Still on the Shelf #84 – Slingers

Still on the Shelf #84 – Slingers

Dec 27

Before I get started this week, I would like to let you all know that this is going to be the last “official” version of Still on the Shelf to appear on Comixtreme. It has been a fantastic couple of years there, and I wouldn’t give them back for anything, but the time has come for me to try a little something different with Still on the Shelf, which means I must move on. I just thought I would take this chance to say thank you for reading and give a big thanks to everyone who has given me a chance to have this little outlet here (you know who you are), I do appreciate it. And to anyone who followed this column from there to here, a big fat welcome to you! Enjoy your stay!


Wolverine #23One thing I have been fretting about over the past few weeks was an appropriate topic for this week’s important column. Well, this past Wednesday, one was handed to me that I felt couldn’t be more perfect. If I may share with you, the very first paragraph of March 25th, 2003’s Still on the Shelf #1

I (and I know many of you) have seen many of my pet favorite comics get cancelled with no ceremony. We all know that most X-titles, the major Batman books, and all other titles of that nature are relatively safe from cancellation no matter how bad things get. Their sales are typically too high to worry about getting the axe. However, books like some of my favorites, Slingers, for instance, will get cancelled no matter how much promise they show due to low sales, corporate re-invention, or any other excuse you can possibly imagine. We have all had this happen to us at one time or another.

Slingers #0Yup – I am one of those Slingers people. You probably come across us from time to time. We are the ones who are always carrying the torch for the tragically short 1998 series (My, my, has it been so long?). We are the ones when discussing those series which we thought were amazing, but got cancelled due to “low sales,” always have to bring up Slingers. We are the ones who, every time ChrisCross comes up in conversation, have to add how much we miss Slingers. We are the ones who aspire to become a skilled and popular comic book writer, simply so that we can convince Marvel to let us have a crack at the Slingers. To bring them back.

So what was it that made me decide to talk about Slingers this week, of all weeks? Well, those of you who read Wolverine, or at least has seen some of the conversations about issue #23 this week might know that we lost one of the Slingers this week, something has seemingly plunged a stake into any hopes of a return for the series. Aside from Hornet’s death itself, the thing that bugs me the most was the way that the death itself was handled in the comic. But I will get into that later.

Wolverine #23When it came to the reaction to Wolverine #23, I was kind of shocked by the almost lack of buzz surrounding the death. We all know that among comic fans, when a character is killed, no matter how well the death was written by the writer, no matter how appropriate or noble it was, there is always discussion. Always debate. Always that group of people who think that despite how well the death was presented that it was WRONG to kill that character. In this instance, we have a death which could not have been handled worse, yet very few people seem agitated by it at all.

It finally occurred to me that either most people didn’t care about the Slingers one bit, or they simply had no idea who Hornet even was. Now I am not the kind of person that would judge anyone poorly for not liking the same things that I do – and this is no exception. I bear no ill will towards those that don’t share my view of Slingers. I did think, however, that this would be an ideal chance to share with everyone my thoughts and knowledge about the Slingers, and maybe get a few people to remember this series, and maybe even to agree that the way Hornet was written off in this week’s Wolverine was a bad, bad thing. I can hope, in any case.

Cast of Characters

Slingers #11Ritchie Gilmore, a wrestler at ESU, takes his assignment as Prodigy very seriously. He has a strong but stubborn personality, and sees himself as the leader of the group. However, unlike most great leaders, Ritchie can’t relate well with those he hopes will follow him. Instead of inspiring the rest of the Slingers, Ritchie often tries to force them into obedience, with less than stellar results. He sees his team’s unwillingness to follow his lead, and perform and act as he would have them a weakness, and weakness is not something that goes hand in hand with the work of a hero. He is constantly on the verge of leaving and going solo, but he has a tremendous sense of loyalty that keeps his bitterness in check. Prodigy has no natural “powers” of his own, but his suit gives him the ability of limited flight (quite possibly “Hulk-like jumping,” it is never clearly defined), super strength, and is bulletproof – all powers granted to him by his costume, which is of unknown origin.

Cassie St. Commons was the daughter of a rich, socialite couple. Rebelling against her parents, Cassie became something of a “Goth chick,” with all of the attitude and looks that go along with that. Early in her training as Dusk, Cassie slipped (or stepped- may have been suicide) off the ledge of a building, and fell to her death. She returned to life with a set of strange and not-yet fully-explored powers, including teleportation, a semi-psychic connection to those she cares about, and a few devastating offensive attacks. Cassie is involved in something of a love triangle with two of her teammates – though she is aware of Eddie’s feelings towards her, she finds herself attracted to Johnny, who is dating someone else.

Amazing Spider-Man #435Johnny Gallo, Ricochet (called Rico for short), is a Brooklyn native whose mother was murdered when he was very young. He is also a mutant – something he doesn’t like to talk about very often, and struggles to keep a secret. He can sense danger, not unlike Spider-Man’s “Spider-sense,” has a heightened agility, and can jump very high. He uses various bouncing disks as weapons, something his teammate Hornet is constantly redesigning and improving for him. Johnny at first tried to hide his life as Ricochet from his girlfriend, but he did not do a very good job, and she eventually found out. He also has a very troubled relationship with his father who is cold and uncaring towards him, and has been that way ever since the death of his mother.

Eddie McDonough was normally a shy, unconfident person, something that came from growing up crippled. One of his arms is crippled – palsied, and completely useless to him. That is, until he puts on the gauntlets from his Hornet costume – these give him full use of both arms, something Eddie found to be very liberating. As Hornet, Eddie also has the ability to fly, and he can fire a tazer-like “Hornet’s Sting” from his gauntlets. Eddie is a mechanical wizard, and is often seeking to improve his own costume, and his friend and teammate Ricochet’s disks. Despite the confidence boost he has gotten from being Hornet, he is still shy and non-confrontational as ever outside of his costume. Hornet appears to have been killed by Wolverine in the recent Wolverine #23.

Issue Synopses

Peter Parker/Spider-Man #92Spider-Man: Identity Crisis
Sensational Spider-Man #26-28. – Written by Tom DeFalco, Penciled by Joe Bennett, Inked by Bud LaRosa, Colored by Bob Sharen, and Letters by RS & Comiccraft’s Kiff Scholl. $1.99
Amazing Spider-Man #433-435. – Written and Penciled by Todd Dezago and Mike Wieringo, Inks by Rich Case, Colors by Gregory Wright, and Letters by RS & Comiccraft’s Kiff Scholl. $1.99.
Peter Parker, Spider-Man #90-92. – Written by Howard Mackie, Penciled by John Romita Jr., Inked by Scott Hanna, Colored by Gregory Wright, and Letters by RS & Comiccraft’s Kiff Scholl. $1.99, and
Spectacular Spider-Man #256-258. – Written by John Marc DeMatteis, Pencils by Luke Ross, Inked by Al Milgrom and Dan Green, Colored by John Kalisz, and Letters by RS & Comiccraft’s Kiff Scholl. $1.99.

After a $5 million bounty is put out for the web-slinger, Peter Parker finds it nearly impossible to venture out as Spider-Man without someone attempting to collect on his head. He takes on a quartet of different new identities – Ricochet, Hornet, Dusk, and Prodigy- so that he can go out and clear his name, and find the identity of the true culprit behind the beating of Norman Osborne. With the name of Spider-Man cleared, and the $5 million bounty lifted, Peter Parker retires his four alternate identities, closing the book on their short careers. Or so he thought.

Slingers #0Written by Joseph Harris, Penciled by Adam Pollina, Inked by Jimmy Palmiotti, Colored by Kevin “Stick” Tinsley, Lettered by RS & Comicraft’s Liz Agraphiotis. Free with purchase of Wizard.

This issue served mostly as an introduction to the new heroes who have picked up Spider-Man’s discarded identities – giving a brief overview of their names and powers. Of note in this preview issue is the fact that it is the only issue in which Dusk is actually alive. The action in this issue surrounds a simple gaps between buildings. To each of the three men on the team, this distance is easy enough to traverse by using their powers. Dusk on the other hand – is not having such an easy time of it. Prodigy makes an ultimatum – she makes the jump, or she is off the team.

She doesn’t make the jump. Whether she intended to kill herself or not is in question, but whatever her motivations, this issue ends with Dusk having fallen to her death. Of course, this is far from the end of her story, but it does serve to shake-up the team quite a bit.

Slingers #1aSlingers #1Written by Joseph Harris, Penciled by ChrisCross, Inked by Rob Stull, Colored by Felix Serrano, Lettered by RS & Comicraft’s Liz Agraphiotis. $2.99 (4 Variant Editions).

This issue was infamous for reasons beyond being a new #1. Slingers #1 came in four Variant Collector’s Editions, where not just the cover was different, but aspects of the story itself were different from edition to edition. Each edition had certain chunks of the story which were told from the perspective of one of each of the Slingers. It made getting the entire story somewhat challenging – as you had to both buy and flip through all four versions to get the entire story. And interesting idea, but ultimately, a failed one. I never saw that idea used ever again.

A suicide might not seem like something that would attract the attention of Spider-man, but since the victim was wearing the Dusk costume, something all-too-familiar to the web-slinger. The appearances by those wearing costumes he abandoned gets his attention, and he sets out to track down the would-be heroes.

Prodigy breaks up a drug smuggling operation set up by a low-level Maggia by the name of “Jimmy Eyes.” Jimmy Eyes swears revenge on Prodigy for his affront. Hornet stops a domestic violence situation with a couple from his school. However, things get weird when he mistakenly calls the girl by her name. She freaks out (“How did you know my name?”) and runs after her fleeing abusive boyfriend for protection. Ricochet breaks a date with his girlfriend to go out “on patrol,” only to end up saving her later in the night, and meanwhile, in the morgue, Cassie, thought dead, awakens and .. leaves.

Slingers #1bProdigy and Ricochet nearly come to blows over the death of Dusk, and Prodigy’s hostile and militant attitude towards the rest of the team. Prodigy declares that it was better that she died now, than later when it would matter much more, and departs.

The next day, the team comes together to avert a potential disaster. (NOTE: This section is broken up between the four issues, and is told from the perspective of each of the four Slingers in their individual issues). Mac Garrity, a worker for the Transit Authority, opted to commit suicide, instead of dealing with a sickness that is taking over his body. He routed two subway trains to converge on the same track – the very spot where he would be waiting, so that the trains will end his life. Prodigy uses his strength to derail one train, Ricochet manages to derail the other (with less than pretty results), while Hornet was supposed to swoop down and get Garrity off the tracks. Unfortunately, he doesn’t want to be rescued, so he pulls out a pistol and opens fire on Hornet, causing him to crash. Hornet eventually “rescues” the man, who seems strangely angered that he is not dead. Dusk watches the scene unfold from afar, but Bleenks in to rescue a boy who falls from the upper tracks just after the train rescue comes to an end.

Prodigy returns to the old, run-down Atlas Films Studio where we meet the Slingers’ benefactor for the first time – a very old Black Marvel. Ricochet and Hornet converge at their “spot,” to let off some steam, while Dusk still lingers in the background, unwilling to reveal herself to her teammates.

Slingers #2aSlingers #2Written by Joseph Harris, Penciled by ChrisCross, Inked by Rob Stull, Tom Simmons, and Don Hillsman, Colored by Felix Serrano, Lettered by RS & Comicraft’s Liz Agraphiotis. $1.99 (2 variant covers).

Spider-Man sees the faces of the remaining three Slingers in the paper attached to a story about the train derailment, and stumbles on to Ricochet riding on a bus. Rico flees, and eventually gets away from Spider-Man by jumping into a Subway train. Meanwhile the Black Marvel sits in his studio, watching movies about himself from years past, reminiscing about the “Golden Age” of heroes.

The Slingers (minus Dusk) go check out the Grand Royal Hotel construction site, which is rumored to be doubling as a maggia operation. Ricochet and Hornet travel through the drainpipes, while Prodigy takes a more direct approach. While in the sewers, Ricochet and Hornet discover that the maggia are planting chemicals of some kind in the basement. Before they can find out more, they are attacked by giant rats. They call Prodigy for help, giving away his position to the maggia that he is spying on at the construction site. The maggia attack, and Prodigy has to flee. Ricochet eventually escapes the sewer, but Hornet is trapped within by a collapsed tunnel. Rico calls for help once again, but Prodigy – angry that his mission was spoiled – crushes his communicator and leaves Rico to his own devices.

A newly “alive” Dusk struggles to regain the memory of her past life and death by visiting her home. Her parents are just receiving the news that their daughter was found dead, and that her body subsequently vanished. This revelation stirs some memory in Dusk about the events surrounding her death.

Slingers #3Slingers #3Written by Joseph Harris, Penciled by ChrisCross, Inked by Rob Stull, Hillsman, Morales, and Candellario, Colored by Felix Serrano, Lettered by RS & Comicraft’s Liz Agraphiotis. $1.99.

Rico thinks that Eddie is surely dead beneath the rubble, but Dusk arrives to teleport Hornet to safety. Neither of the guys know exactly how Hornet was saved, they are just both relieved that everything turned out ok. Rico discovers a spider-tracer on his pants, and an exposed Spider-Man reveals himself to the pair. Thinking that Spider-Man wants to ask them about the death of Dusk, the two flee, and Spider-Man pursues. The spectacle nearly causes a traffic accident, so Hornet and Spider-Man briefly come together to prevent a tragedy. Afterwards, the two take off while Spider-Man is left holding up a giant freeway sign.

Dusk briefly manifests herself to Eddie, who breaks down at the sight of her. She begs him not to fear her, and disappears. Meanwhile, Rico’s girlfriend confronts him with her suspicions that it was he who saved her from the attacker, and Prodigy reports his failure at the Grand Royal back to the Black Marvel (now in costume), who praises him for abandoning his weaker teammates.

Slingers #4Slingers #4Written by Joseph Harris, Art by Oscar Jimenez, Eduardo Alpuente, Felix Serrano, and Richard Starkings, Colored by Felix Serrano, Lettered by Comicraft. $1.99.

Rico’s father discovers his copy of the Black Marvel Strikes, and decides to watch it for old time’s sake.

Meanwhile, at the opening of the new Grand Royal, The Black Marvel sets his plans in motion with Prodigy impatiently waiting in the wings for his mentor’s signal. Hornet and Ricochet rush to the hotel, having figured out that something is not right with their “mentor’s” plans. Dusk has a brief encounter with Spider-Man at the scene of her death which leaves the wall-crawler somewhat confused and unsettled.

Hornet and Ricochet arrive and come to blows with Prodigy, who believes they are getting in the way of their mentor’s wishes. Rico is thrown off the roof of the hotel (to be later saved by Dusk), and Hornet and Prodigy take their fight into the hotel. Hornet’s argument and an attack by some maggia thugs plant enough doubt in Prodigy to question what is going on, so Prodigy takes off to see what is in the basement.

Finally, the Black Marvel sets off a string of bombs in the hotel, and then “arrives to save the day.”

Slingers #5Slingers #5Written by Joseph Harris, Penciled by ChrisCross, Inked by Rob Stull, Colored by Jean Segarra-Rosa, Lettered by RS & Comicraft’s Liz Agraphiotis. $1.99.

Fire erupts throughout the hotel, and The Black Marvel is stunned that no one seems willing to allow him to save them. The four Slingers eventually come together and reject, en mass, the actions of their mentor, and spring to action to save the lives of the people in the collapsing hotel. Prodigy holds the building up long enough for everyone to escape, and gives his cape to Hornet to wrap around a child to protect him. The building collapses with Prodigy still inside. Among those rescued is Rico’s girlfriend, who tricks him into revealing to her his identity.

Peter Parker pays a visit to his attic, where he finds his original Prodigy, Dusk, Ricochet, and Hornet costumes still safely tucked away in a chest.

Slingers #6Written by Joseph Harris, Penciled by ChrisCross, Inked by Rob Stull, Colored by Felix Serrano, Lettered by RS & Comicraft’s Liz Agraphiotis. $1.99.

A mostly character driven issue in which Hornet, Ricochet, and Dusk come to grips with everything that has happened to them over the past six issues. The “love triangle” is introduced here for the first time, and Hornet catches Dusk plant a kiss on a shocked Ricochet.

Prodigy, meanwhile, pulls himself from the rubble of the hotel. His suit protected him from the fire, it seems, and search parties never discovered his body. Prodigy tries to decide what to do next. Meanwhile, deep in the subway system, Jimmy Eyes comes face to face with The Griz.

Slingers #7Slingers #7Written by Joseph Harris, Penciled by Greg Luzniak, Inked by Bob Almond with Jimmy and Peter Palmiotti, Colored by Felix Serrano, Lettered by RS & Comicraft’s Liz Agraphiotis. $1.99.

Remember the giant rats from issue #2? Well, they make an appearance here again, this time, taking out an unlucky city worker. Their search broadens, and they finally find the one they are looking for – Eddie (minus his Hornet uniform), who they drag down a manhole and into the sewers. Dusk senses Eddie’s distress, and bleenks over to get Ricochet to go and help him. Dusk and Ricochet find a pair of the giant sewer rats in Eddie’s dorm room, and follow them to where Eddie is being held and tortured by The Griz.

Slingers #8Written by Joseph Harris, Penciled by Greg Luzniak, Inked by Bob Almond with Candelario and Minor, Colored by Felix Serrano, Lettered by RS & Comicraft’s Liz Agraphiotis. $1.99.

Slingers #8With Eddie secured as a hostage, The Griz tells his story to Cassie. It seems that The Griz is actually one Mac Garrity, the very same man who was rescued by Hornet back in issue #1. Garrity was hired to do some work on the Grand Royal Hotel construction. While working in the basement, one of the barrels of nuclear waste that the Maggia were storing down there fell over and spilled on Garrity. Feeling the transformation into the monster he was not coming on, Garrity decided to kill himself. But Hornet saved him, and the Griz was born. The Griz swore to pay Hornet back for saving him, and forcing him to endure the pain of the transformation, and the loss of what was his life. Dusk, sensing the stand-off, flees for the moment, and The Griz retreats farther into the sewers with Hornet.

Prodigy resumes his career as a crime-fighter, this time solo, and cape-less. He finds, however, that he is unable to prevent accidents from happening, that there was something about his cape that allowed him to better control his powers. Without it, people are getting seriously hurt, no matter how careful Prodigy is. He decides to rejoin his team-mates, and get his cape back.

Ricochet and Dusk return to the aid of Hornet, and this time succeed in stopping him from accomplishing his goal of putting the remaining Nuclear Waste in the city’s water supply.

Slingers #9Written by Joseph Harris, Penciled by ChrisCross, Inked by Rob Stull and Don Hillsman, Colored by Felix Serrano, Lettered by Bullpen DS. $1.99.

This issue starts with a flashback to when Rico’s mother is killed by Nanny and Orphanmaker (yes, that Nanny and Orphanmaker). Flash forward to the present day, when Rico is kidnapped by the Orphanmaker so that Nanny can make up for “failing” Rico the first time, and do things right this time around. To accomplish this, Nanny reveals that Rico’s father must die as well, so that Rico would truly be an orphan.

Rico escapes and foils the Nanny’s plans, and ends up revealing his secret to his father. In the end, Rico returns to his room to find Prodigy, who asks for his help.

Slingers #10Slingers #10Written by Joseph Harris, Penciled by ChrisCross, Inked by Rob Stull and Don Hillsman, Colored by Rick Taylor, Lettered by Sharpfont and P.T. $1.99.

Dan Lyons, The Black Marvel is laying dead in the hospital, when Mephisto comes calling, looking to claim his soul. It seems that the suits that the Slingers are wearing were created by Mephisto, and granted with certain powers so that The Black Marvel could use them to become a hero once more. A deal with the devil, if you will. Mephisto takes his soul, and The Black Marvel dies.

Mephisto turns his attention to the newly re-united Slingers – curious about what happened to the tools he created. Finding them lacking, he causes the “heroes” in the billboard that overlooks the building they meet at to come to life, attack the quartet, and eventually drag them down into his realm along with the soul of the Black Marvel.

Slingers #11Written by Joseph Harris, Penciled by Javier Saltares, Inked by Perrota and Mahlstedt, Colored by Rick Taylor, Lettered by Sharpfont & P.T. $1.99.

Mephisto, curious to see how his “boon” of creating the Slingers was spent, offers them a bargain – Forgive the Black Marvel for all he had dome to them, and he will release his soul from its eternity of torture. The Slingers argue about the merits of this deal, and Mephisto, impatient, separates them, and puts each of them through individual experiences that shine a bright light on their most humiliating personal weaknesses. He then draws them back together, and then – their egos beaten down, he sends his hoards against them.

Slingers #12Slingers #12Written by Joseph Harris, Penciled by Javier Saltares, Inked by Minor, Perrota, Ramos, and Rubenstein, Colored by Rick Taylor, Lettered by Sharpfont & P.T. $1.99.

Things look grim for the Slingers as an unending wave of demons attack them. Dusk, angered, finally taps into the depths of her powers, and in one powerful attack manages to wipe out almost all of the thousands of demons surging towards the Slingers.

In the end, the Slingers lay down everything that Mephisto gave them, their identities – everything that initially made them “heroes,” and confronted him as themselves. They saw through Mephisto’s tricks, ignored his misdirections, and gave the Black Marvel their forgiveness for what he had done. The Black Marvel’s soul was freed, and the Slingers left Mephisto’s Realm.

The New Warriors #1Written by Jay Faerber, Penciled by Steve Scott, Inked by Walden Wong, Colored by Kevin Somers, and Lettered by RS/Comicraft/LA. $2.99

The Slingers’ appearance in this issue is brief. Speedball, attempting to reform the New Warriors, approaches the Slingers to see if they would like to join the team. Their response? Uproarious laughter.

Contest of Champions II #3. – Written by Chris Claremont, Pencils by Oscar Jimenez, Inks by Eduardo Alpuente, Colors by Atomic Paintbrush, Letters by Richard Starkings and Comicraft/LA. $2.50.

The Slingers go head to head with the New Warriors in a game of basketball, and are barely defeated. The New Warriors advance.

Wolverine #23. – Written by Mark Millar, Pencils by John Romita, Jr., Inks by Klaus Johnson, Colors by Paul Mounts, Letters by Chris Eliopoulos.

Solo appearance by Hornet here – and the one that I was referring to earlier. Hornet never appears alive in this issue – his body is discovered in the aftermath of a mind-controlled Wolverine’s rampage. He is mistaken for Spider-Man by a damage control worker.

Thoughts

Slingers #6Six years is a long time, and it seems to have flown by a lot faster than I thought it would. I remember back when Slingers was cancelled (along with Nova, another series I was reading), and the news was sad. But at the time – I wasn’t all that worried. Books got cancelled time and time again, and the concepts always seemed to pop back up every few years. Look at Power Pack – that gets cancelled every time they put it out, but we are all set for the latest Power Pack series from Marvel coming up early next year. So it was only a matter of time before the Slingers would come back – somehow, somewhere. Right?

Well, in a way they have, and not at all the way I had hoped. Hornet met with a seriously unceremonious death this past Wednesday in the pages of Wolverine, and it made my blood boil. It wasn’t the death that did it – it was the way the death happened.

For those who read the series, we all remember what kind of hero Eddie McDonough was. Quiet, unassuming, bookish, shy with women. It is probably safe to say that as a character, he was more like all of us than any of the Slingers. He may not have been your favorite member of the team, but he was the one who you could empathize with the most.

Slingers #1CHe was young, eager, but new at the game. The very thought of talking to Spider-Man terrified him – he fled rather than face the potential suspicion of a veteran like that. Not a coward – he just knew when he was out of his league. If Hornet would run from a suspicious Spider-Man over a misunderstanding, how do you think he would react to a rampaging Wolverine?

So here we have Wolverine, mind-controlled, on a rampage. Most heroes would not confront him, because if he killed them, they would become tools of the Hand. as well. Well, we know the real reason for this was that Wolverine could not be beat, else there would be no story, and they couldn’t have Wolverine actually kill any main heroes for obvious reasons… So they had to bring out someone who may be recognizable, but whose death would have absolutely zero impact on the current state of the Marvel universe, or on any future plans that may be in the works. Enter Slingers, or specifically – Hornet.

Slingers #2BRegardless of the political/ financial reasons for choosing Hornet to die, the actual execution of his fall was handled quite poorly indeed.

Hornet (along with the rest of the Slingers) was a character I grew to care about. I will be the first to admit that perhaps the original Slingers series didn’t have the most blockbuster stories. Not that they were bad in the least, but there was a lot, in the end, that was left unclear. But the appeal of this series wasn’t the so much the story as the characters. The Slingers were vibrant and real characters that you could relate to. They may have been seen by some as a cheap Spider-Man rip-off attempt, but the one thing they really took from Spider-Man was his appeal and relatability to the reader. These were students with flaws. Inexperienced kids who were terrified about what they were doing, had no idea if they were doing it right, but were driven to help those in need, and in part thrilled by the excitement of it. Ritchie, the proud and driven loner. Cassie, a depressed rich-girl. Johnny – the pretty-boy from a troubled home. And Eddie – intelligent, but flawed.

Slingers #1DBut sometimes in a story people die, and sometimes it is a character you care a lot about. And what is the Marvel Universe but a giant tapestry weaving together all of the stories of all of the characters? As comic fans, when a favorite character goes away for awhile, we don’t look at it as an end, rather, a break in the story. For Slingers fans, the moment Hornet, or any of the Slingers, appeared on panel once again, it was Marvel’s way of picking up the story once again. Only Marvel cheated us.

They killed Hornet, but they refused to give us closure. There was a great story here, they just refused to tell it.

Hornet: the young, inexperienced hero, sees a dangerous veteran, with the hoards of Hydra at his back, on a murderous rampage. None of the heroes will confront him. People are dying. He KNOWS that he may not be able to stop him. He knows that he will probably be killed if he tries. But against his fears, his instinct is to try and stop him. To try and save the lives of the innocents in Wolverine’s path. There is tons of inner conflict and turmoil, but in the end, he makes the effort. He tries to stop the rampage – and he fails. He falls, but he dies a hero.

That may have been a story that fans of Slingers could have lived with – but we were denied that. Instead, we are left with questions. Where was the rest of the team? Why did Hornet go solo, when he knew someone (Dusk) who could probably end Wolverine’s rampage on her own? And why in the world was Hornet the only hero anywhere brave enough to face Wolverine, who really isn’t all that powerful in the grand scheme of things? And why weren’t we allowed to see Hornet swallow his fears, and rush into battle against impossible odds, only to die in the end? Why were we, as fans, denied that?

We also get the insult – a group of people who don’t even know Hornet’s name. The hero with more guts than any of them gets his head cut off by a woman who has no respect for him – a woman who can’t even refer to him as a “Super-Hero” without it dripping with sarcasm. It wasn’t enough to deny fans of the character a decent death, but the scene had to be written in a way that tells us that the character was barely worth the four colors he was printed in. To me this felt like a huge slap in the face from the House of Ideas. Why did I bother investing my time, money, and dedication on a concept Marvel found worthless? And what about the creators whose energies went to crafting these characters? Were there efforts wasted? Marvel seems to think so.
Slingers #9I am not so much of a fanboy that I will get bent out of shape when a favorite series gets cancelled. Sure, I am disappointed, but I understand the business end of things. If something isn’t selling well enough to make a profit, then you have to pull the plug. It is economics – and as much as I love comics, I know that the big publishers are in it to make money.

But this – this shows total lack of respect towards your readers. On one hand, it is an insult to Slingers fans for all of the reasons I have stated. On the other hand, if you couldn’t care less about Slingers, and read this issue as a fan of Wolverine, it is an insult to you that you are being sold a story that has no internal logic. Aside from Dusk, there are dozens of heroes in the Marvel Universe with the power to put an end to Wolverine’s little pillaging spree with almost no risk to themselves – instead, they toss a character out that they think no one will remember just so they can have “killed a super-hero.” You, my friends, were cheated out of a story that made any sense just so that they could have a few really cool issues showing Wolverine killing a whole bunch of people. And hey – if that is what you are looking for, I am glad you got it, but I think you were swindled in the deal. Come on, at least do something like giving Wolvie the “Power Cosmic” so that other heroes being afraid of him at least makes a little sense.

Bottom Line

In the end, the Slingers series will always have a special place on my comic shelves. No trade that I know of exists at this time, but with some hunting, you should be able to track down the back issues. Harris wrote a tremendous character driven story, and I am firmly convinced that ChrisCross will never see the day where people stop mentioning to him that they loved his work on Slingers.

Slingers #12One thing is certain, however – comic deaths are one thing that you can almost always count on to be temporary. Slingers and those who enjoyed that book might be something of a joke at Marvel these days, but things change. One day there will be a new captain of the ship called Marvel, and perhaps he or she will see fit to throw is Slingers fans a bone. A four issue mini would be nice! Stranger things have happened in comics. If Power Pack can get a new series, anything is possible.

I wore these things for about two seconds, then locked them up in a trunk where they stayed. Second rate identities either way, but still … they’ve got fan clubs. Maybe one day I’ll understand the attraction.” – Peter Parker, Slingers #5.