Action Comics Weekly #606 (May 10, 1988)
Green Lantern: “The List”
Secret Six: “The Sins of the Father”
Deadman: “This is Hell”
Superman: “The True Believer”
Wild Dog: “Moral Stand, Chapter Six: Stop the Presses!”
Blackhawk: “Another Fine War, Part 6”
Writers – James Owsley, Martin Pasko, Mike Baron, Roger Stern, Max Collins, & Mike Grell
Pencils – Tod Smith, Dan Spiegle, Dan Jurgens, Curt Swan, Terry Beatty, & Rick Burchett
Inks – Tony DeZuniga, John Beatty, John Nyberg, & Pablo Marcos
Letters – Albert DeGuzman, Carrie Spiegle, Steve Haynie, Bill Oakley, & Gaspar
Colors – Anthony Tollin, Carl Gafford, Liz Berube, Tom Ziuko, & Michele Wolfman
Edits – Denny O’Neil, Dick Giordano, Barbara Randall, Mike Carlin, & Mike Gold
Cover Price: $1.50
Welcome to our sixth weekly compilation post… ya know, if you’d ask me how long I’d have kept up the Action Comics Daily project, I probably would have guessed “about a month”…
… than again, I didn’t think this site (in any form) would have lasted a month… so, let’s hear it for outperforming my own pessimism!
Alrighty… Issue #606 comes with a Kerry Gammill cover, which… if I’m being honest, might just contain more actual “story” than the Superman strip that it’s referencing! We’ve got a group of Superman-worshippers, the likes of which we probably won’t see again until Funeral For a Friend, though, I question why they’re wearing purple robes. That doesn’t seem very “Supermanny”.
In the background, we see what appears to be a group of very angry… murderous, even… businesspeople? Okay then. That one dude is brandishing either an old timey flashbulb or a gun… not sure which. In his other hand… is that a baseball bat or a machete? I dunno. Either way… it looks like later “chapters” will feature some conflict between the two groups.
It’s a good cover though… and one that might’ve tricked lapsed Action Comics readers to pop back in for a sampling.
Let’s head to Poll-ookaville:
The streak is broken! Last week saw Blackhawk lose its grip on the top position. This week, after tying for first last week… Secret Six takes the win! Personally, I voted for Wild Dog. Happy to see that Superman still has a goose-egg. Heck, I think he’s only gotten one vote over the past five polls!
My Rankings for last week’s stories (#605) would be:
1 – Wild Dog
2 – Blackhawk
3 – Secret Six
4 – Deadman
5 – Green Lantern
6 – Superman
Here’s this week’s poll… vote in good health, friends!
Shareable Poll Link: https://linkto.run/p/GU5AZ32N
Hal hath returned from Golgotha… and arrives at the very place he’d been “couchin’ it”, John and Katma’s apartment. If you recall, that place was ‘sploded a couple weeks back… which really freaks out our Lantern. He assumes that John perished in the blast… considering the Power Ring returned to him while he was chained to that Planetoid. Suddenly, Hal finds himself surrounded by some terrified civilians… ya see, ever since John “killed” Carol, anyone in the green-n-black ain’t to be trusted!
So, it’s one of those classic “good news/bad news” situations… John ain’t dead, he’s just locked up for murder! Hal decides to visit John in the clink… and is basically told to “buzz off”.
Hal walks the streets wondering how he might be able to help his buddy out. He knows if he can prove that Carol is still alive, it would clear John of the murder… but, how in the world can he do that? Remember, Carol was “vanished” last week. He decides to check in with some pals… starting at stately Wayne Manor! Our man doesn’t quite receive the reception he expected/hoped for.
Alfred finally lets him in… if only to give Master Bruce the opportunity to tell Hal to hit the bricks himself.
Next, he gives Clark Kent a call at the Daily Planet. Pay special attention to this scene… because, in it, Hal knows Superman’s secret identity… this will change before the end of the Action Comics Weekly run, and facilitate the “alternate ending” to the whole shebang! Don’t worry, we’ll get there… probably around Thanksgiving or so. Clark tells Hal to pound sand… though, in fairness, he does so very politely. Hal looks down the list of his friends (including Barry Allen… who is currently dead, so why list him?), and realizes he’s down to just Ollie and Dinah!
So, next stop… Seattle, where Ollie is dealing with some crumb-bums in a back alley. Hal gives him an unsolicited assist… which really seems to get under the Archer’s skin! It almost gets an innocent person killed too, so there’s that!
After the dust settles, Hal and Ollie head up to a nearby rooftop to reconnect… well, that’s the plan, anyway. Hal seems to think things between them can go back to “normal”, but Ollie is hesitant. Ya see, he and Dinah have started a new life in Seattle… and really, the last thing they need is an injection of Hal. Ollie tells his buddy to “Get a Life”, before leaving him all by his lonesome. Hal is completely alone. Least he’s still got his teen-age girlfriend!
Thought this was pretty fantastic, for the most part.
This take on Hal as… kind of a pariah in the superhero community is quite well done. I understand most of the other heroes turning their backs on him, considering what a pain-in-the-butt sad-sack he’s been… though, I feel like it might be a bit out of character for Superman to be less than receptive to helping out. But, for the story’s sake… I guess we’ll allow it.
It’s funny to think about all the trouble that little three-panel scene caused toward the end of the Action Comics Weekly run. Neil Gaiman, who had been asked to write the final issue (#642), used this brief bit to inform his take on the Clark/Hal relationship. However, by then… DC editorial decided that too many people knew that Clark was Superman, and Superman was Clark… and so, they chose to “forget” that Hal was among those with the privileged information. The story had to be scrapped… though, it eventually made print as the Green Lantern/Superman: Legend of the Green Flame prestige format one-shot. That will be the final installment of the Action Comics Daily Project… sometime toward the end of 2019. Though, if you can’t wait… Reggie and I did discuss all that in the final part of our Hal Jordan’s Action Comics series of Cosmic Treadmill episodes.
Back to the story… the scene between Hal and Ollie was pretty heartbreaking for our ring slinger. Although they’ve always had their differences, I can’t help but to think that Hal left Ollie (and Dinah) for last because they were his “safety”, ya know? He was sure he’d be able to count on them to back him up… and, when Ollie told him to “Get a Life”, you could almost feel the air get sucked out of the atmosphere.
Also, I think it was pretty telling that Hal actually wrote “Barry” on his list o’ pals… even though, Barry was dead. I mean, why write that? Was it a reflex… or was he actually just making a list of people who could stand him… and didn’t really take into account whether or not they were living or dead? Either way… it’s pretty sad, ain’t it?
Overall… really dug this. Smith’s art feels a bit “Kaney” at the moment, especially when it comes to Hal’s face… though, that’ll pass in the coming weeks.
We open with Rafael still holding that box. Meanwhile, that pair of officers from the Carmel P.D. can’t seem to get over how strange this plane crash really was. There were no flight records or anything. All’s they got is that scrap of cloth with what’s either a bird or bunny on it! It’s quickly rendered a moot point, however, as the F.B.I. has decided that this accident falls under their jurisdiction. The officers begrudgingly abandon the case.
Rafael and his assistant decide to leave the Enchanted Forest so they can speak where there is less of a risk of their conversation being overheard… be people and/or bugs. At the same time, our Secret Sixers are discussing their recently-ended TechnoDyne mission. Mitch wonders if, by their actions, they’re now no better than vigilantes.
Suddenly… the computer system goes down, and with it, all of their “life support” apparatuses! Mitch can’t use his hands, LaDonna goes mute, Vic goes blind, Luke’s legs give out, Tony goes deaf, Maria has a seizure… it’s quite the scene!
The effects only last a moment, however… and we learn that it only happened because Maria was attempting to hack into the mainframe to find out more about their mysterious benefactor. Well, that ain’t smart!
We rejoin Rafael and Whatshisface back at Whatshisface’s house… and we finally get a peek at what’s in the box. Among other assorted goodies is a videocassette and a wrist-watch communicator. No sooner do they open it, than Mockingbird appears on the watch and begins to speak. He’s speaking to the New Secret Six, and congratulating them on a job well done.
Mockingbird continues, and brings up the Six’s “predecessors”, revealing that they met with an unpleasant fate, before finally announcing that there will be another midnight meeting in the Frisco warehouse to discuss their next mission. Rafael’s ears perk up.
We wrap up with a disguised individual (who totally isn’t Rafael) sneaking into the warehouse and ambushing members of our new Secret Six!
Again, I’m happy TechnoDyne is behind us… and hopeful that we’ll maybe be able to get more acquainted with our team… and learn a bit more about their benefactor.
Let’s jump right in, and look at my three main takeaways. Heck, three takeaways in eight pages? That’s pretty good!
First, Mockingbird placing a “fail safe” into his database is smart… and, ya know, predictable. You’d figure computer whiz Maria Verdugo might have expected something like that, right? I’m just now noticing that her name is “Verdugo”, which sounds like vertigo… and she suffers from seizures. I’m conflating maladies here, but it’s a pretty common conflation. Anyhoo, the fail safe is there… if any of them step out of line, what Mockingbird giveth can also be taken away.
Second, Rafael learning a little bit more about the “new” Mockingbird… and this new Secret Six. Is this information Mockingbird knew he’d discover… or, did our mysterious mastermind overlook this one thing?
Third, the Feds getting involved in inspecting the crash of the original Sixers. Seems… weird, and is likely something we’ll be coming back to in the coming weeks. If I’m not mistaken, the Sixers will only be with us for three more chapters before taking a little break, so I’m guessing these threads will really heat up with the quickness!
Overall… still really enjoying this. The art this time around is especially strong (which isn’t to suggest it hadn’t been up to this point)… this time though, it seems like there’s much more detail put into the characters expressions… and there’s this excessive “hatching’ in lieu of shadows which is sorta-kinda reminiscent of old Underground Comix. Really good stuff!
We open with Deadman… in Hell! He is greeted by a devil, who introduces himself as “a man of wealth and taste”, which confirms all those things we were told about listening to Satanic records. Deadman is taken on a tour, where he is introduced to the C.I.A. Agent who first found the Jug. Remember, Hell is inside a Jug being kept inside a clandestine Military Installation somewhere in Virginia. Anyhoo, this Agent is being endlessly tortured for his trespass. Boston possesses the body to confirm.
We get a lot of Deadman questioning whether or not this is “really Hell” or if Hell is even real in the first place. A lot of this comes across a bit try-hard for my tastes. Anyhoo, Deadman asks why the devil is male (for some reason), which prompts ol’ Beelzebub to transform into a woman, just to screw with him.
The Devil transforms a few more times, including into… who I think is supposed to be Ronald Reagan? It doesn’t look one bit like Reagan, but I feel like it’s gotta be him. DC staffers really didn’t like the President all that much, and weren’t afraid to let everybody know. At this point, Deadman is dropped into a Hellish version of Walmart… well, a more Hellish version of Walmart. Though, in fairness, I don’t see any motorized carts, so Hell might have a leg up on us!
Boston bugs out, and is met outside by… D.B. Cooper. Wait, are we talking… that D.B. Cooper?! Well folks, it looks like we are! Upon meeting him, Deadman refers to the fella as the mysterious Skyjacker from the Seventies. Looks like as he was leaping from the plane, his ‘chute didn’t open… and, he fell straight into Hell.
D.B. and B.B. walk the streets of Hell… the seedier streets of Hell, that is… and, ya know… I don’t have much to say about this panel, but I wanna share it anyway.
D.B. leads Deadman out of the more populous city area, all the while spouting off about how he might’ve just found a way out of this place. The pair begin to cross a vast desert… and on the horizon stands a very large mountain. Cooper is certain that, should they be able to scale it, they’ll be free!
D.B. Cooper?! How ’bout dat?
Lemme tell ya, the story of D.B. Cooper has long been one of my Internet “rabbit holes”. It’s just such a strange and interesting story… and it’s somehow one that keeps having more lore added to it with every passing year! I mean, the skyjacking happened in 1971… that’s nearly a half-century ago, and we’re still learning new things about it!
Sure, some of it’s almost certainly complete bunk… but, I’m the kinda guy who “wants to believe”, ya know what I mean? If you’re interested, John Lordan put out an interesting video on D.B. a couple of years back.
Heck, even though the F.B.I. suspended their investigation in 2016… as recent as August, 2018… folks are still attempting to put the pieces together! Imagine eventually learning that this dude survived and just went on to live a life of relative anonymity? That’d be pretty nuts. Though, I guess before we can even consider such a thing, we’ll have to see if he and Deadman can escape the Hell Jug.
So, for the rest of the story of the issue. It was pretty good. I quite enjoyed it… though, Boston’s incredulousness did get a bit annoying. I mean, he’s Deadman… is the concept of their being a Hell really that far-fetched? We’ve talked about this before… in the real world, sure, an individual can question and/or doubt things like that… but, in the DC Universe? Dude… c’mon… the DC Heroes have met angels, devils, gods, demons… even Santa Claus!
I did find it interesting that the streets of Hell were full of porn and debauchery. It’s odd that that sort of “statement” would be made… sorta lumping that all together as “Hellish”, ya know?
Anyhoo… good stuff here. Art continues to be strong… though, if that was supposed to be Reagan… woof. Try that one again. Looking forward to what’s to come!
Picking up where we left off… that one guy is bowing at Superman’s feet. The Officer dismisses him as a looney-toon, which kind of gets under his skin. The fella introduces himself as Bob Galt, one of many who look at Superman as kind of a savior.
Superman kinda brushes the dude off… he’s flattered, and all that, but doesn’t consider himself a God. Bob’s steadfast in his belief, and gives Superman the quick and dirty on his own origin story. Well, that wastes a few panels, dunnit?
We wrap up with Superman unconvinced of his God-status… and perhaps Bob Galt being taken into custody?
Okay, look at the cover to this issue of Action Comics Weekly… we basically got all the information right there, didn’t we? Heck, seeing all of those cloaked “followers” and worshipers… we might’ve gotten more information on the cover!
The story takes like a half-step forward… and, I really can’t imagine how folks received this one the first time around. Just so dull… such a non-entity. We literally move less than five minutes forward here… and, we spend a third of the strip retelling Superman’s origin?!
Remember how a few weeks ago, reporter Susan King was called into her Editor’s office to be told to quit writing about Wild Dog all the time? Well, this week we open with Lou Godder being nyoinked into his Editor’s office to be told to quit writing about the Legion of Morality every single day! Though, in fairness to Lou, this isn’t because he’s just rewriting the same story every day, it’s because the Legion might just sue the paper for defamation! Lou’s Editor is stuck between a rock and a hard place… he’s even getting piles of “Letters to the Editor” from Legion members and sympathizers!
We shift scenes over to Jack and “The Commander”, and it turns out the Legion does have plans of “getting even” with the Moline News… but it ain’t exactly a lawsuit they have in mind. Ya see, they’re planning on just blowing the building off the map… and Jack’s just been enlisted to help.
Since Jack is a “new guy”, he’s going to have to prove himself. For this mission, he’s just going to play the look-out. He’ll be hanging out in his car with a walkie-talkie… and is to alert the “task force” should any trouble arise. Jack’s introduced to the Task Force Leader… who we only know as “Sir”. Thankfully, he’s wearing a different color uniform so we can tell him apart from the others!
We jump ahead, and the Legionnaire’s have infiltrated the Moline News printing press. “Sir” tells Jack one more time to let him know should the police arrive, before heading inside himself. Now alone, Jack wastes little time suiting up.
Before we know it, Wild Dog is on the scene… he bee-lines it over to a bucket of… I dunno, ink? paint? Something blue… heck, I suppose it could be water. Whatever it was, he dumps it on the floor to trip up the Legionnaires.
We wrap up with our man kicking a roll of paper toward the Moralists… and “Sir” giving the order to shoot Wild Dog. Now, why didn’t they think of that?!
Another really fun chapter of Wild Dog! Without “spoiling” something I would normally reveal on Thursday, Wild Dog got my vote in the “Best of ACW #605″ poll last week… narrowly edging out Blackhawk. Now that it’s picking up steam, I’m having a really good time with it.
A couple of takeaways here. First, I really like starting the chapter with Godder being pulled into his Editor’s office… as mentioned in the synopsis, it was reminiscent of Susan King getting pulled into her’s. Though, her writing about Wild Dog seemed a lot more like a personal vendetta than Lou writing about the Legion.
While on that subject… I wonder if we’ll be seeing Ms. King again anytime soon?
Another thing that jumped out at me was Wild Dog’s use of… non-lethal force at the Moline News printing press. Rather than run in guns blazing (like he’s done in, ya know, every action scene he’s been in so far), he pulls this Kevin McAllister bit, dumping some slippery stuff on the ground to slip-up the Moralists. Seems kind of out of character, dunnit?
Why, it’s almost as though… it’s another guy under the mask?! No, no… it’s not, I’m just messing with you. It’s still Jack. Just a Jack using an uncharacteristic “shoot to stun” methodology.
The Legion of Morality foot soldiers come off like a bunch of geeks. Literally just standing there while Jack runs over to a bucket… then dumps the bucket… then runs over to a big ol’ roll of paper… then kicks that roll of paper in their direction. No wonder they need “Sir” there to tell them when to fire their guns… and, ya know, who to fire them at! I don’t know how these buffoons have managed to blow up a single smut-filled building. Heck, at this point I’m not convinced any of them could tie their own shoes!
Overall… despite the Legionnaires being complete geeks, this was a lot of fun. Really looking forward to seeing how this one wraps up.
We rejoin Janos and the gang as they dine. He’s pleading the case for Red Dragon to close up shop at this remote jungle palace, and maybe head back into the real world. She isn’t all that keen to the idea, and doesn’t believe for a moment that Blackhawk and Cynthia just “happened” upon her location. To which, Janos suggests… if that were true, things are a lot worse for her than she thinks. See, if Cynthia and Janos know about this place… Lord only knows who else does as well! He’s definitely got a point! He then mocks Massie for being a little too “low class” for Sheah… which prompts a brief skirmish between the two fellas.
Janos manages to hurt his hand… on Massie’s jaw, and so, Sheah takes him off to treat it. Cynthia takes this opportunity to retire to the guest quarters to sulk. Soon, she is joined by Massie… who informs her that now that Blackhawk and Red Dragon are getting all chummy-chummy, the two of them are about to become expendable.
We shift scenes to Sheah and Janos, as the former wraps the hand of the latter. They flirt a little bit, with Sheah revealing that Robert Massie is only a “diversion” for now. Then, they start making out… and, well, we cut away… so, we can probably just assume what happens next.
Back in Cynthia’s room, Massie continues to plead his case. Heck, he even offers to join Cynthia in whatever escape plan she and Janos might have! Ya see, he’s really starting to freak out… because he’s already seen what the Red Dragon does with her “castoffs”.
We wrap up… in the afterglow. It looks like ol’ Janos was able to, uh, convince Sheah to head back into civilization with all of her riches. The thing of it is, though… she’s not 100% sure she can trust him… so, there will be strings attached. For one thing, Cynthia Hastings will have to stay behind!
This was a great chapter. I know I wasn’t as hot on last week’s outing… but, as I’d said, I respect it for “putting in the work”. Actually taking the time to introduce some foundational elements and setting the stage for the next “act” is something that I feel is missing from many “current year” comics. People these days just want to write/draw the pivotal scenes they’ve got in their head… without devoting the proper amount of effort (that is to say, any) to allow the reader to properly “invest”… which, in a way, torpedoes the desired impact of the scene they’re dying to write in the first place. Does that make sense? I swear it does in my head… but seeing it written out like that, I must come off like a loon.
Anyhoo… let’s get out last week, and into this one! I’m not sure what I was expecting the first time I set to read this Blackhawk feature, but it certainly wasn’t this complex story, complete with such smart dialogue.
Just looking at the first page… Red Dragon is sure that Janos and Cynthia didn’t just “stumble” upon her palace… and attempts to use that against them. To which, Janos is all “Well, you’d best hope we just stumbled upon ya… otherwise, there are a lot of folks who know about this place!” Such an awesome little exchange! It’s no-nonsense, and absolutely makes its point.
Janos takes it a step further, comparing Massie to an old pick-up truck… and himself as a Rolls Royce. I thought it was pretty funny how, just that simple line got under Massie’s skin enough for him to… ya know, pull a knife and lunge across the table! Grell does justify that extreme behavior later on… Massie’s seen what happens to Sheah’s “castoffs” when she’s done with them… and, he’s likely not keen on becoming one of them.
I’m tellin’ ya… this whole thing is so well done.
The cliffhanger is as strong as ever. There’s another thing Grell has done exceptionally well throughout this arc. Janos thinks he’s got it all figured out… and he’s found a way to get the treasure… and, maybe the girl too… and then, that other shoe drops! Sheah tells him that Cynthia Hastings has to remain. Such good stuff!
Overall, I’m gonna be honest with ya… I’m definitely going to miss this feature when it’s “on hiatus”. We’ve only got two more chapters… after which, the Action Comics Weekly experience might just become a whole lot poorer.
(Not the) Letters Page: