Welcome back indie book clubbers! Like Seal Clubbers but way more pinniped friendly. In this issue the plot thickens, we meet even more characters, and in many ways we see the “thesis statement” for the series really get its full presentment.
BTW–this is the fourth article of the Indie Book Club on Wonderboy by Charles Martin. If you would like to join in from the beginning check out these articles:
There are six vignettes that make up Issue 2 that include a pirates versus Wonderboy showdown, the supervillain convention circuit, psychoanalytic of dictators, micromanagement of weed farmers, journalism dating games, and the ‘suits’ go to bully poor old numbers.
Lets break this down starting from the cover design. Issue 2 features a picture of the Earth that is cracking in half by Brad Gregg. In front of it is Wonderboy striking an Atlas-like pose. It reminds me of a Greek god. This cover seems to really wrap up the thoughts of the characters in the ‘Age of Wonderboy’ as the whole world seems broken.
In section one we can see why. Somali pirates trying to defend their borders get attacked by Wonderboy. He is so half hearted in his “super-hero-ing” that he seems almost bored or distracted. He leisurely disarms everyone on the ship while saving the hostages. Then gets shot in the face at point blank.
Next we skip to my two most favorite people in the series–Doom and Gloom. They are too retired supervillains who make regular appearances at comic book conventions. In their scene we learn that in a world where crime is nearly 0% world wide, anyone who commits even petty crimes can be a celebrity. Which is the case in point for these two.
They hold the record for longest crime spree of bank robbing (this guy could be Kim Kardashian). After going through ‘rehabilitation’ in Wonderboy’s super prison they retire and write books and sign autographs.
During their discussion we learn that Gloom is homesexual. During the last of his big heist where he and Doom stole files from Wonderboy’s offices he actually tells the big guy he finds him attractive. After that we don’t know what happens because it is hush-hush.
Next up we join Dr. Weinke as he talks to patients at the super prison. He talks to Patient 1 who is the ex-dictator of North Korea. He asks him questions from when he was caught. Apparently he attempted to nuke his own country in order to stay out from Wonderboy’s rule. We also learn that inmates who get too close to him lose their private parts. In many ways he is exactly like Wonderboy in ideology but uses different means.
Then we join Patient 20, Hugh, who is a day laborer and ex-con living with his wife and trying to make a go at growing weed in his house. Wonderboy shows up and destroys his garden. The world’s protector actually micromanages minor offenses like weed. Hugh shows us that he is an equal but opposite reaction to Wonderboy’s ideology which makes sense because he is his childhood friend.
Going back to jail, Charles Martin (the character) goes to McAlester super prison to interview inmates for a media day. He talks to Patient 43 from Issue 1. The inmate performance artist makes mention that he knows about a recent disappearance (Roger Beam possibly from Issue 1). Right after making mention of this he tries to bite off Charles’ ear but secretly passes him a note–which we don’t get to know the contents. Martin slips into his house and locks the door behind him.
Lastly we return to Numbers who gets a visit from your typical government ‘suits’ who instruct him to stop asking so many questions. They bully him for a while and then leave. Numbers decides to begin writing out everything he knows about WB and his first words are ‘Island’ which is the last of this issue.
SO! Major themes that play out in this issue are god, sexuality and power. We learn that Wonderboy has strong feelings about homesexuality and treats them like criminals. We also learned that Wonderboy’s most dangerous opponent uses sex (penis removal) as revenge in prison. This leads to ever mounting issues of power and sex.
In the series we slowly learn that Wonderboy is very much like a god. He micromanages even the most pitiful crimes and he seems to nearly know everything before it happens. He inflicts his own moral laws on everyone world wide.
As this is a very Oklahoman sentiment, I feel like this is excellent satire against the idea of a mad crime fighting god that is impressed upon the youth of the Crosstimbers. We get told from birth that god watches us masturbate and will kill us forever in hell fire for doing it BUT created us with those thoughts and feelings against our will so we would fail just so he can punish us.
This morbid idea is why this is great satire. It may not be a universal problem so I could see why non-Bible Belters would understand the issue. In the Sooner state it really is technically a crime to be gay as discussed here, here, here, and especially under Article 43 here:
“§43-3.1. Recognition of marriage between persons of same gender prohibited.A marriage between persons of the same gender performed in another state shall not be recognized as valid and binding in this state as of the date of the marriage. Added by Laws 1996, c. 131, § 9, eff. Jan. 1, 1997.”
So while the rest of the US and the world seem to be figuring out that homesexuals may not be blood sucking hell demons from another planet, Oklahoma is laughable behind. This is where Wonderboy as a series really shines–it is deep satire that really nails the message home for those of us in these kinds of places. The world is so fully realized that it spans the US, Somali, Korea, and shows us what the world would be like if Oklahoma’s state level viewpoints were taken to world stage.
Back to the cover, we are putting the pieces together that Wonderboy is like a god. He is Atlas holding the world on his shoulders, except for when he accidentally drops it while vainly striking a hero’s pose. Our reddirt god is so preoccupied with pushing his singular viewpoint on to the world that he is losing grasp of the people and the planet.
1) What other ways could the world be different if we entrusted it to a single person–who could you think of that would be a bad choice or a good choice and why?
2) How else is Wonderboy like a god in most religions? What religions have Wonderboy like characters?
3) Would you go to Soonercon if they had supervillains?
4) Do you think homesexuallity is still treated like a crime where you live? How has it changed in the last few years for politics and just general opinions?
5) Who is your favorite character(s) so far and why?
Looking forward–keep sex, power, and godliness in mind as you read Issue 3. Also add George Bush Jr. and American Modern Imperialism to your frame of reference. This was written in and around that time roughly and, like British comics from the 80’s, shares some of the same trends and ideas of other material from that time.
Alright–so what do you think so far? Comment questions, observations, or other various pose about Wonderboy Issue 2 below.