Too Many Long Boxes!

End of Summer
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by David R. Black

Comin' at you in


I finally got around to reading Promethea #18 this week. One of the problems with bi-monthly books is that I forget about them. Despite Promethea (and the other ABC books) being some of the best stuff out there, I've unconsciously trained myself to not bother looking for a new issue when I go into a comic shop.

That isn't good.

Plus, it sounds counter-intuitive. How can you train yourself to not look for a comic? Well, it's easy, really. Most of us have a set group of titles we look for and buy often. As we gaze upon row after row of comics, our eyes automatically filter out what we're not looking for.

It's like skimming a textbook and only picking out the important parts. If you're a Wonder Woman and Titans fan who has never, ever bought an issue of Orion, then you automatically pass Orion over without even looking.

Or, using an analogy, if you're only looking for green marbles, then you ignore the red, yellow, and blue marbles.

This skimming effect is the main reason why covers are such an integral part of comics. Catchy covers grab the skimmer's attention and make them realize the comic is there. Most covers are already attention getters. The key is to get more of it than the next guy.

And in a world of attention getters, the more unusual a cover is, the better. Anybody remember those big "face" covers done a few years ago? Now that was unusual;.

Oh, yeah, I forgot. Promethea #18. I've never seen so much red in a comic before.

Red, red, red, red, red. And to make matters worse, only one shade of red. What a waste of excellent artwork by J.H. Williams III and Mick Gray.

Yeah, I realize that Alan Moore was going for a certain effect (Sophie-Promethea and Barbara-Promethea were travelling through Geburah, Mars' sphere of the astral realm), but it didn't work.

It sure made my eyes hurt, though. Red is most unpleasing in vast quantities, much like a torero's flag is to a bull.

Did you know......The "T.M." part of legendary letterhack T.M. Maple's name stands for "The Mad"?

Green Lantern #147 spotlighted John Stewart, who is probably the most abused and kicked around character without a devoted Internet fan club.

Writer Judd Winnick lays the groundwork for John regaining his ability to walk, but, boy, does it feel forced. But it's not Winnick's fault.

He just tried to right a wrong.

Let's review John's history, shall we? First, John's back is broken by Grayven during the Darkstars' last stand. (This occurred during DC's "Let's kill, maim, or rework every ex member of the Green Lantern Corps" phase.)

John is later healed by Hal Jordan. John then reverts back to a paralyzed state after he "expends" the last of Hal's healing energies during a fight with Fatality. Next, Kyle Rayner, as Ion, heals John in a likewise manner.

And now we're told the paralysis is all in John's mind.

I'm doing myself a favor and promptly forgetting all that stuff. John Stewart is a hero, no matter what his physical condition may be. John's appeal as a tragic hero was played up well in Cosmic Odyssey and Green Lantern Mosiac, but tragedy piled upon tragedy becomes desensitizing.

Does DC have a character who has faced more adversity and loss?

Three cheers to Judd Winnick for breaking - or at least trying to break - a vicious cycle.

In preparation of the Warlord's upcoming appearance in Wonder Woman #179 and #180, I bought the past few issues of Wonder Woman. I figured I'd try to get a feel for the series so I wouldn't be totally lost when I read issue #179.

I guess it worked, but we'll have to wait and see. I swear, though, just about every female character in the DCU appeared in Wonder Woman #174 and #175. Heroines and villainesses.

Moonbow hadn't been seen since Firestorm #49. Black Thorn hadn't been seen since Checkmate #33. Owlwoman hadn't been seen since a brief cameo in the Primal Force series. I could go on and on.

Oh, yeah, all the guys appeared, too. But they had been transformed into animals. I think the ferret on page 15 is Iron Munro, but I'm not sure......

Good luck to continuity keepers (like our own John Wells) who will be sorting this out over the next few years.

I've figured out why the Flash is selling like hotcakes. It's not the new villains, it's not the awesome artwork by Scott Kolins, and it's not the refreshing writing of Geoff Johns.

It's the emphasis on the Flash.

Huh? The emphasis on Flash? Shouldn't the title character automatically be the focal point of the series?

Yes, he should. The problem is, Wally West has always had one (or more) super speed co-stars to compete with. Think about it.

During Mike Baron and William Messner-Loebs' runs on the book, Wally's friends (and enemies) included Speed McGee, Blue Trinity, and Red Trinity. During Mark Waid's early issues on the Flash, Christina Alexandrova was still running about, but more importantly, so was Professor Zoom (as the "ghost" of Barry Allen). During Waid's latter issues, Jay Garrick, Max Mercury, Impulse, Jon Fox, Jesse Quick, and/or Johnny Quick seemed to be in every other issue.

Asides from an early appearance by Jesse Quick (in the Cicada storyline) and a few cameo appearances of Jay Garrick, Wally West has been the only speedster in Flash.

The resulting stories have focused on Wally, and instead of showing that he's just one of many speedsters, they have showed why he's worthy of the mantle - worthy of being the Flash. They've showed why Wally West should be the title character, and not Jay Garrick or Max Mercury or Jay Garrick or Jon Fox or Christina Alexandrova or.....

And readers are responding to that.

Wild Dog was a four issue miniseries done by DC in 1987. Written and pencilled by Max Collins and Terry Beatty (the creators of Ms. Tree), the series focuses on a mysterious vigilante - named Wild Dog - who decides to combat terrorism in the Quad Cities.

I picked up the entire miniseries for a dollar, and it was well worth it. The series has a lot going for it.

First, there's the mystery behind Wild Dog's identity. Throughout the story, Beatty lays clues that point to no less than four men possibly being Wild Dog. Government agent Graham Gault, journalist Lou Godder, police detective Andy Flint, and mechanic Jack Wheeler all have their reasons for possibly being Wild Dog. This creates a "murder mystery" type atmosphere that pervades throughout the series.

Secondly, the series is rather realistic. All the weapons and equipment Wild Dog uses are readily available to the public. The settings and locales that appear are all real (Arsenal Island really exists, as does the River City Center in downtown Davenport). The violence level is also on par with what you'd expect from a protagonist dedicated to defeating terrorists at any cost. I'm surprised DC didn't slap a "mature readers" label on it.

The fourth issue is a little bit of a downturn, as it focuses more on revealing Wild Dog's true identity than resolving the terrorist plot. Incidentally, the cover of issue #4 gives away Wild Dog's identity. Only one of the "suspects" has white skin and blue eyes. Whoops!

OK, that's it for this month!

Z2 5Y(2AB)6!

I must be getting into shape! I'm not as winded as the last time......

David R. Black is's magazine editor and chief archivist. A big fan of "The Warlord," he has a cat named Shakira and is looking for a girlfriend named Tara....

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