Wild Pod: A Wild Dog Podcast Episode 02

In Wild Pod: A Wild Dog Podcast, FKAjason covers the legendary DC Comics action hero Wild Dog, from his initial 1987 four-issue mini-series and beyond. In this episode, Jay covers Wild Dog #2, by Max Allan Collins, Terry Beatty, Dick Giordano, Michele Wolfman, John Workman, and Mike Gold. Plug your buds in your ears and listen to find out what makes Wild Dog great.

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I Wanna Be Your Dog – The Stooges
Sabotage – Beastie Boys

Wild at Heart – Birds of Tokyo

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  1. I’m not sure if I’d give Wild Dog credit for being DC’s answer to The Punisher so much as their recognition that Vigilante was the wrong answer and Canon Films still had a thriving market in 1987 that could be tapped. I do like that Collins & Beatty tried to bring their smaller scale vision of comics to DC, which had a nice little renaissance of pulp/noir stories in the mid-eighties that went unnoticed by fanboys until Vertigo came along to sex up the non-superheroes. I do think that obvious Jason Vorhees comparisons aside, Wild Dog had a strong visual (including the Red Dog icon) that made you want to learn more about him. I think the scope sight logo and a striking first cover certainly enticed. I misremembered buying the debut as a “dinged” fifty-cent copy, as it turns out that was the finale and I instead paid full cover for #1 at one of the mall booksellers.

    Like most folks, I tend not to pay much attention to lettering unless it’s bad, but John Workman is a major exception. His only competition for my all-time favorite letter is Todd Klein, but Klein is more defined by his flourishes, where I think Workman brings his A-game to every caption box and balloon. I can honestly say his work here impacts on my overall enjoyment of the book, since it does such an excellent job of conveying the cool, even cold quality of an edgy period thriller.

    Truth to tell, I’m not as wild about Terry Beatty as I am Workman. I liked him well enough on Ms. Tree, but his delivery of action and “camera” angles is so flat that I think a different artist might have helped put the material over better. We kind of got that with Dick Giordano’s inks, and there are definitely areas where he outright assimilates Beatty, but that didn’t translate to the action choreography. As “realistic” as this pretends to be, I just don’t buy the clean, easy appearance of all this violence. I have an even harder time believing Susan King would have survived that chaos until the “final boss” showdown than I do the instant death breakneck kick.

    Complaints aside, I do think the first issue redeems Max Allen Collins’ reputation somewhat, as the entire book has a cinematic quality that is very inviting for new readers without the unsatisfying decompression that usual follows that technique today. I love the photographic quality of the splash page introducing the Quad Cities and the well distinguished on-and-off camera storytelling. Arrow could shoot this script verbatim for television. Well, except the dude sucking his Klan mask following his sucking chest wound (and maybe less balls kicking? What is today’s Standards & Practices position on balls sicc’ing?)

    I think the story starts getting shaky as early as the second issue. “Blowed Up Real Good” is barely an acceptable title in satire, much less the mostly straightforward presentation here. Teams of well equipped, color coordinated, all-white social anarchist terrorists active in Middle America is somehow more far-fetched to me than alien invaders and the supernatural. Wild Dog is far too brazen to not get himself and many others killed during his raids, and I don’t buy a bulletproof vest countering twin Uzis at close range. The arch on-the-nose and pun-ny bits that turned off Batman fans are present here, but the material better absorbs the Chester Gouldisms. Plus boy, those sound effects are fun, the gym kids have great taste in band t-shirts, and the ending works.

    Finally, tell Charlemagne to slow his roll on the PC policing. I’m calling him out on calling you out on calling the police chief out on not calling out the possible deaths of the janitorial staff. I had the same thoughts about that particular statement as you, so Roy taking exception to them dumps a bucket of #AllLivesMatter over a valid point made concisely via the joke, as opposed to the show-grinding equivocation in the aftermath.


  2. Like many people, I’m sure, I bought the first issue of Wild Dog just because the cover alone was really cool. The logo, the hockey mask, the gun… I didn’t know what I was looking at but my 15-year-old brain knew it liked what it saw. And I’ll concede he may not be DC’s answer to the Punisher, but there were enough similarities between the two that makes the gag work. In my opinion, at least.

    I have been saying for years that the letterer is the unsung hero of the comics industry. That’s why it really ticked me off in those 1960s Charlton Comics when they didn’t credit the letterer. Or worse, when they started crediting the letterer as “A. Machine.” Letterers give us those great sound effects that are sometimes the only things people remember about the Adam West Batman series. Workman is one of my favorites and worked on a LOT of DC titles I read in the 80s. He definitely stands out.

    Terry Beatty is a capable penciler. Dick Giordano is a great inker. Together, they don’t offend me. Nothing in this mini-series has jumped out at me as fantastic artwork but there is also very little I can point to as downright bad.

    If Wild Dog took place in the real Universe and not the pretend Universe, Susan King would be dead. No doubt about it. If the terrorists didn’t get her, Graham Gault would have. She’s a liability to him.

    Max Collins’ work on Batman seems to be pretty unpopular. Isn’t he the one who retconned Jason Todd? I was never a big Batman fan and never picked up any Bat titles with any regularity, even during the 1989 Tim Burton-fueled Bat-boom. So Wild Dog was my first (and to date, only) exposure to Collins’ writing. I really kind of like it. I mean, I must. I’m still talking about this book 30 years later. I very much like the “real” setting of the Quad Cities. It makes this series stand out. The issue titles are uninspired and sometimes downright dumb, yes. But there is a certain je ne sais quoi about these comics I find very endearing. And I think ball-kicking is perfectly acceptable if not encouraged on network TV these days.

    Your comments about the “brown lives matter” joke sparked a conversation with my wife that was thought-provoking. And I have some things to say in Roy’s defense. But you’ll have to download Wild Pod #3 to hear them.

    Thanks for listening, Frank!


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