Sunday, May 20, 2007

Law Dog #1

Law Dog #1, May 1993, Epic Comics
writer: Chuck Dixon
artist: Flint Henry
colorist: Tom Vincent
letterer: Jim Novak
assistant editor: John Lewie
editor: Nel Yomtov

I've been thinking lately, if I were to formulate a real life Justice League, or a vigilante band of socially driven crime fighters, the following candidates from law enforcement and pop culture would be prime candidates:

(1.) Chris Hansen. His Dateline: To Catch a Predator series demonstrates a proactive approach to cutting edge crime fighting, specifically by baiting, interrogating, and capturing Internet child predators before they have a chance to molest a real victim. Plus, his bravery in confronting each of these sleazeballs is admirable and worthy of roll call status. Imagine if Batman could experience similar preemptive success with the Joker's plans: "What do you mean, you didn't intend to poison the Gotham Reservoir? I have the transcripts right here . . ."

(2.) Joey Greco. As the host of the syndicated reality show Cheaters, Greco models an impassioned vigilance for social righteousness, and his ability to both confront cheaters and adulterers yet also calm them down to a conversational tone would be invaluable in hostage negotiations or peace treaties with alien despots.

(3.) Sherrif Joe Arpio. Phoenix's Sherrif Arpio has become a national representative for radical law enforcement, particularly through the facilitation of his controversial "tent city," an outdoor prison for Arizona's worst offenders -- and when Arizona summers reach the plus 110s, even Prison Break's Wentworth Miller would start to melt. Also, among other degrading measures, Arpio requires his inmates to wear his patented pink boxer shorts, an emasculating deterrent to anyone thinking twice about committing a felony in the Valley of the Sun. Imagine Arkham Asylum under Arpio's reign!

(4.) John Walsh. Though I'm a critic of Walsh's showboat antics (his recent attempts to mimic Hansen's Predator success has put Miss America is a precarious situation -- ah, Google it), with over 930 criminals captured as a result of his vigilant hosting duties on Fox's America's Most Wanted, Walsh is an honorary law enforcement officer that both cops and citizens would easily support, the perfect spokesman for my makeshift League.

(5.) Matt Drudge. Whether or not you agree with his politics, his website is the premiere source of relevant social and political breaking news, effectively dubbed Drudge the "Oracle" of this League. I'd assign him permanent monitor duty.

(6.) Nancy Grace. Really, I just wanted to add a woman's touch. With all of these middle-aged white men on my roster, I need a touch of intense diversity, and Grace would bring that to the table. Besides, who can deliver that "sperm bank" line from last week's All-Star Batman and Robin #5 in real life other than Nancy Grace.

(7.) Finally, my League would be led by one of the best law "enforcetainment" (I'm trademarking that one!) phenomena since Robocop -- Dog, the Bounty Hunter! Duane "the Dog" Chapman is a force of primal nature, tempered by devout spiritual beliefs, and tethered to his commitment to bettering himself by holding wanton fugitives accountable for their recklessness. Watching his adventures on his A&E reality show inspired me to mull over this list in the first place, since his mission epitomizes what a "real" superhero would be like, in my opinion. His recent legal woes with the Mexican goverment is akin to Batman's conflict with the GPD in Year One, and although Dog can't leave Hawaii as a result of that battle, he could easily chair a nationwide League via video chat. "In brightest day, in darkest night, no evil shall escape Dog's sight! Heh, heh, heh, heh!"

So, what does this list have to do with Law Dog from Epic Comics? Well, nothing really, other than its title reminded me Chapman, and from Flint Henry's tough guy cover illustration, I expected some narrative-based similarities to my favorite bounty hunter, as well. Needless to say, Law Dog's interdimensional turf seems more treacherous than the islands of Hawaii. In fact in this first installment, as the highway patrolman of an ever-changing stretch of mystic road, Law Dog and some psycho chick tag-along find themselves in a demonic realm, and Law Dog's persistent sidekick quickly finds herself captive of the devil worshipping police, who in turn are quick to sacrifice her to some worm-like lord of the underworld. Yeah, I think I'd prefer bail jumping crackheads, too, though not by much.

Chuck Dixon's script is a little rough in this issue, as opposed to the smooth Richard Dragon issues I read earlier last week. Of course, I wonder if the sheer familiarity of Dixon's mainstream subject matter makes that work easier to digest; in other words, his handle on well known characters like Batman, Green Arrow, and Dragon is much more fluid than a constructing-from-scratch project like Law Dog. His succinct use of monologue captions is as bold as ever, but in fact his usual dose of character development pales in comparison to establishing the Law Dog's interdimensional highway beat. Dixon's integration of religious overtones was territory I've never seen him mine, and I would like to read more, not necessarily because of a commitment to the story more so than my always widening interest in the writer. From his dabbling with the martial arts in The Way of the Rat to superhero shtick in Nightwing, to this, Dixon is one of the most eclectic writers in comics, hands down. Henry's visuals are via John McCrea and completely appropriately for this issue, providing a well rounded inaugural issue to a potentially interesting series, balancing explosive action with dimensional introspection.

Though my little exercise in real life fan fiction parallels the theme of unconventional law enforcement in Law Dog, I hope that diatribe isn't telling of my inability to generate original material about the comics I've been reading lately. Alas, in fact, as A Comic A Day winds down, I find myself less prone to pulling those universal points about the industry out of each installment. I've covered a lot of ground over the past year, not that there aren't more ideals to explore, but, sometimes, it would be a crime not to enjoy any given issue simply for what it is. Yes, sometimes, we have to police ourselves, eh?


RayInAZ said...

Re: Joe Arpio comment
Let me get this right. It is OK for the men and women protecting us in Iraq to sleep in tents with the temp well over 100 degrees.
But folks that break the law should sleep in air conditioning. Doubt you'd recognize a "clue" even if you fell across one.

KaraokeFanboy said...

I understand how you might have interpreted my comment about Tent City as critical, since I used the word "degrading," but I'm very much in favor of Arpio's methods. Criminals SHOULD live in a DEGRADED state; otherwise, it wouldn't be punishment thus hopefully a means to discourage such people NOT to end up there again. I put Arpio in the roll call of my proverbial Justice League, man! If that isn't a compliment (and an indication that I LIKE him), I don't know what is.

What's with these little insults at the end of the critical comments I've been getting lately? I don't mind (and in fact often encourage for analysis' sake) disagreement, but my not recognizing a clue? YOU'RE the one that failed to see the CONTEXT CLUES of my LIKING Arpio, that couldn't see past a little colloquial sarcasm. Your point is very valid and points out an injustice in our society, but next time don't distill it with an unnecessary cheap shot; we're all better than that.