Underground Icon Wesley Willis Joyrides Into DC Comics As Wonder Woman’s Half-Brother
While everybody’s been talking about the New 52 debut of Jack Kirby’s Orion in the pages of Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang’s Wonder Woman, a far more exciting character debuted in the DC Comics title over the last couple of issues. Wonder Woman #15 introduced the newly redesigned Orion, but along with him was Milan, a son of Zeus and, it would follow, Wonder Woman’s half-brother.
What makes this supporting player so interesting is that Milan bears a strong resemblance to an underground icon, singer-songwriter, and lover of joyrides, the late Wesley Willis. For those familiar with Willis’ oeuvre, this development truly whips the llama’s ass with a belt.Wesley Willis was a Chicago outsider artist and musician who gained a cult following in the 1990s, putting out records on Dead Kennedys frontman Jello Biafra’s Alternative Tentacles label and Rick Rubin’s American Records. A paranoid schizophrenic equipped with a microphone and a Technics keyboard, Willis’ songs focused mainly on riding the bus, going to rock n’ roll shows and getting beat up by superheroes and the police. A mix of scatlogical humor, stream-of-consciousness rambling, and blinding honesty, Willis was a true original, churning out songs by the truckload. Willis usually ended each song by yell-rapping some corporate slogan or jingle, and would often flip the script by beating up the superheroes.
Here’s his slightly NSFW song, “I Whupped Spider-Man’s Ass.”
Willis passed away in 2003 from complications related to leukemia. But by all the evidence presented in the last couple issues of Wonder Woman, he’s alive and well in the New 52 DC Universe, where he’s the half-brother of Princess Diana of Themyscira. For example: Willis chose to greet fans with a headbutt, a characteristic shared by Milan….
Milan also shares Willis’ tendency to break down the world into two categories: “hell-rides,” Willis’ term for moments (usually bus rides) where the voices in his head would overwhelm him; and “joy rides,” which denoted good times. Willis once described rock n’ roll as “the ultimate joy ride.”
You hear a lot of artists talk about songwriting as being a cathartic exercise; an opportunity to exorcise demons. With Wesley Willis, I think he believed that really was the case, so it’s hard to imagine he wouldn’t be thrilled to know that his memory is living on, among ancient gods and superheroes. Although Willis might object to getting his fictional ass whupped by Batman.
The New 52 has seen a lot of creative missteps, but this addition to Wonder Woman’s supporting cast? This one I can get behind.
ROCK OVER, GOTHAM. ROCK ON, METROPOLIS. BEEF: IT’S WHAT’S FOR DINNER!