DC Comics

Wild Dog #1 (1987)

Wild Dog #1 (September, 1987)
“Who is Wild Dog?  Chapter One: We Interrupt This Program…”
Writer – Max Collins
Penciller – Terry Beatty
Inker – Dick Giordano
Letterer – John Workman
Colorist – Michele Wolfman
Editor – Mike Gold
Cover Price: $0.75

Who says the costume doesn’t make the hero?  Does anyone actually say that?  Just sounded like a good way to start this one.  Wild Dog was a character that I became interested in solely due to his interesting laughing-red-dog jersey.  My first encounter with the character was in an issue of Action Comics Weekly that I somehow found myself in possession of in a time well before collecting that series was of any interest to me.  None of the other characters or stories really interested me, though… Wild Dog… that shirt, that mask… as an impressionable preteen, I was interested in this guy.

That interest like many before it and since, was fleeting  I likely forgot about Wild Dog as soon as I put the issue down, and it wouldn’t be until many years later that I would bump back into the character in the quarter-bin of some local bookstore.  Could Wild Dog live up to my childhood expectations?  Well, let’s go back to where his story began and find out…

We open with a news report hailing from the Quad Cities of Iowa.  Broadcast Journalist Susan King is there to report on the opening of the River City Community Center.  It is a fluff piece which King makes clear once the cameras are off.  She laments the fact that she will never become a news anchor (wresting the position from “that no-talent slut Coleen” no less) doing stories like that.

Once the cameras are back on, King conducts an interview with Mr. Newell of the Committee for Social Change.  During the exchange, Newell detonates a bomb inside the Community Center.  During the fracas, he takes Ms. King and her cameraman hostage and promises an informal press conference.  He takes her to a nearby theater where, with several gun-toting masked men in tow he is revealed to be a “home-grown terrorist”.

At the theater Newell and King restart their interview.  Newell states that society has deteriorated and it is time for a new beginning.  Four men are shown to be watching of listening to this interview, Police Lieutenant Andy Flint, Reporter Lou Godder, Mechanic Jack Wheeler, and Graham Gault.  While the police discuss how to handle the ongoing hostage situation we observe somebody about to don the Wild Dog mask.

The next scene begins with Wild Dog crashing the scene in his red pick-up truck (license plate: ROVER).  He drives straight into the theater and begins blowing away the terrorists.  Wild Dog does not give a damn.  The officers ponder if they just witnessed another terrorist enter the fray while the ‘Dog continues blasting away at the terrorists.  He does not mess around.

Wild Dog launches a wired arrow into the stage where Newell is holding his hostages and zip-lines down from the rafters… blasting all the way.  Newell holds his pistol to Ms. King’s head… to which, Wild Dog simply kicks the gun out of his hand.  Wild Dog still gives nary a damn.

He rescues the hostages and exits the theater where he finds several guns have been drawn on him.  He holds his gun to Ms. King’s head takes her hostage himself.  He loads her into his truck and drives her to the outskirts of town, where he lets her out unharmed.  During this scene an officer inadvertently gives our man his name when he orders his men to “shoot him down like a Wild Dog in the street!”.

Once released, Susan King sees Wild Dog as her ticket to broadcast stardom.  He is the story that will make her career.

I’ve seen Wild Dog derided as a Punisher clone, and often only mentioned in passing as a punchline.  This comic taken on its own, was pretty fun.  Wild Dog is perhaps a bit too cool under fire, and his arsenal may have been a tad convenient for this mission, but it was mindless street-level action fun.

Wild Dog’s identity is kept secret to even the reader at this point.  We are to believe that one of the four men featured prior to Wild Dog’s appearance is the one under the mask.  I like that they did this.  We have all the same information that Susan King has when all is said and done.

The writing is well done, and the non-evil, non-Wild Dog characters all come across as natural.  We are given a bit of insight as to Ms. King’s personality and professional struggles.  I would imagine we can expect her to become something of an ally/thorn in the side for Wild Dog in issues to come.  The art, while certainly serviceable comes across as somewhat stiff during the action scenes.  Wild Dog’s movements are not smooth, and he sometimes appears as though he were a posed action figure.

This title, along with Vigilante give the reader a pretty decent idea of how DC would do the Punisher.  Worth checking out for the novelty of seeing a very non-DC character in the DC Universe.  This book is not available digitally, and though I could have sworn they announced a collected edition of this mini-series, I cannot seem to locate it online.  This one may be a single-issues only situation, though it definitely won’t break the bank… you’ll likely find the entire 4-issue mini in the cheap-o bins.

Interesting Ads:

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The volume of Doom Patrol that would bring us the excellent Grant Morrison run.
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UPDATE 5/7/2023 – “Remastered” for WordPress!

3 thoughts on “Wild Dog #1 (1987)

  • DC in the 80s

    Max Allan Collins wrote this? wow. I totally forgot about that. That explains why Wild Dog's identity was framed as a mystery in the first issue. (Max Allan Collins, among other things, wrote mystery-themed novels and detective-y stuff.) Entertaining review, Chris. I know that many DC fans of the 80s have a 'soft spot' for Wild Dog, but I suspect it's a ;you had to be there' thing. -J

    • Hello Justin,

      Thank you for the response. I did not realize that M.A.C. was the man behind the Perdition books (among many others)… that is quite interesting.

      Wild Dog was a fun read… I assume had I discovered this in 1987 it would have read a bit differently. I was planning on reviewing the entire series, however, to my surprise I only have the first two issues… I'll need to track down issues 3 and 4. I see them all the time, I just never realized that I needed them.

      Thanks again for the comment!

  • MAC was an excellent Dick Tracy writer (the last decent one, in my opinion), Ms Tree was an excellent independent series, and Road to Perdition has already been mentioned. If I recall correctly, these credentials are what led DC to briefly seek him out, not only hiring him to take over Batman (in his “New Adventures,” where MAC was also involved in the post-Crisis revamp of Jason Todd); but also write this series (and a follow up in ACW); they even published a Ms Tree Quarterly a couple years later, when DC suddenly started pushing giant-sized quarterly books for a hot minute.

    All told, Collins did about a year of Batman stories that would be completely forgotten if it weren’t for the Jason Todd origin revamp; four or five Wild Dog stories (this one plus two or three stories in ACW and a special), and the brief DC Ms Tree run, which he presumably holds the rights to. Hardly a distinguished four-year period of his life compared to the hundreds of novels he’s written and that great Tracy run.

    I think the reason Collins didn’t last longer at DC was simply that his storytelling sensibilities don’t work in a post-1980s superhero universe; his successes are almost all straight from noir and 40s/50s tropes, which is why Road to Perdition, Ms Trees and Dick Tracy were great successes for him and Batman and Wild Dog…just weren’t. Wild Dog’s issue isn’t being a Punisher clone, it’s that he isn’t a *well-done* Punisher clone– and the “who is he?”mystery of the series just isn’t particularly captivating. The book neither fits in a superhero universe nor is it adult enough to tell the story Collins seemed to want to tell. I was absolutely shocked that A. Wild Dog is actually considered a part of the DCU (and has appeared a few times since) and that B. He wasn’t a creator-owned character (which is why he has BARELY appeared a few times since). Just seeing him on that ACW #601 cover, Uzi in hand, squatting on the shoulder of a grinning Superman is jarring. The guy doesn’t belong anywhere in the same universe as Superman, and he’s just a bad fit.


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