Pull The Trigger: Why Walt Simonson Rocketh
His "Thor, the Thunder Frog" story is a personal favorite. Turning the Norse God of Thunder into a frog was clever. Then came...oh man...
Let's just say it was a Bold New Direction. Heh.
My own collection has two much-beloved Simonson runs: his late eighties hitch on Fantastic Four, and his recent series Orion. Rereading both, it hit me why I love this guy.
He pulls the trigger.
Comics, like all serial fiction, depend on sustained tension. Frequently, they resort to plots that leave the reader hanging. They love foreboding.
In the FF run, Walt brought back the (okay, mostly forgotten) plot seed of The Dreaming Celestial. Long story short: Jack Kirby created a pantheon of unknowable “Space Gods” for his late seventies series The Eternals. These giant doofuses, the Celestials, showed up on Earth from time to time for unknown reasons. One of them, again for reasons unknown, was imprisoned by his brothers in the mountains of California and put in a neverending sleep. The implication was that the Dreaming Celestial was dangerous beyond belief, and that someday he would awaken! Ooooh…scary!
The Dreaming Celestial was introduced in the late seventies. The Celestials were referenced many times since then, with the Dreamer as the ever-present threat that loomed but never did much.
Walt woke him up.
The resulting story was a riot.
Better still came in Orion. The title character was the apostate son of the evil god Darkseid.* Hanging over both characters was the prophesy that one day Orion and Darkseid would fight “in the fire-pits of Apokolips” and that the son would kill the father. Drama, drama.
Walt held that fight in issue #5. Issue number five. The series ran for twenty more ass-kicking issues, and never lost steam.
God bless that man.
Walter understands that the elephant in the room sometimes needs to be fed a peanut. You can almost hear him:
“G’wan and fulfill the foreboding prophesy! You can always make another one later. Don’t leave the story seeds fallow on the ground! Use ‘em! Don’t be afraid! Live a little!”
He’s a great writer/artist for other reasons as well, but to me, he’ll always be The Man With the Stones to Pull the Trigger. Which won’t look good on a business card, but hey.
*Yes, Walt likes to truck in gods. Like the Celestials, these are Kirby characters. With dumbass names. Don’t get me started on the Fourth World names. Scott Free? Big Barda? Vermin Vundabar? Vermin Vundabar? Vermin Vundabar? Ye gods.