Wasteland #4 (Chapter One)
Story – John Ostrander
Sonnet – Wm. Shakespeare
Art – George Freeman
Letters – Ron Muns
Colors – Lovern Kindzierski
Edits – Mike Gold
Today it looks like we’re getting Shakespearean! Sounds like fun, dunnit? Well… hold that thought.
We open with a writer… I’m assuming he’s a writer, tik’ing away on his typewriter. He’s a slovenly fellow, even has a tipped over and spilled bottle of booze to his left. Yeesh, I swear I can smell him from here. Anyhoo, we pan around his work space to see a bunch of rejections tacked to the wall. We also see a signed photo of a woman who promises to love him forever.
He gets up from his little desk and draws open the blinds of his window. He sees a billboard for perfume… which, I dunno… maybe that represents the evils of consumerism or capitalism or the “trappings of wealth” or something? In a comic book that costs a dollar more than most everything else on the rack in 1988? Sure, why not?
Back inside, he sees some bad news on the front page of the sports section. Evidently an NBA All-Star is also a drug-dealer, or some such. He flips on the TV, and sees some more bad news… this time, about Ronald Reagan taking a vacation. It’s funny how Presidential vacations are always a huge deal when the party you don’t like is in power, innit? I’m not much of a political animal, don’t have much use for either American party, but double-standards really get under my skin.
The news report than shifts to its next story… books are being banned in high schools.
More news… and, more Reagan. Mr. Ostrander, there’s a Mr. Englehart waiting on line-one with a high-five for ya!
Our hero turns off the set, and heads into his bedroom. There’s a woman already asleep in the bed. Going to assume it’s the same one from the signed photo. After sitting on the edge of the bed for awhile, our man pulls a gun from the nightstand drawer, and inserts it into his mouth.
He… doesn’t pull the trigger, however. Instead, he stands up… cocks it, and points it at the sleeping woman. Annnnnd… that’s it.
I mean, I know what Ostrander was going for… and, if it was doing a parallel to Shakespeare’s actual Sonnet LVII, I suppose he was successful. There’s always plenty of dishonesty in the world, priorities are often skewed toward procurement of material goods, politics will always be played, and situations where advancement of knowledge or betterment are stifled or devalued are commonplace. Where this failed, however, was in a) being completely one-sided when drawing attention to the “evils” and corruption of the world, and making our “protagonist” such a friggin’ loser. Like, did “Billy”… I’m guessing his last name rhymes with Shakespeare, only realize that the world can be a lousy and unfair place on November 4, 1980?
Here’s the Sonnet, by the way:
As to behold desert a beggar born,
And needy nothing trimm’d in jollity,
And purest faith unhappily forsworn,
And gilded honour shamefully misplaced,
And maiden virtue rudely strumpeted,
And right perfection wrongfully disgraced,
And strength by limping sway disabled
And art made tongue-tied by authority,
And folly, doctor-like, controlling skill,
And simple truth miscalled simplicity,
And captive good attending captain ill:
Tired with all these, from these would I be gone,
Save that, to die, I leave my love alone.
So… tired of the corruption of the world, our writer yearns for release. Where the ending of the Sonnet sort of implies that the writer chooses not to kill himself, lest he leave his beloved alone… here, it looks as though “Billy” is planning on taking her with him. Saving her from this awful, dishonest orb and existence.
Again… I get what we’re going for here… I just thought it was a little too pointed in one direction and way too heavy-handed. A real “try-hard” outing… which, I’m not accustomed to from an Ostrander-solo strip. Heck, maybe I’m just missing the point. Perhaps someone more politically minded would get something more (or less) out of this one.