Slim Shady — yes, the real Slim Shady — is now riding shotgun with Frank Castle.
Above you see the cover for a digital comic book that teams up mercurial rap superstar Eminem with the heavily armed hard-case from the Marvel Universe, the Punisher. The issue was written by Fred Van Lente and drawn by the sublime Spanish artist Salvador Larocca, and the process came with a lot of guidance from Eminem and his manager, Paul Rosenberg, both of whom had intense interest in the project.
The gun-toting partnership started with an XXL magazine photo shoot where the editors suggested that Eminem be presented as a character in the Marvel Universe, which is so red-hot in Hollywood. Mr. Mathers, being an intense comics fan and collector, liked the idea a lot, as did Marvel. The comics company expected Eminem would take the predictable route and ask for claws.
“We thought he might want to do something as Wolverine since the movie is coming out right now, or maybe Spider-Man or one of the classic big names, and we were pleasantly surprised when he said he wanted to do a story with the Punisher,” said Michael Pasciullo, vice president of merchandising and communications at Marvel Entertainment. “He’s a true fan, and it showed throughout the process.”
The first part of the team-up story “Kill You” appears in the June issue of XXL, which is available with two different covers and hits the street on May 5. That same day, part two of the story will be posted as a digital comic book at www.marvel.com/eminem. No word yet on if there are plans for a print edition of the collected story, which is set in Em’s hometown of Detroit.
Back from a three-year hiatus, Eminem has a new album, “Relapse,” which hits stores on May 19. This is not the first time he’s revealed himself as a fan of comics — he memorably dressed up as Robin the Boy Wonder for his music video “Without Me,“ although he couldn’t coax mentor Dr. Dre to don the cape of Batman.
The 36-year-old rapper asked that either John Romita Sr. (who had a hand in designing the character way back in 1974) or the stylish Larocca handle the penciling for the issue, which “really showed how much he knows and cares about Marvel and its history,” Pasciullo said.
“He also requested that the villain be Barracuda, and that’s when we knew we were dealing with a real fan,” Pascuillo said. “How many people know Barracuda? I think this was really fun for him, and I know it was fun for us.”
– Geoff Boucher
Artwork courtesy of Marvel Comics. Photos from XXL