Punisher War Journal #20-24 (Jul-Nov 90) and Acts of Vengeance and Hearts of Darkness (per the References below) would just be silly. So i am placing this before Fall of the Kingpin, but for Wolverine i'm letting this fall in any gap in his X-Men and solo book appearances. I should note that the final few lines from the Punisher's War Journal entry take place probably circa 1993, with the Punisher reflecting on the fact that despite his personal efforts, he was never responsible for bringing down the Reavers or the Kingpin (That red clown, Daredevil, took down the fat man."). I'm ignoring that for placement purposes.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showBonebreaker, Damage, Kingpin, Microchip, Murray Reese, Pretty Boy, Punisher, Sniper, White Bishop (Donald Pierce), Wolverine
I literally laughed out loud at the first scans of Wolverine.
Posted by: Thanos6 | October 19, 2015 4:34 PM
Fnord, I think the note is supposed to mean that this story takes place before Uncanny X-Men 281-283, since Pierce is seemingly killed in that story and doesn't get revived until after Wolverine loses his adamantium.
Posted by: Michael | October 19, 2015 8:07 PM
So, apparently between the Muir Island Saga and X-Men #1, Logan grew out his hair and then decided he looked like an idiot and cut it back to how it was before. Does make a for a long gap.
This art looks like bad Barry Windsor-Smith, and given my opinion of him, you know that's bad.
Posted by: Erik Beck | January 18, 2016 8:45 AM
to be fair, Wolverine started OUT as a little runt kind of guy. It's only in modern times have artists and writers made him into this sexy guy that every super-heroine in the Marvel Universe want to sleep with. so this imagining of Wolvie is actually in line with what they originally intended for him! lol
Posted by: Brimstone: Wrestler, Celebrity, Comics CEO | January 24, 2016 8:49 AM
Well, Claremont has said he wanted Bob Hoskins to play Wolverine, and here we finally get to see how that might have looked. :-)
Posted by: Jonathan | January 24, 2016 9:56 AM
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