Action Comics Weekly #602 (1988)

Action Comics Weekly #602 (April 12, 1988)
Green Lantern: “Requiem”
Deadman: “Showdown”
Wild Dog: “Moral Stand, Chapter Two: Dog Gone”
Superman: “They Can Run, but They Can’t Hide!”
Secret Six: “Look What Fell Out of the Sky Today”
Blackhawk: “Another Fine War, Part 2”
Writers – James Owsley, Mike Baron, Max Collins, Roger Stern, Martin Pasko, & Mike Grell
Pencils – Gil Kane, Dan Jurgens, Terry Beatty, Curt Swan, Dan Spiegle, & Rick Burchett
Inks – Tony DeZuniga, John Nyberg, John Beatty, & Pablo Marcos
Letters – Albert DeGuzman, Steve Haynie, Gaspar, Bill Oakley, & Carrie Spiegle
Colors – Anthony Tollin, Liz Berube, Michele Wolfman, Tom Ziuko, & Carl Gafford 
Edits – Denny O’Neil, Barbara Randall, Mike Gold, Mike Carlin, & Dick Giordano
Cover Price: $1.50

Hey Gang, welcome to our second Action Comics Weekly “compilation” post… we’re really picking up steam now, ain’t we?  It’s funny… I’m sure I’ll blink twice, and we’ll be halfway through this little project.

So, last week we kinda “met” our eventually-rotating cast of characters… and so, this week we’re going to have to begin establishing just what they’re all going to be doing!  Thankfully, most of our “Chapter Two’s” do just that.

One thing I neglected to mention in last week’s compilation post was the cover of the issue.  I never put the cover artist in my credits section, out of fear that anytime I did a “current year” variant-heavy book, it would take me several minutes tracking them all down.  For ACW, however, I wanna pay tribute to the array of artists who participate… and so, in each compilation post, we’ll take a look at that week’s cover offering.

Last week’s cover is somewhat iconic… though, I really can’t say whether or not that’s due to actually being iconic… or just the fact that I’ve been staring at the thing for too damn long.

It’s a decent enough cover, though it is a bit weird having all of the characters kind of “resting” on Superman.  It’s clear why they made him the focus, even though he only occupied a two-pager… but, it’s a cover that definitely jumps out atcha.  It came to us from Dave Gibbons, who oddly enough, had already created a cover for a DC Weekly Anthology title!  The scrapped Blockbuster Weekly/Comics Cavalcade Weekly, which was set to introduce the then-recently acquired Charlton Action Heroes to the fans of DC Comics.  Here, take a look:

We probably shouldn’t cry much for Mr. Gibbons though, he would go off and do something else based on those Charlton Action Heroes which you might have heard of.  We talk about all of this plenty during Part One of our Hal Jordan’s Action Comics series on the Cosmic Treadmill, check that out if you’re interested!

This week’s cover is from the always-excellent George Perez… It features Green Lantern, though, it doesn’t really relate to the story inside the book.  It actually does relate to a Hal-story we’ll be getting in… like twenty-something weeks, but that’s neither here nor there.  It’s amazingly detailed, though, as I pointed out a few days back… he put the ring on the wrong finger!

It’s interesting what little details might fall through the cracks.

Anyways, it’s Poll Time!

Last week, the running initially looked pretty even… until a literally all-at-once push for Deadman, which made him our Week One Winner.

I guess that’ll teach me for trying to have a little fun with this.  Well, I’m not one to ever learn my lesson, so we’ll try it one more time.  Hopefully we’ll get a more accurate metric this time out.

Best Story in Action Comics Weekly #602?

Green Lantern


Wild Dog


Secret Six


We pick up right where we left off last week, Katma Tui lay dead in John Stewart’s apartment… and Hal has just returned from robbing a South African Mine (I’m sure that’ll never come up again).  John is, understandably upset, and recounts his discovery.  Ya see, Star Sapphire hung around until John returned so she could inform him that this slaughter was a “message” for Hal Jordan.  Hal does what any responsible hero would do… gets outta dodge!

We jump ahead several days to Katma’s funeral service… and learn that when Guy Gardner learned of her passing… dude just laughed.  Ice cold.

Speaking of “ice cold”, after the funeral ends, Star Sapphire shows up and pushes a bunch of the mourners into an open grave with a bulldozer!  This springs Hal into action.

He gives Carol chase through the skies, however is pulled away when she blasts an Air Force jet that is passing over the city.  Hal’s gotta decide whether to continue pursuing the baddie, or abandon the chase and, ya know, save a whole bunch of lives.

Naturally, our man chooses the latter… and, while the jet does crash causing plenty of property damage, he sees to it that it’s just about the safest crash on record.  The pilot gets out, and several willpower constructs manage contain the impact.  We wrap up with the pilot approaching our Lantern and offering him a copy of the Coast City White Pages, which he claims was given to him by “that… crazy broad”.  Hal takes a peek and finds Carol Ferris’ listing has been circled.

When we took a look at the first part of this serial, it almost didn’t even feel like a superhero story.  I mean, we did have Hal in costume for part of it (when he was stealing diamonds)… but, otherwise it felt kind of like a slice of life.  The Stewarts tiring of Hal and Arisia’s loafing, Katma being killed by Hal’s crazy ex-girlfriend while making dinner… it just felt, I dunno “different”.

This installment kinda brings us back into more or less straightforward superheroics, what with the battle over Coast City, and diverting from the chase to save the day.  That’s not a bad thing, but it is a little bit jarring… least it was for me.  I guess maybe I was just looking for a little more interpersonal stuff.  Though, too much of that could become indulgent.  I guess it’s a fine line.

The highlight here was the insane funeral scene.  First, we hear that Guy Gardner, jerk-face that he is, actually laughed when he had heard that John lost his wife!  That seems almost beyond the pale… even for Guy, doesn’t it?  I mean, I don’t know how John and Guy ever worked together again after that… I’d just wanna beat the hell out of him anytime we crossed paths!

Then… we get the absolute nuttiness of Carol sweeping a bunch of mourners into an open grave.  It’d be hysterical if it wasn’t so tragic!  I guess it just goes to show that Carol is completely out of her mind… and, in that regard… it does the job!

Overall, while I think I’d have preferred a bit of a more “chatty” chapter considering we just lost a long-term Lantern, I understand the necessity of moving the story along to its next beat.

We open in the Mayan Temple, where Deadman was just seen by Major Kasaba.  But, how can that be?!  Well… she asks who Deadman is, and just what he’s doing there… and so, he lies, claiming to be Talaoc… the Master of this here Temple.  Well, Kasaba knows that can’t be right because, get this, she is actually Talaoc!

The Major then explains the situation… looks like Talaoc is simply inhabiting this body, Kasaba is just the “Vessel of his Reincarnation”.  She then attempts to blow several holes in Deadman’s torso!  Naturally, this doesn’t work.  The gunfire, however, gets the attention of the soldiers.

Talaoc takes advantage of this and figures why not mobilize the troops?  They’re a bit suspicious, considering that it’s 1:00 AM… but they’re not about to tell the lady “no”.  They head out of the Temple to organize their peers, at which time, Deadman decides to inhabit one of their bodies.

A little later, the troops are lined up before Kasaba… who claims there is a traitor among them.  She immediately points out the body Deadman is currently inhabiting (seems Talaoc can see through just about anything), and sics the rest of the soldiers on him!

She then, get this, orders him laid out on a stone slab so they could sacrifice him to Quetzelcoatl!  Ol’ Boston makes a hasty exit from the body.

Deadman does some body-hopping… and punches Kasaba with each “leap”.  At this point, Talaoc has had just about enough, and so he vacates the vessel!

We wrap up with a face-off between Deadman and Talaoc… and it now looks like everybody (including the Archaeologist we met last week) can see them both!

Well, wouldja lookit that… two Deadman stories in a row that I’ve… enjoyed?!

I really liked Boston’s attempt at “quick thinking” in telling Kasaba that he was actually the “Master of the House” Talaoc.  It only served to illustrate how “hard luck” the fella could be when it turned out that… he was actually talking to Talaoc!

I felt like the bit at the altar was a bit strange.  I have a difficult time accepting that the soldiers would blindly agree to take part in a human sacrifice… especially considering, as far as they knew, they would be sacrificing one of their own!  I figure that might be the “bridge too far”.  I mean, they were just talking about Kasaba acting erratically… and now they’re prepared to take part in a ritual sacrifice?!  I don’t think so.

We end this time with another interesting cliffhanger wherein yet another “civilian” can actually see Deadman (not to mention Talaoc).  Looking forward to seeing where this goes.

We open with reporter, Susan King showing her latest broadcast to Mr. Hovey of whatever news station she works for… and he’s all “C’mon, not this Wild Dog stuff again?!”… and in fairness, if it’s Susan King, there’s like a 90% chance that whatever story she’s working on is going be be about Wild Dog.  He’s tired of hearing about it, especially considering the fact that she had failed to unmask the vigilante during the original miniseries like she promised!

She’s given her next assignment, and it’s a remote broadcast from Readworld Bookstore, where there is currently a bit of a demonstration going on.  Ya see, it’s the Legion of Morality… and they’re marching in protest of “pornography”… in quotations, because their view of “porn” is rather broad… and not limited to nudity.  Susan runs into fellow reporter, and potential Wild Dog candidate, Lou Godder.

We learn that B. Lyle Layman of the Legion of Morality will be speaking that evening at the Davenport Public Library… an event that’s likely to get weird.  And indeed, that night, he’s got the pulpit… where he’s comparing some benign publications to smut… and claiming that he has irrefutable proof that exposing oneself to such things leads to immoral behavior, up to and including: child molestation, rape, and murder!  Worth noting, Lt. Andy Flint (another of our potential Wild Dogs from the mini) is present.

Layman is whipping the people into a lather, even suggesting they dump the smut into the Mississippi River (I can’t be the only one who spells out “M-i-s-s-i-s-s-i-p-p-i” in my head every time I have to type it, am I?), comparing their mission to the Boston Tea Party.  What’s worse, the people of the Quad-Cities are buyin’ it!

After Layman speaks, a Benediction is delivered by an old hippie called Rev. Smuggworthy (oh, c’mon…).

Following the meeting, Flint and Godder meet up and chat about everything they’d just heard.  Godder compares his philosophy to Adolf Hitler… which, if I’ve learned anything from my twenty-plus years on the internet, means the conversation is over… and thankfully, it is.

Later, we follow Flint over to Jack Wheeler’s garage where they have a fairly contentious chat.  We learn here that Flint himself was responsible for “setting Wild Dog loose” last week… something he immediately regretted doing, but, that’s a glob of toothpaste that ain’t goin’ back in the tube.

This chapter ends with a bang… or boom… rather a Kawhoom!!! as Readworld Books is blowed up real good.

Well, suddenly the story-arc title “Moral Stand” makes a bit more sense.

A bit heavy-handed, perhaps, but this enjoyable enough.  Part of what made the original miniseries so special was the effort made toward fleshing out the rest of the cast.  Having Godder, Flint, and even Susan King as P.O.V. characters is pretty neat.

Speaking of Ms. King, I really dug her boss calling her out for getting too caught up in the Wild Dog story.  I gotta imagine she’s been like a broken record since he’s hit the scene.  The boss refers to Wild Dog as “old news”, which… might not be totally fair.  I’d like to think if a masked vigilante just blew away a half-dozen people in City Hall, that we’d be able to talk about him/her for a little while… especially if they were still out there!

I’m getting some definite vibes from Layman… maybe a little of the modern perception of Frederic Wertham mixed with a televangelist?  Worth noting, Max Alan Collins and Terry Beatty would go on to produce a work about a “rabble rousing social critic” declaring war on comic books in 1954… unsurprisingly/fittingly called, Seduction of the Innocent (2013, Hard Case Crime).  Reverend Smuggworthy, however, maybe should have been called Rev. Groanworthy… because, c’maaaaahn.

We learned that Lt. Flint had “weaponized” Wild Dog last issue… which is an interesting route to take… especially with “morality” being at the core of this story (at least, to this point).  It’s, at best, a moral “gray area” to use Wild Dog in such a way… it got results, which, at the end of the day, might be all that matters.  Though, that’ll likely have Godder Godwinning again (Godderwinning?).

Overall, after reintroducing the character last issue, it feels like we’re we’re now setting the foundation for the arc to follow.  Good stuff, breezy reading… though, as mentioned, maybe a little heavy-handed/unsubtle.

Picking up right where we left off, Superman arrives at the scene… where he is pumped full’a lead.  Well, he would’a been if he wasn’t Superman.

The baddies flee, leaving two of their number behind.  One called Charlie attempts to chase after the car, while the other (Dave) throws himself on the hood of the car and tries to hold on for the getaway.

He ain’t so lucky… his “partners” hit a hard swerve… sending poor Dave bouncing onto the nearby train tracks… where he lands, twisting his ankle.  Wouldn’tcha know it… the trains are on schedule in Metropolis!

I made the joke last week (if you could even call it a “joke”) that these two-page Superman strips pack in just about as much story as a “current year” comic book… and, ya know… while that’s a bit of an exaggeration, I’m not sure it’s entirely untrue.

We get a nice bit of action here… and some questions we can ask.  We don’t know who this poor dude being held up is… nor do we know just why the goons were about to attack him.  I suppose at this point, we could just assume it was a failed mugging attempt… but, we all know that’s very unlikely.

The art here is really good, though it kind of feels as though Swan is struggling with the post-Crisis Superman’s face.  It doesn’t look quite as Swanny as the pre-Crisis stuff… and I don’t think he’s found the right “look” just yet.

We pick up right where we left off, with the all-new Secret Six watching Mockingbird via monitor.  It’s here that we actually get to know our new team a bit better.  Meet: Vic Sommers, Vietnam Veteran – Blind.  Mitch Hoberman, Sculpter – Rheumatoid Arthritis.  LaDonna Jameal, Soap Opera Star – Had acid thrown in her face, Mute.  Luke McKendrick, Olympic Athlete – Lost both legs during a terrorist attack.  Dr. Maria Verdugo, Mathematician – Epilepsy.  And finally… Anthony Mantegna, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist for Peephole Magazine – Deaf.

From the floor, rises a table with strange apparatuses on it.  Mockingbird tells them that these pieces are the answer to all of their problems… and they can have ’em, so long as they sign on the dotted line and join his all-new Secret Six.

We shift scenes over to the Enchanted Forest, where the original Secret Six are getting reacquainted.  It would appear that these reunions are a semi-regular thing, happening around every five or so years.  Nobody can say why they still attend these things, and only figure that it’s just because they enjoy each other’s company.  The reunion is interrupted by a message from… Mockingbird!  He reveals that he organized this whole thing so the oldies can train the newbies.  So, they’re off to San Francisco!

Meanwhile, in San Francisco, the Secret Six-cessors all try on their apparatuses… and it would appear that Mockingbird wasn’t whistling Dixie… they all work!  Mockingbird offers them a day to “try before the buy” and asks the sixsome to return with their answer the following day.

We follow Vic Sommers, the blinded Veteran back to his home.  It would appear as though his relationship with his girlfriend (wife?) is a bit strained… it seems like when Vic was presumed dead, she might’ve made an attempt to move on with her life.  At the same time, a man is chatting up several Technodyne executives… if you recall, they might have (read: definitely did) had something to do with the acid rain last issue.

The next day, we rejoin Vic who is out dining with his girlfriend/wife.  She asks him what she should tell “Gary” about them.  Vic ain’t wantin’ to hear none’a that.  He leaves the restaurant (their bill was covered by Mr. Byrd), and decides… he ain’t gonna join up with this Secret Six, and he’s just going to keep his sight-giving device anyway.  Well, not so fast kemosabe… no sooner does he decide this, than it’s lights out.  What Mockingbird gives… Mockingbird can take away.

we close out this chapter with the original Secret Six in route to San Francisco.  Wouldn’tcha know it, halfway there… the plane goes boom!  We’re getting a few “explosive” endings this week, ain’t we?

Well, those are your new Secret Six!

Last week I kind of wrote off the Secret Six feature for having some pretty poor pacing and transitions.  This week is better, yeah, but we probably should have gotten some of this information in the opening chapter.

We mainly follow Vic Somers here… which, he seemed like he was going to become our Point of View character (no pun intended, of course), but I really haven’t formed enough of a fondness for the fella to really care about his personal life.  I mean, sure, everything that happened to him really sucks… but, I just don’t know him well enough to really invest.

Mockingbird is depicted here as a fairly creepy and controlling dude.  Offering the newbies things they couldn’t resist (things that he has complete control over the function of, to boot!), and (I assume) orchestrating the originals being wiped out.  I don’t think we can trust this guy… which might make for a pretty interesting story moving forward.

Overall, like the Wild Dog story from the other day, it feels like the foundation is being laid here for what’s to come.  So far, so good… especially since we now have names for these folks!

Picking up where we left off… we’re still in Singapore, it’s still 1947… and besides his holster and hat, Janos Prohaska is still completely nekkid.  Ya see, he shot that one fella, Zalecki last issue.  We see here that he only shot to disarm him.  The mystery blonde from the lobby is drawn upstairs by the sound of the gunfire… and before we (or she) knows it, she’s thrown right into Blackhawk’s soapy supple self.

A fight rages over the next several pages, with our mystery blonde getting involved as well.  She actually winds up saving Jan’s life when she clubs a would-be shooter over the head with a stool.

Janos pays the… ladies who were, uh… servicing him, and leaves with the blonde.  He tells her all about Zalecki… turns out he owes the man money for a lost hand of cards.  Jan ain’t about to pay up though, as he’s convinced the other guy cheated.  Ya see, he knows this because Jan himself was cheating… and Zal still managed to win!

Together, they head to the Singapore Sling bar where our blonde finally introduces herself.  She is Cynthia Hastings, and she has sought out Blackhawk to fly a mission for her.  He hems and haws, unsure that he’ll be able to even get off the ground at this point… what with fuel prices being what they are.  She assures him she’ll be able to come up with the scratch… and promises the trip will be very much worth his while.

Believing Cynthia to either be wealthy… or in cahoots with Claire Chenault’s Air America (I’m not sure who or what that is just yet), Jan… er, checks Cynthia for… dog tags.  Real smooth there, pal.

This gets him socked out of his seat… it’s all good though, as from this angle he has a pretty good view up her dress.  This dude just won’t quit!

We wrap up with Cynthia revealing the stakes of the mission… several million dollars in gold, and it’s “finders keepers” so they’d best get moving just as quick as they can!

Another enjoyable chapter of Blackhawk!

It’s funny, looking at this now… I’m not sure ol’ Janos could be depicted the same way if this story came out today.  I mean, dude’s kind of a lech.  Ya know, I don’t think I’ve ever typed that word before… and it sure looks strange.

If you’ve read this blog more than a couple of times, you’ll know that I very seldom see movies… but, to me, this story feels like what a high-octane action movie might be.  I could be completely off my nut, but this just oozes testosterone… you can smell Old Spice and burnt motor oil.

I’m digging the partnership between Cynthia and Janos.  I like that in his attempts to objectify her, he gets knocked on his butt.  I’m looking forward to more of the two of them as they seek out some “finders keepers” riches.

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