The only character-slash-series from Dark Horse’s “Comics’ Greatest World” imprint I actively followed was Ghost, bronchi and even that flicker of interest couldn’t survive the departure of Adam Hughes from the property. My interest in superhero stuff was already at a low-ebb when the line’s initial wave of interconnected one-shots dropped, pill and I was content to sit out that attempt (and other similar ones) to float a pre-fab shared superhero universe.
That changed in the mid-1990s, approved when the quarter bins of my local shop were full-to-bursting with the unsaleable refuse of the pre-crash boom times. Formerly “hot” books — such as Jim Lee’s X-Men #1 — which had been bagged and slabbed by the palette-load shared that unenviable real estate with aborted Image offerings and, yes, a fuckload of Comics Greatest World’ material. My rekindled interest in comics, combined with morbid curiosity and a love of popcult detritus, got the better of me and I spent upwards of tens of dollars assembling a near-complete collection of these refugees from the recycling bin.
It wasn’t strictly a blind buy when it came to the Comics Greatest World’ stuff, though my awareness of the them was largely limited to the ubiquitous house ads in DHP and the publisher’s floppy-format manga offerings at the time. I was thrown for a loop by the sheer number of the properties launched, however — a saturation bombardment of characters and concepts dopped on an already crowded marketplace.
It didn’t help that for every semi-memorable offering, there were half-a-dozen examples of half-baked/high concept wankery that could have been lifted from the notes of a junior high kid’s Champions campaign. How else could one explain the woefulness of the Wolf Gang?
The name itself speaks of the thought process involved, a meaningless pun on a Germanic native name which has no greater significance to the concept. At least “Bloodstryfe” or “Razorfyst” evokes the adolescent will toward vicarious badassitude, “Wolf Gang” lacks even the umlauts to pass the suburban basement metal band muster.
That failure of imagination extended beyond the collective level, as the Gang was composed of one-dimensional ciphers whose abilities were as on-the-nose as their code names — Burner, Bomber, Breaker, Cutter, and
Doc Hunter. Throw in a patina of made-for-90s-comics spray-on street cred, and what you’re left with is essentially Mutant Force 2: Chromium Boogaloo.
After an extended sequence of expository introductions, the members of Steel Harbor’s “good” (within standard antiheroic deviation) street gang teamed up with Barb Wire and the Machine to fight the evil Mace Blitzkrieg (don’t look at me, I didn’t write this crap) and his Prime Movers.
There’s really nothing more to say, except it’s beyond bizarre to be reminded that Barb Wire was a character with actual (if squandered) potential before this crime against celluloid poisoned the well…
Oh, and one of Blitzkrieg’s minions was a “new country” Texas Twister knock-off who uses “Achy Breaky Heart” lyrics as pre-fight zingers. Y’know, in case you were thinking there still existed some light in this fallen world.