Now this is what I call a fucking brilliant comic book! Along with Mike Allred's Madman, Pat Mills and Kevin O'Neill's equally sublime Marshal Law has to be one of my absolute all-time favourite series. First published by Marvel's Epic imprint in 1987, Marshal Law is a rutheless and extremely dark parody of superhero comics - Marvel and DC characters in particular - and Mills and O'Neill show no mercy in parodying well-known characters with excessive levels of depravity and black humour, attacking them with both guns blazing. Since his Epic Comics debut, Marshal Law has toured quite a few publishers (some of which are now defunct) throughout the years including Dark Horse and back to Marvel's Epic again.
The plot: The title character, Marshal Law, is a government-sanctioned vigilante with superpowers in the city of San Futuro, the near-future metropolis built from the ruins of San Francisco following a massive earthquake. Law's purpose is to take down other superheroes who have gone rogue, which he does with maximum force and great pleasure.
Marshal Law's alter ego is Joe Gilmore, a former soldier consumed with self-hatred about being a superhero. In this world, superheroes are commonplace thanks to genetic engineering, much of the United States' armed forces having undergone the process. However, while their bodies may become super-powered, their minds remain exactly as they were, and in many cases the inability to feel pain causes the subjects to compensate by inflicting pain on others. Psychosis of varying degrees is also a common side-effect, and some subjects develop wildly uncontrollable superpowers.
The Marshal's main enemies are the Public Spirit (a ruthless parody of Superman) and the Sleepman, a serial killer and rapist who is the Public Spirit's illegitimate son seeking to manipulate the Marshal into killing his father. Private Eye (a parody of Batman) and The Persecutor (a parody of the Punisher) are other major opponents. A recurring secondary adversary (initially treated seriously, though later becoming comic relief) is Suicida, a psychopathic ex-soldier who leads the murderous Gangreen street gang.
Marshal Law is a must-read for superhero fans with a strong stomach and a warped sense of humour. If you enjoy this then you should also check out Rick Veitch's The Maximortal and Brat Pack.
- Marshal Law #1-6. Epic Comics 1987-88.
- Marshal Law Takes Manhattan. One-shot, Epic Comics 1988.
- Marshal Law - Kingdom of the Blind. Apocalypse Comics one-shot, 1990.
- Marshal Law - The Hateful Dead. One-Shot, Apocalypse Comics 1991.
- Marshal Law - Super Babylon. One-Shot, Dark Horse 1992.
- Marshal Law Vs Pinhead - Law in Hell. Two issue series, Epic Comics 1993.
- Marshal Law - Secret Tribunal . Two issue series, Dark Horse 1994.
- Marshal Law/Savage Dragon. Two issue series, Image Comics 1997.
- Marshal Law/The Mask. Two issue series, Dark Horse 1998.
Epic/Dark Horse/Image/Apocalypse Comics
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