Back With A Bang…

A giant bang. From a giant gun.

In 1987, two decades before super violent comics like The Boys, Wanted, and Kick-Ass came along to take the piss out of super heroes by depicting them as perverted, ineffectual, and deluded pricks, Marvel’s Epic Comics imprint published a six issue mini series from Nemesis the Warlock creators Kevin O’Neill and Pat Mills that didn’t just take the piss out of it’s perverted, ineffectual, and deluded superheroes. It beat it out of them. With a barbed wire bat.

Meet Marshal Law.

Marshal Law is a hero hunter. He hunts heroes. He usually doesn’t find any. So instead, loosely veiled versions of every superhero you can imagine get to meet gory ends courtesy the often over-sized bullets of his often over-sized guns. Take Batman, for example (“Superman” was taken care of in the original miniseries). In Marshal’s world he’s a youth obsessed billionaire who tortures criminals via impromptu street surgeries, uses his wards as involuntary organ donors, and who arranged the very murder of his parents that set him down the path to vigilantism.

The Avengers? The Silver Surfer? Mr Fantastic and the Invisible Woman? Namor? Daredevil? Spider Man? All stark raving mad and locked in an insane asylum for the super powered. Throw an ex-CIA torturer version of The Punisher looking for an insanity defense into the mix (and in fact it was originally supposed to BE The Punisher), and it’s almost completely surprising that Marvel agreed to put this out, Epic imprint or no Epic imprint (later Marshal stories would be published by a variety of other companies, mainly Dark Horse).

The Legion of Superheroes? Marshal is forced to team up with a team of very loosely X-men styled heroes to save the Legion analogues from aliens. And when I say aliens, I mean Aliens, the kind you find in the Sigourney Weaver movies (sort of).

Marshal Law hated heroes so much, that he even hated them after they were dead, which allowed him to take on thinly veiled versions of the Golden Age Justice Society… in zombie form.

Later on, Marshal would actually end up crossing over with other heroes. Well, ok, ONE hero (Erik Larsen’s Savage Dragon) and two demonic entities: Pinhead and The Mask.

It was in these crossovers that Marshal finally came to terms with his hatred of superheroes, along with his own self loathing (after all, as a former super soldier with enhanced durability in a leather costume and mask with a secret base and arsenal of weapons and vehicles, he basically WAS a superhero himself), and prepared to retire his SS cap and barbed wire arm wrap… until the conclusion of the Mask crossover, where he returns to the fascist Marshal of series past (sort of).

Sadly, he hasn’t been seen in graphic novel form since (though there have been a couple literary works, which I have not read). There also has not been a definitive collection as of yet, but word is Top Shelf Productions will be coming out with a Marshal Law Omnibus in 2011, and all I can say is it’s about damn time. The violent satire of Marshal Law was every bit as important to the start of the superhero deconstruction movement started by Watchmen, and it deserves just as much attention.

‘Nuff Dead.

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