Wednesday, February 18, 2015

THIS POST RATED "G" (For "Grisly"!)


THE FOLLOWING POST CONTAINS VIOLENT SCENES THAT SOME READERS MAY FIND DISTURBING.

VIEWER DISCRETION ADVISED.

Man, what a warning to slap on a comic book post--but I had no choice! Because we're about to see how obsessed Marvel has been with creating villains who go by the name of:

The Slasher!



Murderers who use sharp-edged weapons, such as the Marauders, Bullseye, Manslaughter, et al., have of course been well-represented in Marvel's various titles over the years. Yet "the Slasher" moniker has never been held by any one person for long, recycled into other stories depending on which writer feels like writing a dark tale that features the gruesome spilling of blood. For instance, there have been at least three, count 'em, three so-called "Skid Row slashers" where the person in question stalks the streets of the Bowery and preys on the homeless for one twisted reason or another--a formula which seems ready to be dusted off and used perpetually, with only adjustments needed in the type of slasher to be used that suit the story's protagonist.

One of the slasher characters who doesn't fit so neatly into this profile, and perhaps the slasher most well-known to long-time readers, is the Slasher who played a catalyst role in an Avengers story which brought the team to Viet Nam in order to investigate the past of Mantis. Rather than seeking out human victims to satisfy an urge to kill, the Slasher was motivated by more monetary interests:



Our Slasher also has adopted an entire costume of sharp blades, rather than choosing to use a single knife to carry out his grisly acts. He'd probably still be knocking over diamond exchanges, if it weren't for a misstep on his part:



The Slasher's idea involves duping the area's super-team, the Titanic Three, into believing that the Avengers are unduly harassing him and seeking to take him into custody for the diamond theft without evidence. Which sets up the issue's confrontation between the two teams:



With the Titanic Three's muscle to back him up, the Slasher remains the cocky perp who made off with the diamonds and eagerly joins the fray. But when the Vision proves to be out of his league, the evidence against him inadvertently appears, and the jig is up.





Much later, in a conflict with Captain America and Silver Sable, the Slasher has changed is name to Razorblade and signed on with the Viper's hired muscle:




...muscle which finds out the hard way that it doesn't pay to back up a guy named Razorblade.


One of the Skid Row slashers appeared in a one-shot story from Marvel Fanfare, attacking his victims with an icepick. Fleeing from the Vision, who had accompanied reporter Ben Urich to investigate the story, the Slasher meets his end by catching a subway train--though it's actually the other way around, as seen in a very cool rendering by artist Paul Smith:



The Punisher would also have an encounter with his own Skid Row slasher--Roky Vance, a Wall Street broker (and insider trader) who took to the streets slaying the homeless, until he was eliminated by his own ninja assistant. Our third Bowery slasher would frequent Skid Row using a crescent-shaped blade to kill his victims, which would eventually involve the intervention of Moon Knight:





Moon Knight would later be handled by Warren Ellis in an excellent 2014 series of issues featuring "Mr. Knight," under the following premise:



Ellis managed to do what several writers and Moon Knight series before him had failed to do--he made Moon Knight interesting to me. (No mean feat.) MK would get a crack at a second slasher of his own when called to investigate a case which gave him a bit of symmetry with the prior story:



Yet look at the twist which Ellis provides on the Slasher character--still twisted to the core, but with a most unexpected backstory:




However, despite his bulk and confident attitude, the Slasher proves to be no match for Mr. Knight. Or should I say, "proved"?



Even Mary Jane Watson has a close call with the Slasher--this one terrorizing fashion models such as herself and her friend, Elyse. But all isn't as clear-cut as it seems with the case. As Spider-Man, joined by investigator Dakota North, pursues a man who had broken in and threatened Elyse, Mary Jane attempts to get her to safety, only to find that Elyse has been hiding self-esteem issues that have her regarding her fellow models with suppressed hatred. In other words, meet the real Slasher of the story:




Finally, we come to the second Slasher who doesn't conform to the usual profile, this one appearing in the pages of Invincible Iron Man--an operative of the mysterious Mister Kline, assigned to implicate Tony Stark and his friend, a building designer, in a series of mechanical and structural disasters brought about by sabotage:



This is a mess of a story by writer Gerry Conway, where our Slasher is so named because of the pincers in place of his fingers. To presumably give him an edge, he also has the ability to fire powerful beams from his eyes:



The Slasher's partner, a man known only as Demetrius, has mental abilities somewhat like those possessed by Marianne, Stark's ESP girlfriend. It's really Demetrius who brings Iron Man to the verge of defeat in the story, as the Slasher seems to pose little threat on his own:



Nor would the Slasher have made the headway against Iron Man that he did, had Conway not hampered Iron Man with constant power failures that made a mockery of the engineering of the Iron Man suit as well as how formidable Iron Man is reputed to be, particularly in his own title. It's unlikely any reader would have begrudged the Slasher taking his razor-sharp pincers to the issue itself.

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