The Boy Sidekick
The use of hero sidekicks has been used since the early 40’s. Look no further than Robin the Boy Wonder or Captain America’s originally tragic buddy Bucky Barnes. Leave it to comic veteran, Ahoy Editor in Chief Tom Peyer to once again embrace the young sidekick in his fabulous series The Wrong Earth. In this case, with both sides of the Dragonflyman and Dragonfly. Both with a young partner named Stinger. But that’s where the similarity ended, as one might expect since their environments are so drastically different.
DragonFly’s Stinger mirrored his ruthless, no holds barred war against those who dare to fill the roles of psychotic murderers, and corrupt government officials. Not to mention the legal system that defends them. While Dragonflyman’s Stinger is a squeaky clean, gosh by golly do-gooder. Just like his mentor and hero, Dragonflyman. With such different methods, it comes as no surprise that each version of Stinger might meet with very different outcomes. It is through this window that Peyer and artist Greg Scott examine The Wrong Earth: Meat.
It is another dingy, gritty day on Earth-Omega. A couple of thugs have escaped to hide in an abandoned meat processing plant. To accomplish this, the younger of the two was forced to kill a cop to affect their escape. Having never taken someone’s life, it bothers him. Much to the chagrin of his older partner who attempts to explain the situation to the troubled young man by punching him. As if nothing will get you over your troubles quicker than a hard slug to the jaw. That theory is about to be tested.
For unbeknownst to the grizzled veteran, DragonFly has arrived. In no time at all, Dragonfly uses the older thug’s technique against him. Beating him down with a cold fury that shows that he really isn’t concerned whether the man learns anything or not. Repeatedly reminding him that his young companion is “just a kid.” After he is done, he addresses the younger man in the room who is expecting the same beatdown.
At the same time, in a similar meat packing plant, Dragonflyman and Stinger have come to stop the nefarious Dr. Meat and his Cutlets from stealing the valuable Wagyu Beef. Leave it to the Earth-Alpha heroes to be prepared to save supermarkets everywhere. They leap into action. But, perhaps due to the cold or their reluctance to tenderize the meat before its time, they are temporarily subdued. What evil concoction does Dr. Meat have in mind for our insectoid duo? You will of course find out. As most comic book aficionados know, the bad guy always reveals their plan. In this case, a lovely six-week brine bath. At least we know they will be “seasoned” crime fighters.
But you can’t keep a good Dragonflyman down…or upside down. For just when it looks a bit “salty” for our heroes, Dragonflyman uses a compound to react to the saline and the resulting blast knocks the heroic duo clear. Things look better for them, at least until young Stinger collapses after the explosion.
Back on Earth-Omega, Dragonfly assures the remaining man named Zach that he has no intention of beating him senseless…yet. In fact, he just wants to talk. He reiterates this by pulling out a bottle of liquor and two glasses, pouring some of the libation in both. He then starts talking about HIS partner Stinger. How at one point, the young man basically ran away from home. Not that he blamed him. The kind of life that DragonFly lived was no way for a boy to live.
However, before he had left, Dragonfly had given him a suitcase. Inside it contained a new Stinger suit and around $100,000. However, the boy just left the case sitting on a trashcan. Dragonfly didn’t know that at the time although he had placed a tracker on the suitcase. Perhaps Stinger knew that which is why he left it. Eventually, Dragonfly found the case. Empty. He had no way of knowing where the boy had gone. Even if he was dead or alive. At least until he learned of a murder. Witnesses said the culprit had a gun and wore a costume. Stinger’s costume.
Stinger No More
On Earth-Alpha, Dragonflyman’s Stinger had other issues. The blast had left him with an extremely rare double-super concussion. No matter which Earth you’re on, that doesn’t sound good. Dragonflyman, in his alter-ego of Billionaire Richard Fame, informed him that he had been unconscious for 27.2 hours (which in my world, is just a really good nap). He also informed Chip Andrews (Stinger’s real name) that because of the inherent dangers of their job, he could no longer be partnered with him. Any new death traps, even a fist fight could prove to be the killing blow. It was out of the question.
To make certain of this, Richard had gathered all of Stinger’s prized possessions. His costume, his Stinger Cycle, their crime fighting portrait, all of it would be destroyed. In one push of a detonator, everything was incinerated. Obviously having explosions on top of expensive penthouses was just par for the course in Earth Alpha. But the end was the same. Stinger was no more!
Meanwhile, DragonFly was still taking advantage of the free therapy by unburdening himself to the Zach. He had found out that the murderer was not Stinger. In fact, it wasn’t even his costume. Just a cheap copy. When asked whether he had caught the real culprit, Dragonfly readily admitted that he didn’t care at that point. All that mattered was it wasn’t Stinger. But it could have been. If he had did it, he would have just been following the example Dragonfly had left him. He had to bring Stinger in.
Making Some Noise
To do that, DragonFly decided to make a little noise. Okay…a LOT of noise. Rattling the cages of some bad guys. Even some good guys. Anything to get Stinger’s attention. It worked to a point. It got SOMEONES attention. Just not Stingers. Her name was Lucky. At least that is what she called herself. It has she who had found the $100,000 that Stinger had left laying about. She still had most of it. It had been used to better her life.
As for the costume, she wasn’t sure where it was. Some guy she knew had taken it. All she knew was she didn’t want it around her. She recognized it as the weapon it was. It would have been too easy for her to use it as such. But she was trying to turn her life around. Have some fun. Do some good. She queried Dragonfly if he understood that. He had to admit, he didn’t.
The Truth Revealed
As interesting as that all was, Zach felt like there was something else that Dragonfly wanted to say. Something he was “buzzing” around but not saying. It was then that he dropped the hammer. Stinger was dead. He had come back home but apparently, there were things that he couldn’t handle. So much so that he just recently killed himself. Zach thought about this and then remembered something in the news. About a young, rich kid named Chip who had committed suicide at the home of Billionaire Richard Fame. He suddenly put two and two together. Chip was Stinger, which made Fame, Dragonfly. On cue, Dragonfly removed his mask.
This revelation also made something else clear to the young criminal. He now knew Dragonfly’s secret. There was no way he would let him get away with that knowledge. He surmised that Fame had only told him because he planned on killing him. Lay off some guilt and then kill him.
Back to an Orphanage
Back on Earth-Alpha, Richard was telling Chip that due to his fragile condition, he would need to start a new life. From that point forward, he would have a new identity, living at the Fame Foundation Facility for Understandably Unwanted Boys. They would no longer have anything to do with each other. It was for Chip’s own good. Shipped back to an orphanage…YAY! Needless to say, Chip wasn’t enthused, crying out: Noooooooo! It was then that Chip found himself back on the ground, in costume. Just 27.2 seconds after he initially collapsed.
A Chance for a New Life
If only things were so simple for Zach. Learning Dragonfly’s identity was a one-way ticket to a much shorter lifespan. Instead, Dragonfly gave Zach a bag with a disguise and a passport with a blank picture on it. He couldn’t supply him with money, but he was sure Zach had probably just come into some thanks to his recent crimes. However, he warned Zach that if he ever saw him around, or he dared to tell anyone about his secret, that shorter lifespan might become a reality. Zach didn’t hesitate to leave.
As Seen on TV: Dragonflyman’s Double Super Concussion Liniment
Meanwhile, Dragonflyman had woken young Chip. He was a bit confused, but he remembered the double super concussion. He told Dragonflyman to check him for that possibility. Much to Stinger’s disappointment, it was confirmed. Chip knew what would be required after that. And he was right. The Dragonflyman Double Super Concussion Liniment! A quick application and by the time that the heroic crimefighters catch back up to Dr. Meat, he would be ready to go “tenderize” some Cutlets.
Hoping for a Change
Finally, back on Earth Omega, Lucky was surprised to see that Dragonfly had let her keep the money she had found. Along with a note telling her to be good. As for Dragonfly, he thought that perhaps getting Chip’s story off his chest might help. That and helping at least a couple of people get off to new starts. It should have lightened his load. At least a little. But it didn’t. Maybe miserable is the best he can hope for on Earth Omega.
Another chapter in what has become an intriguing and many times totally entertaining mix of superhero homage and drama. This one-shot selection has a heady mix of both. To no one’s surprise, writer Tom Peyer shows the diverse ways in what is essentially the same character can turn out, depending on their environment. With Earth-Alpha’s Stinger, he has the Boy Scout worthy, campy version of Dragonflyman to set his moral compass. He also has the comfort in knowing that Dragonflyman will always have his best interest at heart. Even if that means sending him on his way to protect him.
The Case of DragonFly
However, Earth Omega’s Stinger had the no-nonsense, often brutal and seldom supportive Dragonfly to mold his path. This eventually lead down a path that this version of Stinger couldn’t hope to hold up to. So much so that he eventually stopped trying. Literally. Sad but unfortunately, quite in step with not only present day but also in the comics of the past. Starting in the late 60’s, early 70’s when both DC and Marvel especially were not above discussing the realities of human foibles.
Dragonfly had the right idea, however. He NEEDS to talk to someone. Perhaps professionally. Good luck with that. He appears to be the kind of man who prefers to remain sullen, isolated, and buries his own feelings deep. Which is no doubt why his villains usually get to absorb his anger and the beatdowns that go with it. Maybe they should all get together and do an intervention? That sounds more like something that would happen on Earth-Alpha. Just a thought…
Unlike some of the other Wrong Earth tales in the series, this entry maintains a consistent, gloomy environment on both Earth-Alpha and Omega. Mainly because both narratives deal with serious repercussions for Chip and his fate. In keeping with this, artist Greg Scott maintains a gritty, somber mood in both Earths. This differs from the sometimes-whimsical lens in which Earth-Alpha is often displayed. In this case, it is not only appropriate, but also extremely well done. All in all, another exceptional chapter in the Wrong Earth saga.
Ahoy Comics, The Wrong Earth, Meat by Tom Peyer and Greg Scott is available now where great comics are sold. Also look for the previous four The Wrong Earth one-shot books. Quality stories told in the prescribed Ahoy manner.
Senior Writer at GeekVibesNation – I am a 50 something child of the 70’s who admits to being a Star Trek/Star Wars/Comic Book junkie who once dove head first over a cliff (Ok, it was a small hill) to try to rescue his Fantastic Four comic from a watery grave. I am married to a lovely woman who is as crazy as I am and the proud parent of a 18 year old boy with autism. My wife and son are my real heroes.