Obscure DC Characters: W

Whirlicane/Thunder & Lightning (I)

Emilio Storme, a brilliant but mentally unstable scientist specializing in biotechnology and climate control research, was intent on building a "storm-bomb" that could devastate entire cities to help him achieve world conquest. Storme left his post at S.T.A.R. Labs to adopt a criminal identity as a menace who combined the power of the whirlwind and the hurricane: the Whirlicane!

Created by Gerry Conway and Curt Swan, he debuted in ACTION COMICS #457 wearing a garish green, purple, and white uniform with a pointed mask and striped leggings. This costume enabled him to generate and focus powerful winds by spinning around in place, and he could channel bursts of air to pulverize walls or even momentarily stun Superman. (How he avoided making himself dizzy is unknown.)

Whirlicane recruited a small gang of henchmen and, riding a futuristic hovercraft, they began a series of robberies in Metropolis that brought them into conflict with Superman. Whirlicane was forced to flee their first encounter by spraying the Man of Steel with a coating of molten lead that blocked his x-ray vision, but fought him again while hijacking a cargo jet. Superman used his flying power to push the jet so high into the stratosphere that Storme's wind-controlling uniform froze into uselessness from exposure to the intense cold.

Conway and Swan brought Whirlicane back in SUPERMAN #303 a few months later. Storme had been released into the custody of S.T.A.R. Labs to continue his research, but, unsurprisingly, he was as power-mad as ever and resumed his criminal ways.

He created an android servant capable of shifting between two forms: Lightning (who had electrical powers) and Thunder (a massive giant who could generate shockwaves). For unknown reasons, Whirlicane programmed it to believe that it was actually an ordinary human being given super-powers by its master.

Storme sent the android to raid S.T.A.R. for meteorological equipment he needed to create the storm-bomb, but it was continually thwarted by Superman, who trailed it back to the Whirlicane's hidden lab. There he confronted Lightning with the knowledge that it had never truly been human. Unable to cope, the android detonated its own body in a massive explosion that utterly destroyed the lab and, apparently, the Whirlicane as well.

(Oh, by the way, Superman survived.)


The two-page story entitled Whirlwind (by Steve Skeates and Sal Amendola from TEEN TITANS #30) represented one of a handful of picture and text stories that DC experimented with in the early 1970s that ranged from shorts (as in Challengers of the Unknown and Aquaman episodes in SUPER DC GIANT #S-25 and S-26) to longer pieces featuring Adam Strange (STRANGE ADVENTURES #226).


"Tornado"—it was a word that threw fear into the hearts of Midwesterners like Wally West. Even Wally couldnt have imagined the cyclone that struck the Blue Valley First National Bank in the late summer of 1970. It was more of a whirlwind, really, one that slowly began to dissolve within the bank itself and reveal a human center. The man within had white-flecked black hair and wore a red-black domino mask, a long-sleeved purple turtleneck and orange gloves. While his left hand operated a red chestplate, his right held a gun.

The gunman hadnt anticipated the arrival of Kid Flash and reactivated his cyclonic field to make a quick escape. The teenage speedster managed to thrust his fist into the whirlwind but he threw the punch at the wrong angle, and there was no time for a second attempt. He was caught by the swirling air and thrown back into a wall.

But the damage had already been done. His poorly aimed punch had hit the machinery instead of the man and the device was now beginning to malfunction. The tornado that carried the man suddenly smashed into a pillar, money spilled all over the bank floor. The the whirling air mass began to weave all over, and finally crashed through the northeast wall, and pieces of glass from the large bank door flew in all directions.

The miniature tornado was last seen speeding off across the ocean. Speculation is that the man in its center ultimately drowned at sea. It has never been learned who he was. Nor what type of device he used to create this whirlwind. Given the fact that Blue Valley was in Nebraska, the cyclonic man must have travelling at an incredible velocity to reach the ocean so swiftly. The incident remains classified in Teen Titans files as unsolved.

Wild Dog

Created by Max Collins and Terry Beatty

WILD DOG #1 (Sep 1987)
' Who Is Wild Dog? Chapter One: "We Interrupt This Program..." '

Susan King is a reporter working for a television station which services the Quad Cities, four Midwestern cities in Illinois and Iowa. She is covering the official opening of River City Center, the new community activity center that promises to revitalize downtown Davenport. She interviews Raymond E. Newell, who describes himself as the public relations secretary of the Committee for Social Change. He states that his organization believes society has decayed to where the only solution is to level the existing institutions and structures before starting anew. He demonstrates this by triggering the destruction of the Center. He and his terrorists then take King hostage and force her crew to provide immediate live coverage. Among the viewers are police lieutenant Andy Flint, reporter Lou Godder, mechanic Jack Wheeler, and the Internal Security Agency's Graham Gault. While the interview continues on, the masked vigilante called Wild Dog drives his pick-up truck "Rover" through the police barricade and into the theater from which the terrorists are broadcasting. One-by-one, he shoots the terrorists, and ultimately succeeds in rescuing the TV crew. As they exit the building, the police order Wild Dog to drop his weapon. The vigilante takes Susan King hostage and drives away to safety, leaving King on the side of the road.

WILD DOG #2 (Oct 1987)
' Chapter Two: Blowed Up Real Good! '

Susan King's news director instructs her to run with the Wild Dog story. She vows to find out who this mysterious vigilante really is. Graham Gault visits his old friend Andy Flint, then Jack Wheeler. They, along with Lou Godder, played college football together. Later, a man and woman murder the distinguished Dr. Theodore Mensa, professor of philosophy at State University. The man takes Mensa's place as keynote speaker at the first Honor Students' Congress, which consists of junior high students from four states. He reveals that he is an impostor and that he has rigged himself as a human bomb. Other terrorists join him, taking hostage an estimated 1,000 students and teachers. Wild Dog arrives and takes out all the terrorists in the building, then carries the unconscious impostor into a field. The clever vigilante tricks the rest of the impostor's terrorist friends into coming to his aid. Wild Dog detonates the impostor's explosives, killing them all.

WILD DOG #3 (Nov 1987)
' Chapter Three: "Rollin' On The River" '

Graham Gault invites his three friends, all former members of State University's Red Dogs football team, to take a riverboat to Arsenal Island. He then has them all open gifts. As they pull out pieces of Wild Dog's uniform, Gault reveals that he believes one of them is the vigilante. He remarks that Wild Dog is a well-trained athlete whose arsenal includes lightweight body armor, stun gloves, and a jati submachine gun. Gault tells them that he wishes to speak privately with Wild Dog. Lou Godder is a suspect because he lost his wife to plane terrorists three years earlier. Lt. Andy Flint's hard-nosed anti-crime attitudes are well-known. As a Marine, an unarmed Jack Wheeler stood guard in Beirut, as his comrades-in-arms were blown up. Gault believes that the Committee for Social Change is in the area of the Quad Cities because they intend on attacking Arsenal Island, home of the largest of the nation's four arsenals under AMCCOM. Gault spots Susan King and tells her to back off on revealing Wild Dog's secret identity. Shortly afterward, the terrorists attack as Gault had expected. Wild Dog appears and kills them all. A photo is taken of Wild Dog in action.

WILD DOG #4 (Dec 1987)
' Chapter Four: I Am Wild Dog '

Susan King tells Andy Flint that she has figured out who Wild Dog is, but wants to keep the story going for the sake of her own career. Flint sees Graham Gault first, and is convinced that he is not the vigilante. He speaks with Lou Godder next, informing him that King believes that he is Wild Dog ('Godder' is 'Red Dog' spelled backwards). Godder believes Jack Wheeler is the one. Flint and Godder think back to Wheeler's past.

Wheeler was a terrific athlete, and only a knee injury during one of their college football games cut his football career short. He lost his scholarship and was forced to drop out of school. The only way he could afford to finish college was by enlisting in the Marines. He was stationed in Beirut, where terrorists attacked and killed all of his fellow soldiers. After his tour ended, Wheeler returned home and took a job as an auto mechanic. While taking night classes at State University, he met a woman named Claire Smith. She is the reason that Flint and Godder suspect Wheeler. Wheeler and Claire had fallen in love. She revealed to him that her last name was a false one, but requested that he not ask about it because it was too painful to discuss. Wheeler began to notice that a number of accidents nearly claimed Claire's life. One day, as they were kissing , a drive-by shooter killed her.

Flint soon discovered that Claire was the daughter of Carmonti, the Chicago godfather. There had been a bloody mob purge the previous year, and Carmonti's rivals, the Vespucci family, couldn't afford to let Claire live because she might know something about their business. Claire was the godfather's only heir, and Wheeler was shocked to learn that he was her sole beneficiary. Wheeler was furious that he was made a millionaire through blood money. Later, Godder made an off-hand remark that he should use the money to fight the mob, which gave Wheeler an idea. He built his own auto repair shop, and secretly created the identity of Wild Dog. Soon after, Wild Dog attacked and killed Carmine and Carlo Vespucci, as well as the assassin who had murdered Claire.

Flint then looks at a photo taken at Arsenal Island, and is convinced that their suspicions are correct. Flint soon arrives at Wheeler's house. He shows the photo to Wheeler, noting that he was the only one of the four at Arsenal Island who wore combat boots like Wild Dog. Wheeler admits that Flint is correct, but surprises his friend by asking him to help out as his police contact. At that moment, they hear a news report of another terrorist action at city hall.

ACTION COMICS WEEKLY #601 (1988) - 609 (1988)
' Moral Stand '

Lt. Andy Flint forces Jack Wheeler to give up being Wild Dog, but after three months he is forced to ask for Wild Dog's help against the forces of B. Lyle Layman and the National Legion of Morality. Lou Godder reveals to Wheeler that he knows of his exploits as Wild Dog.

ACTION COMICS WEEKLY #615 (08/30/1988) - 622 (10/18/1988)
' Fatal Distraction '

Wild Dog hunts a serial killer called the Night Slasher. A young fan of Wild Dog's named Danny Crown decides to become his hero's sidekick, against Wild Dog's wishes. Reporter Susan King dubs the child "Wild Pup". Danny slips into Wild Dog's truck and learns the vigilante's secret. When Wild Pup later tries to help Wild Dog, he is accidentally stabbed by the Night Slasher. Soon afterward, the Slasher, who is actually an ex-prostitute who had been hunting her former clients, arrives at the hospital and sits with Danny until the police come to arrest her.

ACTION COMICS WEEKLY #636 (01/24/1989) - 641 (03/07/1989)
' Crack Up '

Wild Dog battles drug dealers. He tracks the drugs to Chicago businessmen, whom he then slaughters without mercy. Flint and Godder tell Wheeler that he must end his career as Wild Dog, or else they'll come forward with everything they know.

' Dog Catcher '

It is three months since Wild Dog's slaughter of the Chicago mobsters. Gault figures out that Wheeler is Wild Dog and approaches him with an offer to aid in national security, both domestic and foreign. He promises a presidential pardon if ever he's caught. Wheeler agrees and Wild Dog returns. Flint and Godder are angry that Wheeler has resumed his vigilante career, but Gault informs them that it was his idea, and that Wheeler is now part of covert government service. The new ruling head of the mob, Don Lupo, hires a freelancer called "the Catcher", to capture Wild Dog. The Catcher uses Susan King to figure out Wild Dog's secret identity, then kidnaps Flint in order to lure the vigilante into his trap. He drops off his captives to the mob, then leaves them to their fate. Wild Dog escapes and kills the mobsters.


Justice League of America #142

She came from outer space ... but she was born on Earth. The woman with green flesh, hair and antennae had been forced to make a crash landing in the ocean when her spacecraft was fired upon by a being known as the Construct. She'd been en route to find the only being on Earth who could protect her and found him as part of a trio composed of Aquaman, the Atom and the Elongated Man.

The telepathic woman in the lavender body suit and wine cape identified herself to the Justice Leaguers as Willow and begged them to take her to Atlantis. "We must not be above water at all! The Construct's domain is the air."

The answers that the heroes received in Atlantis proved no less cryptic. Willow would only respond that "this-one has come from a place she must not name, to reach a place no man must know." Her enemy, the Construct, was clearly a threat worth opposing, however, and he broke into the Atlantean communication network with a promise to "destroy every human creature in Miami, Florida" if the woman was not turned over to him.

Willow requested that Aquaman and the Elongated Man defend Miami while she continue her journey with the Atom. Privately, the other two men believed that the Tiny Titan wasn't up to the job but, given his recent bout with low self- esteem, they kept their opinions to themselves. The Atom's assessment of himself wasn't helped when Willow displayed a stunning expertise of the martial arts in the course of their journey.

Arriving at an uncharted island, Willow was attacked by the Construct. The robotic assimilation of Earth's electronic signals considered himself the harbinger of a new era, one in complete opposition to the promise of life represented by Willow. She urged the Atom to "shrink to the size of a true atom" and destroy the creature from within. The gambit was a success and the Construct's form exploded.

"This-one knew from the beginning what evil force had grown up to oppose her since she left Earth — and the sole means of overcoming it. Neither Aquaman nor Elongated Man — nor she herself — could oppose the Construct on his own airwaves. Only YOU could do that, Atom. This-one was attempting to reach you when the cannons first attacked her, over the ocean."

Willow explained that she had left Earth, taken a mate and become pregnant. "The lure of the stars paled, as the Earth called out for its daughter. In the end, she has come home to the nest. Here, where no one will disturb her, she will birth her child."

She assured the Atom that, even if the Construct were to reform himself, "it will not know of Willow and her island. ... Already, YOU know more than ANY MAN should. You will keep my secret, Ray Palmer? You will give this-one her chance for happiness — and ask no more questions?"

"Willow, I ... I ... I will!"

"Then, farewell," she said, kissing his bowed head, " ... forever."

Reunited with Aquaman and Elongated Man, who'd stopped the Construct's forces, the Atom held his tongue. "To ALL their questions, now and in the days to come, the little man with the big secret just smiles a smile to match" (1977's JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #142, by Steve Englehart, Dick Dillin and Frank McLaughlin).

In the Marvel universe, Willow had been known as Mantis (AVENGERS #112-135). After becoming the Celestial Madonna, she took an alien plant being of the Cotati as her mate and evolved to a higher state of existence. The object was to create a child that straddled the lines between "flora and fauna, plant and animal" (1974's GIANT-SIZE AVENGERS #4).

After leaving Marvel for DC in the mid-1970s, Steve Englehart recalled in Fantaco's AVENGERS CHRONICLES (1982) that fans were asking if this meant Mantis would never be seen again. "Feeling playful, and feeling organic as always, I decided to bring her back, in THE JUSTICE LEAGUE, complete with a disclaimer to the Atom and Aquaman: 'I can't tell you who I am. If anybody knew I was back on Earth, we'd be in big trouble!' And that went over well, and everybody knew who she was. There didn't seem to be anybody who didn't understand"other than editor Julius Schwartz "but I had explained to him what I was doing, and he said 'Okay, whatever you say!'"

While working on a Madame Xanadu mini-series about the birth of a child of evil in 1980, Englehart decided to revive Willow. "There's a sequence — not a big one — in that thing where the Demon — and this in the story's previous incarnation — or actually Jason Blood, I think goes to an island in the South Pacific and meets her, and she says, 'Yes, my name is Willow, and the gods are trying to create this child in order to combat my child who is the force of good,' and so on and so forth."

In the end, DC rejected the proposal and Englehart and Marshall Rogers ended up revamping the story. As SCORPIO ROSE, it was published by Eclipse as a three-issue arc in 1983. Issue #2 revealed that Willow (as Lorelei) had given birth to a son and spent the last several years quietly raising the child in Connecticut.

Eventually, Englehart returned to Marvel and, with him, came Mantis. One of his assignments was a twelve-issue SILVER SURFER series that would feature Mantis and her now-seven-year-old son, Sprout. Still living a peaceful existence in Connecticut, mother and child used their powers to help the Surfer fight the Mangog. Sprout was capable of transforming himself into a mobile tree! In the end, an attraction had sprung up between the Surfer and Mantis.

Plans changed and Marvel decided that an ongoing SURFER series might be a better course of action. Working with Marshall Rogers again, Englehart eventually fit Mantis into the second draft at the end of 1987's SS #3. In #4, she explained that "a time of solitude has come for (Sprout), and he needs his mother not. Thus, this one reappears. And THIS time, this one lives as the Cotati do, under whatever conditions — and she moves from world to world as surely as blood courses and sap flows."

The original version of the mid-1980s SILVER SURFER series (illustrated by John Buscema and Jack Abel) was finally published as an out-of-continuity episode in 1990's MARVEL FANFARE #51.

Rick Wilson

The Texas sands of Wild Stallion Mesa were soaked with blood on that dark day in the late 1800s. A young Mexican girl watched as her father was gunned down by bandits for the chest of gold her carried. A young Texan boy saw his own father struck with a bullet by the same outlaws. Rising out of the dust, the boy proved every bit the marksman that his Texas Ranger father was. In an instant, the killers lay dead at his feet. Rick Wilson was barely eight years old.

Captain Sam Wilson was in no hurry to see his son fulfill his dream of being a Texas Ranger but no one could deny that he thrived on Rick's companionship. Since Maria Wilson had been slain by an unknown gunman (whom she had described with her dying breaths), Sam couldn't bear to let the boy out of his sight. The youngster had vowed to find his mother's killer when he joined the Rangers and Sam feared where the path to vengeance might take him.

Paloma, the orphaned Mexican child, filled a void in the Wilson household, one that Sam tried to deny. Insisting that she needed "the guidin' hand of a kind woman to bring you up like a lady," the Captain sent her to a childless couple in Purple Ridge. Within days, Paloma had fled her adoptive parents and returned to the Wilson homestead. Informed that "the good Dios chose YOU to be my family ... you and Rick," Sam knew better than to argue.

The family unit was joined by another scarred soul when Rick was in his thirteenth year. The boy had rescued a hawk that was being attacked by two cougars and nursed it back to health. As he peeked in at his son that night, Sam grinned at the glare the hawk was giving him "as if he was Rick's own watchdog." The bond between the hawk and the young man would never be broken.

All through his teens, Rick polished his sharpshooting skills. By the time he was eighteen, he'd achieved a degree of accuracy that led even his accomplished father to admit that "I'd hate to face you in a shoot-out." Still, the gray-haired Ranger kept dragging his feet and Rick finally exploded at the man he'd idolized.

"I'm tired of waitin' — tired of bein' treated like a wet-nosed kid!" Packing a few belongings, Rick rode off, telling his adoptive sister that "I'm gonna PROVE I'm a man ... and Dad ain't gonna like it!" The hawk, silent as ever, followed in the sky above.

A year later, Captain Wilson was called upon to investigate a stagecoach robbery, one in which "two men were gunned down in cold blood." A third man, who'd pleaded in vain for a non-violent robbery, was the only bandit who was positively identified. He wore tan pants, a light green shirt open at the chest, a dark green vest, brown poncho and black hat and had brown hair — and the face of Rick Wilson.

In the streets of Purple Ridge, Rick was called out — by his father. Paloma tried to intercede, pleading with her father and brother to settle things peacefully, but neither would listen. Rick proved the quicker draw by a fraction of a second and left his father bleeding on the dusty ground. Typical of Rick's skills, the shot had been aimed carefully enough to only graze the old man — but it had taken its toll. Flatly announcing that "I have no son," Sam walked from the doctor's office and past a crowd of slack-jawed townspeople to nail up a picture on Rick Wilson: "Wanted ... Outlaw."

That night, Rick had a vision of a man cloaked in black who rode an ebony horse. He warned of "a 'welcoming committee' of two ... up ahead" and vanished as abruptly as he'd appeared. The manifestation of the California-based horseman in Texas fueled the supernatural legend of El Diablo. Though unnerved by the words of "the devil," Rick found the warning reaffirmed by the hawk, which was circling ominously over a secluded spot near Wild Stallion Mesa. His partners in crime, it seemed, did not like to share.

Within the hour, Captain Wilson and his posse discovered the money from the stage robbery at the mesa ... alongside the corpses of the Fenton Brothers. The man that the siblings had intended to ambush was long gone. "I didn't want it to end this way," Rick thought. "I've always dreamed of wearin' a Texas Ranger badge ... of ridin' with Dad and his men. But these are the cards that ramrod dealt me. I'VE got to play 'em HIS way. To the bitter end" (1970's ALL-STAR WESTERN #2, by Bob Kanigher and Tony DeZuniga).

The 1970 revival of ALL-STAR WESTERN, which had originally run from 1951 to 1961, represented editor Dick Giordano's take at a western title for DC. The first issue was a reprint showcase for Pow-Wow Smith but the last page promised "a new breed in blazing western adventure" with the next issue's introduction of El Diablo ... and The Outlaw.

Both the supernatural-tinged El Diablo and the more straightforward "Outlaw" came from the typewriter of veteran writer Robert Kanigher. Indeed, the premise of Rick Wilson seemed like a dark reflection of Kanigher's earlier western hero, Johnny Thunder (which ran from 1948 to 1961). That series had also involved a widower lawman and his son but, in that instance, John Tane had promised his dying mother not to follow in his father's footsteps and was forced to adopt the alter ego of Johnny Thunder to get around his vow. Where Sam Wilson was reticent about allowing his son to be a lawman, Sheriff Bill Tane desperately wanted John to join him and considered the boy a coward when he declined.

The series gained another link to Johnny Thunder when Gil Kane signed on as artist for the second and third episodes of "Outlaw." In the first of these, Rick found that he wasn't truly accepted anywhere. Even the outlaws who worked with him viewed the son of a Texas Ranger with suspicion. During a train robbery, half of the Dix Gang took advantage of Rick's precarious position atop the locomotive to ambush him while the rest of the bandits held Sam at gunpoint in a car below. On separate fronts, the Wilsons killed their respective assailants but the chasm between father and son was as wide as ever. Sam Wilson had no son (ASW #3).

In retaliation for Captain Wilson's capture of outlaw "King" Coffin, the bandit's gang abducted Paloma and vowed to kill her if their leader was not freed. As the horrified townspeople watched, Wilson refused to make a deal, defiantly placing the noose around Coffin's neck when the hangman himself refused.

Rick rode into the crowd, snatched Coffin and demanded an alliance. "You've got the best hideout in this territory. No lawman's broken into it — and lived. I sure could use a place like that to cool off." At the encampment, Rick wasn't simply cool, he seemed as cold as his father, callously allowing Coffin to shoot at the hawk and make advances on Paloma.

It had all been a pretext, of course. Once the gang's guard was down and most of the men were drunk or sleeping, Rick stormed into Coffin's room as the villain was attempting to rape Paloma. The livid bandit pursued the brother and sister, with only the savage claws of the hawk preventing Coffin from shooting them. In an underwater struggle with "King" in whitewater rapids, only Rick survived. The rescue of Paloma and the defeat of her kidnappers had no discernable impact on Sam Wilson. He had no son (ASW #4).

During a visit to his mother's grave, Rick froze at the sound of a "klik" of a gun behind his right ear. Captain Wilson finally had the drop on the outlaw. In handcuffs, Rick made a futile attempt to escape from Sam's deputy and grab his gun but the old Texas Ranger shot the weapon out of his hand. "Got to hand it to the old cuss," his son admitted. "He's still as fast as chain-lightning."

The young man's jail time was measured in hours thanks to a prison break engineered by "Gunpowder" Grimes to free one of his men. Rick went along for the ride, even helping hold off his father and a posse, but a musclebound member of the gang pronounced him a spy. Under a barrage of slaps and accusations, Rick exploded and began hammering back at the big man. The young outlaw observed that "only the chill of Gunpowder's gun pokin' into my ribs stopped me from killin' him." Rick hands were tied behind his back and he was tossed into a derelict train car for the night.

The gang had been gearing up for an assault on Purple Ridge during their 50th anniversary Founder's Day celebration. Filling the abandoned locomotive with dynamite the following morning, they intended to send the timebomb rolling into town and take advantage of the destruction that followed. The central target in the impending robbery was a golden horseshoe that was to be awarded to the winner of a sharpshooting contest.

As the train moved inexorably towards Purple Ridge, Rick heard the shriek of his hawk. The bird's beak furiously tore at the ropes around his wrists until Rick's hands, now covered in blood, were free. As he defused the explosives, the outlaw was stunned to see his father riding alongside the car.

"Your hawk led me to you, son. Jump on my horse. We've got work to do — cleanin' out the Gunpowder gang."

Though Rick's heart had soared when he heard his Dad call him "son," the situation was far from good, particularly after Captain Wilson's horse was shot. Taking refuge beneath the stalled train, father and son prepared for a last stand as Gunpowder grabbed a stick of his trademark dynamite. "At least I'm fightin' alongside you, Pa —like the Ranger I always wanted to be. Instead of helpin' you as an undercover agent."

Rick later recalled that they'd been low on ammunition. "Our last slugs ricocheted off the rocks, showerin' sparks on the short fuse of the dynamite Gunpowder held. The blast thundered like a mountain blowin' its top off. When the ground finally stopped shakin' ... we crawled out. Pa drew out somethin' shiny that I'd dreamed about ever since I was a kid ..."

"I want you to be wearin' the badge that's rightfully yours, son. So when we get back to town I can tell folks you never were an outlaw but a secret Ranger."

"Mom 'knew' all the time. But, now I can tell Paloma the truth about my masquerade."

The day was capped when Sam and Rick competed against one another in the sharpshooting contest. A beaming Paloma announced that "the judges ruled it was a tie. The golden horseshoe will remain in the family — bringing us all good luck."

The trio rode off into the sunset, still in a state of euphoria. Sam vowed that "from now on, son — we'll fight together."

"You an' me, Pa. Out in the open at last. Father and son wearin' the same star. Keepin' it bright and shiny" (ASW #5, by Kanigher and Jim Aparo).

The abrupt conclusion to "Outlaw" caught many readers off guard in 1971, with more than one objecting to the unexpected revelation that Rick was an undercover Ranger. In looking over the entire series, though, it seems evident that Kanigher had the development in mind from the beginning, having carefully avoided involving Rick in any crime beyond robbery. Still, the six-panel wrap-up was undeniably hasty, without so much as a reaction from either Captain Wilson or Paloma to Rick's secret. Indeed, one is left to wonder just how long Sam had been in on the secret.

The decision to end Rick Wilson's run was an editorial one. Dick Giordano had been succeeded by Joe Orlando, who wanted to move in a different direction with a different creative team. The "Outlaw" logo would continue to grace ALL-STAR WESTERN but, like Rick Wilson, it would only be in the descriptive sense. Billy the Kid was about to ride into town.


All-Star Western #2-5

The World Beater

The World Beater was the living personification of many intergalactic villains. Dr. Ihdrom kidnapped the evildoers and imprisoned them in escape-proof cells. Two of them were Spectrum and Anti-Man. Wendy witnessed Wonder Woman and Aquaman's battle with the former, and Marvin saw the Dynamic Duo and Superman take on the latter.

The World Beater gained many powers after the villains were killed and their atoms reformatted into his body. The powers of the following villains are listed below:

  • Spectrum - any type of light wave
  • Anti-Man - creates anti-matter blasts, but X-rays harm him
  • Traveler - teleportation
  • Turncoat - disguises
  • Thunderhead - storm power
  • Powerhouse - strength
  • Apparition - intangibility
  • Ultra-Light - speed
  • Firelord - flames
  • Sub-Zero - coldness
  • Bombshell - explosive power

When the World Beater defeated the adult heroes, Marvin and Wendy realized that he had the powers of Spectrum and Anti-Man. They tricked him into using his X-Ray power from Spectrum's lightwave magic. This power negated Anti-Man's forces, and he passed out. The kids used ordinary armor to make the World Beater project X-rays into them. (Super Friends #3)

Dr. Mist later enlisted Olympian and Wild Hunstman to free the World Beater, Time Trapper, Hector Hammond and Sinestro from the Conqueror. (#46)


  • Super Friends #3 (Feb. 1977)
  • Super Friends #46 (July 1981)

The Writer

The Writer was actually Grant Morrison, who appeared in his own ANIMAL MAN #26, where he had a long theological and existential discussion with Animal Man, revealing that he wrote the hero's life and adventures. It was Morrison's last issue writing the book, and he wrote himself into the continuity to get some ideas across and thank his fans (and to, ostensibly, pull a deus ex machina by bringing Animal Man's family back to life). John Ostrander and Kim Yale apparently decided that this meant he was a DC character, and he became the Writer... and cannon fodder.

The Writer later became one of the members of the Suicide Squad assembled by Black Adam to attack Circe's island during the lamentable "War of the Gods." Whatever he wrote (or in this case, typed into his laptop computer, which was suspended from a harness on his chest) happened. Unfortunately, shortly after the assault began, he got a case of 'writer's block' and got his throat ripped out by one of Circe's werebeasts.


  • Animal Man #26 (as Grant Morrison)
  • Suicide Squad #58 (as the Writer)

Original text copyright DC Comics unless otherwise noted. Used without permission.