Are we in the middle of a Wild Dog renaissance? The character was originally created by writer Max Allan Collins and artist Terry Beatty in the 80’s as a Punisher-esque urban vigilante. History doesn’t seem to indicate that the comics he appeared in during the time could actually be described as “good,” but there was apparently a certain over-the-top 80’s action movie appeal to the character and his adventures that endeared him to a certain part of comics fandom. And Gerard Way. And the producers of “Arrow.” So not only has the character made his TV debut in the current season of “Arrow,” Wild Dog returned to comics proper in the first issue of “Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye” this week, which is part of Way’s Young Animal imprint at DC.
I don’t think the comics readership has been crying out for a Wild Dog revival. However, the character’s recent appearances are likely down to two opposing schools of thought. There’s the idea that every character in comics is someone’s favorite, which allows for seeing him show up in “Cave Carson.” It seems unlikely that he’d have appeared if Way, or co-writer Jon Rivera, didn’t have some fondness for the character. As for “Arrow?” I’m betting that they needed a generic vigilante-type character that didn’t have a whole lot of history and Wild Dog fit the bill. Whether or not this leads to a new mini-or-ongoing series featuring Wild Dog, it’s certainly possible if the character continues to make appearances in both mediums. That being said, I certainly hope someone at DC remembers to pay Beatty the proper residuals for co-creating the character.
The Kamandi Challenge #1 (of 12): A long time ago (back before I was born) Jack Kirby gave us “Kamandi: The Last Boy On Earth” and also wrote and illustrated more than half of the 59 issues it ran for during the mid-to-late 70’s. Somewhat less long ago (back when I was six), “DC Challenge” was published. It was a twelve-issue series that had a different creative team for each issue. The reason for this was that the team in each issue would set up an impossible cliffhanger for the new team to solve for the subsequent issue. Why am I bringing both of these up? Well, DC has decided to combine them both to give us “The Kamandi Challenge.” Dan Abnett and Dan Didio are writing the first issue with Dale Eaglesham, Keith Giffen, and Scott Koblish providing the art. It’s certainly an imaginative gimmick and I’m wondering why it took the company so long to give it another go. Then again, “DC Challenge” has yet to be reprinted so maybe there’s a reason for it. If this does turn out to be a creative and commercial success, then you can probably look forward to “The Batman Challenge” next year.
All-Star Batman #6: Scott Snyder moves on to a Mr. Freeze-centric arc with Jock providing the art. While the word is great about the opening Two-Face arc in this series, there is legitimate reason for concern in my book about seeing Snyder tackle Victor Fries again. While I genuinely love most of the writer’s “Batman” work, the first annual he co-wrote with James Tynion IV is a black mark on both of their resumes. That’s because they came up with the “genius” idea of removing the tragedy from Fries’ character and turning him into a straight-up crazy person by having “Nora Fries” not be his wife, but a woman in cryo-stasis he became obsessed over. I’m not thrilled by the idea of digging further into this, but maybe since Snyder will be flying solo as a writer here we’ll get better results.
Justice League/Power Rangers #1 (of 6): DC is really becoming more prolific when it comes to putting out crossovers involving their superheroes these days. Anyway, I’m willing to write this one off as something you should already know is for you or not. I’ll be saving my money for the next “Batman/TMNT” crossover since the first go-round there was pretty decent.
Batman: Detective Comics vol. 1 — Rise of the Batmen: This may collect the first issues in James Tynion IV’s run on “Detective Comics,” but you shouldn’t think of this as the Caped Crusader’s “other” solo book. By all accounts this is a team book that features Batman, Batwoman, Red Robin, Spoiler, and… Clayface? Yes, it appears that one of Batman’s longstanding rogues is part of his new outfit as well. The explanation behind that has me curious, along with some of the word-of-mouth that’s calling this “the best ‘X-Men’ book on the stands.” …There’s going to be a lot to make sense of when I get my hands on this volume, isn’t there?
Wonder Woman vol. 1: The Lies: The first volume of Greg Rucka’s return to the title. Guess I’ve got a timeframe for picking up the first volume of his previous run on “Wonder Woman.”
Future Quest vol. 1: Jeff Parker gives us “The League of Extraordinary Hanna-Barbara Characters!” He’s got a solid reputation for delivering fun superhero stories, so I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do with this eclectic cast featuring everyone from Johnny Quest, to Space Ghost, to Harvey Birdman (in his pre-law years, I’m assuming). Also, I’m assuming that no one takes on an assignment like this unless they’ve got some affinity for the characters involved. Which means we shouldn’t expect Parker to be phoning it in here.
Kid Eternity Book One: I’m honestly surprised we’re finally getting a collection of this series after all these years. The title character was someone who could raise any dead person with a word (“ETERNITY!”) and got a pre-Vertigo mature readers makeover courtesy of Grant Morrison and Duncan Fegredo. Then, when Vertigo launched a couple years later, we got this ongoing series from writer Ann Nocenti and artist Sean Phillips. It wasn’t all that successful and lasted only a year and a half, never to be heard from again until now. As for why DC’s collecting the first half of the series, it could be down to the work Nocenti has done for them in recent years and Phillips’ own increased profile via his work on “Marvel Zombies” and with Ed Brubaker. However, there’s a more interesting reason to consider: In “The Art of Sean Phillips” the artist is quoted as saying that even though “Kid Eternity” was selling 100k an issue, it was still considered to be a sales disappointment. Yes, selling 100k of a comic was “cancellation zone” territory for some comics in the 90’s. It was a helluva time. That still meant a lot of people read this series, so it’s possible we’ve reached the point where DC thinks that reprinting any comic from this era is worth a shot to see if the people who read it the first time around want it on their shelves in a proper collection. Then again, if that were true we’d have the entirety of “Shade the Changing Man” reprinted by now. I’m still just the tiniest bit bitter about that.