What better way to launch my triumphant comeback than by yakking about comics that only a mother could love? The concluding part of our look at the Saga of the Undead Punisher no less(that's Marvel Knights: Punisher #4 to any laymen out there).
Be warned though, I am about to spoilt the ending here. Of course I've spoiled parts one, two and three already so it's hardly surprising is it?
When last we checked in on Undead Frank he and his new best buddy, the private-school-boy-looking angel Gadriel, were at the mercy of series bad guy and KFC bargain bucket refugee Oliver. In fact that is the way things remain for the bulk of this issue! Frank and Gadriel stay trussed up and hanging from the rafters while Olly gets his super-villain on. I'm not kidding he bangs on and on for page after page about how great he is, how no-one can stop him and how generally awesome his master plan is!
In his defence though, his plan is pretty freaking awesome. I mean it's got everything a hell-spawned master plan should have. It's got suicides inducing imps, violent goons, picnic invasions - it's even got dudes eating their own skin!!
What do you know? Tastes like chicken.
All joking aside, I found Oliver's Batman TV show style monologue the most enjoyable part of this issue. It's got beautifully rendered flashbacks which tie up all of the dangling loose ends in a nice neat little bow.
We are finally treated to the stirring tale of Oliver's origin. We learn about his humble beginnings back in hell as an ambitious C-list demon entity. He tells us how hell's jealous A-listers took exception to him, booting him out for no good reason...well okay maybe it was for trying to kill them and conquer their realms all those times - big whoop! Doesn't mean they're not still jerks.
We get the lowdown on the O-man's exile to earth, shoe-horned into the body of a stillborn baby. That decision was sadly lacking in the acute foresight and meticulous planning those types of demonic bigwigs are normally known for as the baby in question grows up to be blood thirsty mob boss and Mick Fleetwood look-a-like Frank Costa.
It's Costa's mob connections, his knowledge of magical, demonic jiggery pokery and a brutal massacre at an idyllic picnic that allows Oliver to forge his human engine of destruction and renew his attempts to conquer hell. Of course the problem with forging human engines of destruction, especially bad tempered ones with a penchant for big guns, is that once they're done cutting a swath of destruction through your criminal empire - they generally come a-looking for you.
Turns out that this door kicking and bullet riddling that follows is just the masterstroke of Olly's big plan. Death simply frees him from his past-it's-prime, hippie drummer shaped prison and send him straight back to hell where he merrily returns to his old skin-eating, realm conquering ways.
Unfortunately just as the big O's tale is hitting it's stride Frank gets all pissed, breaks loose, pulls out his mystical uzis and all the promise of this last issue descends into a dodgy pastiche of Evil Dead 2.
Heavily armed, somewhat crazy protagonist - check.
Unstoppable demonic bad guys - check.
Accidental giant vortex which sucks everybody except our hero back to hell - check.
Now don't get me wrong I'm as big a Sam Raimi fan as the next guy but it doesn't have the laughing deer head, the evil, severed hand, the obligatory spade be-heading - hell there's not one chainsaw prosthetic in sight. Without those things and Bruce Campbell talking about his boomstick it's just your average mediocre 'deux ex machina' ending.
Klaatu Barradda Nikto
The slightly dissapointing ending didn't mar my enjoyment of the book too much though. Plot-wise Golden and Sniegoski's conclusion may have been a bit of a letdown but when it comes to cranking out awesome visuals for Bernie Wrightson and Jimmy Palmotti to bring to glorious, shining life they are on fire.
The gorgeous flashback scenes aside this issue is as packed with fantastic panels as issue three was. I mean there's even a shot of Frank getting tore into the bad guys with a mystical version of 'Ol Painless' from the first Predator movie.
I Ain't Got Time To Bleed
You know you've invested your money wisely when you find out the book you've just plunked down your three dollars for takes it's artillery cues from Jesse 'The Body' Ventura. If only the guys could have squeezed in Carl Weathers repeatedly exclaiming 'it's just a couple of guys running around out there' the book would have reached an unparalleled levels of awesomeness.
So there you have it the story of 'that time the Punisher was an undead killing machine for a while' and the reasons why I enjoyed it...even if no-one else did.
Be here is a few weeks time for another senses-shattering edition of 'Comics Only a Mother Could Love' featuring that issue of Alpha Flight where we find out the true cause of dwarfism.......being possessed by a giant Arabian ghost.