Sunday, August 11, 2013

365 Comics... 220: Wild Dog #1 (1987)

I probably saw an ad for the cover of this first issue of Wild Dog in one of the many DC comics I was buying off the newsstands at the time.  It's a movie-poster worthy image, the stark blue, red, and yellow t-shirt popping from the black background and undershirt, the white gloves and goalie mask with the book's title across the eyeline (but with one eye peering out in the space between the "L" and the "D").  It's memorable all right, and for 25 years I've kind of been meaning to explore what's behind that image, but, to be honest, I've never really cared enough.

Despite editor Mike Gold's proclamation in back matter of this first issue (remember back in the day when Editors would write a "behind the scenese" in the letters column for mini-series or when books are just starting out... it was a simple thing that really allowed the readers to connect with the creative team, as well, so often get the sense that comics weren't really a business so much as a friends getting together to make comics) that Wild Dog was established to represent superheroes of middle America, the "Heartland", he's ostensibly DC's answer to the Punisher, a well-armed criminal killer.  Of course the Iowan setting is rather crucial to the feel of the book and indeed provides it a distinct flavour.

I've been mostly reading Wild Dog's adventures in Action Comics Weekly (my first true exposure to Wild Dog was through his first arc in ACW back in 1988, which may be the reason why I didn't ever pursue digging the mini-series out the back issue bins) and I'm not convinced that I like Wild Dog as a character or that it's a particularly good book, but I think there's something intriguing going on that differentiates it from most other books of the era (particularly the Punisher) but unable to escape it's total 1980's feel (uzi's were so popular back then).

Wild Dog is like a USA Network superhero, it's the Burn Notice of vigilantes, action packed and enjoyable on its own terms.  What I'm enjoying most, as I've likely stated in my ACW semi-regular commentary, is Terry Beatty's art.  It's just so unbelievably clean, and there's a stiffness that works in its favour.  In ACW he's inked by John Nyberg who hits the blacks and shadows a lot harder, but here, inked by Dick Giordano, it's just crisp.  I kind of like the shadow-heavier look to Beatty's work, but both a bright and clean and dark and clean look work just fine.

I'm still missing the third issue from this series, but found the 1989 special that I had no idea existed, so added to the remainder of ACW I have to go through, there's a lot more Wild Dog in my future.  I'm still not sure if that excites me or not.  I would buy a Wild Dog jersey or ringer-Tee
in a heartbeat though

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