Thursday, December 5, 2019

DCU Holiday Bash! #1 (Green Lantern)


DCU Holiday Bash! #1 (Green Lantern)
"The Vessel"
Writer - Michael Jan Friedman
Pencils - Roger Robinson
Inks - Phyllis Novin
Colors - John Kallisz
Letters - John Costanza
Editors - Mike Carlin & Darren Vincenzo

Ya know... in all of our years of covering Christmas/Holiday stories here at the humble blog... I don't think we've ever discussed Hanukkah!  That's one of those things that made me take pause... I racked my brain, knowing that this couldn't possibly be the first time we're covering The Festival of Lights... but, it is!

For a portion of my childhood, I lived in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood in Staten Island... so, I was able to take part in my friends' and neighbors' celebrations.  It was so interesting to learn about the different Holidays... and, get the "kid explanation" for what makes them special.

Speaking of Holidays... being the lone Catholic in the area made times like Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur very interesting in school.  The classroom would go from having 20-30 kids... to just me (and a substitute teacher)!

Anyhoo... let's take a look at our first Hanukkah story!

--



We open with Green Lantern, Kyle Rayner attending to a crashed (and leaking) oil tanker.  The use of oil here is pretty clever, as we'll come to find out as we continue.  Our man is so busy that he's running a little late for a very important date.  Ya see, he's supposed to meet a pal at Radu's so they can head to Temple together.  It's the first night of Hanukkah, and while Kyle isn't Jewish, he's more than happy to broaden his horizons and learn more about the faith of his friends.



Kyle's buddy has brought his sister along for the evening... and together they give ol' Radu the inch-deep/mile-wide explanation of "The Miracle of the Oil" and Hanukkah.  The sister, Beccah talks of the Maccabees... which, always reminds me of when Ross from Friends tries to explain Hanukkah to his son (while wearing an armadillo costume).



Kyle enters the scene, and... I think we're supposed to assume that he immediately begins hitting on Beccah... though, that isn't entirely clear.  Whatever the case, she's impressed by his Hanukkah knowledge, and the subject shifts to that of miracles (in the overall sense).  Kyle, acting uncharacteristically pragmatic, claims that miracles aren't really his bag.  Keeping in mind, he's wearing a cosmically powered ring while he says this.



As the chat continues, it's revealed that Beccah is actually a Rabbi.  This kind of freaks Kyle out... because, he was apparently hitting on her.  Ever so humble, she tells him this isn't the first time that's happened to her.  Really though... if this is an example of how Kyle flirts, I haven't the foggiest notion how he managed to date Donna or Jade.



The trio arrives at the Synagogue, only to find it's been horribly vandalized!  Swastikas, hate-speech... it's just an ugly scene.  A maintenance man named Otto has been beaten up and left on the ground.  He reports that some punks had stormed the place earlier... and, in addition to the hate-tags, they also stole the Vessel for the Eternal Flame.



Kyle heads out... and, he ain't messin' around.  Nearby, he finds an empty can of spray paint.  Conveniently, it's an "unusual brand" of paint, and it's only sold in one nearby store.  Kyle, as Green Lantern, pays the proprietor a visit... and we find out that the shop-keep remembers exactly who he sold this particular can of paint to.  Ya see, this raving, hate-fueled Anti-Semite decided to join the store's mailing list.  Whoops.  Meanwhile, the baddies celebrate having stolen the Vessel.



Moments later, Green Lantern bursts in through the wall... and faces off with the thugs.  Just as they're about to pounce, Kyle's Power Ring runs out of juice!  Uh-oh.



But then... as if by a miracle, the Ring is re-energized!  Kyle is able to will himself up a whole bunch of gimmicks, and beat the punks up but-good!  He reclaims the Vessel and brings it back to Beccah.



We wrap up with Kyle and his friends attending the evening's service, where the topic is miracles and faith.  Kyle looks down at his Ring and begins to ponder.



--

Now, this was a pretty clever story!  From the oil tanker, to Kyle's ring running out of juice... this was very "on point" for the Holiday.

Sure, it kinda round-peg/square-holed Kyle a bit to make it all work.  I don't recall him ever being so pessimistic when it comes to things like miracles... but, ya know, all in service of the story, right?  Speaking of "out of character", Kyle's attempt at flirting here... if, in fact that's what it was supposed to be... was very, very weak!  It was hardly even small-talk, much less a flirtation.  Pretty presumptuous of Beccah to assume she was being hit on!  I'd hate to think of how she feels when the dude at the Drive-Thru asks if she "wants fries with that".  That might be akin to a marriage proposal to her!

As far as the rest of the story is concerned... it was good!  The bad guys got their comeuppance, and Kyle learned a valuable lesson.  The path we took to get there might've been a tad on the convenient side, but, when we've only got a handful of pages to work with, it's probably best not to use the lion's share of em on "detective work".

Overall, a decent story that adds some non-Christmas Holiday flair to this package!  I feel like diversifying this sort of collection provides a great service to the readership!

Tomorrow: Getting our Christmas Shopping done... in a Flash!

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

DCU Holiday Bash! #1 (Demon)


DCU Holiday Bash! #1 (Demon)
"Satan's Little Helper"
by Ty Templeton
Editors - Mike Carlin & Darren Vincenzo

In the grand tradition of our Superman two-pagers in Action Comics Weekly... we've actually got a couple of those in this here Christmas Special!  Good news, however... these are self-contained, so no lollygagging with weirdo Fellowship members!

Also in the ACW tradition... we're going to be checking in with our old friend, Etrigan the Demon.  Love being able to reuse dem ACD assets!

Now to see what trouble he'll bring, with the rhyme that he'll sing.

--



We open with a bald fella engaging in a strange ritual in which he hopes to summon a Demon, with whom he'll exchange his mortal soul for... something.  Something really cool, I'd assume.  Wouldn'tcha know it, the Demon he winds up calling is our pal, Etrigan... who runs down how the deal will go.

Before the fella can make his request, however, his precocious young daughter bursts into the room... and wonders who this scary visitor might be.  Dad tells her it's just one of "Santa's Helpers", and to get back into bed.

Well, kiddo, thinking this horned beast is actually pals with Santa, asks what he brought for her.  She reaches into his box o' tricks, and procures a Batman doll... which, we're going to assume she was wishing for.

Since the deal with Dad was still in effect... it turns out that the bald fella just unwittingly exchanged his soul for... that very Batman doll.  Etrigran squeals with glee, and vacates the scene... leaving the little girl wondering why her father is now so down in the dumps.

--

This was clever... and fun.  Didn't need more than two-pages to be told, either!  I'm also glad we never found out what Dad was going to swap his soul for... because, that very well could've turned this tale from dark comedy to bleak tragedy.  I think we can assume, however, from the absolute maddened look on Dad's face that... his request was going to fit more into the "selfish" column than "selfless".

I like this use of Etrigan, where... I mean, it's not necessarily a story about him... he's more there just as a tool/facilitator.  He's certainly not a character I'd root for, but I can appreciate him getting a "bargain" on some dude's soul through a fluke like this.  I mean, if you deal with the devil... you're probably going to get burnt!

I just wonder if Dad was trying to dissolve his marriage or something... now, that would be tragic!

Tomorrow: The Holiday Armadillo?

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

DCU Holiday Bash! #1 (Catwoman)


DCU Holiday Bash! #1 (Catwoman)
"Bearing Gifts We Traverse Afar"
Writer - Denny O'Neil
Pencils - Jesse Delperdang
Inks - Mike Sellers
Colors - Lee Loughridge
Letters - John Costanza
Editors - Mike Carlin & Darren Vincenzo

It's always pretty neat when I get to re-use assets... didn't think I'd ever get the chance to use the Catwoman "bullet" I made for Action Comics Daily again!  Heyyy, I'm going to re-use another "bullet" tomorrow!  Times like this I'm happy I'm a digital packrat!

Let's get into it!

--



It's Christmas Eve... hey, I wonder if it's the same Christmas Eve as the first two stories we've looked at this week?  I dunno... anyhoo, we open at a Gotham City Pub, where some wiseguys are trying to track down a woman named Maria.  A portly Shadow King-lookin' dude at the bar inquires as to why they're trying to find this one woman in particular, and we find out her "old man" murdered this dude's brother.  A woman at the bar spills the beans, says Maria is known to hang out with a Fortune Teller named, get this, Melchoir.  Hmm... quite a "wizened" name.



The pub clears out, and with it, that portly fella.  Turns out, this heavyweight was... Catwoman!  In, uh, disguise... naturally.  She sneaks into an alley to change into her "work clothes".



Before heading to Dr. Melchoir's Natural Good-Time Family Fortune-Telling Solution, Selina peers into her bag.  Turns out she stole a pretty valuable piece earlier this evening.  That'll come up again later.



Inside, she greets Melchoir... and by "greets", I mean, snaps at him with her whip.  She wants to know what he told Wiseguy Harry Rodley.  Mel comes clean, and says that Maria is at a dance on 1st Ave.  Further, he comes clean that... he's lying.  This was all a subterfuge to buy Maria some time.  Selina makes it clear that she ain't screwing around... and manages to get him to spill the actual beans on Maria's whereabouts.



Mel guides Catwoman to Gotham City Meats, where we see Maria (baby in tow) pleading with some scumbag for help.  This dude, who I'm going to assume was her boyfriend/husband, more or less tells her she's screwed.



Just then, Harry Rodley's limousine pulls up.  Catwoman and Melchoir rush over to Maria to concoct a plan.  Selina decides that they'll hide Maria and the baby in the back of a truck... that just so happens to be full of straw.  Well, that's convenient.  Selina herself will drive away in Maria's car to draw the baddies away.



Since it's late at night, Selina's plan actually works.  Harry and Company follow Maria's car out of the lot, and are in hot pursuit.  Selina drives through a barricade blocking off a bridge undergoing major construction...



... annnnnnd, drives right off the edge... giving the impression that Maria just offed herself!  Since this is Selina Kyle, however, we know she has ways of surviving stuff like this.  Ya know, like bailing out and grabbing onto the underside of the bridge, while the Wiseguys kinda just stand around scratching their heads.



We wrap up back at Gotham City Meats, where Selina assures Maria that she's safe to leave.  She hands her a bunch of money, as well as that angel statue she'd stolen earlier that evening.  Says it'll sell for a half-mill.  What she doesn't say is, when Maria tries to sell it, there's a pretty good chance she'll wind up getting arrested.  Ah well, life's a gamble, right?



--

Well... this is the kind of story I usually associate with these "all-in" jam issues.  No consequence, nothing "pressing"... nothing we're supposed to think about once we're done reading.  I mean, that's not the worst thing in the world, but... it certainly isn't the best either.

Outside of the Melchoir-ness, and the woman named Maria taking refuge in straw... there isn't a whole lot about this story that screams "Christmas".  I guess they can't all be as festive as a Mall Santa... but, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't hoping for something a bit more "of the season".

Selina's Robin Hood act was... I dunno, I suppose her heart was in the right place... but, really... what does she expect Maria to do?  Head over to a Fence on Christmas Eve (or shortly after) to try and sell a just-stolen angel statue?  That's kind of a mean trick, innit?  I suppose that's just one of those things we're not supposed to think about.

Oh well... they can't all be winners!

Tomorrow: How the Etrigrinch Stole Christmas!

Monday, December 2, 2019

DCU Holiday Bash! #1 (New Gods)


DCU Holiday Bash! #1 (New Gods)
"A Highfather Christmas"
Writer - Walter Simonson
Art - Sal Buscema
Colors - Lee Loughridge
Letters - John Costanza
Editors - Mike Carlin & Darren Vincenzo

The New Gods, eh?  Hmm.

This one might be a bit tough... ya see, I think I might be the only dude around who, either: doesn't care a lick about the Fourth Worlders... or, is the only dude who will actually admit to that.

I'll give 'em Mister Miracle... I do enjoy him.  But, Highfather?  Orion?  This... might be a toughie.

Special Note before we continue.  You might notice that the photos below have a bit of a yellowish tinge to 'em.  Ya see, I wrote this piece using only the light from a Christmas Tree... so, just consider it "mood lighting".  See... it's intentionally off-putting!

--



We open on... say it with me, Christmas Eve!  We're in New York City, and Highfather is just brimming with Holiday Cheer.  Orion, on the other hand, just ain't feeling it... though, it's kind of his gimmick to be a Grinch.  As the continue through the hustle and bustle of last-minute shoppers and what-not, they find themselves swept into a department store by a sweaty little businessman who has mistaken them for his shop's Santa and Elf!  While Orion would much rather just club this goof over his head and be done with it, Highfather suggests that they're here for a reason... and, after all, this fella appears to be in need.



Once inside, the Manager gets a good gander at the Fourth Worlders and he's none too pleased.  Highfather looks like a bit too much like a "Hippie Abe Lincoln"... and Orion is far too tall to be an Elf.  Unfortunately, he doesn't have the time to be choosy... so, he just lets them hop into costume.



Highfather shoos him away so they can prepare... and assures him that he has nothing to worry about.  With a tap of his crooked cane, the big man is able to transform he and Orion into... well, Santa Claus and an Elf!



Orion's all "screw this Elf business!" and has Mother Box contort his face a little bit, so he can become "Santa's Gnome".  Do, uh... Gnomes have higher stats than Elves?  From a little bit of AD&D research, Gnomes were added to the rotation of races as an alternative to Elves (also, Dwarves and whatever the heck a Halfling is)... so, maybe he's just being choosy.  Or, ya know, maybe Gnomes are known to scowl a bit more.  Whatever the case, I'm not sure I'd want my kids playing with any toys this creep tinkers up.



Highfather and Orion, now fully dressed and "in character" teleport right onto the stage where the children have lined up to meet them.  Our Department Store Manager really isn't sure quite what to think...



A young girl named Deirdre hops up on Santa's lap, and whispers in his ear that she'd really like a doll for Christmas.  And so, Orion reaches into Santa's bag and... procures that very doll Deirdre desires.  Deirdre's mother begins to cry... and shares with Santa that this had been an especially difficult year, and that she wouldn't be able to afford any gifts for her daughter.  Santa gives her a wink, and assures her that miracles can happen.



The Manager looks on, and wonders just where "Santa" is getting all these toys.  He worries that he'll have to reconcile this in his inventory system before the night is out.  Just then, Deirdre and her mother approach to thank him for making this the greatest Christmas ever.  Our man(ager) is kinda dumbstruck... gobsmacked, even!  All the while, Santa and his Gnome continue handing out just the right gifts to all the boys and girls.



As the night draws to a close, the Manager heads over to our duo and... ya know, asks where all these toys are coming from.  Highfather's all "duh, I'm Santa Claus"... which is probably a bit easier to swallow than, "duh, I've got Mother Box technology up in here".  Orion then reaches into the bag, and pulls out a gift for the Manager himself!



With that, Highfather and Orion teleport away.  Just then, a distressed fat man rushes into the store.  Why, it's Horace Applegate... the fella who was supposed to play Santa Claus that evening!  Our Manager is even more perplexed... bamboozled, even!



And in that moment, our Manager, Mr. Peasley's heart grew three sizes.  So overcome with the Christmas Spirit is he, that he doesn't even yell at the late-Applegate.  He even assures him that he'll still be paid for the evening.  Peasley then sends his staff home to be with their families, and wishes them all the Merriest of Christmases.  See, Highfather Claus was right... miracles can happen!



--

Okay, not gonna lie... I absolutely loved this!

Despite the New Gods, Fourth Worldians, and all that jazz being kind of a "hard sell" for me, this story here was a ton of fun.  Was it sappy?  Was it a bit hokey?  Was it somewhat syrupy sweet?  Yes, yes, double yes... but, it's a Christmas story, and if the Hallmark Channel's taught us anything over the past decade-plus, sometimes that's all you need!

I came into this fully prepared to hate it... and to tell y'all about just how much it stunk.  Imagine my surprise when we got about three pages in, and I realized that... not only did I love it, but I also didn't want it to end!  Now, this isn't going to make me rush up to my longboxes and dig out any piece of Fourth World nonsense that had made its way into my collection... but, as a one-off visit for Christmas... I think I can safely say, you could do far worse.

If we break this down to it's beats... it's just a Christmas story, where the one old fella with a beard might just be the actual Santa Claus (at least to those in the story).  Nothing we haven't seen or read before... but still with enough charm, and enough tugging at our heartstrings that it made a bit of an impact on me.

I was very happy with this one, and it gets a solid recommendation if you're looking to add another short-story to your Holiday reading list.  Art comes from Sal Buscema, who I always associate with Marvel Comics.  In fact, in my 1,400+ days blogging here... this is the first time we've covered a story featuring his pencils!  Crazy stuff.  For what it's worth, I definitely enjoyed the art as well.  Really good stuff all around!  High recommendation (if you've got the constitution for "syrupy sweetness"!

Tomorrow: Not a creature was stirring, not even a... Cat?!

Sunday, December 1, 2019

DCU Holiday Bash! #1 (Superman)


DCU Holiday Bash! #1 (Superman)
"The Benefaction of Peace"
Writer - Barry Jameson
Pencils - Graham Nolan
Inks - Josef Rubinstein
Colors - Jason Wright
Letters - Albert T. DeGuzman
Editors - Mike Carlin & Darren Vincenzo

Welcome to December, friends!

Yesterday we tied that final bow (and took that final bow) on Action Comics Daily... and, before we get into today's piece I wanted to thank everyone for all of their kind words and support!  It really blew me away how many folks appreciated the effort and the nearly year-long ride we were on!  I can't even put it into words... it just meant a whole lot to me.  I'm still actually a bit shaken (or, do kids these days say "shook"?) from the reception.

I mean, even the fella who once played the Flash... and now plays another Flash liked yesterday's social media share!  Not sure if he read the post, but if he did... I hope he enjoyed it!



Now, with all that said... you might be about to ask, "Chris, what the heck are you doing here?  I thought you were done."  Well, yes... while the conclusion of Action Comics Daily would have been the most opportune and advantageous time to bow out, I'm not quite ready to be done just yet.  There are a couple of reasons for this:

1) I'm an idiot
2) It's Christmas-time... my favorite blogging-time of the year!

So, for the next little while, we're shifting focus to Christmas stories!  Hey, where are you all going?  This is going to be fun... well, for me, anyway.

Same format as Action Comics Daily... one chapter a day, with a compilation wrap-up at the end.  With this next compilation, we can go over the final results of the great Action Comics Weekly Poll... which, will hopefully gain a few more votes between now and then!

Til' then, let's share and enjoy some stories of Christmases Past!

--



We open atop the Daily Planet Building... and, guess what?  It's Christmas Eve!  Lois greets a man named George who has had himself one heckuva bad year.  Ya see, his wife left him, and... well, that's it.  He's planning on leaping from the building to his death so he doesn't have to spend Christmas alone.  Lois reads the situation, and decides the thing that'll get ol' George off the ledge is: telling him the story of Superman's first Christmas in Metropolis!  Thank Goodness this is from before Grounded... would-be jumpers didn't get this kind of service there!



And so, Lois spins her story... and, to be honest, it's rather dull.  It's Christmas, Superman has just recently arrived in Metropolis, and he's feeling rather lonely.  Rather than, ya know, take the five-seconds and fly back to Smallville to be with family, he's decided to continue with his normal patrolling.  Naturally, he saves a bunch of folks from near-doom, would-be robbers, low-lives and what-not.  Just another day in the life, for the Man of Steel.



Later that evening, there is an event for Feed the Homeless... during which, a former "residence-challenged" fellow named Milton Varney is going to donate a great big sack of cash to the charity.  Like, literally... it's a sack of cash, complete with a dollar sign on it.  Didn't Gene Simmons trademark that?  I dunno... whatever the case, some bad-guy, who kinda looks like Bill Cosby bursts in and tries to steal the bag.  He even takes the Feed the Homeless "spokesmodel" hostage!  I didn't realize charities such as this even had "spokesmodels", but what do I know?



Thankfully (and predictably), Superman just happened to be in the neighborhood... and so, he swoops in, heats up Cosby's pistol... and stares the baddie down.



Well, looks like our villain planned ahead for just such an event.  Ya see, he's strapped to the gills with explosives!  Got himself a dead-man's switch to boot... so, like... if any harm were to come to him, the whole joint's gonna be blown sky-high.  This appears to have Superman somewhat bamboozled... maybe this was his first time in such a conundrum?



As luck would have it, it turns out that our kick-ass philanthropist, Mr. Milton Varney is a quicker-thinker than even the Man of Steel.  He bum-rushes The Cos, and manages to gain possession of the dead-man's switch!  Superman flicks the baddie on the head for good measure.



The dust shortly settles, and the event picks up where it left off.  Superman suggests that he wait around and escort Mr. Varney back to the Mission after things wrap up... and Varney agrees, on one condition: Superman joins him for Christmas dinner.  Bada-bing, bada-boom, Superman is no longer lonely.



This story, it turns out, was exactly what ol' George needed to hear on this night.  It works like a charm!  He hops down from the ledge, and is even invited out for a cuppa coffee with Lois Lane.  What luck!  Truly a Christmas Miracle!



--

So...

Yeah, probably not my favorite Superman Christmas story... but, there was a certain amount of, I dunno... charm, to it?  Like, I get what they were going for... but, the story Lois told didn't really hit me as being all that "life-changing", ya know?  Like, there's no reason why ol' George shouldn't have cocked an eyebrow at her, and just jump anyway.  This wasn't so much the story of "hope", it was just... Hey, Superman (kinda) saved this dude, and was invited to have dinner with him.  I dunno, maybe I'm missing a deeper meaning here... I can be a bit dense at times.  It just doesn't feel like a story with all that much "oomph".

There were a few things I appreciated here, however.  Superman still being kinda new-to-the-gig, not being completely sure how to deal with the baddie's dead-man's switch.  Also, as nonsensical as it was, Superman dealing with loneliness was rather touching.  It's one of those things where it's difficult to suspend our disbelief, when we know he could be back at the Kent farm in seconds/minutes if he wanted to... or, brought his folks up (or anywhere, really) to spend the Holiday with him just as quick.  I mean, It's not like Metropolis is the only place where crimes were taking place on Christmas Day, right?  I dunno.

The whole scenario feels like a reach in order to facilitate the underlying loneliness... so, it's really hard for me to look at these story beats as anything else.

The art here was very good... I really enjoyed it.  Probably the highlight of the piece for me.

If you're still in a Super-Christmas mood, you can check out the time I looked at the Superman short in Christmas With the Super-Heroes #2 (1989), with words and art from Paul "Concrete" Chadwick.  It's a good one, I gahr-own-tee it!



Tomorrow: God Rest Ye Merry, Highfather!

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Action Comics Daily Post-Mortem


Hey Gang!  Welcome to the FOURTEEN-HUNDREDTH Daily Discussion here at Chris is on Infinite Earths.  I felt it appropriate for today's milestone post to reflect on the project that helped facilitate the last three-hundred or so days of this blog continuing to remain as a daily-offering... and hopefully a small part of your daily (or weekly) internetting routine!

Hard to really put into words what I'm feeling right now... it's almost akin to that weird sensation you might feel in the days following a graduation.  All of the tension that had been built up... is just sorta gone, and with it... any sense of direction or purpose you might've had (with respect to blogging endeavors, in this case).  It's pretty weird is what I'm trying to say.

For the first time in about a year... I'm not at all sure what's next!  Throughout the latter half of the Action Comics Daily project, I thought up fun ways to extend the life of blog, including a stupidly ambitious concept wherein I'd launch my own "Volume 2" of Action Comics Weekly... just grabbing back-up features, one-shots, and whatnot to create our own anthology.  Yeah, that was definitely a bit too ambitious'a thought.

Before I go feature-by-feature and share some of my thoughts on the Action Comics Weekly lineup, I wanna thank everyone who stuck by and kept visiting the blog throughout the project (and beyond... we've been at this 1,400 days now!).  I means more to me than I can properly express without flailing my hands around and and raising my voice an octave or two.  Thank You All.

Just one favor to ask, though: If you've followed along and/or enjoyed what you've seen here, please do me a solid and consider sending people over here if/when the subject of Action Comics Weekly comes up in conversation.  Even just tag me up on social media or something (@AceComics on Twitter).  Heck, this very post can serve as a decent "all-in-one" for the entire project!

With all that having been said, let's hop right into our lineup!

Black Canary

Dinah had a pair of stints during this run... neither of them were all that great, however, the second was a marked improvement on the first.  Writer, Sharon Wright and artist, Randy DuBurke were our main creative team... and, well... it took them awhile to find their groove with the character.

The initial arc (ACW #609-616) was more or less a complete mess.  New main characters would be introduced with nearly every chapter.  They were poorly fleshed out, and unfortunately, most of 'em looked interchangeable.  I mistook one character for another on several occasions.  I might be a bit denser than most, but, I'm not so dense that I wouldn't be able to tell characters apart!  Green Arrow only shows up in a handful of pages... which was kind of a bummer.  Black Canary gets herself a cringy new costume... which was pretty hilarious.  The whole arc wraps up very quickly... probably when Ms. Wright realized she was running out of pages to drop new characters into!

The second arc (ACW #624-634) was a lot better.  Randy DuBurke took on an experimental art style, somewhat reminiscent of Bill Sienkiewicz... which at least made the pages fun to look at, if not easier to follow.  The story is more straightforward... and all of our main characters are introduced pretty early on.  No surprise "who-dat's" for us to wade through during the second-to-last chapter here!  This arc was a bit more heavy-handed... just like the first, it was "torn from the headlines"... but, rather than dealing with Illegal Immigration this time around, it was all about A.I.D.S..

If you'd care to read along with Canary's Tale, just click the covers below!



Blackhawk

If you'd have told me that I'd be coming out of this project extolling the virtues of Blackhawk... I'd have told you you were crazy!  Blackhawk is the biggest success story in Action Comics Weekly, in my opinion.  Hands down, I enjoyed my time with this feature more than any other!

Our first (of three) arcs (ACW #601-608) was written by Mike Grell, and gave new readers a pretty good introduction to the character of Janos Prohaska.  This was my first time really following the guy, and I was able to keep up just fine.

It wasn't until the second arc (ACW #615-622) written by Martin Pasko) where the rest of the Blackhawk team really made their presence felt.  Initially, it was a bit jarring trying to figure out who all of these "new" characters were, however, it didn't take me long to catch on.  The third arc (ACW #628-634) was just as strong as the first two... and led into the "New Format" Blackhawk ongoing series (which I'm now really looking forward to checking out!).

To follow through the Janos Trio, just click the covers below!



Catwoman

The four-part Catwoman was the first SHOWCASE Presents feature we got as part of Action Comics Weekly (ACW #611-614).  Shocking that it took that long to get a Bat-Adjacent story into this book!  This short arc started off very strong... but ended on kind of a sour note.  Without spoiling anything here, the final chapter kind of undoes everything good Selina had been working toward.  It's kind of a mess... and, to be honest, I'm still kind of annoyed by it!

This feature was written by Mindy Newell, whose work I usually quite like... and, as mentioned, I quite liked it here... until the end!  Barry Kitson turns in some pretty great pencil work here too.

If you're interested in checking out how the Cat screws the pooch... click dem covers below!



Crash of '88!

The Crash of '88, was a sort of "crossover" deal, which tied together some members of the Action Comics Weekly cast.  The characters included Weng "Chop-Chop" Chan from the Blackhawk crew, Black Canary, Green Lantern, and Superman.  It takes place in "current year"... and is, I dunno... kind of interesting.

This story takes place pretty late in the run (ACW #635)... and is probably where Action Comics Weekly should have wrapped up.  This story was written by Mark Verheiden, with art from Eduardo Barreto.

If you're interested in checking it out... there's only one place to click!

Deadman

I've made it no secret that Deadman ain't one of my favorite characters.  That having been said, this pair of arcs weren't all that bad.  Forgettable, perhaps... overlong, maybe... but not bad.

The initial arc (ACW #601-612) ran at least four parts too long.  It was written by Mike Baron (who would return to write the second arc as well) with art by Dan Jurgens.  This arc tries getting a bit political... and, I dunno... it might a little too silly to be successful.  You ever wanted to see Nancy Reagan fist-fighting with Mrs. Gorbechev while their husbands cheer on?  Well, then this feature might be right up your alley!

The second arc (ACW #618-621, 623-626) drops artist Kelley Jones into the Penciller's Seat.  As much of a Jurgens fan as I am, I can't deny that Jones might be more appropriate for a Deadman story... especially one that deals with Voodoo rituals, like this one did.  This arc got a one-week interruption (ACW #622) which really hurt the flow of the story... and even resulted in some inaccurate cover copy!

Though, if you're reading this all in one "go", you probably won't even notice!  Click dem covers already!



Demon

Etrigan joined the cast during the post-Crash "new-look" Action Comics Weekly (ACW #636-641)... and, woof... this felt like a complete and utter afterthought.  Writer Alan Grant and artist Marc Pacella do their best to tell a compelling story... but, if you're looking for a story that has, ya know, an ending... you're barking up the wrong tree with this one!

This arc ends on a cliffhanger, that wouldn't be paid off for over a year.  If you're interested in being dissatisfied... or have some familiarity with the ongoing series that spun out of this, click below!



Green Lantern

Now, Green Lantern... our headliner.

Hal had one solid thirty-five part run (ACW #601-635)... but, during his time here, he had several different story arcs, and a whole bunch of talented creators crafting his adventures.

James Owsley/Christopher Priest writes the beginning and end of Hal's time here, with a pair of interesting Peter David stories in between.  These stories were originally the reason I wanted to begin this series of reviews... and, in fact were the basis for a series of podcast episodes we did almost exactly one year ago!  If you wanna hear us talk our way through this run (for about six hours) click here.

During this run, Hal famously meets Oprah Winfrey... finds out he's the victim of a sorta-kinda lobotomy... breaks up with his under-age girlfriend... faces off with Malvolio... it's a pretty wild (and mostly swept-under-the-rug) era for Green Lantern stories here!

If you wanna read along while you listen to us babble (or just on its own), you can click the covers below.



Hero Hotline

Hero Hotline is... a weird one.  Our final SHOWCASE Presents feature ran during the "new-look" era in the dying days of the anthology format (ACW #637-640).  Bob Rozakis and Steven DeStefano bring us an experimental new property... which really shows the strength and possibilities of this entire shift in format.  It makes ya realize just how much weirder and how much more fun this ACW endeavor could've... and probably should've been!

To read along, you know what to do... but, if I may make a suggestion, if you're only going to read one part... make it the third one, it's a doozy!



Human Target

Just like Hero Hotline, Human Target really shows the sort of thing ACW should have been doing all along.  Just a fun one-off with an underappreciated character... just for the heck of it.  Too bad it came along in the final anthology-format issue of the run (ACW #641)!  This one-shot comes to us from Mark Waid and Curt Swan... and I'd say it's definitely worth a peek!



Nightwing

Nightwing's run here is a bit of an odd one.  Dick gets a couple of arcs during Action Comics Weekly... with the second one being branded as "Nightwing & Speedy".  Weirdly enough, this first one (ACW #613-618) was a Dick and Roy team-up too... heck, I might argue that Roy is the actual star here!  Not sure why they had different "brandings", but whattayagonnado?

Regular New Teen Titans writer, Marv Wolfman is the writer here... Chuck Patton provides the art.  It's a good story... but, as mentioned, it's almost certainly a Roy Harper story first.  Cheshire even shows up!

If you're down to check it out, click the covers!



Nightwing & Speedy

The second Nightwing arc ran from ACW #627-634 (with two chapters appearing in #627), and writer Marv Wolfman handed the baton to Cherie Wilkerson, who up to this point, I'd never even heard of!  She tells a pretty good story... though, just like with the first arc, this is definitely more a Speedy story than anything else.  Lots of torn-from-the-headlines stuff here, with an I.R.A. analogue group getting into the mix.

Had a lot of fun creating the ACD "trade dress" for this one, with the alternating Nightwing and Speedy "branding".  If you wanna see Roy hand his baby Lian off to like a half-dozen strangers over the course of nine-chapters, just click the covers below!



Phantom Lady

Part of the post-Crash "new-look" Action Comics Weekly (ACW #636-641), this feature introduces the all-new Phantom Lady... and gets all up in beltway intrigue.  It's a weird one... but, in a good way.  I'll take a dozen Phantom Ladies before a single Phantom Stranger (more on him in a bit) just for the novelty.

Len Strazewski and Chuck Austen (yeah, that Chuck Austen) are our creative team here... and deliver a relatively low-stakes introduction to a hopeful new character.



Phantom Stranger

Ya feel that itch?  Ya know, the one that comes and goes... sorta "flares up" every now and again?  That's what the Phantom Stranger is to Action Comics Weekly.

The Stranger only had one real "run" here (ACW #631-634)... with a bunch of one-shots peppered throughout.  Paul Kupperberg provided all of the scripts, with different artists for each bit.  These stories... feel very "stock", very "inventory".  I mention a time or two during the reviews that they feel like scripts that were found in an old filing cabinet DC discovered and was planning on dragging to the curb for trash pickup.

None of the stories (besides that four-parter) were all that bad... they were just dull, and felt very much out-of-date.  If you're interested in seeing for yourself, click-a, click-a.

And yes, in that first paragraph I was comparing the Phantom Stranger to herpes.



Secret Six

The New Secret Six is gonna make you work for it.

The initial chapter of this feature was eight-pages long (just like most everything not-called-Superman in this book... seven-to-eight page chapters), and I tell you what... I had to read this thing about four times to make a lick of sense out of it.  The (pre-Infinite Crisis) Secret Six is just not a concept I have much familiarity with.  Just so many ordinary names, and ordinary faces were thrown at us during that opening chapter... it was more than a bit overwhelming.

Acting as a faux-tour guide throughout all of these features, I feared I was doing my readers a disservice by not getting better familiarized with this crew... and so, I did.  It took me more research time than writing time that day, but I did it.  The Secret Six, as a concept, is just so niche... these characters (being reintroduced in 1988) hadn't been seen since their dozen or so appearances in the late-1960's!  There just isn't all that much to be said about them!

Once I found my footing, however, I rather enjoyed this.  The first arc (ACW #601-612) was probably about twice as long as it needed to be... and still ended on a cliffhanger.  The second arc (ACW #619-630) managed to pull things together, and give us a (mostly) satisfying ending.  This might've been the only feature in Action Comics Weekly to be written as self-contained to these pages.  There was a definitive ending for this group of characters... with only the tiniest of "The End...?" teases to close out.

Martin Pasko, Dan Spiegle, and Franks Springer and McLaughlin bring us all the Secretive Action... click dem covers for more!


Shazam!


Our second SHOWCASE Presents story (ACW #623-626) features the post-Crisis Captain Marvel as he takes up residence in San Francisco.  Roy and Dann Thomas, bless their hearts, really tried to give Billy a new paint-of-coat for the late-80's... but, well... this one might've been more miss than hit.  DC Comics didn't wait long before shifting this take onto another Earth entirely!

If you wanna see Billy Batson visit Camp Nazi... click below!



Speedy

Even though Roy Harper has starred in two previous story arcs, he doesn't get top billing until the very end of the run.  This is post-Crash ACW... which, you might call "afterthought ACW"... or "limp across the finish line ACW".  Whatever the case, this isn't the greatest.

Just as Black Canary vacates the pages with an A.I.D.S. story, her boyfriend's ward Speedy gets his own!  Yes, it's another A.I.D.S. story.  Mark Verheiden and Louis Williams deliver the goods... and, some of it you've gotta see to believe.

To see it, just click below!



Starman

Will Payton makes a surprise (and weird) appearance in ACW #622 (interrupting the Deadman feature... which probably caused the double-up of Nightwing & Speedy in ACW #627).

I initially thought this was Will's introduction (because otherwise, why even bother with this one-off, right?)... but it wasn't!  This eight-pager actually hit the same month that Starman #3 came out... so, your guess is as good as mine.

Regular creative team, Roger Stern and the late Tom Lyle introduced the Action-eers to the Starman of the 80's.  Click the cover to check it out!



Superman

So, what character do you usually associate with Action Comics?  If you answered with "Superman", boy are you going to be disappointed.  Okay, maybe that's not fair... I shouldn't speak for everyone.  All's I'll say is I was disappointed.  Unlike the other features to appear in Action Comics Weekly, Superman only received two-pages of story each week.  Evocative of the old Sunday Strips, Roger Stern and Curt Swan would tell their story in short-bursts over the entirety of this run (ACW #601-641).

Superman had one uninterrupted run, but featured a pair of story arcs.  The first one, featuring a group of Superman worshipers called The Fellowship lasted... something like three-hundred and fifty weeks.  The second arc, featuring sort of a "One to Grow On" regarding accepting people different than you only lasted three or four weeks.

This is the only feature from Action Comics Weekly that I have actually captured here on the blog in its entirety... so, if you wanna read this thing all the way through, you can do so by clicking the covers below.



Wild Dog

Finally, Wild Dog.  Another highlight of this run for me... just barely edged out on the enjoyment-meter by Blackhawk.  I've had a soft spot for the character, just about from jump street.  He's just cool looking!  After reading his miniseries, I found out there was a little bit more too him than a cool costume... sure, his origin is a bit Punisher-esque, but whattayagonnado, right?

Our man Jack Wheeler had a trio of stints, and each of them took some street-level situations and ratcheted the stakes (and arguably the ridiculousness) up to eleven.  From extreme takes on the "moral majority" (ACW #601-609), to a female slasher and a run-in with a "Meat is Murder" veggie-terrorist (not to mention the introduction of the would-be Wild Dog sidekick, Wild Pup!) (ACW #615-622), and finally literally burning down crack houses overseen by corporate America (ACW #636-641)... Wild Dog was always a good time!



Full Issues
If you're looking at just working your way through the entirety of the project issue-by-issue (including the Retailer Exclusive black-and-white Preview Edition as well as BOTH endings), here is a handy way of doing so.  As before, just click on the covers, and away you'll go!


With everything all said and done... everybody sappily thanked, and links left to every piece of this project, there's probably just one more thing to say!

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