Action Comics #709 (April, 1995)
“Crime Tunnel! ~or~ When Warriors Strongly Disagree!”
Writer – David Michelinie
Penciller – Jackson Guice
Inker – Denis Rodier
Letterer – Bill Oakley
Colorist – Glenn Whitmore
Assistant Editor – Chris Duffy
Editor – Mike Carlin
Cover Price: $1.50
For today’s trip down Action Comics Avenue, we’re dipping back into our suggested reads. This one comes from our pal Luke, who has been a great friend to the blog and shows!
Most of his Action Comics experience comes from the more recent runs, however he did get to take a look at this Guy Gardner-themed issue from the mid-1990’s.
It’s been… longer than I care to admit since I last read this one. I tell ya, time is one cruel SOB. In a fun twist, this story stems from an issue we discussed a lonnnng time ago, in Guy Gardner: Warrior #29… which also eventually became the subject for an episode of The Cosmic Treadmill!
As we wrapped up Warrior #29, we (along with Arisia and Veronna) found out that our favorite Vuldarian (well, he’s the only one… but that point still stands) isn’t quite well. And so, we join him today as he heads into Metropolis… via the bumper-to-bumper gridlock of the Queensland Park Tunnel. He starts losing his cool… and lemme tell ya, folks… you wouldn’t like him when he loses his cool.
We shift scenes over to the Daily Planet where a… ponytailed Clark Kent ponders a recent string of notes he’d been receiving which all read “I know”. He’s eventually joined by Lois… who has brought him some furniture varnish… er, coffee from the Planet commissary. You ever have coffee from one of those machines? They sometimes also offer horrible “chicken soup”… and sometimes if you were really lucky… you’d get a noodle or two in your morning joe! Anyhoo… Clark surprisingly tells Lois what he’s worried about… which, even more surprisingly, doesn’t seem to phase her!
Suddenly Perry bursts in to inform the office about what’s going on in the Queensland Park Tunnel… and before we know it, Superman is on the case. Back at the tunnel, we’ve got another Metropolis icon present… Terrible Turpin, who Maggie Sawyer “suggested” take a vacation. Also stuck in gridlock, the Terrible One sees the commotion and wonders what all the hub-bub is about.
Up ahead, Guy Gardner has his hands full with some active-duty officers. Turpin proceeds into the fray… only to happen across a crime in progress. A group of nogoodniks appear to be taking advantage of the chaos to try and rob their fellow traffic-trapped Metropolitans.
Meanwhile, Superman arrives on the scene… and approaches our grotesque Vuldarian friend. Guy is happy to see him… as Superman was the reason he was headed to Metropolis in the first place! Ya see, his Vuldarian nastiness senses a threat and is trying to take over his body… and he figured maybe another alien, perhaps a Kryptonian, might be able to help him out!
That is, until Guy’s gross-side identifies that Kryptonian as the threat!
Back to Turpin… he approaches the would-be robbers to tell ’em to cool their jets. The would be victim, however, chooses to lash out at the officer for, I dunno… “taking his sweet time”. He even goes to the “eating donuts” well… which, c’mon, is never a good look.
Even worse when the baddies try and bargain with Turpin… and the Terrible One plays along like he’s going to cut a deal. Of course, this leads to a lot of punchin’.
Elsewhere, Superman and Guy continue to brawl… with the former noticing how the latter appears to be evolving on the spot. He sees that Gardner’s skin seems to be thickening to protect him… which, besides being gross… is probably rather helpful in a fight! Superman manages to knock Gardner aside for a moment… long enough to come to the aid of an injured civilian. Unfortunately, this fella has some bad news to share… he’s illegally transporting radioactive waste… and if the tunnel takes any damage, a whole lotta people are going to die.
We shift scenes to Suicide Slum where a frantic headache-having fella has newspaper clippings of Superman in a casket pinned to his wall. The police bust in to arrest him… and he begs them to look at the clipping. Oddly enough, all they see is… an empty casket. I gotta admit, I don’t remember this bit at all… but it’s pretty intriguing!
Back in the tunnel, Superman and Guy continue their brouhaha. Guy starts calling Superman “Tormock”… which, ya know… might not make a whole lot of sense at the moment, but take my word for it, the Tormocks play heavily into Vuldarian history. When it looks like Gardner has the upper hand, Terrible Turpin commandeers a motorcycle and crashes it into him!
With Gardner knocked loopy… and Superman knowing that the Vuldarian’s body is capable of protecting itself… the Man of Steel hurls Guy into a truck full of liquid nitrogen! That… hmm… doesn’t seem like the most responsible of moves in any situation.
As we wrap up, Superman delivers Guy’s frozen body to S.T.A.R. Labs for further evaluation… before returning to Clinton Ave to check his mailbox. Guess what? It’s full of postcards which read “I know”.
When Luke suggested this issue, he said “it’s not a standout issue buy I enjoyed it!”… and I think that’s as perfect a description as any!
This wasn’t a stand out… and was really just killing time until “The Death of Clark Kent” story in Superman (vol.2) #100 a couple of weeks later… but it manages to kill that time in an entertaining way. I know this is a “Chris chestnut”, but if this story were to happen today… we’re talking four-issues minimum.
Here there was no wasted motion… no wasted panels. We fill time with some great action, while building up the “I know” and “headache guy” subplots wonderfully. During the “triangle number” days, the Superman books had a great episodic feel, where it always felt as though there was forward momentum. Everything was constantly building and/or paying off.
As for the Guy/Superman fight. A lot of neat action, though the result was a bit “iffy”. I dunno, I just don’t see Superman risking a tunnel full of Metropolitans to hurl Gardner (or any threat) into a tanker of nitrogen… especially when it’s right behind a tanker full of toxic waste. Dunno… just seems a bit out of character. Then again, I’ve never been in a similar situation… so, who am I to argue?
Overall… a fun issue that’s certainly worth checking out. If you’re a fan of Guy Gardner’s “Vuldarian days”… I’m sure there’s at least one of you out there… this one is a must-read. This bugger is available digitally… and if your cheap-o bins are anything like mine… easily found physically as well!
Thanks again to Luke for the recommendation! We’re not going to be doing Action Comics everyday… but keep the suggestions comin’!