"The Torture of William Leather": William Leather's Texas Ranger grandfather had inherited, along with his brother, a silver mine, a fact that got the both of them kidnapped and tortured by the villainous Dowling gang. His brother died, but John escaped into the wilderness, there to be found by
Synopsis for "The Torture of William Leather"
William Leather's Texas Ranger grandfather had inherited, along with his brother, a silver mine, a fact that got the both of them kidnapped and tortured by the villainous Dowling gang. His brother died, but John escaped into the wilderness, there to be found by a renegade Indian from the renegade Potawatomi Indian tribe. To find out what Leather was made of, he drugged him, perhaps driving him insane in the process (if the torture didn't already have him walking that path). Leather survived, returned to his silver mine, and spent eight days casting silver bullets tipped with mercury. Donning a black eye-mask, the lone ranger's first mission was revenge on the Dowling gang, and he got it. He became a legend for his criminal-fighting activities in Texas, and sometime later fathered a son - born on January 1, 1900. His birth date wasn't the only thing special about Bret Leather, who used the silver mine to build a fortune and then fight a war on crime in the guise of a terrifying underground hero - The Spider. So busy was the man dealing death - and then one day joining a team of heroes with similar birth dates and similar goals - he wasn't even around to father William Leather; his wife did that with one of his assistants.
Sometime after 1945, when Bret Leather and his associates met their fate in the Adirondacks, Leather would learn all this in a meeting with Randall Dowling, a distant relative of the Dowling who fought the Dead Ranger. Leather felt he was robbed from inheriting Bret's superhuman abilities and functional immortality, and was convinced to join Dowling's quest for power and greatness: "We will punish them all by becoming great."
Forty years later, Leather - who has been talking to Elijah Snow the whole time, while bolted onto a table in a blue-lit room - realized Dowling had merely used him. Leather wouldn't stand for it ("I was supposed to be great") and planned to become greater than Dowling on his own. But, he acknowledges, "Now I'm here." Snow shares his lack of sympathy, tells Leather that Greene is exiled from the Solar System and Leather is in Snow's custody. While he has been advised restraint, Snow plans to ignore it, as he now remembers their history, remembers the Nautilus, and remembers who Leather killed. Snow then takes a pair of needle-lined goggles and presses them down into Leather's eyes. Blood begins to pour out from beneath the goggles, as Snow demands Leather to tell him where Dowling and Süskind are.
Appearing in "The Torture of William Leather"
- John Leather/Dead Ranger (Flashback only)
- Bret Leather/The Spider (Flashback only)
- Axel Brass (Flashback only)
- Hark (Flashback only)
- Lord Blackstock (Flashback only)
- The Aviator (Flashback only)
- Edison (Flashback only)
- Chicago (Flashback only)
- This issue is collected in Planetary: Spacetime Archaeology.
- John Leather's psychedelic experience is a callback to Elijah Snow's hallucination in the previous issue. The fetal-positioned figures who appear around the surface of the flower in John Leather's hallucination recalls to the events depicted in Planetary #3.
- John Leather/Dead Ranger and his origins is a re-imagining of the Lone Ranger.
- The Spider and his origins is an amalgam of The Shadow, the Green Hornet, and Harry Steeger's The Spider.
- The Spider's lineage with The Dead Ranger invokes the Green Hornet's lineage with the Lone Ranger. However, rights to The Lone Ranger and The Green Hornet have been acquired by separate owners and the familial link has been ignored. Though the Lone Ranger – Green Hornet connection is part of Philip Jose Farmer's Wold Newton Universe, which connects disparate fictional characters.