Action Comics Weekly #601 – Deadman
“Chapter One: The Section Chief”
Writer – Mike Baron
Pencils – Dan Jurgens
Inks – Tony DeZuniga
Letters – Steve Haynie
Colors – Liz Berube
Editor – Barbara Randall
Alrighty Gang… it’s that time… time for Deadman.
Anyone who might’ve listened to the Cosmic Treadmill knows that Deadman falls into my DC Trinity of ZzZZzzzZZz. It’s Deadman, Phantom Stranger, and the Spectre… total yawnfests, in my opinion. Thankfully, we’ve only got the lesserest “evil” today (though, the Stranger will be showing up… in about ten weeks).
Let’s see if anthol-ogical storytelling makes Deadman a less bitter pill to swallow for your humble host!
We open with Deadman stood atop a satellite somewhere between the Earth and the Moon. His mission, at present, is to track down the 278 criminals who had escaped from Nanda Parbat… and I think I’m bored already. It’s like reading an Iron Fist story and seeing mention of “K’un-Lun”. Anyhoo, he heads toward Earth and intercepts an airplane in the middle of a “Guns for Drugs” operation. The Pilot and Co-Pilot are speaking in somewhat hushed tones as to not wake the “Section Chief” (who we’ll meet in a minute).
Deadman heads into the back to check in on the Chief, and finds her wide awake. A bit about “Guns for Drugs” for context… because the story itself is kind of light on that, and a quarter-century removed… it’s easy to get lost in. During the 1980’s, the C.I.A. was allegedly involved with trading weapons for cocaine. This was pretty timely when this story was written. I hate linking to Wikipedia, but you could read more about it here. Anyhoo, Deadman winds up face to face with the Chief, who looks like she’s checking the sight on her rifle.
The plane eventually lands on a small strip in Belize. The Section Chief introduces herself to some locals… we learn that her name is Major Grace Kasaba. The Central Americans are a bit disappointed Ronald Reagan himself didn’t show up, but, whattayagonnado? Together, they head into the jungle and toward a Mayan Temple to do the thing.
Kasaba and Company run into an archaeologist who isn’t keen to the idea that they’re here. He’s afraid they’ll wind up vandalizing the priceless ruins… and he’s probably right to feel that way. This is, after all, kinduva war zone. At this point, Deadman remembers that this whole thing was a trade of weapons for drugs… and decides to head back to the plane for some hocus-pocus.
Deadman takes control of the pilot of the rig, and… get this… calls into Dade International Airport in Florida to tell them to expect a plane full of cocaine! They think it’s a gag… but he assures them he ain’t kidding around. Deadman takes out the co-pilot, then diverts course from the clandestine airstrip in the Everglades to Miami-Dade. Take a look at the “symbols” used to disguise the cursing here… never seen a swastika used before!
With this part of the gig done and buried, Deadman returns to the Mayan Temple to check in on Major Kasaba… and, get this… as he approaches her, it seems as though she can see him!
Alright Gang, I’m going to come clean here… this was the first time I ever read this. Anytime I’d start an Action Comics Weekly “reading project”, I was usually good for the Green Lantern, Wild Dog and Superman features in these early issues. I’d try to get through the others, but it never really worked out. That’s another reason why I’m happy to be doing this project.
So, what did we think? Honestly, I didn’t think this was half-bad… and had a heckuva nice cliffhanger to boot! I’m a bit trepidatious about some of the potential political hand-wringing we might be seeing in upcoming chapters… but, so far, this was alright. I’m hoping folks like Ronald Reagan won’t be making any appearances… but, I’d almost put money on it happening. The folks at DC didn’t seem to be his biggest fans during the 80’s… and that goes for his Manhunter wife too.
I’ve been trying to give a bit of a “how did they get here?” context for these arcs, but I couldn’t tell ya what was going on with Deadman before this started up. Far as we can tell here, he’s on a mission from the Goddess Rama Kushna to corral some criminals… or something. Seems an easy enough premise for an anthology… though, I’d bet we’ll be sticking with the Major for the foreseeable future.
Overall, I didn’t actually dislike this! Maybe the character will grow on me yet! Ehh, probably shouldn’t start throwin’ babies in the air just yet. I really dug Dan Jurgens’ art here, and feel like he’s a good fit for the character. I guess we’re leaving this chapter feeling “cautiously optimistic”, which beats several alternatives!
Tomorrow: The anchor chapter of Action Comics Weekly #601… Blackhawk!