Action Comics Weekly #609 (Wild Dog)
“Moral Stand, Chapter Nine: Red Pencil”
Writer – Max Collins
Pencils – Terry Beatty
Inks – John Nyberg
Letters – Gaspar
Colors – Michele Wolfman
Editor – Mike Gold
Last week, we bid farewell to Blackhawk… and today, on this most solemn of days, we do the same to our old friend Wild Dog. They’ll both be back before ya know it… but, who knows if we’ll ever be able to go “home” again? It’s a New Day (yes it is).
And we must realize, that in saying goodbye (for now) to Wild Dog, we’re also saying goodbye to… the Sensational Character Find of 1987… Ms. Susan King.
You may not have been used all that much during Action Comics Weekly, but you’ll always have a place in our hearts. Here’s to Ms. King’s (and Wild Dog’s) spectacular return… in Action Comics Weekly #615!
We open with the Legion of Morality storming that art exhibit at the Museum. Naturally, they enter the scene guns blazing, picking off both of the on-duty Security Guards… and a civilian or two for good measure. Meanwhile, back at the Legion Compound, Jack Wheeler has been laid out. Dr. Layman, for whatever reason, has left him under the watch of… a single (white-suited) Moralist. Jack overpowers him in no-time flat, and attempts to suss-out the location of the next target.
We shift back to the Museum, where the Moralists have placed a bunch of explosive charges all over the place. They return to Layman, who has arrived to begin directing traffic. Also on the scene… Wild Dog! Layman commands his followers to, get this, shoot him down “like a dog!” Oh, c’mon.
Anyhoo, a firefight commences, with the Dog proving to be a far better shot then a half-dozen masked Moralists. When the dust settles, the only ones left standing are he… and Layman.
Wild Dog socks Layman, knocking him out. When he comes to, he finds himself tied to a chair… with a belt-full of explosive charges wrapped around his chest. Dog politely asks where all of the planted charges are… and, at first, Layman hesitates.
Until, of course, he realizes his captor means business… then, he cries like a canary. The day is saved, and Layman is taken into custody.
Only… not so much. Ya see, Layman’s a clever boy, and it turns out… even with all of the evidence against him, he was still able to wriggle out of imprisonment. The only way they could convict him… involved Jack Wheeler outing himself as Wild Dog, and we all know that ain’t about to happen.
But, ya know, things have a way of working themselves out. Ya see, one of the Moralists who was killed at the Museum, just happened to be the son of Helen Whatsherface… that lady who Layman’s been sniffin’ around for much of this arc… and, well, she’s terribly displeased.
Well, that was a pretty strong (and satisfying) ending! While justice wasn’t quite served, ol’ Layman sure wound up getting his comeuppance in the end.
That’s not to say this was a perfect story… we’ll leave that kind of hyperbole to “current year” reviewers.
Let’s start at the start. Layman discovers that his organization had been infiltrated by the vigilante who has been trying to take them down. Still with me? He kayos this self-same vigilante at the end of the previous chapter, and… just leaves him laying in the locker room under the watch of a single guard?!
I mean, to this point, Wild Dog has killed what, a dozen members of the Legion of Morality?! Shouldn’t Layman make sure Wheeler is dead before moving along to “other business”? I mean, I get that Layman’s kind of a cocky fellow, and would probably want to rub the Dog’s nose in his exploits… but, c’mon, maybe put a couple of guards on the job? Oh well.
Another thing about cocky Layman… he doesn’t wear his mask when he’s “on the job”? That strikes me as weird… though, I guess if Layman is that full of himself, it stands to reason he’d not be shy about showing his face… though, that kinda goes against so many of the failsafes he’d put into place to hide his organization’s involvement with all of the terroristic attacks.
Speaking of the failsafes, I love the fact that one of Layman’s own “silencer belts” wound up being his undoing. Seeing him crack like an egg was pretty cool too!
The ending… made a lot of sense. Layman’s clearly a powerful and connected guy. It’s not so outlandish to consider him calling in a few favors and shrugging off the charges against him. It shows that “vigilante justice” and actual justice don’t quite go hand-in-hand.
Though, Layman (we assume) does get his in the end. Helen winds up losing her Son in Layman’s scheme… and heck, when you stop and think about it… she’s kind of complicit in all of it. Had she not lied for Layman and given him an alibi… there’s a good chance that her Son would still be alive! It’s really quite well done.
All told… Wild Dog: Moral Stand was a heckuva little story. I’m glad that the Dog got a bit of a life following his miniseries. We’ve already covered his 1989 one-shot here, which kind of puts a “cap” on the character… barring an appearance in Lobo, and his Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye appearances, but it’s a shame he didn’t become more of a “thing” during the speculation era. Seems like it would’a been a lay-up during the days of Marvel having nearly a half-dozen Punisher books on shelves, doesn’t it?
Oh well. See ya in May, Jack!
Tomorrow: Hal Jordan in a most unlikely role… as anchor of Action Comics Weekly! Oh, and he’s still chatting up Oprah.