So, here’s an entry I have been thinking of doing for quite some time. The thing is, though I distinctly remember buying and reading most of this series and its 12 issue run, it’s been a while and my memory is a little spotty. So, normally, this is where I would do some research into the book.
Except, I can’t find a whole heck a lot about them online. Most if not all of the pictures I can find about them are from covers, maybe an interior but only if it featured one of the big guest stars from the series run. So, as such, I am going to pull what I can from memory here, and a little help from the DC fandom wiki that gave me character names and…not much else. Here’s DC Comics’ Chain Gang from the 12 issue series run of Chain Gang War.
Chain Gang War was the product of writer John Wagner and artist Dave Johnson. Wagner, it should be noted, is the co-creator of Judge Dredd. And this was the 90s, so you know there were guns involved. That said, I wasn’t the hugest fan of antiheroes back in the day, but this series struck me as being a bit smarter than most, and I did dig it for that. With all that in mind, let’s continue.
The basic premise was this: three guys declared war on the “untouchable” members of organized crime. One of them was superrich and they used his house, with a converted prison in the basement, to hold captured mob bosses. The rich guy had a servant, an older African American man possibly named Loopy.
The three went by the names Yale Strang, Curtis Zecker, and Ernie Dorrs. I think Strang was the rich guy. Zecker was, probably, a somewhat older man with a penchant for anger and violence. And Strang was a lower class African American man. All three had been hurt or lost loved ones due to organized crime, and this being a comic book, they opted to do something about it. That meant adopting simple disguises, grabbing some weapons, and waging a literal war on crime.
Now, what I recall from the series, beyond that I rather liked it at the time, was that the guys didn’t necessarily get along and had varying responses to to what to do about the mobsters they brought in and locked in the rich guy’s basement. Apparently, they were working outside of Gotham City and had a few interactions with the Jean-Paul Valley Batman. Because you know Bruce Wayne would have shut them right down.
Oh, they also somehow temporarily captured Deathstroke.
Their series ran from from July of 1993 to June of the following year. And, in the last issue, the cops caught up to them because, you know, kidnapping and murder are illegal. As I recall, Loopy was killed or arrested by the cops, Zecker by some crooks, and Strang blew himself up with one last mob boss on a speedboat in the harbor. As for Dorrs, he got away and went home to his wife.
And, well, they never popped up again.
Considering they were, almost certainly a product of the 90s, even with Wagner’s name on it, and that most of them died, I think there’s a good reason for that.