Action Comics Weekly #612 (1988)

Action Comics Weekly #612 (June 21, 1988)
Green Lantern: “Mind Over Matter”
Secret Six: “Out of the Frying Pan… Into the Fire
Deadman: “Take Us to Your Leader”
Superman: “Where Lurks the Evil?”
Catwoman: “The Tin Roof Club, Part Two”
Black Canary: “Bitter Fruit, Part 4”
Writers – Peter David, Martin Pasko, Mike Baron, Roger Stern, Mindy Newell, & Sharon Wright
Pencils – Tod Smith, Dan Spiegle, Dan Jurgens, Curt Swan, Barry Kitson, & Randy DuBurke
Inks – Tony DeZuniga, John Beatty, Bruce Patterson, & Pablo Marcos
Letters – Albert DeGuzman, Carrie Spiegle, Steve Haynie, & Bill Oakley
Colors – Anthony Tollin, Carl Gafford, Liz Berube, Tom Ziuko, Adrienne Roy, & Gene D’Angelo
Edits – Dan Raspler, Denny O’Neil, Dick Giordano, Barbara Kesel, Mike Carlin, & Mike Gold
Cover Price: $1.50

It’s like the end of an era this week, as we bid farewell to a couple more of our “original six” features, in Deadman and Secret Six.  They’ll be back soon enough though, in fact, I’m pretty sure we’ll eventually hit a time where ACW will consist entirely of the “original six” features once again!

Let’s take a look at our cover, which stars one of our departing features, rendered by Paul Gulacy.  It’s a heckuva nice, stylized cover… almost reminds me of those old Steranko Nick Fury covers.  Before ya freak out on me, remember I said “almost”.  I like it, and it’s a neat “send-off” for the Sixers.

Now, let’s look at last week’s Poll Results!

Heckuva turnout this week… best yet!  Big thanks to everyone who voted and shared the poll around!  Catwoman knocks it out of the park with her first chapter… it’s actually the feature I voted for too (I didn’t forget this week)!  Black Canary is our only “goose egg” feature, which I believe is rather fitting… it was the weakest of all the stories last week (even Superman).  Speaking of Superman… for the first time in around ten weeks, dude finally got some votes on the board!  How ’bout that!

My Ratings for last week’s stories (#611) would be:
1 – Catwoman
2 – Secret Six
3 – Green Lantern
4 – Superman
5 – Deadman
6 – Black Canary

Speaking of Polls… it’s with this issue of Action Comics Weekly that DC finally gives us the results of their very first poll (ACW #601)!  I’d never have imagined it would’ve taken twelve weeks to get here… but, here we are!

Let’s compare their list… with ours, shall we?

Wow, not much in common there, eh?  Worth noting that the bottom three features in our list were tied for having the least votes… annnnnd, there might’ve been a little bit of funny-business regarding Deadman winning the day.  Ya see, this is before I put some “controls” on the voting, and somebody had a little “funny, ha-ha” and voted for ol’ Boston over ten times in a single minute.  Future comparisons should (in theory) be a bit more legitimate… and, hopefully a bit more fun to compare with the original results.

So now, here’s this week’s poll!  Vote in good health!

Best Story in Action Comics Weekly #612?

Green Lantern

Secret Six




Black Canary

Shareable Poll Link: https://linkto.run/p/S8UR9NYR

Picking up where we left off, Hal has been zapped by that “Mind Games” satellite, just as Lt. Rensaleer finds the “Mind Games” note!  A maddened Hal lunges at the Lieutenant, and pins him to the ground.  Rensaleer strikes back with an ear-clap, that puts a bit of space between them.  Hal points his ring in his direction… emerald energy pouring off of it.

Back at the station, that modelling agent is still trying to sell Arisia on signing on with her agency.  In order to “seal the deal”, she suggests Arisia could become the next Cory Anders.  Hey, we know her!

Back in the alley, Hal goes to blast the Lieutenant… but his ring doesn’t seem to want to cooperate!  He’s certain that it’s charged, but for whatever reason, it refuses to fire.  Hal then freaks out, and begins flapping his arms… as though he’s trying to fly, and forgotten how!

Rensaleer chases Hal out of the alley, tackling him.  A stray dog wanders over to the Mind Games note… and, uh, lifts his leg over it.  At this point Hal goes back to normal, and hasn’t the foggiest clue what’s been going on.

After cooling their jets for a bit, Hal and the Lt. catch the evening news broadcast.  Some nutjob busts in on the station, and demands $500,000 on behalf of… Mind Games.  To prove his power, he claims that, for a two-minute period, Mind Games will turn one-tenth of Chicago’s population insane.  I feel like there’s a real easy joke to be made there, but we’ll let it go.

Those two-minutes begin, and one of the “crazies” turns out to be, Cynthia Whatsherface, the modeling agent!  While out to dinner discussing the finer details of a potential modelling contract, she lunges across the table at Arisia, and attempts to stab her with… a spoon.  Well, that was a lucky break!

At this point, Hal realizes that he could just use his ring to track where the crazy beams are emanating from… and follows them to a large satellite dish, which he destroys.  He enters a nearby building, and runs into a man… who we can only assume is Mind Games.  Ol’ Emm-Gee hammers Hal with a mind-blast!

I’m going to give y’all a peek behind the curtain here.  I’ve had this synopsis written for like a week… and have just been dragging my feet in writing up my thoughts and “review”.  There’s just nothing really to say, is there?  It was my hope that something would come to mind… some sort of discussion thread would reveal itself… buuuuut, nope.

I mean, we’re building to something… and next week’s installment will be a ton more interesting than this… but for now?  It’s just kinda “there”.  I suppose we could wonder why Hal never thought to follow the psycho-waves before now?  Why the ring didn’t pick up on a “disturbance in the force”… but, yawn, why?

It is what it is… and what it is, is kinda weak.  Don’t worry though, next week we will kick things up a notch, and have quite a bit of fun digging around in Hal’s dome!

We open with Vic and Luke at Sunnydale Farms, and learn about a fella named Jack Poundstone.  He learned about the leaner-meated (though, virally contaminated) minipigs that were being bred for medical research (at Jefferson University) and bought himself a male and female in order to get ta reproducing.  The University rep, a Stephen Traeger, was supposed to destroy the pigs, but figured there’d be little harm in making a few bucks on the side.  A pair of good ol’ boy security guard bust in on our Sixers, but get beaten up pretty easily.

Meanwhile, we see that Ralph Dorn, C.E.O. of Farmer Ralph’s was the “VIP” who was about to be fed the tainted meat at the end of the last chapter.  I had assumed it was going to be Rafael DiRienzi… guess that’ll teach me for assumin’.

Though, speaking of Rafael… we rejoin him, still held captive at the posh hotel.  He is awakened, and placed before a television set.  On the screen… Mockingbird!  Looks like everything is going according to Emm-Bee’s plan!  DiRienzi insists that there will be people looking for him… which, turns out, is all the better!

Back at Secret Six HQ, we learn that there might be a connection between Jefferson University’s Science Department and… TechnoDyne?  I thought we were through with those guys!  Anyhoo, DiRienzi’s pal shows up… just as predicted, and after a brief skirmish, is able to convince Maria and Mitch to hear him out.

We shift scenes to Washington, D.C., where they’re still investigating the VTOL crash.  It’s assumed that all of the passengers had perished.  It’s also assumed that OG Sixer, August Durant was responsible for the whole thing… and, later in the conversation, he is linked to… Jefferson University.  Uh-oh.

Back with the Six, Rafe’s pal tells his tale.  Turns out he was the Manager of the Enchanted Forest… but knew very little about the Secret Six.  All he knows is that the VTOL crashed, and that Rafe suspected Mockingbird was behind it.  He confirms that the club was later burned to the ground to “send a message”… and states that he’d received Rafael’s communication device in the mail with instructions to visit Frisco (they hate it when you call it that).

We wrap up, with the revelation that Mockingbird could only be… one of the original Secret Six!  Rafael’s pal offers to become the New-Sixer’s “secret agent”, trying to peel back the layers of this mystery… while giving them all deniability (and thus, holding on to their “gifts”).  I think it’s a pretty big assumption that Mockingbird doesn’t have this entire place bugged… but, we’ll play along.  Anyhoo… this is how we end things.  We won’t be discussing the Secret Six again for… seven weeks!  Yes, really.


Twelve Weeks, Twelve Chapters… probably, three or four too many, if I’m being honest… annnnnnd, this is the “ending” we get?!  It’s… it’s not even an ending!  Heck, it’s hardly even a “new wrinkle”… the Sixers already knew Mockingbird probably shouldn’t be trusted.  Ay yai yai.

“Ending” aside… what else we get?

Well, we’ve established a Sunnydale Farms, Jefferson University, and a TechnoDyne link.  Also, that original Sixer, August Durant has links to potentially all three as well.  It’s actually all quite interesting… though, at this point, probably should have been explained to us several weeks ago.  These aren’t “Senses-Shattering” revelations, and the fact that we’ve had to wait so long to get ’em takes even more of the “oomph” out.

Rafael is still being held hostage, and it looks like he’d best get comfortable.  “Farmer” Ralph Dorn is dealt with… fed a platter of his own tainted meat… which, if I’m remembering right, is more or less exactly what Mockingbird intended to happen.  Hmm… maybe there’s more to this “connection” than I’d originally thought!

Overall, as a chapter… it’s a darn good one, though perhaps a bit “info-dumpy”.  As a concluding chapter, however… ehh-ehh, nope.  I get wanting to leave the people wanting more, but this kind of kicks dirt in the faces of all of us who were expecting just a little bit of resolution before the hiatus.

Okay, so when we left off Talaoc was on his way back to Earth in that odd spherical spacecraft that busted out from the Mayan Pyramid.  Y’all remember that?  I don’t blame you if you don’t.  Anyhoo.  Major Kasaba, some bald guy, Deadman, and… Satan are watching this unfold on the monitors.  After a bit of a playful argument between the dead-guys, Boston hops into the body of the bald fella in order to communicate with their pending visitor.  Oh, and there are a few jokes about President Reagan being asleep… can’t forget about that!

After Deadman-as-Bald Guy talks to Talaoc, they agree to meet up.  Upon landing, Talaoc exits the craft… but doesn’t do so alone.  He is surrounded by several spectres (thankfully, not that Spectre) of “his people”.  It’s worth noting that he is also “see-thru”.

Talaoc’s ghost demands all of their weapons and artifacts returned… or else, they will possess all of the Earth’s leaders and plunge the planet into a horrible war.  Major Kasaba’s all “We don’t negotiate with… uh, dead alien… god… things”, which really isn’t the best play.  Deadman bodyhops from Bald Guy to Kasaba in hopes of smoothing things over…

… only Kasaba’s already got an inhabitant!  That’s right, it’s Satan!  Deadman pops back into the Bald guy, and backhands Kasaba good.

He instructs a soldier to fetch the Alien Weapons… and, after a few words with Talaoc, blasts the devil out of Major Kasaba.

Then, like a Ghostbuster had just thrown a trap, D.B. Cooper/the Devil evacuates Kasaba’s kasabod… and (somehow) gets sucked into a containment unit.

Talaoc and Company collect the “specimen”, and load it on their ship.  It turns out that “Satan” was actually the original leader of Talaoc’s men, driven mad from all his time on Earth.  I know the feeling!

We (finally) wrap up with Major Kasaba waking up… and convincing the bald fella that they’d just undergone a “bad trip”, courtesy of the United States government testing a new hallucinogen.  She suggests they sue, as Deadman takes his leave. 

And so ends our time with Boston Brand.  Kind of a convenient capper, but certainly not the worst ending I’ve ever read.

I feel like that’s one of the biggest problems in comic book storytelling today, writers are afraid to… or unable to “stick” the landing to their epic stories.  So often, endings are so weakly written… such a letdown, that they manage to retroactively taint the rest of the story.  Or, they’re being written as a “bridge” to the next “senses-shattering, everything you thought you knew was wrong” crossover event.

This Deadman ending… well, it worked.  Didn’t rock my socks, didn’t put a smile on my face… but, it worked.  All of the disparate story elements and characters came together, and nothing was left worse for wear.

As an arc, while overlong and dragging in parts, I feel like this had more hits than misses, which is more than I can say about most things!  Deadman was a “net-positive”, and if you’re a fan of the character, I have little doubt that you’ll dig this storyline.

Galt’s mental transmission continues to play, which really freaks Perry White out.  He doesn’t seem to understand that none of what’s before him is actually playing out.  Galt ends the transmission before Perry can start wildly swiping at thin air.

White inquires as to why Galt never contacted the authorities about this apparent massacre, to which he claims that the surviving members feared that somehow going to the authorities would cause reprisal from their attackers… and, the only person who can be trusted is, naturally, Superman.

Clark wonders aloud who might be behind all of this… which facilitates a segue to the West Coast, where a boardroom full of… I dunno, business-illuminati folks (?) are discussing current events.  They are wildly displeased that one of the Fellowship members has “made contact” with Superman… and they realize that, from here, they can only do one thing to “save the world”: Kill Superman?!

So, we trudge ahead a good minute, minute-and-a-half this week.

Not gonna lie, this is pretty dull stuff.  While it’s difficult to tell too much of a story in only two pages, this is just dreadfully slow.  Almost painfully slow… especially if you are a person who tasked himself with writing about it!

Not much to see here.  The Cadre of “Men in Suits” on the other coast ain’t pleased… and maybe they’re about to do something about it?  I dunno.  Honestly, I’m pretty sure I don’t even care.

Picking up right where we left off last week, Selina has opened the door to her office to find her Bartender wielding a gun… and suddenly, a shot is fired.  Turns out, it was actually Detective Flannery’s gun that went off… Bartender Willy hits the ground.  George begins scanning the office, and isn’t too terribly surprised to see it littered with kayoed gangsters.  More than that, he’s unshaken to discover Selina’s whip and catsuit on her desk.  He’s apparently clued-in on the alter-ego, but assumed Selina “killed the cat”.

Realizing that he has very little choice at the moment, Flannery goes to arrest Selina.  He only manages to get one cuff on her before she overwhelms him.  And by “overwhelms”, I mean she just beats the hell out of him.  Before “suiting up” and taking her leave, she cuffs George with his own manacles.

Turns out, Catwoman is heading to New Jersey to check in with Holly… if you recall, last week she’d “gifted” her that precious cat brooch.

Catwoman sneaks into Holly’s place.  Holly, is pretty surprised by this, and jokes that Selina might be there to “rob” her.  Selina asks for Holly to hand the gift over as it’s too dangerous for her to have it.  Holly admits that she didn’t wait until Christmas to open the package… and further admits that she’d given it to her husband, Arthur so he could drop it off at their Safe Deposit box at the bank for safe-keeping.

Selina asks to see Arthur… but he ain’t home.  She asks Holly if it’s weird for her husband to be out at three in the morning.  Before she can answer, however… the house explodes!

Wowie!  With an ending like that, it’s almost like we’re back reading Wild Dog again!

Really not sure how this one’s going to play out.  I mean, clearly, Catwoman is going to survive the blast… but, will Holly?  I think we’re meant to assume that Arthur was planning to “make off” with the brooch, and rigged his own house to blow, wife included, in order to cover his getaway?  At least that’s my “hot take” on the subject.

Jumping back to the beginning of the story, I really enjoyed the back and forth between Selina and George.  I’m digging this George character an awful lot.  We can tell that he doesn’t want to arrest Selina, and he’s trying to be as patient as possible with her… but, in times like this, he can’t really turn a blind eye.

Overall… Catwoman got my “Best of the Week” vote last week, and as of right now, it’s very likely that it’ll go two-in-a-row for me.  Really enjoying this… it’s a shame that it’s already halfway through!

We open with a homeless woman giddily finding a gun in a pile of garbage.  In the background, there’s a dumpster which slowly creaks open.  One the lady is gone, we learn that the inhabitant of the dumpster was… Dinah!  She is soon joined by Doug Vallines, that fella in the cowboy hat that I (I could’a sworn) clubbed her last week.  Doesn’t seem as though Dinah recollects any of that though.  He explains that they were attacked, and he had just woken up in another dumpster himself.  He estimates that they’ve been “out” for around two hours.

Doug guides Dinah over to his pickup truck and drives her to a restaurant where she might call for a cab.  Ya see, despite not wanting to ride with this fella, she… well, rode with this fella anyway.  Oh well, at least this way he won’t know where she lives.  That’s somethin’.  Before they part company, Doug hands her his card so she can have Hector Librado give him a call.  Well, we already know that’s not gonna happen.

We shift scenes to a pitch-black room, where a man answer a phone call.  This guy is either Vincent Scales… or he’s talking to a guy named Vincent Scales.  It’s not entirely clear.  Anyhoo, he’s given an ambiguous status report.

We next go to a scene of Dinah taking a shower… a very awkward-looking shower.  It’s almost as though she knows we’re reading this!  Or, maybe she just doesn’t like Ollie watching… because, he totally is.

Ollie makes his way in, and they talk about everything that went down that night.  Or, they would have, if not for being interrupted by the phone.  On the line, is Rita!  She’s calling to tell Dinah about what happened to Hector… though, they’re being pretty vague about it.

We wrap up with a stocky, balding jogger… stockily and baldly jogging in the Hollywood Hills.  He stops at a payphone to make a call to someone named “Barry”… but, here’s the thing… he introduces himself as… Doug Vallines!

Well, it’s improving… I’ll give it that much.

Let’s talk art.  It no longer looks like Dinah’s having her head smooshed between Mark McKinney’s fingers, but it still isn’t all that pleasant.  Also, there are few storytelling hiccups here that really muddle up the narrative.  Too much is being kept too vague, which I suppose I shouldn’t blame squarely on DuBurke.

Last week, it really looked like “Vallines” clubbed Canary when they met.  This week, I wasn’t sure why Dinah didn’t even mention that.  Now, I’m beginning to question what I even saw in the first place.  That really should have been more clearly illustrated.

Also, the panel layouts here strike me as pretty wasteful.  Look at the scene where Rita calls Dinah… like 1/3 of the page is white-space.  That just seems like a waste, especially when we’re talking about an eight-page story.  What’s more, we don’t even get confirmation whether or not Hector was killed in the hospital!

Speaking of phone calls… there’s that “Vincent Scales” page.  Just what was that?  Heck, who was that?  Does that have anything to do with Rita’s dad?  Or is this just our weekly reminder that some pilot is suing an airline?  I’m not saying there can’t be a little bit (or a lot) of mystery… but, this just feels a little too “all over the place”, especially at this stage of the story.

All told, this chapter was probably the best yet.  Unfortunately, I don’t feel like that’s really heaping any praise on it.

Letters Page (finally featuring the first poll results!):

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