Thursday, December 26, 2013

Speak, Lockjaw! Speak, Boy!


In the third issue of The Thing, published in late 1983, you may remember writer John Byrne coming up with this interesting twist to the Inhumans' dimension-traveling dog, Lockjaw, where he becomes an Inhuman in more than just name only:



Lockjaw, it seemed, had undergone the same traditional exposure to the Terrigen mists, the substance which select Inhumans are exposed to in order to gain the enhanced appearance and abilities indicative of the Inhuman race. Lockjaw, according to Byrne, was now revealed to be not a mere dog (er, with a grip of iron and dimension-spanning abilities), but another member of this hidden race that had been exposed to the Terrigen mists.

But in a 1991 X-Factor story, writer Peter David dismantled Byrne's refit of Lockjaw with--what else?--a humorous take on the revelation, thanks to Quicksilver:



Except that there are details to the incident in question that don't mesh with David's interpretation.

In the original situation, Pietro plans to expose his daughter to the Terrigen mists because he considers her being wholly human a serious drawback. At the request of Luna's mother, Crystal, the Thing has come to prevent Pietro from going through with his plan. Pietro, however, is adamant; but he's either unaware of or choosing to ignore the fact that exposure to the mists produces haphazard results, and that there's no way to know how the subject will be affected. A fact that finally hits home with him when Lockjaw steps forward:



Ben, as well, is stunned by the news--which, at the time of the story's publication, explains much about the Inhumans not only to him but also to us. But he uses the opportunity to hammer in the message for Pietro that he might want to count his blessings with Luna as she is, instead of unilaterally deciding otherwise:



So it really doesn't make sense that Karnak and Gorgon (to whom it probably would never occur to play a practical joke on anyone, assuming they even knew what one was in the first place) would have so little regard for Crystal as to choose such a tense and obviously delicate situation to duck out of sight, break out their little transmitter and have some fun with the Thing. And I highly doubt that they'd have the presence of mind to take advantage of the same setup and think to use Lockjaw to defuse the situation with Pietro at the same time. That would be an incredible roll of the dice at the worst possible time.

Fortunately, in Byrne's version, we can assume that Gorgon and Karnak have the good sense to 86 their little prank until this crisis had passed; and I rather enjoyed Byrne's new take on Lockjaw, even thinking to make it clear that it would be a rare day when Lockjaw's voice would be used to any degree. But a moot point, since David effectively returned Lockjaw to being a dog through and through--and in another story, we'll see how well Lockjaw works as a concept when he's merely (Inhu)man's best friend.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Lockjaw was one of those many weird crazy characters to come out of the Lee-Kirby era of the Fantastic Four.
A giant bulldog with an antenna on his head who can teleport at will? I could never have come up with something that crazy!
Maybe we'll see that pup in a movie someday. M.P.

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