Action Comics Weekly #602 – Wild Dog
“Moral Stand, Chapter Two: Dog Gone”
Writer – Max Collins
Pencils – Terry Beatty
Inks – John Nyberg
Letters – Gaspar
Colors – Michele Wolfman
Editor – Mike Gold
When we last left Wild Dog, it was a case of in-and-out: Wild Dog busted into City Hall… shot up a bunch of folks… then busted out before he could be discovered.
Short and sweet… let’s see how they can follow that up.
We open with reporter, Susan King showing her latest broadcast to Mr. Hovey of whatever news station she works for… and he’s all “C’mon, not this Wild Dog stuff again?!”… and in fairness, if it’s Susan King, there’s like a 90% chance that whatever story she’s working on is going be be about Wild Dog. He’s tired of hearing about it, especially considering the fact that she had failed to unmask the vigilante during the original miniseries like she promised!
She’s given her next assignment, and it’s a remote broadcast from Readworld Bookstore, where there is currently a bit of a demonstration going on. Ya see, it’s the Legion of Morality… and they’re marching in protest of “pornography”… in quotations, because their view of “porn” is rather broad… and not limited to nudity. Susan runs into fellow reporter, and potential Wild Dog candidate, Lou Godder.
We learn that B. Lyle Layman of the Legion of Morality will be speaking that evening at the Davenport Public Library… an event that’s likely to get weird. And indeed, that night, he’s got the pulpit… where he’s comparing some benign publications to smut… and claiming that he has irrefutable proof that exposing oneself to such things leads to immoral behavior, up to and including: child molestation, rape, and murder! Worth noting, Lt. Andy Flint (another of our potential Wild Dogs from the mini) is present.
Layman is whipping the people into a lather, even suggesting they dump the smut into the Mississippi River (I can’t be the only one who spells out “M-i-s-s-i-s-s-i-p-p-i” in my head every time I have to type it, am I?), comparing their mission to the Boston Tea Party. What’s worse, the people of the Quad-Cities are buyin’ it!
After Layman speaks, a Benediction is delivered by an old hippie called Rev. Smuggworthy (oh, c’mon…).
Following the meeting, Flint and Godder meet up and chat about everything they’d just heard. Godder compares his philosophy to Adolf Hitler… which, if I’ve learned anything from my twenty-plus years on the internet, means the conversation is over… and thankfully, it is.
Later, we follow Flint over to Jack Wheeler’s garage where they have a fairly contentious chat. We learn here that Flint himself was responsible for “setting Wild Dog loose” last week… something he immediately regretted doing, but, that’s a glob of toothpaste that ain’t goin’ back in the tube.
This chapter ends with a bang… or boom… rather a Kawhoom!!! as Readworld Books is blowed up real good.
Well, suddenly the story-arc title “Moral Stand” makes a bit more sense.
A bit heavy-handed, perhaps, but this enjoyable enough. Part of what made the original miniseries so special was the effort made toward fleshing out the rest of the cast. Having Godder, Flint, and even Susan King as P.O.V. characters is pretty neat.
Speaking of Ms. King, I really dug her boss calling her out for getting too caught up in the Wild Dog story. I gotta imagine she’s been like a broken record since he’s hit the scene. The boss refers to Wild Dog as “old news”, which… might not be totally fair. I’d like to think if a masked vigilante just blew away a half-dozen people in City Hall, that we’d be able to talk about him/her for a little while… especially if they were still out there!
I’m getting some definite vibes from Layman… maybe a little of the modern perception of Frederic Wertham mixed with a televangelist? Worth noting, Max Alan Collins and Terry Beatty would go on to produce a work about a “rabble rousing social critic” declaring war on comic books in 1954… unsurprisingly/fittingly called, Seduction of the Innocent (2013, Hard Case Crime). Reverend Smuggworthy, however, maybe should have been called Rev. Groanworthy… because, c’maaaaahn.
We learned that Lt. Flint had “weaponized” Wild Dog last issue… which is an interesting route to take… especially with “morality” being at the core of this story (at least, to this point). It’s, at best, a moral “gray area” to use Wild Dog in such a way… it got results, which, at the end of the day, might be all that matters. Though, that’ll likely have Godder Godwinning again (Godderwinning?).
Overall, after reintroducing the character last issue, it feels like we’re we’re now setting the foundation for the arc to follow. Good stuff, breezy reading… though, as mentioned, maybe a little heavy-handed/unsubtle.
Tomorrow: A Superman shortie!