It seems that world spanning, galactic, space operas aren’t hard to come by in comics these days. Incredibly powerful beings in the cosmos battle each other in ways that if they were on Earth, would surely destroy it. With these enormous conflicts, there is good and bad sci-fi comics. We have series like Annihilation and Prophet that challenge our imagination through undefined plots, alien intimacy, and skirmishes that look more like something out of Starcraft than anything else you would see in comics. That’s good. Then we have self-involved space sagas where epic things don’t really matter and nothing changes or happen. They usually end with the death of an ancillary character that no one cared about anyway. There’s good, there’s bad, but then there is something else…the somewhat absurd.
Space Punisher falls directly into that third category because even though it is completely illogical, it is wholly entertaining. In the Space Punisher miniseries by Frank Tieri, there is quite a lot to bemuse you. First, Frank Castle, a street level character is taken to a whole new plane of existence. As you might imagine, that plane is “space.” He wears a fishbowl-ish helmet and shoots people with “space” guns. It’s terribly satisfying to ride along with Castle for his hijinx, especially because it is the same kind of stuff that he would do on Earth, but in “space.” There is a “space” mafia and “space” money and “space” weaponry. It’s almost as if adding the “space” adjective before everything just makes it more fun and campy.
Secondly, I always enjoy alternate universe tales and seeing re-designs and the re-imagining of characters. When we got to the page near the end of the issue where they teased the heads of the “space” mafia, I got a little giddy thinking about how much “space” action will ensue. Also, to be brief and honest, having the hive-minded Brood aliens (historically from The X-Men) taken over by the Venom symbiote (of Spider-Man fame) is a really clever idea that I am not sure would ever work in regular continuity. Space Punisher exists in a vacuum and it would be more realistic to assume that Frank Castle is not going to rip off Dr. Octopus’ “space” arms and beat him to death with them than that he will not. Tieri has god-like control over the universe and that free-reign should make for some memorable moments in “space.”
If all of this sounds dumb, your name might be Romeo Sid Vicious. Oh, also you might be a mainstream comic book fan. There are plenty of reasons to not like this book. It is not in continuity, so therefore it doesn’t “matter.” It is, at best, silly in its conception and execution. It is not necessarily Eisner level writing.
I contend that all of these things are the reason that you should check it out. Space Punisher is a mainstream book with an indie vibe and a rather large sandbox to play in. It is truly a fun book that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Issue #2 comes out today, so hit up your local comic shop or buy it digitally at Marvel.com for $3.99 a piece. A wise man once said, “All the best stuff comes outta’ space!” He was right, but the best part of Space Punisher is that he brings street-level justice to the stars. Would that my Punisher, were a Space Punisher…
~ Scott Deaux ~