Wacky Raceland #2 Review/Rumination - Dick Dastardly isn't just a Dick, he's a Monster!
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The comic opens in Post-Apocalyptic San Francisco. The race is on and the streets are swarming with flesh-eating mutants.
Dick Dastardly pauses and approaches an opera house. The location has special relevance for him as it is revealed that prior to the events of the series he was an accomplished musician. It's also revealed that this was the place where Dastardly's wife and child were killed.
The book shifts to the other racers who notice Dastardly's disappearance from the race. They all speculate as to Dick's whereabouts before they are interrupted by the announcer who informs them that the race is about to get more dangerous. The mutants that are blocking the racer's path have also been implanted with Nanites keyed to Human DNA and will explode on contact.
The book flashes back to Dick Dastardly sealing himself away from his family as they plead for him to open the door. He ignores their pleas and watches as they are ripped apart by the creatures. In the present, he locates their remains and cradles their remains in the same spot of their deaths.
While this is taking place the racers take note of the finish line but are also in danger of being overwhelmed by the nanite-infused mutants. Peter Perfect has the idea to set off an EMP to shut down the mutants. He does so and the plan works but it also disables the racer's vehicles.
The comic flashes back again to Dick Dastardly in the aftermath of his family's death and prior to the races. Dastardly sits in his car with the skulls of his wife and child in the passenger seat. He attempts to commit suicide by breathing in exhaust fumes but is interrupted by "The Announcer".
The Announcer brings Dick's car to life and promises to bring Dastardly's family back as well if he completes a series of races. He agrees and the comic flashes back to the present with Dick reentering the race.
Being the only racer with a working vehicle he easily blows past the other racers still dealing with mutants that happened to avoid the effects of the EMP. They beg him to set off his EMP but he ignores them and pushes forward toward the finish line. The Announcer, tells Dastardly that he can't abandon the other racers to die or he'd never see his family again. With this information in mind, Dick crosses the finish line and then blows the EMP.
Deploying the EMP saves the other racers but Dick is immediately attacked for waiting until the absolute last minute to save them. The comic ends with the racers still surrounded by Mutants even after the multiple EMP blasts. The other racers vow to settle matters with Dick once the threat is eliminated.
It's been a very long time since I reviewed issue #1 of Wacky Raceland. I almost forgot that I promised myself a deep dive into the series. I do this just for a better understanding of the comic as it was really weird initially and I didn't quite get what was going on. I find that reading a series with analysis mode activated tends to shed clarity in situations like these and sometimes unlock appreciation in a title that would have otherwise been memory-holed.
There isn't much to Wacky Raceland #2 aside from an origin story for Dick Dastardly in which he absolutely lives up to his name. I was definitely surprised to find that he was a famous musician in his past life.
The character as presented so far is rough and rugged. The idea of him being a lily-livered coward was a bit of a shock especially considering the extent of his cowardice. I can't think of any other story I've ever read where a spouse allowed his family to be eaten by monsters out of fear.
What carries from the past into the Post Apocalypse is Dastardly's selfishness. He nearly allows the other racers to die, not out of fear but due to general apathy towards their fates.
The comic hints that the mutant outbreak had something to do with events at San Quinton. This is a nice touch and adds to the setting by subtlely explaining why the setting for the issue is shit.
Leonardo Manco's pencils are deeply atmospheric but the comic suffers from the same problem as the previous issue. The inks are too dark and in some spots, it's hard to make out what's happening on the page. I don't believe Leo is a bad artist I just think the art direction chosen by Wacky Raceland was a mistake. AWA Upshot art style from Old Haunts, Hotell, and Archangel 8 are similar but aren't nearly as sketchy.
I really liked Wacky Raceland #2 upon reread. Its a lot of fun even though the focus is almost exclusively on one of the racers. It's a very macabre setting and story. Dastardly's origin is so over the top it would fit right in with Twisted Metal or the best of the twilight zone. It's hard to not see the character as anything other a complete bastard but I guess that's the point.