Malibu Comics was a 1990s imprint that specialized in ripping off better comic books without ever reading them. For example, their Wolverine knockoff was called The Ferret and they were only joking if you asked them “wait, are you joking?” A typical Malibu title made it to three issues before ending in a profuse apology and a hand-drawn coupon you could exchange for a better try next time.
Today we’re talking about the second iteration of Firearm, which started off as counterfeit Punisher and then became something… more? Less? Hornier, that’s the word I’m looking for. Firearm made it to the end of its epic 5-issue run though, so everyone at the Malibu offices got a personal pan pizza. Don’t worry: We were still owed and did receive several apologies.
The core story of Firearm is wildly unimportant: It’s a brainwashing deal where a superspy for one agency is, unbeknownst to himself, actually just a cover working for a rival agency. It’s the plot of the third episode of the tenth La Femme Nikita reboot on TBS. Alias would spice this up with something about Donatello’s Grail. You would change the channel on this unless Nic Cage showed up in an unusual wig. We’re not concerned with the plot, we’re concerned with the character dynamics.
It’s been said that you really only need one personality trait to make a truly great character – that was said by Malibu writers right before apologizing for getting canceled again. Let’s meet our protagonist, Peter Lopez – can you spot all one aspects of his character?
Our hero is a glum sadsack with a gorgeous and supportive wife, trapped in the rippling body of an adonis, his every inch covered in high tech weaponry. Pity him. “If I don’t contact my friends first, we’d never talk again,” he mutters, cyberblasting a city block with his atomic eye. I don’t know who greenlit What If Eeyore was the Punisher? but that’s one of those ideas like anal sex or renting a jetski that’s exactly as much fun as it sounds.
Here’s Peter’s first day on the job:
He thinks he probably shouldn’t stand in front of an obviously trapped door, doesn’t believe in himself about it, and eats lasers for his lack of self confidence. The very first thing he says to the man trying to kill him is “be careful of my soft parts I do NOT have superpowers,” then gives up on a fistfight midway through to instead mope about losing. How does he turn it around? Well, Firearm ran in the early 1990s, back before we learned the hard way it wasn’t awesome when you pushed a useless sadsack so far they snapped.
Peter accidentally burns a man with superpowers he never knew he had; his immediate impulse is to apologize. Then he decides no, you know what? For the first time since he held the door open too early and that old woman had to jog the last few steps into the Red Robin – he’s NOT sorry. With all the righteous fury of a thousand Mormons, he declares he’s not putting up with this CRUD any longer, puts a quarter in the Almost Swear Jar, then goes ballistic.
Brigham Youngblood’s berserker rage doesn’t last long. Here he is, pitying himself again for not-
For holy shit, for not taking a Junior High school girl’s virginity?? I don’t care if he meant “when I was also in Junior High” – an implication he has done nothing to earn – this is not a normal deathbed regret for a grown man with a wife and child.
Anyway, he finds time to pity himself once more before exploding.
That should be the end. And in a typical Malibu title, it would be. There’d be a black textbox pre-emptively blaming the audience for not liking the first issue and then an apology for the rude textbox on the next page. This is a self-contained story so far: Man sucks, dies. It should be the PSA they show superpowered children teaching them the first step to heroism is believing in yourself. But no, he lived through the blast.
Don’t worry, nobody hates that more than Peter.
Let’s cut straight to his wife calling him a sissy:
Peter wakes in the middle of the night, unsure of who he is but instantly sure his wife doesn’t like to be naked near him. The explosion reawakened his real identity, James Hitch, a psychotic badass buried underneath 210 pounds of insecurity muscle.
Hitch comes complete with a brand new Hitachi to satisfy his brand new wife, and a brand new name: Firearm. Hitch is everything Peter is not, here he is proving that:
He walks away from an explosion, threatening passing coyotes who better not even think about learning English. Hitch infiltrates Peter’s agency, kills a dozen men, and steals some kind of prototype. Now Peter and Hitch have to work together just to survive! I can’t even imagine a way to make you care about that- wait, Nic Cage in an unusual wig.
We’re only talking about Firearm because they’re doing Double Impact! But in one body! They’re doing long lost twins meet and are total opposites but find they have to work together, only they share the same dick. They share the same dick! THEY SHARE THE SAME-
You’re just not reading a Malibu comic unless the first issue ends with an admission they didn’t tell the story very well, and then some light begging for another chance. It’s a bold tactic they use for everything from storytelling to third date sex to ad copy.
Malibu kindly includes a “back-up story” in case the first story doesn’t work out, and I guess it doesn’t, because they felt the need to include a back-up story: Alec Swan is a hardass private detective giving LA a Yelp review while mangling henchmen (unrelated).
Kids! We know we let you down with the confusing Firearm, Issue #1, but… but do you want to know more about Alec Swan’s feelings on frozen yogurt? Come back in two weeks!
Disappointed? Don’t be!
The next issue sees him coming around on frozen yogurt!
Haha I thought I was kidding!
It turns out this killing spree was all to get some compromising photos of a woman’s husband for a divorce. You know, the basis of every private detective’s career – which they usually accomplish with a camera, killing zero people, earning possibly $200 if there’s embarrassing roleplay. The only thing this whole back-up story accomplishes across five issues is Alec Swan coming around on fro-yo and becoming medium-okay with the Mexicans in his neighborhood.
Alec Swan is maybe also Firearm? The first version of Firearm, who was a non-superpowered Punisher knock-off that killed superheroes. So I guess he quit killing superheroes to become a private eye and lent his identity to a different murderer, who himself lent his body to a coward. Confused? Don’t be! Just go ahead and don’t be.
The spy agency discovers Peter/Hitch’s treachery thanks to the one thing you can never cover up: your high school yearbook. I don’t know why I’d be kidding about that but it feels like you think I might be-
They convened a meeting of the top brass to assess the authenticity of every “have a great summer” in Jefferson High’s Thanks for the Memories, 1982. This is the thrilling storytelling you can only get from two issues and a sorry of Malibu Comics!
Wait, what was up with Peter having fire arms (fuck you) when Hitch doesn’t? Malibu is glad you asked:
Curious? Don’t be!
This is actually a great try for Malibu, and I would’ve redeemed one of my apology coupons from Exiles for this – but we haven’t even gotten to the core of Firearm. Which is the intense homoerotic dynamic between Peter and Hitch…
While living in the same body. They share the same dick! And they both want it! They share the same dick! THEY SHARE THE SAME-
I’m getting carried away.
The implied metaphor, if I was being so generous as to credit a Malibu comic with having a metaphor, is that Peter is having a gay awakening. But out of attraction for himself? And I guess he’s also being dominated by another man, so he’s a psychic sub within his own body?
Aroused? Don’t be!
Because we’re not done yet, this love story goes triangular when both men fall in love with Peter’s wife, and then folds itself through the 4th dimension when she in turn falls for both men-
Hitch throws Marilu a fuck at first just to keep her on his side, figuring if he makes her cum he can use her later. What he doesn’t know is that up until now Marilu thought orgasm was the state above California. She is instantly hungry for more Hitch cock, even as she’s also instantly sure this is a psychic imposter puppeteering her real husband – the oral gave it away, you fool!
So what’s Marilu’s next move? To investigate the true nature of this imposter? To call a theoretical mathematician to figure out which consents have been violated? To immediately do it again? To immediately do it again.
Peter watches, trapped inside his own eyeballs as Hitch satisfies his wife and Peter immediately understands he’s bullshit – his thoughts are in green above, Hitch’s reply in orange.
Peter: “Release me! Let me take over!”
Hitch: “Haha fuck that, Peter, you’re like my father. Just an absence where a man should be.”
Peter: “Oh shit you’re right! I’m sorry, I’ll go hang out in the parts of our brain that we never use, with long division and how to perform oral sex on a wife. Hey, what’s up, long division! Where’s oral s– oh.”
Of course we’re not done learning sexual trigonometry: Hitch’s former lover Claire returns, turning this inverted romantic tesseract into a quantum love polychoron.
So Hitch has fallen in love with Marilu, who is married to Peter, the other man in his body. Peter is in love with Hitch, the man who owns their body and uses it in ways Peter has only read about in Quantum Leap slash fiction. Marliu loves Peter, but wants to live atop Hitch’s dong now that he’s shown her the power of medium thrusting. Claire is in love with Hitch, and possibly vice versa, but she wants Marilu dead-
This is it, Malibu! This is the prime storytelling you’ve been missing. This moment is critical drama: does Hitch return to his old life, or does he give up control of the body to save Marilu, even though nobody, including the other owner of this body, wants that?
Intrigued? Don’t be!
It’s a spinning top ending. We cut to the Lopez family much later: Peter seems to speak in his own voice, but calls Marilu by her full name which, much like standing up to the mailman and having sex on a weeknight, is something Peter never does. Marilu notices this, but does not call it out – perhaps happy that one of the best murderers in the world psychically destroyed her husband to pilot around his corpse so long as he brings her to climax every Wednesday after Jeopardy.
Anyway, they get hot dogs!
Maybe this made more sense if you read the first Firearm, which… had a prequel comic book that came packaged with a movie that was a prequel to the prequel comic?
So this is the movie that came before the comic before the first comic and explains the back-up story in the second comic, you know, the one about frozen yogurt!
Confused? Don’t be! Stop being that!
I’ll explain everything next time on Firearm, Part 2: Firearm 1 Part 0 the Movie! I’m sorry, I fucked up that title. I’ll get you a free coupon for my next try.
This article is brought to you by our fine sponsors and Hot Dog Supremes: Timmy Leahy and Matt Reiley, trapped in one body THEY SHARE THE SAME-