Action Comics Weekly #607 (Secret Six)
Writer – Martin Pasko
Art – Dan Spiegle
Letters – Carrie Spiegle
Colors – Carl Gafford
Editor – Dick Giordano
Okay gang, we really need to talk… about the state of Bazooka gum.
First off, can you believe this stuff still exists?! I tell ya what, I stopped into a local gas station to grab a cup of coffee on my way across town a couple weeks back, and was shocked to see this on the counter. A ten-pack of Bazooka Gum… for like a buck-fifty. Well, I guess I shouldn’t have expected it to still be a nickel a’piece.
I looked at the pack, and as luck would have it, it was a Wednesday. I thought, “hey, it might be funny to take pictures of the Bazooka Joe comics, and post them online as my ‘Weekly comics haul’.” And so, I excitedly purchased the pack… got back to the car, and opened it up.
What I found… looked a bit different than what I’d come to expect from ol’ Bazooka Joe. Instead of the colorful wrapper… we get this snazzy red and white deal (blue and white for the “Blue Razz” flavor).
Unwrapping the bugger only brought more confusion… and disappointment. Gone are those weird “ridges”, and all we’re left with is a characterless block of gum. I mean, Bazooka was never the paragon of “bubble gum flavor country”, but, it had a certain charm to it. Well, no more.
At least we still had the comic to look forward to… right? Right?! Right????
The Hell is this, Bazooka?! You give me some trivia, and a code for your website?! Where’s my comic strip?! You’re still adding a piece of paper to each glob of gum… even if you’re not making the comics anymore, gimme an oldie!
Well, it turns out that Bazooka felt the comics were too old-fashioned, and decided to “get with the times”… ya know, by making their packaging look like the opening to Saved by the Bell.
Oh, and by the way… if you’re interested in knowing what that code does…
Thanks a million! Bazooka Joe… you broke my heart.
Picking up where we left off… that masked individual (who definitely isn’t Rafael) has broken into Secret Six HQ, and is taking out our Sixers one by one. Well, until he works his way into Mitch’s workshop and winds up getting himself zapped. Turns out… and you’ll never believe it, but it was Rafael all along!
While Vic and Mitch contain the interloper, Mockingbird’s latest assignment arrives. The Sixers are to take down a Meat-Packaging Mogul out in Ellsworth, Virginia. Turns out, one Mr. Dorn (owner of Farmer Ralph’s Meats) is a bit sloppy when it comes to F.D.A. regulations. The Sixers are to “out” him for his negligence… and, get this, feed him his own contaminated meat… until he dies?!
With the assignment received, the Sixers turn to Rafael to get some answers for his trespass. He shares his secret origin with the team. Ya see, his father was Carlo “The Magnificent” DiRienzi… a stage magician, and of course, original member of the Secret Six. One night, he was held up by a “protection” racket… he was met by a Heavy who offered him protection, for a healthy cut of his profits. Carlo responded with a right to the mush…
… a move he’d almost immediately regret. That night, when Carlo arrived home… it exploded! Killing his wife, and gravely injuring his son “Gino” (Papa’s pet-name for Rafael).
Carlo took his boy to doctor after doctor… with no relief to be found. That is, until he was summoned to a specialist in Switzerland. The Doc offered to perform the surgery for free… because “Mockingbird willed it”. Rafael underwent the procedure and was put on a medication regimen to keep him up and about. Medication, that Carlo feared would be withheld if he went against Mockingbird. And so, Carlo joined the Secret Six.
Rafael explains how he found the Secret Six’s San Francisco digs… the box, the communication watch… ya know, all that stuff. Just as it appears “Gino” has gained the Six’s confidence, Mockingbird makes contact via the monitors. He warns that there is a traitor conspiring against them. A traitor, named… Rafael DiRienzi!
Well, if this hasn’t been a most intriguing entry… full of twists and turns (and I’m not just talking about the Bazooka Joe bombshell).
I was happy to see Rafael’s origin finally cleared up. I feel like he’s low-key become our “point of view” character… which was definitely something I wasn’t expecting. I appreciate his ties to the original Secret Six… and the feeling of “lineage” he winds up bringing to this little story.
His outing of himself seems to have put him at-odds with Mockingbird… which, I dunno… it’s already pretty clear that Mockingbird is using these new Sixers… he’s got ’em between a rock and a hard-place, so anything Rafael might reveal should already be known… or at the very least, assumed, by the newbies. Oh well, we’ll let it play out.
Speaking of “playing out”, the Sixers receive their second assignment… which is, as Mitch put it, tantamount to staging an execution! Mockingbird certainly doesn’t screw around. I’m really looking forward to seeing where this goes. Not sure if any of our “heroes” would be able to force feed a fella tainted meat… but, I’m certainly down to watch along.
Overall… another really nice chapter for the Secret Six. Wish this run was a bit more well known… hopefully these entries are helping to raise a bit of awareness (a very little bit, anyway).
Tomorrow: The Penultimate Chapter for Blackhawk!