Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Best Character Ever 13: Shotgun

Sometimes a character is awesome because of all the great stories he has been in. Sometimes a character is great because of all the potential he has. Sadly, Shotgun falls in to the latter.
J.R. Walker first appeared in the pages of Daredevil when the man was on his walkabout in the waning days of Ann Nocenti’s run. Created by artist John Romita Jr., Shotgun is presented as little more than a thug by Nocenti’s writing, albeit one with a sharp tongue. With a cool look and sporting the perfect early 90s load of giant guns (though these appearances were in 89, contemporary with Cable’s early appearances), it seemed like he would go somewhere.

Instead he did not return for three years, this time in a much larger role. Writer Chuck Dixon joined JR Jr. for the debut of Punisher War Zone, the third Punisher series at the height of that character’s popularity. Shotgun started his six issue run in the book as an enemy to Frank Castle, but a common past and a common enmity with the Carbone family leads to Castle and Walker teaming up to cause widespread havoc. He would pop up here and there over the rest of the original run of Punisher at Marvel, with his final appearance coming at the end of the "Countdown" arc that ended the runs of Punisher, Punisher War Journal and Punisher War Zone.

Outside brief appearances at the beginning of the series-ending Punisher event “Countdown” and a bit role in a Spider-Man Annual, Shotgun again disappeared after this for six years, before making his final major comic appearance, in the pages of the John Romita Jr drawn issues of the “Spider-Hunt” crossover event. Shotgun was one of several men trying to hunt down Spider-Man, but ultimately his inherent goodness overwhelms his mercenary traits.

He would again vanish after this, not resurfacing until the Bendis/Maleev run of Daredevil. DD makes short work of him in a single issue, as he is just one of several assassins hired to kill DD.

Outside of a bio in 2009’s Dark Reign Files, Shotgun has not been seen in the last ten years. Yet the character offers an interesting mix of the Punisher asthetic and a more mercenary approach. Mixed with some great visuals from JR Jr. in most of his appearances, plus Dixon’s characterization of him and you had a winning character that never really was allowed to go very far outside of his brief appearances.

Unfortunately, I doubt that will change any time soon in Marvel Comics. Shotgun seems to be a great, underused character destined to never really get the spotlight shone upon him.

But it Marvel ever wants to let me write Thunderbolts, I would be more than happy to remedy that…

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