Action Comics Weekly #604 (1988)
Action Comics Weekly #604 (April 26, 1988)
Green Lantern: “I, the Jury”
Wild Dog: “Moral Stand, Chapter Four: Unleashed!”
Secret Six: “Haunts of the Very Rich”
Superman: “Final Escape?”
Deadman: “Genie in a Bottle”
Blackhawk: “Another Fine War, Part 4”
Writers – James Owsley, Max Collins, Martin Pasko, Roger Stern, Mike Baron, & Mike Grell
Pencils – Gil Kane, Terry Beatty, Dan Spiegle, Curt Swan, Dan Jurgens, & Rick Burchett
Inks – Don Simpson, John Nyberg, John Beatty, Tony DeZuniga, & Pablo Marcos
Letters – Albert DeGuzman, Gaspar, Carrie Spiegle, Bill Oakley, & Steve Haynie
Colors – Anthony Tollin, Michele Wolfman, Carl Gafford, Tom Ziuko, & Liz Berube
Editor – Denny O’Neil, Mike Gold, Dick Giordano, Mike Carlin, & Barbara Randall
Cover Price: $1.50
Hey wow, I just blinked twice… and now we’re like 1/10th of the way through this project!
Okay, okay… we’re just barely getting started. I hope anyone still reading along is enjoying this deep-dive into all things ACW. I know I’m having a pretty good time revisiting (and, in some cases, discovering) these features myself.
This weeks cover came to us from Klaus Janson… and, ehh… it’s not his best work, is it? My buddy James said that it looked like he spent four hours drawing the gun… and five minutes on the rest of it. At least it marked the return of that one guy from the cover of Action Comics #1!
Eh? Ehh? Okay, maybe not…
Let’s head on over to Poll Town, and see what you all thought about Action Comics Weekly #603:
Another strong showing for Blackhawk! I’ll admit, Blackhawk got my vote this week as well. I swear, I was sure I’d be voting Green Lantern each and every week. Just goes to show what might happen when you expose yourself to new stories every now and again.
Superman got a well-deserved Zero. Boy, that was some bad stuff. Not Grounded level bad, but, certainly not worth a vote!
My Rankings for last week’s stories (#603) would be:
1 – Blackhawk
2 – Wild Dog
3 – Green Lantern
4 – Secret Six
5 – Deadman
6 – Superman
… which looks eerily like the poll results! Lookitme, with my finger on the pulse!
Here’s this week’s poll:
We open with John Stewart stood at the Defendant’s table in a courtroom. If you’re not aware, during most of John’s time as Green Lantern, he didn’t wear a mask… and so, his civilian identity became public knowledge. That said, all of the craziness that’s gone down over the past few chapters (the F-16 crash, the Ferris penthouse curfuffle) is being attributed to him. John’s all “don’t look at me”, and informs the Court that the party responsible is actually the Star Sapphire… who’d come gunning for the other Green Lantern, ya know… the white guy!
Easy peasy, right? Well, the Senator sure thinks so… all’s John’s gotta do is tell him who the other Green Lantern is! In a funny bit, John reveals that he never found out his name… and that he just refers to him as “Yo”.
Just then, Hal’s ring appears and plops onto the stand where John is testifying… which is, at best, really poor timing. Speaking of “poor timing”, if we direct our attention to the entryway, we’ll find our next witness… Carol Ferris! She claims that her penthouse was destroyed by a Green Lantern… and, it was most definitely the “black one”.
John… kinda flips out! I mean, Carol Ferris did kill the poor dude’s wife just a week or so ago, so I can’t hold it against him. He slips Hal’s ring on his finger, and an emerald construct bubble forms over Carol’s head.
John’s lawyer tries to talk some sense into him, but it’s no use. Anyhow, John claims that he’s not cutting her oxygen off, so there’s no reason to worry. At that very moment, however, Carol slumps to the floor… dead! Uh-oh. John throws himself out a Courthouse window to escape.
Not being the sharpest fugitive in the wild, John heads directly back to… his apartment. He wonders what’s going on with Hal for him to now be in possession of the power ring (he assumes Jordan’s either kayoed or dead… and at this point, he doesn’t even care which). Suddenly, John can hear Star Sapphire’s voice in his head… she informs him that she killed Hal… and she’s going to kill him too. Before we know it, she levels the apartment building, killing several, including a young child.
We rejoin John at the morgue, where he slips passed a security guard to have a “chat” with Carol’s corpse. Naturally, she’s there waiting for him… alive and well. They share some contentious banter, before Carol cackles herself silly.
Later on, John is stood before Katma’s grave. He removes the Power Ring and chucks it… commanding it to return to Hal Jordan, wherever he is. Unfortunately, just as he does this, he finds himself surrounded by police. We wrap up by finding out just what Hal’s been up to. He’s not dead… nor is he kayoed. He’s actually been chained to a barren planetoid. We leave him just as he’s struck by a bolt of lightning!
Man, this is really heating up… and even though I just read this entire feature a few months ago, I’m having a great time taking another look at it here.
I’ve always dug the “connective tissue” to the prior volume here… John’s the only Green Lantern with a public identity, so it stands to reason, if ever a GL steps out of line, he’s going to be the one to answer for it. The Board doesn’t care if he’s the one responsible or not… at the end of the day, they just need someone to blame.
John’s nonchalant testimony always gets me too. “The white guy? Dunno man, I just call him ‘Yo’.”! Love that!
Carol sauntering in really changes the tone… and the fact that Hal’s ring appears at just the same time compounds the tension a great deal. John’s a good man, and even though he and Hal are at-odds at the moment, he still stops to think about what might have happened to him. He has to actually talk himself out of caring… which is cool.
We talked last week about Carol potentially being too evil to let live. Hal very nearly took her out… but couldn’t. There might have been something to that, as here, we have her leveling an entire apartment building… just to get under John’s skin.
The scene at the morgue was very well done… the idea that both Carol and John are nothing more than glorified “stand ins” is interesting… and seems to affect them both. It’s a bit of a sobering revelation… and John’s gotta wonder just what he’s been busting his hump for all this time… just to be the “other guy” in Green. The whole arrangement wound up costing him his wife, his home… and at the end of this chapter, his freedom!
This is a strong chapter… and, I tell ya what… I didn’t miss Hal one bit!
We open at the Time Machine, a Comics and Video store in the Quad Cities. I did a bit of research to see if this is/was a real place, but came up cold. If you have more familiarity with the Quad Cities of the 1980’s, please let me know if this was an actual shop! Anyhoo, it’s after-hours, and inside the owner and a couple of young fellas work on their comic book Mutant Commie Groundhogs from Uranus (it just had to be Uranus, didn’t it?). At this moment, a couple of masked Moralists spraypaint their logo on the street outside the shop… and, well… blow the place up real good.
Elsewhere, Jack Wheeler wraps up his meeting with Dr. Layman of the Legion of Morality. Remember, he’s trying to get “inside”. Turns out, all he really did here was unwittingly give the good Doctor an alibi!
Susan King and Lou Godder are on the scene of the bombed bookstore with the quickness. We learn that the owner was killed in the blast, and the young fellas were severely injured. Lt. Flint notes the “signature” left on the pavement… and decides it might just be time for Wild Dog… to be unleashed!
We shift scenes, and join a trucker… who looks like he’s wearing a costume beard. He stops to help a stranded motorist… but it’s quickly revealed to be a set-up. These are actually just more masked Moralists… and they demand he open up his trailer.
Ya see, the thing of it is… ol’ Weird Beard is hauling magazines… some of the Playboy variety. So, ya know… smut! The Moralists are planning on torching the loot. The trucker tries to fight back, but gets kayoed with the quickness.
Then… it happens! Wild Dog finally shows up! One of the Moralists chucks a Molitov Cocktail at him… and, get this, Wild Dog catches the damn thing!
Not only that, he chucks it back at the Moralist!
Unfortunately, he didn’t take into account that there were another two masked men there… who unload their pistols into his chest. Welp. It’s been fun, but I guess this is where we end our Wild Dog feature.
Well, no sooner does Wild Dog show up… then he’s gunned down in cold blood. I was hoping for so much more for (and from) him. Oh well, I guess the Black Canary feature will start showing up in its place next wee– whatsat? Bulletproof what now? No way.
All kidding aside, this was a solid chapter. Heck, it’s been a pretty solid run altogether… though, I will say, I’m glad Wild Dog does finally make an in-costume appearance here… even if it is just to get perforated real good.
These crazed Moralists are making for a pretty formidable and scary crew of antagonists. There’s that old saying that, regardless of what side of a conflict you’re on, you never see your side as the “bad side”… which only makes the Masked Moralists all the more dangerous! They’re convinced that their way is right, and will explore any means to reach their desired ends.
Speaking of “ends”, how ’bout that one Moralist getting roasted, toasted, and burnt to a crisp by way of his own Molotov?! That’s the kind of harder-core imagery we’re used to when it comes to Wild Dog… and, boy, it’s definitely “way out” from a lot of other mainstream stuff of the day!
One pretty glaring question comes to mind… how did Wild Dog know about this attempted truck-jacking? Seems kind of a lucky break for this Weird-Bearded Trucker that Wild Dog was “going his way”. Well, I’m sure we’ll find out soon… if, ya know, Wild Dog isn’t actually dead.
Overall… this arc continues to heat up, and I’m anxious to see which direction it goes!
We open up at the estate of Elvis Brockman… in Brockton, Kansas. That’s all sorts of confusing. Brockman, Brockton… yeesh. Anyhoo, our all-new Secret Six are currently on their inaugural mission. We join Tony, Mitch and LaDonna (the latter two emerging from a shipping crate inside what appears to be a child’s room inside the premises. They check in with Maria, who’s manning the monitors, before we shift over and join Vic and Luke who hitched a ride to TechnoDyne Headquarters in Tylertown, Kansas. They proceed to… well, shoot the Plant’s security system a whole bunch.
We jump over to Elvis Brockman’s bedroom, where I swear, it looks like he’s playing with an iPhone. He is called by the spooky voice of… Clarence the Handyman (close, personal pal of Zeke the Plumber, no doubt).
Creepy Clarence enters the room… and really puts the fear of God into the tiny executive!
Back at TechnoDyne, Vic and Luke are firing away at security (with stun-tasers). Meanwhile, Elvis is chased to his personal amusement park. Clarence attempts to get the tot to admit that TechnoDyne was behind the Acid Rain in Orsonville. And, check it out, he does! Li’lvis didn’t think anyone would die… he just wanted folks to see how much TechnoDyne’s Impenetrite Shielding could help them!
With all the answers he needs, “Clarence” who is actually just a special effect rigged up by Mitch, rips his own head off just to be a jerk. Meanwhile, back at TechnoDyne R&D, Vic and Luke believe they’ve found all the evidence to prove that they were behind the Acid Rain… as if the kid’s confession ain’t enough! Well, never can be too safe.
On the roof of the R&D Building is a large satellite dish… atop what looks like an inflatable platform, believed to be full of chemical compound (a fluorosulfuric acid solution). They believe this is what TechnoDyne used to cause the Acid Storm.
It’s actually a storage unit, containing a helicopter… which, they presume is the way they triggered the Acid Rain without polluting the entire water table. I’m no scientist, so I’m just gonna take their word for all this. Either way, just as they discover this… they’re found out!
We wrap up back at Bert Convy’s place, where the Police have arrived to inform him of a plane crash. He is handed his father’s wallet, which was found in the wreckage.
Ya know, I’ve joked around a few times over the past few weeks about how, even the two-page Superman strip in Action Comics Weekly has more actual story than a “current year” comic book… but, I might actually mean it when we’re talking about the Secret Six feature! I mean, this is some pretty dense stuff for an eight-pager!
Some of it feels a bit like overkill… but, I gotta say, I’m glad we’re pushing through this opening arc at so rapid a clip. We’ve got a confession out of L’ilvis, and some hard evidence at TechnoDyne… so, we’ve got ourselves a direction moving forward.
I almost feel bad for the tiny exec though, Clarence the Handyman is one creepy apparition. I just wonder how Mitch chose to “be” that character. Did their intel suggest that Elvis was afraid of service people? I dunno. It’s a neat enough gag, and I was happy that it involved using Mitch’s “expertise”.
The TechnoDyne scenes were a bit weaker… and involved a bit more reaches in logic. Not sure about how all of this unfolded besides to say “the computers told them so”. Either way, we’re getting answers, and I can’t say I’m not happy about that.
Superman leaves the dead body he’d found at the end of the last chapter, and continues tracking the runaway Crim from way back in the beginning.
We don’t learn much about the baddie… just that he was tasked with eliminating one of followers of “The Fellowship”… whoever they are. He laments both his poor judgment and poor luck in accomplishing this goal.
Superman finally catches up, and peels the roof from the getaway car as though he were opening a can of tuna fish. The fella ain’t looking for a chat, and instead… pushes a self-destruct button!
Okay… this was loads better than last week… though, I’m not sure how I feel about Superman just abandoning a corpse on the side of the road to be gawked at by rubberneckers.
This is our first mention of The Fellowship, who we will learn a great deal more about over the next several weeks. If you have any familiarity with this run (or have seen the cover to Action Comics Weekly #606), you have a good idea what they might be all about.
As is routine with this feature… there ain’t a whole lot more to say about it. Curt Swan’s art is still really good, his take on the post-Crisis Superman is as solid as any!
We open outside the Temple, where someone called “Currier” (do we know this guy? I can’t remember him being mentioned before…) has headed inside, and into the Flying Saucer hidden underneath. Major Kasaba ain’t hep to this jive, and assumes that this might just ruin everything. Deadman and Talaoc are looking on, with the latter revealing that when those folks from the sky arrived, he was told that no one was ever to touch the Saucer. Welp… don’t look now!
Boston hops to it, and chases the U.F.O. into the atmosphere. He phases inside it, and finds Currier… who is, unsurprisingly, kinda freaked out. Deadman possesses the fella, however, finds himself unable to control the Saucer’s trajectory.
Deadman tries a few more ways to return the craft to Earth before giving up. Remember, he’d made that promise to Rama that he wouldn’t leave the planet. Upon arrival back at the ruins of the Temple, Talaoc says his final goodbyes… ya see, without a temple, he’s doneski.
We rejoin Kasaba, who ain’t pleased that they lost the Saucer, but is cool with their “consolation prizes” in the form of alien weaponry. That Archaeologist pleads with her to just stop… claiming that there’s already been more than enough devastation. In response… she aims her new alien gun at him. Whoops. Deadman sees this as an opening to possess her…
… but it doesn’t work! Due to the alien weaponry, he is expelled from her body with the quickness, and rendered unconscious… or, whatever it is when an already dead body stops moving for a bit.
While he’s “out”, the Major and her men load Boston into a handy-dandy glass sarcophagus, and before we know it… he’s delivered to a top secret military installation in rural Virginia. One of the “big brains” there seems to think this discovery might give the United States the edge in ESP research.
I’m not a stranger to the idea of “overthinking” things… as many/all longtime readers can attest. I feel like with this story… if we were to take Deadman out of the larger DC Universe, and place him in a vacuum (figuratively speaking of course… not like that vacuum-sealed glass sarcophagus), this story would work far better.
As it is, Deadman is part of a universe that she shares with, what, hundreds of aliens on Earth? Thousands? I’m not so sure why Kasaba is so keen to these alien weapons, when… undoubtedly, the United States government must have a stockpile of stuff that would put much/all of it to shame!
I mean, using Deadman for ESP research? This is the DC Universe… there are PSYCHICS here! Telepaths! Empaths! Magicians! C’mon… this just doesn’t fly. Taken as it’s own “thing”, an argument could be made… but, I mean… Task Force X exists. The United States Government has its pick of super/meta-powered characters to exact their goals.
Onto another subject… this is very well drawn! Really dig Jurgens’ work here, in particular the scene where Deadman attempts to possess the Major and is given the boot. Really well done!
Overall… I hear tell that this story is about to become kinda silly with some of the “power players” of late-80’s global politics… so, I’m looking forward to seeing just how insane things get, but this chapter (and the one before it), just kinda “ehh”.
We pick up right where we left off last week… Janos and Cynthia have just taken off in their hooch-plane, and are en route to track down the Red Dragon’s gold. As part of our weekly “Blackhawk lech watch”, I guess I gotta point out that, no sooner did they hit altitude, than Janos asks if his navigator would be interested in joining the “Mile High Club”. I don’t think he’s talking about Chuck Rozanski, either. What’s more, he throws the plane into autopilot to… uh, initiate “liftoff”.
After he’s turned down (and off, I reckon), Janos recounts their current mission (for those just joining us)… and finally apologizes for being… well, being the way he is. They agree to a truce, and to trust one another. Ya see, Blackhawk’s got friends in low places who can give them a hand.
Remember that Saigon-bound letter from last chapter? Well, that’s being delivered to a buddy, an Andre Blanc-DuMont. The Clerk from the airfield hands it over… however, our pal seems to currently have his hands full.
Back in the air, Blackhawk trips a gimmick he had installed on the plane before takeoff. It pumps oil into the engine, which burns up, and gives the impression that they’re going to have to come in for an emergency landing. Pretty clever!
They safely land outside a temple… find themselves surrounded by locals… annnnnnnd, captured. I actually chuckled out loud here.
Inside we meet Massie… ya know, the Parachutist who originally stole all the gold. He’s immediately drawn to Cynthia… and claims to know her. Before he can “let his fingers do the walking” however, he is yanked back by a whip!
The whip of… could it be… Red Dragon?!
Still loving this as we hit the halfway point! I’m definitely going to miss this one when it’s gone. I haven’t shared our “road map” here yet… but, Blackhawk will be going on a brief hiatus in about a month. Eh, ya know… might as well just go ahead and share the “map” here.
So yeah, over the course of this “project”, we’ll have three stints with Janos… and I’m pretty sure he gets a bit of “play” in the crossovers. I know for sure he shows up briefly in the Action Comics Weekly “alternate ending”.
Okay, enough about the future… let’s talk about this one.
I’ve mentioned before that Janos’ lecherousness is a bit surprising. I mean, it’s certainly a sign of the times, and probably shouldn’t be ignored, but I definitely don’t see this sort of thing being produced during “current year”. Wow, a “certainly”, “probably” and “definitely” in the same sentence… that’s a bit much, even for me.
This was very much a “bridging” chapter… in which we get from Point A to B, and finally get a gander at our possible antagonist. I haven’t read ahead, so for all I know, she might turn out to be friendly.
I appreciated the humor here, and did legitimately laugh when Blackhawk and Cynthia were captured. I’m really enjoying their banter… yet another reason I’ll miss this one when it’s gone.
Art continues to impress. I see that Burchett continues drawing Blackhawk in the Baxter series that follows ACW. That’s definitely something I’ll have to try and track down more issues of… and ya know, actually read!
Overall… still having a blast with this feature. It is a weekly highlight!
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The Time Machine was real. It was Time Travelers on 23rd Ave in Moline. Max and Terry had their pull boxes there for years. The owner, Bob Enlow, was at times, a drive in projectionist, guitarist in several garage bands and co-cameraman on Brad Shellady’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre: A Family Portrait (which they edited in the back room). But from 84-95, Bob was our own Comic Book Guy and VHS vendor.