Wasteland #2 – Chapter 3

Wasteland #2 (Chapter Three)
“Warning Signals”
Writers – John Ostrander & Del Close
Art – David Lloyd
Letters – Steve Craddock
Colors – Lovern Kindzierski
Edits – Mike Gold

Today we cover the last story for our first Wasteland Chapters outing.  Tomorrow will be our compilation post, which will include things like ads, editorials, the actual cover of the issue… stuff like that.

Our story opens in a hallway, where three folks from Child Welfare are meeting with an Officer Krupke (likely fresh from the West Side) who brought in a boy for making some pretty wild claims.  The boy is Jimmy Mitchell… and the claim in question is…

One of the Agents (Sandra) sits down by Jimmy to get some clarification.  Is this “werewolf” thing just some sort of game he and his step-father play?  That doesn’t appear to be the case, as the boy is rather adamant that he’d seen Step-Pop (Art) literally transform into a beast!

When asked if maybe he dreamed it, Jimmy presents his bruised arm.  He tells the Agent that, when he saw this go down, he pinched himself to ensure he was awake.  The Agent doesn’t like the way this is going… and asks if Art might have ever hurt or touched him.  Jimmy says no!  Art’s a good dude… it’s just, he’s a werewolf!  The trio of Agents huddle up and decide they’re going to need to call in Jimmy’s folks.

The parents arrive, and are kinda mortified.  They feel as though their guilt has already been decided.  The Agents assure them that they just want to ask some questions… more of a “ruling things out” approach.  Worth noting, Step-Dad Art looks kind of creepy… sort of like that Snyder from One Day at a Time… who always gave me the creeps.

We jump right into the interviews… and learn that Jimmy’s mother got pregnant, and was forced to get married.  Jimmy’s biological father ran off… Jimmy’s maternal grandparents disowned them… just an all-round unpleasant scene.  Art was a Marine, who kinda drifted after being discharged… he wanted a normal life… a wife and a kid… and, as luck would have it, wound up finding that here.

After the interviews, the professionals put their heads together and try to come up with a hypothesis.  Jay thinks it’s Oedipal… as in Jimmy’s making all this up because he’s jealous that Art has taken his mother’s affection.  He’d run Art through a battery of tests, and nothing really “pinged” to the effect that he’s some sort of predator (though, I’m not sure there’s any psychological test for werewolfism… then again, I’m still early in my post-grad studies) Sandra isn’t sure.  All Norbert can offer is, the bruises on Jimmy’s body don’t seem out of the ordinary for an active boy.

Sandra wants to talk to Jimmy one last time before sending the family on their way.  Second verse, same as the first… he feels as though Art’s a good dude… it’s just that he’s a werewolf.  Hey, nobody’s perfect!

The Child Services Trio has no reason to keep the fam… so, they send them home.  We learn via a little caption that Jimmy was dead one month later.  Wait, what?  That’s our ending?  Ya kidding me?

Um… ya know… I’m thinkin’, maybe I just don’t like Wasteland.  This was one of them “tackled on the one-yard line” sort of deals… where the story was decently told, and intriguing… but, that ending?  Woof… what in the hell was that?  What were we supposed to take away with that?

Jimmy’s dead, right?  Well, in one-month’s time he will be.  But… is that even relevant to this story?  I mean, it’s called “Warning Signals”, so we might be able to assume… but, really… without any sort of context, who can say?  Maybe he was beaten to death by Art… maybe Art actually is a werewolf?  Though, then… perhaps it would have been more appropriate to end this with a caption that read “Jimmy died during the next full moon”?  Maybe Jimmy just fell down a well, and there wasn’t a dog nearby to go alert the townsfolk?  Yeesh.

Maybe this is a commentary on how handcuffed Child Protective Services can be?  But, again… Jimmy’s folks haven’t given us enough of a reason to be concerned.  All we have is a wild claim that Art’s a werewolf… but, otherwise, is a really good dude.  Sandra and Company, even if they were in full agreement (which they weren’t), wouldn’t have a leg to stand on if they decided it would be in Jimmy’s best interests to separate him from his parents.

Just don’t know what to think about this one.  Lots of great build-up… but, just like most episodes of the Twilight Zone, had an almost aggressively weak ending.  Almost feels like all of the build was just time wasted.  Good art though!

0 thoughts on “Wasteland #2 – Chapter 3

  • Wayne Allen Sallee

    This was such a strange book. What made it sell enough to make it last was that it was in that oddball period where DC had maxi-series at that time and this was one of the first that wasn't sci-fi.

    I forget the exact issue, but all the interiors were lost, and when the book eventually came out, it had a black and white cover. The art could be very good, but Del was more a storyteller who sat on a stool in a theater and had his way with the crowd.

    • You're probably thinking about issue #6. It came out with a new cover… but, the insides were just issue #5 again. They would then release "The Real #6", which came with that white cover (the usual Wasteland trade dress notwithstanding)

    • Wayne Allen Sallee

      Old age will do that to a guy. That's right. Del & John invented their own version of the variant (I'm sure Del bribed someone, kidding of course.) Back in the days when you bought comics out of vending machines, I ended up with a copy of CONAN but the interior was Jughead.

    • Chris

      When I first started collecting/researching WASTELAND (probably… yeesh, over a decade ago now, feels like just yesterday), that white cover (and the mishap that led to it) really freaked me out. I probably over-thought it, but it got under my skin. It felt like the PERFECT thing for this sort of series. Really unsettling… sort of like the weirdness within was seeping out into the real world.

  • I liked it when it came out, just a gut punch.

    • Chris

      It is very unsettling… leaves the reader rather uneasy. When I first read this, I hated the fact that it was just "there"… but, upon reflection, I think I appreciate it more


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