Friday, September 23, 2005
Lest We Forget...John Ostrander (Updated)
In the late 80's and early 90's, DC's characters were learnin' a li'l sumthin called "angst." While learning "The Angst," they also found the time to learn dying, getting their backs broken, going crazy, creating Green Lantern Corpses, losing their mantles in combat to teeth-gnashing redheads and getting their hands gnawed off by pirahna.
During all of this one writer kept a level head and kept creating. That man was John Ostrander. During this time period, this man quietly but surely, created and wrote some of the best comics DC was putting out at the time. Suicide Squad and The Spectre. For those that don't know, The Suicide Squad was team comprised of some of the meanest and nastiest villains The DCU had to offer...
No. They weren't. In truth, they sucked but under the words of Ostrander they became viable threats to humanity. The Squad were villains who the government had in their employ and should they succeed in whatever suicide mission they were sent on, inched just that much closer to release. Simply put, in order to live, they had to be willing to die. I was fascinated. The members of The Suicide Squad suddenly developed personalities past the ones allowed for in their previous status as "fodder of the month."
Captain Boomerang, a Flash villain, became a character not even a rogue could trust. Coincidentally, Boomerang was the villain that, arguably, set off the chain reaction reverberating throughout DC Comics' united villainy in his killing of Robin's father, Jack Drake. Boomerang's son is poised to become an even bigger, more dangerous threat. Deadshot, a Batman villain, became a man apart. One with one thing to live for and in the Deadshot" mini-series, STILL one of the most disturbing and dramatic comics I've ever read, it was violently taken away from him.
Ostrander also created the head of The Squad, Amanda "The Wall" Waller. A woman whose fierceness within is rivaled only by Batman and Lex Luthor within The DC Universe.
Believe it or not, this isn't Ostrander's greatest contribution to The DC Universe. When The Squad needed information they turned to a new, unseen information broker, The Oracle. Oracle was created within Suicide Squad. Ostrander, working with his wife, the late Kim Yale, took the crippling of Babara Gordon, a tragic plot device from the pages of Batman: The Killing Joke and turned her into a character that mattered, one with her own identity and motivations.
In the pages of The Spectre, Spectre's alter ego, Jim Corrigan finally dealt with the crushing weight of being tethered to the right hand of God, The Spectre. The results, more often than not, were fascinating. Also during his definitive Spectre run, Ostrander created the current "Man Of A Thousand Talents," Michael Holt, Mr. Terrific. Did I mention that Mr. Terrific is the current leader of The JSA?
When you think of DC Comics, John Ostrander's name may not immediately come to mind but when it's all said and done, no one's done as much for "post-Crisis" DC Comics.