Haywire #1 (1988)

Haywire #1 (October, 1988)

Writer & Co-Creator – Michael Fleisher
Penciller & Co-Creator – Vince Giarrano
Inker – Kyle Baker
Letterer – John Costanza
Colorist – Bill Wray
Editor – Andy Helfer
Cover Price: $1.25

What in the world is Haywire?  I’ve long seen these in Half-Price Books’ quarter-bin and really wanted to check’em out.  Sadly, they’re New Format books… and HPB’s price-stickers really don’t like those… and so, I popped it into my little OneNote app for future reference.

Even sadder yet, I couldn’t find Haywire #1 in any of the local back-issue bins.  The rest of the (short-lived) series was readily available, but without the first, I didn’t wanna “jump in”.  After a moderately long hunt, I actually happened across the entire run at a different used bookstore.  At 40-cents a pop, I snatched up the entire 13-issue run for less than the price of two contemporary issues.

Was it worth the wait?  Let’s find out…

We open in a flashback.  Its a normal, peaceful day… and our focus is on a neighborhood Barber Shop.  The peaceful facade is immediately shattered by a hail of pistol fire.  The workers and patrons alike are quickly perforated, and left for dead.  There’s fire… whether or not this fire is real or symbolic is unknown.  The last thing we see is a young child reaching for his father…

We learn that this is (apparently a regular) dream for a scraggly-haired young man by the name of Stephen Majorsky.  He sleeps, mattress on the floor in a ratty apartment.  Special attention is paid to certain items in his pad, including a filing cabinet and a barber chair with a red ball cap dangling from it.  He is awakened not by his nightmare, but by his answering machine.  Somebody called Simon Truitt is calling claiming to have information on the death of his father.

We shift scenes to the Elysium Towers, a place where I’d imagine a lot of international commerce and trade is conducted.  We join in on a tour of the facility, however, hardly get our bearings before terrorists attack.  They fire at will, and without prejudice.  After all have fallen, one grabs our tour guide by her neck (good thing he’s not Apocalypse, eh?  How’s that for a soon-to-be-dated reference?) and demands to see “Haywire”.

Now, we’re in a different skyscraper.  The home of Alex Kingman Associates.  It appears as though Mr. Kingman is in some sort of Public Relations field.  He has longish blonde hair that is tied into a little ponytail.  He is in the middle of advising a client when he is interrupted by an assistant.

Now Kingman, the very epitome of the 1980’s yuppie, has to leave work for the day to see his therapist.  To be fair, he does so not for the trendiness of the act, but due to the fact that he is experiencing numerous blackouts… and cannot recall entire sections of his childhood/life.

Later on that day, the ongoing events at the Elysium are all over the news… and their is now one name on the lips of the media… Haywire.  Nobody has any idea who or what Haywire is, but viewers are encouraged to call with any information they might have.

I always thought “cop” was a pejorative term?

We rejoin Majorsky following up on the information call regarding his father’s murder.  He is taken to a small house in Sayville, NY (which just so happens to be the home of one of my very first comic book stores!), and brought to the backyard by a strange little fella.  In the yard is… a spaceship.  Not a real one, mind you… but, ya see, ol’ Simon is the survivor of an alien abduction (Venusians in this case)… so he… decided to build a makeshift spaceship in his backyard?  Okay… not knowing whether or not this takes place in the DC Universe proper, I suppose it’s unfair of me to mock this li’l dude too much.  The pair board the “spacecraft” and inside, Simon gives Majorsky a kaleidoscope… claiming if he looks into it and “really” concentrates, he’ll be able to see into the past, and find all the answers he needs.  Sounds legit.  All kidding aside, a fun (and off-putting for all the right reasons) scene.

Majorsky hops on the Long Island Railroad (if he’s leaving straight from Sayville, I boarded many a train there myself!) and heads back to his ratty inner-city digs.  Inside he grabs a Mr. Pepper and plops down in front of the television set.  On screen they’re asking for tips on Haywire… in response, Majorsky pulls out the kaleidoscope and gives it a look-see.

We leave Majorsky, and join up with a pair of airborne news reporters.  Their (police) helicopter is high above the city streets and the Elysium Towers.  Suddenly a green armored hand enters the scene and nyoinks the pilot out, depositing him (safely?) on a rooftop.  The next victim (and ejectee) is the cameraman, who is just chucked out of the chopper with no regard for his safety (or mortality).

Inside the Towers on one of the higher floors, the terrorists are… terrorizing.  In the background we observe a police helicopter rapidly approaching… coming nearer and nearer… and finally, crashing through the window!  The terrorists open fire on the cockpit, rendering it so full of holes that nobody inside could have possibly survived… or could they?

The only one inside is the armored man himself… Haywire!  He leaps into battle, pummeling the goofs and actually decapitating one with a torn-off helicopter blade!

When one of the terrorists lobs in a hand grenade, Haywire responds with some wrist mounted rockets.  All appears to be for naught, however, as these bombers are of the suicide variety… one detonates a bomb which takes off the entire upper levels of the Tower.

Now for something completely different.  We join a young lady named Marlene who is getting off shift at a small neighborhood diner.  She arrives at Majorsky’s apartment to find him passed out in front of the television, and lambastes him for “flaking out on her again”.  He was supposed to pick her up from work, and was… er, otherwise engaged?  Either by sleep… or perhaps donning a clunky green suit of armor?

We wrap up with a shadowy man saying shadowy things to an underling.  He wants Haywire… and he wants ’em, ya know… pretty quick.

“Chucklehead” is actually part of my every day vernacular… 

I’m really digging this era (and arena) of DC Comics.  Just so much strange stuff that makes you take notice.  This feels like it’s out of the Wild Dog, Thriller, the Question and Chain Gang War school of “grit”, and it’s a whole lot of fun to experience for the first time.

So far, the story is rather compelling.  I get the impression that Alex Kingman/Stephen Majorsky is not only the same man (or perhaps brothers?) but also our titular hero, though I do like that it’s being kept vague… for all I know, he could be a red herring.  Haywire or not, he himself seems like quite the interesting character.  By day he’s a high-powered executive… yet he likes in a horrid little apartment, and looks kinda scuzzy.  I get vibes of the 1995 FOX television show, Profit, wherein the lead is a wealthy executive who, due to some childhood trauma sleeps in a cardboard shipping box while lying in the fetal position.  We know that Kingman had survived a devastating event during his youth, and I just can’t help but (graspingly) draw parallels.

There’s a wonderful air of discomfort strewn all throughout this issue.  From the nightmare open in the ratty apartment, to Majorsky’s visit with Simon-in-Sayville… it’s almost disturbing if you think about it too hard.  Everything is just a bit off-center, and I almost feel dirty for digging it so much.

Vince Giarrano’s (not Gerrano as he is mistakenly credited here) art fits this story perfectly.  It’s very realistic, however, with a bit of a stylized flair.  The “direction” of the scenes is almost cinematic… I immediately think of the bit in the therapist’s office where the doctor is unwrapping a piece of candy.  Such a meaningless thing, but it adds so much to the realism of the scene.  So well crafted!

To me, it does a great job of evoking the late 1980’s… though, I’m hard pressed to really explain how.  Maybe it’s due to my reading a lot of Eclipse and First Comics of this vintage, and subconsciously drawing a connection.  If I were to nitpick, I suppose I’d say that the coloring is a tad on the muddy side.

I’d be remiss not to bring up the “trade towers” being bombed by terrorists, and just how eerie that all is.  Some very coincidental imagery in this book… not a fault with the book, but caused me to briefly take pause.

I suppose all told, I’m intrigued!  I’m planning on continuing through this one in the relatively near future, and look forward to sharing this little-known gem here.

Interesting Ads:

Always thought #4 was either Harpo Marx, Tom Baker from Doctor Who, or Larry’s Other Brother Daryl
Always thought this was Bill Sienkiewicz art

… and he’ll never, ever, ever come back!
It’s better than you think…

0 thoughts on “Haywire #1 (1988)

  • SonOfCthulhu

    Vince Giarrano seems to be one of those artists we never realized did so many books. Yet here is another one he snuck under the radar with. He currently paints city scenes that are absolutely stunning. Nice guy too. http://www.giarrano.com/

    • I remember we were chatting about Giarrano's paintings when we talked about his work on the late-90's Manhunter series. It is truly jaw-dropping stuff… at first glance you would absolutely swear you were looking at a photograph!

  • The Crabby Reviewer

    This brings back memories….My late cousin Rob and I used to LOVE this book. I remember virtually nothing about it, but I remember that we used to read it first thing when we got back from the comic store. I'd love to see this collected in one volume.

    • This would be great in collected edition… it's only 13 issues, and it's just obscure enough to tickle a comic fan's curiosity-bone. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing where this goes. The set-up thus far has been really good (better than expected, even!).

      A quick glance at the indicia shows this as being copyright DC Comics… so I doubt there'd be any rights issues for reprinting (tho, I can certainly be wrong there). Fingers crossed!


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