Wednesday, April 24, 2019

ACW #612 - Black Canary

Action Comics Weekly #612 (Black Canary)
"Bitter Fruit, Part 4"
Writer - Sharon Wright
Pencils - Randy DuBurke
Inks - Pablo Marcos
Letters - Steve Haynie
Colors - Gene D'Angelo
Editor - Mike Gold

I hope you're all sitting... because we've got some big news today, friends!

Remember the other day, when I was kvetching about being unable to find real Bazooka Gum?  Sure ya do... it was my most riveting post in months.  That, of course, was piggy-backing off that other time I was kvetching about being unable to find real Bazooka Gum.

Well, this morning I wake up to find this comment in the hopper:

To which, I was totally shocked!  How come I didn't know about this?  I could'a sworn I've Googled around for that several times over the past few months.

Anyhoo, so I decide to google it again... and find this!  A news item from... one day ago!  Going a step further, if we venture over to, this is what we're greeted by:

I think we're safe to take complete and total credit for this.  I mean, there are dozens (annnnnd dozens) of folks reading this blog every single day... Okay, I'm kidding... but, really... how cool is this?

So, what's your humble host to do, but... drive all over town trying to track down some of this stuff!

It took a few stops, but... after it was only after wandering into a Party City that our epic quest comes to an end.

Is it too much to hope for the individual pieces of gum to be wrapped with the old-fashioned packaging?

Yes, it looks like it is too much to hope for.  But, it's not the packaging... or even the gum itself we're banking on here.  Do these retro gums come with... a comic strip?!

You bet it does!  Just as corny as I remember.  I could do without the code on the bottom... but, that's just the world we live in these days.  Worth noting...

... unlike last time, this code actually worked!


We open with a homeless woman giddily finding a gun in a pile of garbage.  In the background, there's a dumpster which slowly creaks open.  One the lady is gone, we learn that the inhabitant of the dumpster was... Dinah!  She is soon joined by Doug Vallines, that fella in the cowboy hat that I (I could'a sworn) clubbed her last week.  Doesn't seem as though Dinah recollects any of that though.  He explains that they were attacked, and he had just woken up in another dumpster himself.  He estimates that they've been "out" for around two hours.

Doug guides Dinah over to his pickup truck and drives her to a restaurant where she might call for a cab.  Ya see, despite not wanting to ride with this fella, she... well, rode with this fella anyway.  Oh well, at least this way he won't know where she lives.  That's somethin'.  Before they part company, Doug hands her his card so she can have Hector Librado give him a call.  Well, we already know that's not gonna happen.

We shift scenes to a pitch-black room, where a man answer a phone call.  This guy is either Vincent Scales... or he's talking to a guy named Vincent Scales.  It's not entirely clear.  Anyhoo, he's given an ambiguous status report.

We next go to a scene of Dinah taking a shower... a very awkward-looking shower.  It's almost as though she knows we're reading this!  Or, maybe she just doesn't like Ollie watching... because, he totally is.

Ollie makes his way in, and they talk about everything that went down that night.  Or, they would have, if not for being interrupted by the phone.  On the line, is Rita!  She's calling to tell Dinah about what happened to Hector... though, they're being pretty vague about it.

We wrap up with a stocky, balding jogger... stockily and baldly jogging in the Hollywood Hills.  He stops at a payphone to make a call to someone named "Barry"... but, here's the thing... he introduces himself as... Doug Vallines!


Well, it's improving... I'll give it that much.

Let's talk art.  It no longer looks like Dinah's having her head smooshed between Mark McKinney's fingers, but it still isn't all that pleasant.  Also, there are few storytelling hiccups here that really muddle up the narrative.  Too much is being kept too vague, which I suppose I shouldn't blame squarely on DuBurke.

Last week, it really looked like "Vallines" clubbed Canary when they met.  This week, I wasn't sure why Dinah didn't even mention that.  Now, I'm beginning to question what I even saw in the first place.  That really should have been more clearly illustrated.

Also, the panel layouts here strike me as pretty wasteful.  Look at the scene where Rita calls Dinah... like 1/3 of the page is white-space.  That just seems like a waste, especially when we're talking about an eight-page story.  What's more, we don't even get confirmation whether or not Hector was killed in the hospital!

Speaking of phone calls... there's that "Vincent Scales" page.  Just what was that?  Heck, who was that?  Does that have anything to do with Rita's dad?  Or is this just our weekly reminder that some pilot is suing an airline?  I'm not saying there can't be a little bit (or a lot) of mystery... but, this just feels a little too "all over the place", especially at this stage of the story.

All told, this chapter was probably the best yet.  Unfortunately, I don't feel like that's really heaping any praise on it.

Tomorrow: Wrapping up our first dozen issues... and finally finding out how all'a dem DC Comics fans voted back in 1988!

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

ACW #612 - Catwoman

Action Comics Weekly #612 (Catwoman)
"The Tin Roof Club, Part Two"
Writer - Mindy Newell
Pencils - Barry Kitson
Inks - Bruce Patterson
Letters - Carrie Spiegle
Colors - Adrienne Roy
Assistant Editor - Dan Raspler
Editor - Denny O'Neil

Back to our first SHOWCASE Presentation... Catwoman!  Stuff like this makes me wish Action Comics Weekly kept going more than the 42 issues it did!  Not that everything's been awesome, but I just love the idea of these short features putting a spotlight on some lower-tier (at the time) characters.

Let's do it!


Picking up right where we left off last week, Selina has opened the door to her office to find her Bartender wielding a gun... and suddenly, a shot is fired.  Turns out, it was actually Detective Flannery's gun that went off... Bartender Willy hits the ground.  George begins scanning the office, and isn't too terribly surprised to see it littered with kayoed gangsters.  More than that, he's unshaken to discover Selina's whip and catsuit on her desk.  He's apparently clued-in on the alter-ego, but assumed Selina "killed the cat".

Realizing that he has very little choice at the moment, Flannery goes to arrest Selina.  He only manages to get one cuff on her before she overwhelms him.  And by "overwhelms", I mean she just beats the hell out of him.  Before "suiting up" and taking her leave, she cuffs George with his own manacles.

Turns out, Catwoman is heading to New Jersey to check in with Holly... if you recall, last week she'd "gifted" her that precious cat brooch.

Catwoman sneaks into Holly's place.  Holly, is pretty surprised by this, and jokes that Selina might be there to "rob" her.  Selina asks for Holly to hand the gift over as it's too dangerous for her to have it.  Holly admits that she didn't wait until Christmas to open the package... and further admits that she'd given it to her husband, Arthur so he could drop it off at their Safe Deposit box at the bank for safe-keeping.

Selina asks to see Arthur... but he ain't home.  She asks Holly if it's weird for her husband to be out at three in the morning.  Before she can answer, however... the house explodes!


Wowie!  With an ending like that, it's almost like we're back reading Wild Dog again!

Really not sure how this one's going to play out.  I mean, clearly, Catwoman is going to survive the blast... but, will Holly?  I think we're meant to assume that Arthur was planning to "make off" with the brooch, and rigged his own house to blow, wife included, in order to cover his getaway?  At least that's my "hot take" on the subject.

Jumping back to the beginning of the story, I really enjoyed the back and forth between Selina and George.  I'm digging this George character an awful lot.  We can tell that he doesn't want to arrest Selina, and he's trying to be as patient as possible with her... but, in times like this, he can't really turn a blind eye.

Overall... Catwoman got my "Best of the Week" vote last week, and as of right now, it's very likely that it'll go two-in-a-row for me.  Really enjoying this... it's a shame that it's already halfway through!

Tomorrow: Some-one's in the Dump-ster with Di-nah!

Monday, April 22, 2019

ACW #612 - Superman

Action Comics Weekly #612 (Superman)
"Where Lurks the Evil?"
Writer - Roger Stern
Pencils - Curt Swan
Inks - John Beatty
Letters - Bill Oakley
Colors - Tom Ziuko
Editor - Mike Carlin

A few weeks ago, I shared a most depressing story about the awful truth I learned when I last bought a pack of Bazooka Gum.  Gone were the classic comics, replaced with some trash "codes" to type into their website, and receive Lord knows what (the code from my piece was invalid).

Not content to let this go, and being a bit of an obsessive fella myself, I've taken to the streets in search... of Bazooka Joe.  Way I figured, "retro" is kind of a thing right now, and I assumed (emphasis on that first syllable) that there might be some "real" Bazooka at one of the many Retro Candy stores around town.  I mean, it stands to reason, don't it?

Well, every now and again I'll share my "journey" with you in this here pre-ramble... starting, right this second!

I popped into the Retro Candy Shop by Arizona State University in Tempe about a week ago... from the looks of the photos online, this seemed like as good a place as any to start my search.  Wasn't happy having to pay for parking... but, the things we do for obsession.  While I was there, I figured I might as well try a Zagnut Bar as well.  Never had one, and I'm a pretty big coconut fan.

It was rather underwhelming... and I actually feared it would turn to powder as soon as I opened the wrapper.  It tasted okay, but it's a very poorly "put together" candy bar.  Then again, I live in Arizona.  A great place for comics, but an awful place for candy.

Anyhoo, as I scanned the area, I found... NuZooka.  The same sorta "hip" "with-it" pack I grabbed at the gas station.  And so, I went up to the register to inquire about real Bazooka... and the poor teen-aged cashier hadn't the foggiest idea what I was talking about.  To be honest, at this point I wasn't entirely sure what I was talking about.

She eventually gets the jist of what I'm saying, and points me over to a less-traveled corner of the store... right around where the meager selection of Sugar-Free stuff sits.  She tells me that's where the individual pieces of Bazooka are.  Could this really be it?  Could our journey have already come to a conclusion?

No.  No it didn't.  More friggin' NuZooka.

Welp.  We mustn't let this deter us... and so, the search continues.  We will find you, Bazooka Joe.


Galt's mental transmission continues to play, which really freaks Perry White out.  He doesn't seem to understand that none of what's before him is actually playing out.  Galt ends the transmission before Perry can start wildly swiping at thin air.

White inquires as to why Galt never contacted the authorities about this apparent massacre, to which he claims that the surviving members feared that somehow going to the authorities would cause reprisal from their attackers... and, the only person who can be trusted is, naturally, Superman.

Clark wonders aloud who might be behind all of this... which facilitates a segue to the West Coast, where a boardroom full of... I dunno, business-illuminati folks (?) are discussing current events.  They are wildly displeased that one of the Fellowship members has "made contact" with Superman... and they realize that, from here, they can only do one thing to "save the world": Kill Superman?!


So, we trudge ahead a good minute, minute-and-a-half this week.

Not gonna lie, this is pretty dull stuff.  While it's difficult to tell too much of a story in only two pages, this is just dreadfully slow.  Almost painfully slow... especially if you are a person who tasked himself with writing about it!

Not much to see here.  The Cadre of "Men in Suits" on the other coast ain't pleased... and maybe they're about to do something about it?  I dunno.  Honestly, I'm pretty sure I don't even care.

Tomorrow: Is Selina down to Eight Lives?!

Sunday, April 21, 2019

ACW #612 - Deadman

Action Comics Weekly #612 (Deadman)
"Take Us to Our Leader"
Writer - Mike Baron
Pencils - Dan Jurgens
Inks - Tony DeZuniga
Letters - Steve Haynie
Colors - Liz Berube
Editor - Barbara Kesel

Feels like all our kids are growin' up and movin' out, dunnit?  With Deadman's departure, that's four out of our Original Six Features that've flown the coop.  Crazy to think that next week will be two-thirds full'a material that we didn't start with.

Well, I guess that's just life for Anthologists such as ourselves!


Okay, so when we left off Talaoc was on his way back to Earth in that odd spherical spacecraft that busted out from the Mayan Pyramid.  Y'all remember that?  I don't blame you if you don't.  Anyhoo.  Major Kasaba, some bald guy, Deadman, and... Satan are watching this unfold on the monitors.  After a bit of a playful argument between the dead-guys, Boston hops into the body of the bald fella in order to communicate with their pending visitor.  Oh, and there are a few jokes about President Reagan being asleep... can't forget about that!

After Deadman-as-Bald Guy talks to Talaoc, they agree to meet up.  Upon landing, Talaoc exits the craft... but doesn't do so alone.  He is surrounded by several spectres (thankfully, not that Spectre) of "his people".  It's worth noting that he is also "see-thru".

Talaoc's ghost demands all of their weapons and artifacts returned... or else, they will possess all of the Earth's leaders and plunge the planet into a horrible war.  Major Kasaba's all "We don't negotiate with... uh, dead alien... god... things", which really isn't the best play.  Deadman bodyhops from Bald Guy to Kasaba in hopes of smoothing things over...

... only Kasaba's already got an inhabitant!  That's right, it's Satan!  Deadman pops back into the Bald guy, and backhands Kasaba good.

He instructs a soldier to fetch the Alien Weapons... and, after a few words with Talaoc, blasts the devil out of Major Kasaba.

Then, like a Ghostbuster had just thrown a trap, D.B. Cooper/the Devil evacuates Kasaba's kasabod... and (somehow) gets sucked into a containment unit.

Talaoc and Company collect the "specimen", and load it on their ship.  It turns out that "Satan" was actually the original leader of Talaoc's men, driven mad from all his time on Earth.  I know the feeling!

We (finally) wrap up with Major Kasaba waking up... and convincing the bald fella that they'd just undergone a "bad trip", courtesy of the United States government testing a new hallucinogen.  She suggests they sue, as Deadman takes his leave. 


And so ends our time with Boston Brand.  Kind of a convenient capper, but certainly not the worst ending I've ever read.

I feel like that's one of the biggest problems in comic book storytelling today, writers are afraid to... or unable to "stick" the landing to their epic stories.  So often, endings are so weakly written... such a letdown, that they manage to retroactively taint the rest of the story.  Or, they're being written as a "bridge" to the next "senses-shattering, everything you thought you knew was wrong" crossover event.

This Deadman ending... well, it worked.  Didn't rock my socks, didn't put a smile on my face... but, it worked.  All of the disparate story elements and characters came together, and nothing was left worse for wear.

As an arc, while overlong and dragging in parts, I feel like this had more hits than misses, which is more than I can say about most things!  Deadman was a "net-positive", and if you're a fan of the character, I have little doubt that you'll dig this storyline.

Tomorrow: Who Watches the... Fellowship of Superman?!

Saturday, April 20, 2019

ACW #612 - Secret Six

Action Comics Weekly #612 (Secret Six)
"Our of the Frying Pan... Into the Fire"
Writer - Martin Pasko
Art - Dan Spiegle
Letters - Carrie Spiegle
Colors - Carl Gafford
Editor - Dick Giordano

Welcome to the first of two "farewell" days in a row!

Today we say goodbye to one of our originals... after twelve weeks, the Secret Six are going on hiatus.  I'm sure Mr. Pasko has one heckuvan ending for us!

I can hardly wait... let's get into it!


We open with Vic and Luke at Sunnydale Farms, and learn about a fella named Jack Poundstone.  He learned about the leaner-meated (though, virally contaminated) minipigs that were being bred for medical research (at Jefferson University) and bought himself a male and female in order to get ta reproducing.  The University rep, a Stephen Traeger, was supposed to destroy the pigs, but figured there'd be little harm in making a few bucks on the side.  A pair of good ol' boy security guard bust in on our Sixers, but get beaten up pretty easily.

Meanwhile, we see that Ralph Dorn, C.E.O. of Farmer Ralph's was the "VIP" who was about to be fed the tainted meat at the end of the last chapter.  I had assumed it was going to be Rafael DiRienzi... guess that'll teach me for assumin'.

Though, speaking of Rafael... we rejoin him, still held captive at the posh hotel.  He is awakened, and placed before a television set.  On the screen... Mockingbird!  Looks like everything is going according to Emm-Bee's plan!  DiRienzi insists that there will be people looking for him... which, turns out, is all the better!

Back at Secret Six HQ, we learn that there might be a connection between Jefferson University's Science Department and... TechnoDyne?  I thought we were through with those guys!  Anyhoo, DiRienzi's pal shows up... just as predicted, and after a brief skirmish, is able to convince Maria and Mitch to hear him out.

We shift scenes to Washington, D.C., where they're still investigating the VTOL crash.  It's assumed that all of the passengers had perished.  It's also assumed that OG Sixer, August Durant was responsible for the whole thing... and, later in the conversation, he is linked to... Jefferson University.  Uh-oh.

Back with the Six, Rafe's pal tells his tale.  Turns out he was the Manager of the Enchanted Forest... but knew very little about the Secret Six.  All he knows is that the VTOL crashed, and that Rafe suspected Mockingbird was behind it.  He confirms that the club was later burned to the ground to "send a message"... and states that he'd received Rafael's communication device in the mail with instructions to visit Frisco (they hate it when you call it that).

We wrap up, with the revelation that Mockingbird could only be... one of the original Secret Six!  Rafael's pal offers to become the New-Sixer's "secret agent", trying to peel back the layers of this mystery... while giving them all deniability (and thus, holding on to their "gifts").  I think it's a pretty big assumption that Mockingbird doesn't have this entire place bugged... but, we'll play along.  Anyhoo... this is how we end things.  We won't be discussing the Secret Six again for... seven weeks!  Yes, really.



Twelve Weeks, Twelve Chapters... probably, three or four too many, if I'm being honest... annnnnnd, this is the "ending" we get?!  It's... it's not even an ending!  Heck, it's hardly even a "new wrinkle"... the Sixers already knew Mockingbird probably shouldn't be trusted.  Ay yai yai.

"Ending" aside... what else we get?

Well, we've established a Sunnydale Farms, Jefferson University, and a TechnoDyne link.  Also, that original Sixer, August Durant has links to potentially all three as well.  It's actually all quite interesting... though, at this point, probably should have been explained to us several weeks ago.  These aren't "Senses-Shattering" revelations, and the fact that we've had to wait so long to get 'em takes even more of the "oomph" out.

Rafael is still being held hostage, and it looks like he'd best get comfortable.  "Farmer" Ralph Dorn is dealt with... fed a platter of his own tainted meat... which, if I'm remembering right, is more or less exactly what Mockingbird intended to happen.  Hmm... maybe there's more to this "connection" than I'd originally thought!

Overall, as a chapter... it's a darn good one, though perhaps a bit "info-dumpy".  As a concluding chapter, however... ehh-ehh, nope.  I get wanting to leave the people wanting more, but this kind of kicks dirt in the faces of all of us who were expecting just a little bit of resolution before the hiatus.

Tomorrow: Beat it, Boston Brand!

Friday, April 19, 2019

ACW #612 - Green Lantern

Action Comics Weekly #612 (Green Lantern)
"Mind Over Matter"
Writer - Peter David
Art - Tod Smith
Colors - Anthony Tollin
Letters - Albert DeGuzman
Assistant Editor - Dan Raspler
Editor - Denny O'Neil

Welcome to Week 12... where, the times, they will be a'changing!  We'll be bidding adieu to a couple of our ACW stalwarts... so, watch this space next week for a more eclectic collection!

In other news...

Y'all ever hear of HeroClix?  I remember them first coming out sometime around the turn of the century... and I also remember buying the first "pack" of em.  It's probably still in my garage somewhere.  Anyhoo, it's basically a game where you pit miniatures against one another... least as far as I can tell, I've never actually played it.  I don't think there's a solitaire version, and I don't have all that many friends.  Heck, the very few I do would probably run for the hills if I tried handing them a miniature Spider-Man on a spinning dial!

So, yeah... I bought this "starter box", it was probably $20 or so, and it was guaranteed to come with a Spider-Man.  It was only Marvel at the start.  Along with Spidey, you'd (or I'd) get a few more wildly vital characters in the Marvel Universe... a Hydra Soldier, a S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent... ooh boy!  Guess ya gotta sell them Booster packs by any means necessary!

Anyhoo, that was my only toe-dip into the HeroClix universe... until last week.  Picture it, I'm walking through a shop, minding my own business... when, what to my wondering eyes should appear:

... a Vartox Week Miracle, no matter what time of the year!

If you're wondering what #VartoxWeek is... you can find links to it all over this site, including... right here:

The quick and short of it is, I took a month-long "week" to celebrate the Bronze Age character, Vartox.  What started as sort of a "funny, ha-ha" turned into gaining a real affection and respect for the guy.  If you find yourself with a free hour or two, you can work your way through the pieces and see just who and what this character is!

Speaking of #VartoxWeek, I did save a few of his "lesser" appearances out of last year's celebration... so, perhaps if I play my scheduling cards right... we might find ourselves with a Return to Vartox Week at some point in 2019!

As for the 'Clix... I bought the bugger, probably paid too much... and he's at home, comfortably stood next to a............ Manhunter.


Picking up where we left off, Hal has been zapped by that "Mind Games" satellite, just as Lt. Rensaleer finds the "Mind Games" note!  A maddened Hal lunges at the Lieutenant, and pins him to the ground.  Rensaleer strikes back with an ear-clap, that puts a bit of space between them.  Hal points his ring in his direction... emerald energy pouring off of it.

Back at the station, that modelling agent is still trying to sell Arisia on signing on with her agency.  In order to "seal the deal", she suggests Arisia could become the next Cory Anders.  Hey, we know her!

Back in the alley, Hal goes to blast the Lieutenant... but his ring doesn't seem to want to cooperate!  He's certain that it's charged, but for whatever reason, it refuses to fire.  Hal then freaks out, and begins flapping his arms... as though he's trying to fly, and forgotten how!

Rensaleer chases Hal out of the alley, tackling him.  A stray dog wanders over to the Mind Games note... and, uh, lifts his leg over it.  At this point Hal goes back to normal, and hasn't the foggiest clue what's been going on.

After cooling their jets for a bit, Hal and the Lt. catch the evening news broadcast.  Some nutjob busts in on the station, and demands $500,000 on behalf of... Mind Games.  To prove his power, he claims that, for a two-minute period, Mind Games will turn one-tenth of Chicago's population insane.  I feel like there's a real easy joke to be made there, but we'll let it go.

Those two-minutes begin, and one of the "crazies" turns out to be, Cynthia Whatsherface, the modeling agent!  While out to dinner discussing the finer details of a potential modelling contract, she lunges across the table at Arisia, and attempts to stab her with... a spoon.  Well, that was a lucky break!

At this point, Hal realizes that he could just use his ring to track where the crazy beams are emanating from... and follows them to a large satellite dish, which he destroys.  He enters a nearby building, and runs into a man... who we can only assume is Mind Games.  Ol' Emm-Gee hammers Hal with a mind-blast!


I'm going to give y'all a peek behind the curtain here.  I've had this synopsis written for like a week... and have just been dragging my feet in writing up my thoughts and "review".  There's just nothing really to say, is there?  It was my hope that something would come to mind... some sort of discussion thread would reveal itself... buuuuut, nope.

I mean, we're building to something... and next week's installment will be a ton more interesting than this... but for now?  It's just kinda "there".  I suppose we could wonder why Hal never thought to follow the psycho-waves before now?  Why the ring didn't pick up on a "disturbance in the force"... but, yawn, why?

It is what it is... and what it is, is kinda weak.  Don't worry though, next week we will kick things up a notch, and have quite a bit of fun digging around in Hal's dome!

Tomorrow: The Senses-Shattering, Scintillating, Shocking, Satisfying final installment of the Secret Six!  Boy, hope I didn't oversell that...
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