Action Comics Weekly #605 (May 3, 1988)
Green Lantern: “Golgotha”
Deadman: “Deadman Goes to Hell”
Wild Dog: “Moral Stand, Chapter Five: Sleeping Dogs Lie…”
Secret Six: “If That Mockingbird Don’t Sing…”
Blackhawk: “Enter… Red Dragon!”
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 – Don Simpson, Dick Giordano, Tony DeZuniga, 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
Another week down… boy, the time sure does fly!
This week’s cover comes to us from the Kubert Brothers, Adam and Andy… and is one of the more striking, and in my opinion more memorable from this entire ACW run. It’s pretty awesome… and, most important, actually refers to what’s going on inside the book! Imagine that!
Taking a look at last week’s numbers…
… and, wouldja lookit that… we got ourselves a tie!
Congratulations, Secret Six and Blackhawk… the latter of whom doesn’t technically end its winning streak! Though, I do know one fella who wishes the Six eeked out a “clean” win!
Now, a funny thing happened during this poll… yours truly forgot to vote in the damn thing! I could’ve broken that tie! Well, no… actually, my vote would have gone to the Green Lantern feature this time out… annnnnnd, Superman still gets a well-deserved goose-egg!
My Rankings for last week’s stories (#604) would be:
1 – Green Lantern
2 – Blackhawk
3 – Wild Dog
4 – Secret Six
5 – Deadman
6 – Superman
Remember to vote in this week’s Poll:
We open with Carol Ferris… who’s hanging out at the graveyard, like ya do. She is accompanied by her Sapphire Gem, and is pleased as punch that she was able to fake her own death, and condemn John Stewart to some jail time. She’s also pretty happy that she “took care” of Hal Jordan… she doesn’t get long to celebrate, however, before she is joined by a yellow insectoid alien!
We shift scenes and join Hal… who is on the barren planetoid known as Golgotha. How biblical! Anyhoo, he doesn’t have the foggiest idea just how long he’s been here… and every time he tries to get to his feet, he’s struck by a bolt of lightning. After being knocked down this time, he notices that his Power Ring has returned to him.
Back on Earth, the Yellow Bug is able to usurp Carol’s control over the Sapphire Gem… and after muttering a few words, it zaps her with it!
On Golgotha, Hal struggles to free himself from his chains. He’s, uh, chained to the planet… not sure if I mentioned that yet. It isn’t long before he is able to deduce that his ring is only half-effective in this current predicament.
He’s finally able to weaken the chain just enough to where he can physically pull himself free. Once out of his shackles, he summons his Power Battery, recharges, and heads back toward Earth…
… where he finds Star Sapphire konked out in the graveyard. She wakes up to see him sitting on her own tombstone, bobbling her Sapphire Gem. She warns him that there’s something behind him… there’s a flicker of black, and then… she vanishes!
Ya know, it hasn’t been all that long since I last read through this feature. We covered Hal’s run in Action Comics Weekly for the entire month of November, 2018 over on the Cosmic Treadmill Podcast… and I’m sitting here now… racking my brain about where this Star Sapphire and Yellow Bug-Alien thing comes up again.
I really don’t think it ever does.
Such a weird ending to this little “arc”. Star Sapphire has a run-in with (what the DC Wikia identifies as) “an unidentified alien”, who disappears before Hal returns… before she herself vanishes as well. She next shows up like four years later! Maybe they were trying to avoid addressing the fact that she murdered Katma Tui in cold blood? I dunno.
We’ve also got the deal with Hal attempting to free himself from Golgotha. Ya see, Star Sapphire left him at the “Pole” of the planetoid… which, for whatever reason, attracted lightning like nobody’s business. Seems like such a waste of effort though, dunnit? Hal’s got the Power Ring… stands to reason he’d be able to free himself, right?
Maybe something weird happened in editorial around this time… I dunno. The whole feature seems to lose its focus right about here. Contributing to that feeling, Dick Giordano is given an “ink assist” credit here… which makes this Gil Kane art look very un-Gil Kane-like, in my opinion.
Not sure if they were doing a bit of creative “shifting” here… which was kind of the name of the game during these early issues. Mark Waid had introduced the concept of the Green Lantern feature appearing in Action Comics Weekly back in the farewell letters page of Green Lantern Corps #224. There, he announced the incoming creative team as Peter David and Tod Smith… who will eventually take over (we’ll actually be seeing Smith next week). Just makes me wonder how much of this was supposed to happen… and how much of it we were supposed to ever see?
Oh well, this wasn’t an incredibly strong chapter… and it wasn’t even really an effective one. I mean, it rids us of Carol, but in such a way where it’s wildly unsatisfying.
We open with Deadman… under glass, in that Top Secret Military Installation… somewhere in Virginia. Major Kasaba and Stan Whatshisface are looking on, wondering how they might be able to use him for their own means. Stan decides torture might just be the ticket, and cranks up an electro-magnetic hooziwatzit to make ol’ Boston a bit more uncomfortable. In so doing, a warning device is triggered, and they decide to take a break… not that it was working all that well to begin with.
The Major and Stan leave, but not before mentioning the fact that they have yet another “guest” hanging around. Deadman isn’t left alone for long, though… he is soon joined by a fella who kinda looks like he was dressed by Mockingbird, from that other Action Comics Weekly feature.
Deadman draws the Guard near… then pounds on the glass, scaring him! The Guard backs into the console, and accidentally hits a button, whose only function must be dropping this great big glass coffin to the ground, because that’s exactly what it does! Okay, it might have something to do with magnets.
Deadman is freed from his tomb, and possesses the Guard. Stan rushes in to see what’s going on, and is advised that Deadman got away. It’s here that he (and we) learn that Stan’s “other guest” has been there all along… living in a nearby jar. This being is from Sumeria, and is allegedly even more powerful than Deadman. So, why all the fuss with Deadman then?
Stan foolishly leaves the Guard alone with the Jar. Alone, Boston studies the symbols etched on it, and informs us that they represent “a classic confrontation between good and evil”. He is then greeted by a voice from within… asking to be let out.
Naturally, Boston refuses… but, undeterred, the voice then decides if they can’t get out… they’re going to drag Deadman in.
We wrap up inside the jar, where Deadman meets… the devil?!
Now this is more like it!
After a pair of dull-to-middling chapters, this one was a lot of fun.
I’m still a bit confused as to why Kasaba and Stan are so invested in getting Deadman to talk… when, as I mentioned last week, this is the DC Universe… ghosts ain’t that hard to come by! What’s more… they’ve actually got another one in a nearby jar!
A jar that Stan is worried about Deadman getting too close to… which, ya know… begs the question: Why put the two in a the same damn area?!
Well, all that silliness aside, I thought this one was pretty cool… The Talaoc stuff is behind us (hopefully for good) and I’m definitely interested to see how Deadman fares inside “Hell”.
We open with the Moral Militia standing over what they assume to be Wild Dog’s corpse. Turns out, however, he’s still got some fight in him after all. They look over at the crispy critter who was their third member… before the Dog fills them all full’a lead! Like for real… he just unloads right in their faces!
Wild Dog pulls himself up and checks in with the Trucker with the Weird Beard. The flat-ironed Terry Long is shocked to see his attackers dead on the ground… Wild Dog basically tells him to “roll with it”, and also to “roll on outta here”, because there are likely more baddies on their way. Speaking of which… at that very moment, Dr. Layman is wondering where “Unit A” might be.
We shift ahead, and the Trucker is talking to Lt. Flint about what he’d just experienced. Together, they head back to the scene of the crime, where they find some blood spatters and shell casings… but, no bodies. Flint knows he’s gotta check in with his buddy, Jack about all this mess.
Wheeler clarifies for Andy that he didn’t take the bodies, and it was likely Layman attempting to cover his tracks. He also insists that he didn’t fire the first shot… which, I suppose makes it all seem like self-defense, dunnit? Jack tells Andy that he knew about the attempted hijack because he planted a bug in Layman’s living room… which is prrrrretty sneaky.
Andy’s still ticked off… which, I mean… I dig this character, and his repartee with Jack… but this wishy-washy attitude is really beginning to grate on me. Seems it’s bugging Wheeler too, as he snaps back at Flint to stop being so emotional and start acting like a Detective again. He then shows him an ad running in Soldier For Glory magazine, which features the Legion of Morality’s logo… and a call to arms!
This ad also featured a Washington, D.C. address… just like the Legion of Morality. Flint realizes he’s going to have to call in a favor with another buddy (and the fourth of our “potential Wild Dogs” from the miniseries), Graham Gault of the I.S.A.!
We wrap up with Jack Wheeler meeting with Layman in a back alley… where he is instructed to refer to him as “Commander”. Layman reads off Jack’s military accomplishments, and welcomes him to the team. It’s time to train, because there is something big on the horizon for the Legion!
Another good time with the Dog!
During the synopsis I mentioned being tired of Lt. Flint’s mood swings. He goes from “unleashing” Wild Dog to regretting it over and over again… I mean, I get that it’s not exactly a black-and-white situation, but… c’mon, pick a lane, buddy. Genies very seldom go back in the bottle.
Jack proves himself a more well-rounded strategist this time out. He plants a bug in Layman’s place (which sorta makes Legion of Morality security seem a bit lacking), and also takes special note of the “call to arms” in the Soldier of Glory mag. This makes him more than just a “weapon” to be pointed, and adds a fair amount of depth to the character. Really like that.
I also liked the reintroduction of our final “potential Wild Dog” from the mini, Graham Gault. I was wondering if he’d ever show up again. In fact, I actually looked at the miniseries again a couple weeks back, just to make sure he didn’t die during it!
Overall… we’re now at the halfway point of our first Wild Dog feature, and I feel like this has been very well done, in both storytelling and pacing. Art is still solid, with the Dog looking less like a poorly articulated action figure than he did back in the mini!
An officer witnesses the explosion that ended last week’s strip in the distance. He heads toward “Ground Zero” and finds Superman dusting himself off… at which point, the Man of Steel… get this… recaps the story up to this point! Ya kidding me?
As he continues his tale, the fella he’d saved from the baddies back in Action Comics Weekly #601 shows up, and… bows at Superman’s feet?!
As a dude who talks about comics online, I have little problem going on, at length, about stories I love… and stories I hate. This Superman strip though… it’s just such a non-entity. I mean, we’re a few dozen panels into this thing at this point… and we’re getting a recap?! So little has happened so far… and including a recap all but guarantees that so little will happen this time out.
So, whatta we got? The fella Superman saved… bows at his feet.
And… that’s it.
We open atop the TechnoDyne Building, where Mitch and Vic found that hidden helicopter… and, unfortunately, where the TechnoDyne Brass found Mitch and Vic. While they’re being held up, they ask for some information about the Orsonville Acid Rain. Back at the Enchanted Forest, our Bert Convy-looking pal, Rafael is visited by a pair of officers who bring with them news most unfortunate. Ya see, I’m not sure if this has been made clear yet, but Rafael’s last name is di Rienzi… he’s the son of original Sixer, Carlo di Rienzi, who, along with his teammates, appear to have perished in that crash from a few chapters back.
After the officers leave, Rafael is called into another room by a strange voice… the voice… of Mockingbird! The Boyd taunts him a little bit, and hints that Rafael is in his debt. Ya see, he really ought to be wheelchair bound… and he’s only walking upright due to a medication Mockingbird provides.
Back at TechnoDyne, the Sixers trigger an explosive charge they’d hooked up to the rigging prior to being discovered. In the distraction, Vic and Mitch climb into the TechnoDyne Cropduster. Hopefully one of ’em knows how to pilot the thing!
Back at the Enchanted Forest, Mockingbird and Rafael argue some more… with the former referring to the latter as a “non-operative”. Mockingbird basically tells him to keep his nose out of the “Secret Biz”.
Back to TechnoDyne… again. Mitch and Vic manage to get the ‘duster airborne… just as a fella called Lichtfield hops onto the landing gear. Lucky for the good guys, that the Secret Six’s aircraft is nearby waiting to extract ’em. Poor Mr. Lichtfield goes down in a blaze of glory… well, a blaze anyway.
We hop to our next scene, which features young Elvis Brockman delivering an address trying to pitch TechnoDyne’s all-new “impenetrite”. As he speaks, however, footage of him coming clean to Clarence the Handyman the night before plays on a nearby monitor. Whoops.
With TechnoDyne’s reputation in the toilet, li’l Elvis is nyoinked away from the podium by a pair of dudes.
We wrap up with Rafael opening a wall safe. Inside, is a package… with instructions that it is to be opened in the event of Carlo’s death.
Nice tidy little ending to the TechnoDyne “saga”… with just enough of a cliffhanger to nudge us into the next stage of this arc. I’ve got my fingers crossed that we’re done with TechnoDyne, anyway… just don’t see what more we could do with ’em.
But, everything came together, which I dug… and several of our Secret Sixers got to flex a bit of muscle throughout this story… even if I feel like the nonsense with the crop duster was a bit unnecessary. I think that was just to give us a little bit of “action” this time out.
My biggest takeaway here is… Rafael di Rienzi (I should probably start calling him by his real name now, eh?) is referred to by Mockingbird as a “non-operative”, and yet, da Boyd has “gifted” him with some handicap-negating means… just like he did with the Six actual operatives. Begs the question… why?
Why would Mockingbird a) Help Carlo’s kid, and b) not just enlist Rafael in the new team? Interesting stuff here… and I’m really looking forward to finding out. Really neat stuff here.
We pick up right where we left off last week… Blackhawk and Cynthia are captives of the Red Dragon… and her cross-eyed kitty. I mean, just look at this tiger… poor thing looks strung out! Anyhoo, the Dragon Lady informs Janos that his reputation proceeded him, and introduces herself as Sheah Chun Ryan. After some pleasantries, he keeps up the plot… claiming that his plane blew a line, and this entire encounter is simple happenstance. She ain’t buyin’ it… nor should she.
She refuses to believe that such a renowned fella like Blackhawk would lower himself to taking gigs smuggling booze. He explains that it’s a different world during peacetime… and suspects that it won’t take the world long to cook up another war for him to occupy himself with. He also introduces Cynthia as his “client”, claims she put up the cash for this shipment. Sheah marches off, telling Janos that they’ll dine together tonight… and only then will she decide his fate.
As she leaves, however, she thwacks Massie for putting hands on what’s hers… and reminds him that there’s a penalty for taking things that don’t belong to him.
While Janos and Cynthia get cleaned up for dinner, we hop over to Saigon where Andre and his lady friend are… enjoying each other’s company. He keeps getting himself preoccupied before he can see his buddy’s urgent letter.
Back at the Dragon Dinner… Sheah shares her “secret origin”, which is to say, she tells Janos that her father was Irish and her mother was Asian… which led to her growing up as sort of an outcast. They toast to the “good life”… though, Blackhawk knows it may only be moments before someone decides to take it all away.
Well… Blackhawk is still my “dark horse” pick for these early Action Comics Weekly features, but this time out might just be the weakest chapter to this point. I guess they can’t all be winners… not to say that this is bad or anything… I still quite liked it. Just not as much as the past few weeks is all.
I had a sneaking suspicion that things weren’t going to be so cut and dry with Red Dragon… and, while that “other shoe” could drop at any moment, I’m digging her as a sorta kinda “uneasy ally” to our man Janos… at least for right this minute.
Art remains strong… though, that poor cracked-out tiger was quite tragic. Still a highlight of the week… it’s just a bit hampered by having to “do the work”. Can’t be mad at that!
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