Thursday, January 13, 2011

Freight Train -- The Lost Bloodline

Hey folks. Luke here, author of Being Carter Hall and El Jacone's Comic Book Bunker. I am also known in some circles as "That weird guy who likes The Outsiders," up to and including the current title by Dan DiDio and Philip Tan.

Freight Train, the muscle- and attitude-laden hired gun of Simon Stagg, had lead the fugitive Outsiders Black Lightning, Owlman, and Metamorpho into a trap in British Columbia. Stagg intended on using Black Lightning's powers to resurrect his deceased daughter Sapphire. After securing Owlman and Metamorpho, Stagg asked "Cecil" to join him in the laboratory where Black Lightning and Sapphire waited. When Freight Train refused to be part of Stagg's procedure, Stagg ordered his manservant Java to subdue him -- by changing into the new Shaggy Man. The ensuing brawl gave Freight Train a chance to recount his origin for the benefit of the reader.

I really like that editorial note. Very apropos.

Freight Train would continue to lay a beating on the Shaggy Java while Owlman and Metamorpho escaped their bonds. The procedure seemed to spin out of control, and Sapphire Stagg regain a semblance of life just long enough to drift away again, this time in her beloved Rex Mason's arms. Shaggy Java had lost consciousness and reverted to his regular self, Black Lightning was barely alive, supported by Owlman, and Stagg had broken down beside his daughter's body. Surveying the carnage, Freight Train quipped, "I don't get it. What's there to be sorry about? We won, right?"

Outsiders #35 was scripted by Dan Didio and drawn by Philip Tan, with both men sharing in the plotting duties. Released with a cover date of February 2011, Freight Train no doubt holds the distinction of the longest unheard from Bloodlines character. At least, until another one comes about...


Diabolu Frank said...

I love this, Luke. You stepped in, knocked out a totally cool and apropos post in territory you knew was yours, and made no bones about it. This is how we do it!

I think you mentioned Freight Train was a New Blood, but it totally slipped my mind until this post. I talk a lot of mess about Dan Didio, but I have to appreciate him for this. I loved Luke Cage as a kid because he was a movie gumshoe translated to super-heroics, and while this guy is clearly more mercenary and self-centered, I'm glad there's still a hero(?) for hire out there. Part of the point of Bloodlines was that these were normal people with powers thrust upon them, so I dig that here's one who made the obvious choice to use them for personal gain. Lord love a callback, even if Didio did preside over a hell of a lot of New Blood deaths. They always struck me as the obvious "oh, I'm a mutant" easy origin explanation of the DC Universe.

I wasn't aware Sapphire Stagg was dead, so that was an education as well. I'm also glad someone gave Java a reason to ditch the damned cybernetic prosthesis. Is Rex's kid still kicking around?

Luke said...

Freight Train is apparently a member of the team because he is named with a caption on his first appearance every issue like the rest of the team (a relic of Dixon's turn on the title when the roster was supposed to rotate), but he is a mercenary through and through. He's caustic and obnoxious, in the best mercantile sense. He reminds me a bit of the heel version of The Rock, which is ironic since he sort of looks like Dwayne Johnson.

Needless to say when he was revealed as a New Blood I laughed my butt off. They put a blurb on the cover that Freight Train's origin would be revealed, and then instead of some convoluted thing, it's the one which makes the most sense.

As far as Sapphire Stagg, you are not alone: a few issues earlier when Simon told Rex that Sapphire was dead, he refused to believe it until he saw her body. She very much died off-panel... so quietly that no one beyond the pages of Outsiders seems to have realized it. Her death was the unstated reason that Stagg had acquired a Black Lantern Ring back in the DiDio-penned resurrected issued of Weird Western Tales. Rex's "son" Shift was mortally wounded right before Infinite Crisis (IIRC) and reabsorbed into Rex.

I sometimes thing I am the only person reading this title, but DiDio and Tan are really putting out a title which (like Doom Patrol and REBELS) which has a very different flavor from your "normal" sort of team mag.

mathematicscore said...

I've avoided Didio Outsiders like the plague (well, I have been paging through it off the rack) but I'll cop that certain aspects of it seem tolerable. I totally agree with Bloodlines being a great go to origin for new characters, and Frank is astute as usual in pointing out the appeal of the "regular joes" aspect.

That said, as an addition to the Outsiders, I'd probably kill Freight Train faster than Didio himself.

While it doesn't seem a total loss, I also wouldn't put it in the same class as DP or REBELS.

Diabolu Frank said...

Not that "son," I mean the actual fruit of his loins that melted Java's hands off back in the early '90s. I'm going to have to wiki it, aren't I? :)