Cannon acting like Cannon. Artists: Steve Ditko and Wallace Wood.


Medium: Newspaper comics
Published by: Self-published
First Appeared: 1969
Creator: Wallace Wood
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Cannon, created for the self-published oneshot comic book Heroes Inc. Presents Cannon, was everything a military commander could want. Stripped of all emotion, he could …

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… kill and maim as ruthlessly as the boss desired, without even pausing to ignore his conscience. This gave him a tremendous advantage over his soft-hearted foes, who tended to fall before him like gentle blades of grass before a heavy-duty weed whacker.

Cannon, whose first name, if any, wasn't specified, started to get that way when Commies captured him. As they'd done with Raymond Shaw in The Manchurian Candidate (1959), they brainwashed him into performing assassinations for them after sending him home. What completed his transformation into an emotion-free killing machine was the attempt by American scientists to de-program him. They failed, so they figured what the heck, let's just go all the way with the brainwashing, and wipe him clean. This turned out great, from the point of view of his military commanders, but didn't contribute worth a darn to his personal happiness — or his personal feelings of any kind.

The character was created by Wallace Wood, who first rose to comic book prominence in the science fiction line at EC Comics, then went on to Daredevil, T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents and more. Cannon's most obvious precursor in Wood's work was Dynamo, who was super-strong and invulnerable to the point where his feelings could safely be ignored, as when he was transported to a trouble spot by being strapped to an intercontinental missile. Wood had a collaborator on the first Cannon story. Steve Ditko (Speedball, The Creeper) pencilled it, with Wood writing the script and inking Ditko's art.

Cannon didn't take up the whole issue. Also present were The Misfits (ambiguous superheroes along the lines of X-Men or The Doom Patrol), where Wood collaborated with Ralph Reese (Devilina); and Dragonella (a young human woman raised by reptiles), in which his collaborator was Ron Whyte (who has done minor work for Marvel). Tho Heroes Inc. didn't lead to new work, it did succeed, like Wood's earlier self-publication, Witzend, in securing the creator's ownership of his work.

Unexpectedly, in 1976, one more issue was published by a consortium of comics fans, several of whom later became professionals. Dragonella wasn't continued, but a new character, Black Angel (no relation), was introduced. No third try was ever made, and neither of the back-pages series ever amounted to anything. Meanwhile, however, Cannon was published in serial form, in the U.S. Army's Overseas Weekly, starting in 1971. That publication, which also ran Wood's sex-charged Sally Forth, concentrated on Cannon's impassive response to the women who surrounded him as eye candy for male readers.

Wood died in 1981, and Cannon wasn't continued by other creators. But it's been reprinted in graphic novel form, and is still in print.


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Text ©2007-08 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Estate of Wallace Wood.