Marvel’s street level heroes, The Defenders and their stand alone series, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist have a very particular tone. One could categorise these shows as “mature audience” programming. The problem is with each additional show the quality seems to drop slightly. With The Defenders now available to view and a new Punisher trailer out there, I have an idea for a mini series that could be ideal for Netflix…
The next series of Daredevil is said to be an adaptation of Born Again, one of my personal favourite arcs for the character and something that will certainly make use of that mature audience tone, but what about after that? I have a suggestion.
When I was a young comic reader I stumbled across a story line in a British Spider-Man comic. Back in the day, here in the UK, Marvel would have the monthly books broken down and reproduced as weekly publications, giving a small piece of the story each week. The story that caught my attention was called The Death of Jean DeWolff.
The story originally ran in Peter Parker The Spectacular Spider-Man issues 107-110 and had a very, very dark tone. In short, the story follows a serial killer. Not a super powered bad guy. Not a scientist who had fallen prey to their own creation, just a simple killer called The Sin-Eater. The Sin-Eater murdered a police woman named Jean DeWolff, a friend of Peter Parker. As such Spider-Man sets out to find the killer and bring him to justice. Along the way, the wall-crawler crosses paths with Daredevil, who has to keep Peter in check and stop him going too far and doing something he will regret.
As a young reader, I was impressed how honest this story was. Sometimes our cocky heroes, cracking wise from behind those colourful masks, would cross paths with some true evil. I wouldn't see this addressed again until Marvel tackled the events of 9/11. This story made an impression on me. So much so that I kept the pages of those books in a ring binder. I still have them. I even scanned them when I first got a computer and “remastered” them when I first discovered photoshop. To say this is one of my favourite Spider-Man stories is an understatement. So it may come as a surprise that I'm suggesting Netflix tackle this story within the Defender’s series of shows. Without the web-slinger.
Spider-Man is now well and truly a part of the MCU, which means he is swinging around New York when Matt and Co are doing their thing, but the tone of the new Spider-Man and the tone of the Defenders are so incredibly different, that putting Spider-Man and Daredevil together for this story would feel very strange indeed. Fortunately, Marvel has introduced the perfect character to replace Spider-Man in this story. One who fits the tone, and has a history with the Devil of Hell's Kitchen.
During Daredevil season two we saw some qualities in The Punisher that might help establish him as a replacement for Peter/Spidey in the Jean DeWolff story. There was a hint of nobility and honour in John Bernthal’s performance that could explain a connection between The Punisher and Jean. It wouldn't need to be a romantic connection, but more of a “brothers-in-arms” approach with Jean fighting the battle from one side of the law and Frank fighting it from the other. Each respecting the other despite their differing methods.
When Matt and Frank crossed paths in season two of Daredevil there was something close to respect between the two, with Frank providing support for Matt when he went up against the Hand. I could imagine Matt trying to rein in The Punisher, now on a rampage through the underworld looking for the Sin-Eater, in an attempt to save Frank from himself.
I highly recommend that you seek out these books a read this story if you haven't down so already, I try to image The Punisher in place of Spider-Man. I think you'll find it works quite well.
The Defenders can be seen on Netflix now and The Punisher should hit later this year. Read Tim's post on The Punisher here.
Thank you for reading,