Action Comics Weekly #618 (1988)

Action Comics Weekly #618 (August 2, 1988)
Green Lantern: “First Encounter”
Blackhawk: “Unhappy Landing”
Wild Dog: “Fatal Distraction, Chapter Four: Lucky Night”
Superman: “Out on the Town”
Deadman: “Chapter One: Grave Doings”
Nightwing: “The Cheshire Contract – Conclusion”
Writers – Peter David, Martin Pasko, Max Allan Collins, Roger Stern, Mike Baron, & Marv Wolfman
Pencils – Richard Howell, Rick Burchett, Terry Beatty, Curt Swan, Kelley Jones, & Chuck Patton
Inks – Arne Starr, John Nyberg, Murphy Anderson, Tony DeZuniga, & Tom Poston
Letters – Anthony Tollin, Steve Haynie, Tim Harkins, Bill Oakley, & Albert DeGuzman
Colors – Helen Vesik, Tom Ziuko, Carl Gafford, Daniel Vozzo, & Adrienne Roy
Editors – Denny O’Neil, Dan Raspler, Mike Gold, Brian Augustyn, Mike Carlin, & Barbara Kesel
Cover Price: $1.50

This is a pretty important week here at Action Comics Daily HQ… it’s the last time we’ll be seeing this “trade dress” for the book!  Next week… that is, tomorrow… we shift into “Phase Two” of Action Comics Weekly.  Not only does that mean the logo will be changing (slightly), but our original six features will all take the stage again for a handful of weeks!  I tell ya, that’s some exciting stuff.

Or not.  I dunno… generally speaking, I’m a rather poor judge of things.

Something that is kind of exciting is this week’s cover!  Brought to us by future Superman: The Man of Steel artist, Jon Bogdanove (with Murphy Anderson).  If it looks sorta familiar to you, and it probably should, it’s because it’s an homage of Carmine Infantino and (that very same) Murphy Anderson’s “Best Bat-Wishes”.  Originally a pin-up included in Detective Comics #352 (June, 1966), later used as the cover for the Batman From the 30’s to the 70’s collection.  It’s one of those images that… for the life of me, I can’t remember where I first saw it… but, it feels as though I’ve always known it!  If you’re still grasping for what the original looked like, have a peek:

Now, let’s start running numbers… here are the results of the Great Action Comics Weekly/Daily Poll for ACW #607:

This is gonna be a hard one to do a comparison on, what with the four-way tie we had for 2nd Place!  Maybe I should’ve waited until we had a few hundred thousand readers before initiating the poll, eh?  Bound to happen at some point in the next… uh, hundred thousand years or so.

Speaking of a really odd voter turn-out… gedda load’a this:

So, uh… yeah.  I think someone’s havin’ a funny, ha-ha here.  Superman… using his telescopic vision to peek in on his apartment was voted as the best story of the week?!  Well, I’m not one to demand a recount or anything, but… really?  I suppose I should just be happy people voted in the first place… but, I’d really like a real comparison between 2019 and 1988 readers.  Oh well… at least it was a tie for first-place!

My rankings for last week’s (#617) stories would be:
1 – Wild Dog
2 – Blackhawk
3 – Nightwing
4 – Phantom Stranger
5 – Green Lantern
6 – Superman

Best Story in Action Comics Weekly #618?

Green Lantern


Wild Dog




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

We pick up with Hal still stuck in Stasis’ stasis “bubble” thing.  If you recall, Stasis was yet another never-before-seen member of the Freak Show faction… and hopefully he’s the last!  We pan out and observe that Castle, who we’re going to assume is the “leader” of this stable, is watching this all go down from afar… through a spyglass.

Hal continues to fight his way out of the bubble, prompting… sigh, Incinderella to clap-up some fire to try and burn him up.  This only results in Hal being freed from Stasis’ stasis… and before we know it, we’re back to battlin’.

Hal quickly gets the upper-hand, however before he can… I dunno, arrest the Freaks, Castle “castles” in, swapping places with Hal… sending him to wherever he was watching through the spyglass.  According to Castle, it’s “a few miles away”, though that really isn’t represented in the art… it looks like he might be a block or two away.

While Hal catches his breath and “wills” his costume back into one piece, we shift scenes to Arisia’s place.  She receives a call from her agent about a modeling gig… but, she turns it down, claiming that she will be leaving Chicago… “for good”.  Boy, hope she didn’t have a contract!

We next rejoin Hal as he approaches Hawke’s Industries… you might recognize it as the gaudiest building ever built in Chicago.  Great big flaming “H” logo takes up an entire outer wall of the place!  We pop inside to find our shadowy villainess being alerted to Green Lantern’s arrival… she refuses to see him.

Hal decides to wait her out… he is eventually joined by young, sweet, demure Lillian Hawkes (but, waitasec, isn’t she?  Hmm..).  Lil feigns ignorance about the entire Freak Show facade… er, I mean… since she’s the “good” Hawkes sister, she has no idea… er, did I just give it all away?  Sorry ’bout that.

Lillian immediately suspects… or projects, rather… that her sister, Veronica is likely the queen of the whole magilla, making Hal very interested in having a one-on-one chat with her.  As luck would have it, this takes us right to our cliffhanger panel!

Ya know… this really isn’t great, but at the same time… I can’t get too mad at it.

I mean, it’s telling a story… and all the nuts and bolts, as obvious and seam-showy as they are, are there.  This is linear basic super-heroics storytelling 101.  Sometimes that’s all we can ask for.

I think I might’ve gave it away during the synopsis, but David is really making it apparent that Lillian is stacking her “innocence” a bit deep.  There isn’t a panel she’s in where she isn’t projecting her virtue… which makes it stupifyingly obvious the direction we’re headed.

The Freak Show… still sucks.  I’m sorry, these characters, as full of PAD charm as they are… are just the worst.  Really can’t get invested in their story… though, I suppose I’m probably not meant to.  I doubt highly anyone looked at Incinderella and thought, “Hey, let’s get that dame on the Suicide Squad… stat!”  Though, I suppose I’ve been wrong before!

Overall, not all that bad a chapter… there is some forward momentum… Hal’s at Hawkes’, Arisia is leaving town… these are things that’ll be followed up on.  Also worth noting, Richard Howell’s pencil has seemed to calm down a great deal… this is the “cleanest” his work has been yet.  So, while not a high point of Hal Jordan’s Action Comics… it might still be worth flipping through.

We pick up right where we left off.  If you remember, Olaf and Jan were tusslin’ and a shot was fired by a very shapely silhouette.  Naturally, it’s Natalie… hey, that sorta rhymes!  She tells Janos that his guess about her son’s father is “all wet”, ie. it ain’t Olaf.  No word on how she lost her left eye, however.  Anyhoo, the two fellas agree not to fight anymore, and actually go one step further and insist the other one “have her”.

We shift scenes to Sumatra, where Master Van der Houten is informed that the Blackhawks had chartered a nearby airfield for landing… and on their charter is the name Leslie Richardson.  The baddie suggests they be escorted to him, as they will be his “guests”.  Though, if they resist… they will be shot dead.  Welp, that’s not much of a choice, is it?  We learn here that the Aviatrix Richardson’s co-pilot has finally succumbed… and his body will be dumped in a nearby volcano.  Hmm… You smellin’ what I’m smellin’?

We jump four hours ahead, and the Blackhawks are preparing to land.  Jan assumes that the crash site will be rather well “scrubbed”, leaving no physical evidence of the event.  Leslie is more concerned with “greasing” the right palms in order to procure the official Investigator’s Report.  Upon landing, they are greeted by Van der Houten’s men.

It doesn’t take long before this devolves into a firefight… something that appears to take Janos by surprise.  Not so much the fact that there’s danger afoot, but just how itchy Mr. Richardson’s trigger finger appears to be!

It appears as though the good guys have managed to flee, and Richardson tells them the exact direction they need to head.  This is pretty surprising to the Blackhawks, as up to this point, they’d been led to believe that Leslie’s never been here.  It’s all a moot point, however, as before they can reconnoiter, they are surrounded by the rest of Van der Houten’s men!

Great chapter here!  It’s so hard to believe we’re just about halfway through this Blackhawk arc already!  Few things we learned here… none of which are all that mind-blowing, but neat all the same.

First, there’s more to Leslie Richardson than he was letting on.  I mean, I think we all kind of figured that… especially as he’s paid so much up front, and came along for the trip.  We get a comment from Van der Houten about Les “supposedly” being the Aviatrix’ husband… I suppose that will play out over time.  He’s also very quick to pull the trigger… and he appears to know more about Sumatra than he’d led the Blackhawks to believe.  I’m looking forward to seeing this thread through.

We learn that Olaf isn’t Natalie’s baby-da… nope, not gonna say it.  Ahem, he’s not the father of Natalie’s child.  No word on whether or not he caused her to lose her eye though (unless I missed it).  If I were Janos, I’d probably be more miffed about the missing eye than the parentage… though, only one of those options implies boots were knockin’… so, what do I know?

There was also a brief mention of a “crater”, where the Aviatrix’ co-pilot’s body was to be dumped.  I’m getting the feeling this is sort of a “Chekhov’s Volcano” situation here.  I feel like this will loom large later on in the arc… especially with Van der Houton’s aide’s trepidation about dumping the corpse there.

Overall, this chapter managed to provide so much information and deliver a highly entertaining (and action-packed) firefight!  Heckuva good time… I highly recommend checking out these ACW Blackhawk arcs if you haven’t already, and I’m looking forward to eventually hopping into the follow-up New Format ongoing series!

We open with Ms. Susan King and her cameraman, Len Whatshisface.  She is positively giddy that there’s such carnage in the Quad Cities at present, and her news reports are skyrocketing in the ratings… to the point where she’s once again being considered for an Anchor position.  Len is, quite less giddy, and finds it rather morbid that King is celebrating the fact that people are being killed by a “Night Slasher” and that there’s a dumb kid running around in Wild Dog’s clothes!  She compares herself to a doctor or lawyer… having become “calloused” to human suffering in the name the job.

They break off, and Susan hops into her car.  Turns out, she ain’t alone.  In her backseat is… Wild Dog!  He tells her that this is her “lucky night” (hey, that’s the title of the chapter!) and that she’s about to get an exclusive interview with the Man of the Hour.

Susan ain’t scared… she knows Wild Dog doesn’t hurt the innocent, to which, the Dog questions the fact that she is, ya know “innocent”.  This begs a question though… if Ms. King is so certain that Wild Dog is a “good guy”, why has she been reporting on him like he’s not?  I suppose it’s all in the name of “Ratings Gold”?  Oh well… they drive to a secluded-ish area for a chat.

Wild Dog has a favor to ask of Ms. King… to stop sensationalizing the story of “Wild Pup”.  Ya see, Dog ain’t looking for a sidekick, and he’s certainly not interested in endangering a young person too dumb to know better.  Their discussion is interrupted by a pained shout nearby.

Wild Dog rushes over to check it out, and comes across our “Night Slasher”.  She’s just made a fresh kill, and Wild Dog insists he won’t be her second that night.  She swipes at him with her blade, but gets socked for her troubles.

Wild Dog stands triumphant over the Night Slasher… until, uh… she goes “low”.

We wrap up with Susan King reporting the event… making sure to point out that Wild Dog ain’t looking for a sidekick.  Also, drawing attention to the fact that Wild Dog appears to have an “Achilles heel”… which just so happens to be the same one I have!  How ’bout that?

This was a weird one… kinda low-key, while at the same time, feels like it moved the story forward quite a bit.

Let’s start with Ms. King.  I appreciate how she is portrayed as being “calloused”, how she is able to not only report on human tragedies… but, actually find glee in it!  I feel like, if this was a “longer-form story”, we’d be heading to an arc where she “cracks”.  Ya know what I mean?  It just seems like she “doth protest, yadda yadda”… where, everything she reports on actually does get to her, and her aloofness is just a facade.  Heck, for all I know, this is exactly where they’re headed with her… though, I kinda doubt it.

Having Wild Dog take Susan somewhere… not so secluded, in order to talk at her… I dunno, just seems weird, dunnit?  I mean, are we to believe that nobody walking by finds it weird that “that lady from TV” is being held at the arms by a dude wearing a ski mask?  Oh well, whattayagonnado?

We have our Night Slasher actually seen by a member of the cast, which is good.  I believe up to this point, nobody had seen her (besides we readers… and, her victims).  I’d imagine as we move into the second half of the arc we’ll be learning more and more about her.

Overall… I really enjoyed this, and am looking forward to more!

Picking up where we left off last week, Superman returns back to Clinton Street to check in on Bob Galt.  Turns out, he’s gone… but, we already knew that.  He did, however, leave a note… explaining that he’s out “seeing the sights”.  Considering that Metropolis is, ya know… a huge city… Superman isn’t quite sure where to even begin looking for him.

We shift scenes and find Bob Galt… reading a t-shirt purveyor the riot at for selling Superman t-shirts.  Ya see, in The Fellowship, something like that would be viewed as “sacrilege”.  Bob threatens the dude with “punishment”, which prompts the shopkeeper to, get this… pull a gun!

Wow, how scary is it to be a militant religious zealot in Metropolis?  I mean, you tip over just one t-shirt rack in a fit of rage, and find yourself staring down the barrel of a shop owner’s pistol?  C’mon…

As usual, not a whole lawt to say about this installment.  The story continues to slowly lumber along… and does so in a most unsatisfying way.  I’m really losing my patience with Bob Galt… and wouldn’t hold it against Superman if he didn’t prove himself to be “faster than a speeding bullet” should this scene escalate further.  Though, I suppose if he did that, he wouldn’t really be Superman, right?  Oh well.

Overall… yawn.

We open in a graveyard with Boston Brand.  For whatever reason, he references Elvis and Bruce Lee as being dead… just like him.  I mean, he’s not wrong (well, maybe Elvis is still on that island)… but, what a random mention, right?  Maybe it was supposed to be poignant in a way… but I didn’t see it.  Anyhoo, he spies a well-dressed fellow escorting a pair of undead gravediggers onto the scene.  It looks like they’re there to dig up a fallen Police Officer named Sgt. Cosgrove.

The man identifies himself as the Voodoo King of New Orleans, Wellman Legros… and, get this… he ain’t messin’ around, he even senses Deadman’s presence!  His followers unearth the casket, while Legros alludes to the fact that he’s at least tangentially responsible for Cosgrove’s death.

Boston follows the trio… er, quartet, back to a mansion.  Inside, Legros initiates a resurrection ritual… with Cosgrove’s corpse arranged within a star-symbol surrounded by candlelit skulls.  This Wellman really knows how to throw a party, don’t he?

Before we know it, Cosgrove sits up, alive… ish.  The Voodoo King begins to give the arisen Sarge some orders… however, is interrupted when he is, once again overwhelmed with the vibes of Boston Brand’s presence.

After shaking it off, Legros goes ahead with his orders.  Corpse-grove is to abduct the Brogdon twins from Madame Waxahachie’s Day School.  Waxahachie, Waxahachie… too bad this isn’t an audio blog… that’d be fun to say.  At this point, Deadman decides to test the limits of his possession powers… by hopping into the vessel of the zombified Cosgrove… annnnnd, it works!

Boston-as-Cosgrove fights off the suggestion of the Voodoo King, only to find himself grabbed by his other followers.  Legros wields a blade, and is about to cut out Cosgrove’s tongue, when Deadman realizes… he stuck!

This was pretty cool!

Before getting into the story itself, I want to talk a bit about Kelley Jones’ art.  I mean, wow… how fitting is Jones for Deadman?!  This is just great!  Previous Deadman artist Dan Jurgens is certainly no slouch, but… this is certainly a more fitting style!  For fans of this style… wait til Black Canary comes back in a handful of weeks… artist, Randy DuBurke definitely evokes the Jones style there!

Now, for the story… it’s a Voodoo story, which I suppose is interesting enough.  We don’t have a whole lot in the way of context just yet… but enough to get excited for what’s to come.  Legros has the ability to raise the dead, and is looking to assemble an undead army for… well I’m sure he has his reasons, we just don’t know what they are yet!

My Deadman game isn’t the strongest… but it seems like every time I read one of these, someone is able to “sense” his presence.  Is that always supposed to be the case?  I dunno… it’s not a good or bad thing, just a pattern I’ve noticed over time.

Overall… solid first chapter with really fun art.  Didn’t think I’d be happy to see Boston back, but here we are!

We open with Roy Harper waking up in a hospital bed.  If you recall, last time out he was slashed by Cheshire’s poison-tipped fingernails during her escape.  Since he’s waking up, we can probably assume he’s going to be okay.  The first thing he sees comes quite as a shock… ya see, it’s his pal Nightwing has in his arms, Roy and Jade’s daughter, Lian!

Roy finally gets to hold his child, and through his tears he apologizes to Dick for all of the deception… and for all of his screw-ups over the years.  Dick tells him to shove his sorry’s in a sack, because they’re unnecessary.  Everybody makes mistakes, and Roy is no lesser a hero because of his.  Dick then takes his leave to follow the signal of a bug he’d placed on Cheshire.

Cheshire is in the sewers below Big Ben… or whatever the building Big Ben is attached to is called… and she’s wiring the place to blow!  Nightwing creeps up on her and… pulls a gun?!

Cheshire threatens to trigger the explosives and kill them both… to which, Nightwing informs her that it wouldn’t do her any good… he’s already ensured that her “targets” have safely relocated.  She scoffs at the idea that he’d ever shoot her.  After reminding her that Batman’s the one with a problem with guns… he shoots her in the shoulder!

… with an anesthetic dart.  Naturally.  Jade fades, and slumps to the ground.  As she’s hauled away by the Police, she asks Nightwing to make sure her daughter is cared for… to which, he assures her Lian will be in the best possible hands.  Really Dick, the “best” hands?  Okay.

We shift ahead to Dick checking in with Roy one more time before heading home.  Roy claims that having Lian in his life will change him for the better… and for the most part, he’s not wrong.

We wrap up this story with Dick arriving back in New York… and into the arms of his Starfire.  All’s well that ends well!

Kind of underwhelming, no?  Feels like a lotta build to have Cheshire be taken out with a simple tranq-dart to the shoulder.

Feels like that could have been done… I dunno, 3-4 weeks ago?  Like, the first time they came across her, Dick could’ve shot her with a tranq?  It’s not as though they wanted to find out who she answered to… or, if they did, they still didn’t find out here!

Also, Cheshire is this master assassin, right?  How did she not realize she was “bugged”?  I mean, her outfit doesn’t amount to all that much in the way of fabric, if Dick tossed a tracer on her, she ought to have been able to feel it, right?  Well, maybe he threw it into her tremendous mop of hair?  I feel like a bald eagle could land on her head and she wouldn’t feel it.  Oh well… once again, I’m thinking too hard about something that doesn’t really matter.

Now, don’t get it twisted… I’m not saying that I didn’t enjoy this, because I did.  It’s definitely in the running for strongest ACW arc to this point… I just feel like the ending fell a bit flat.  It was a means to an end… Roy’s got Lian, which’ll take him into his next evolution… but, there was a fair amount of wasted space getting here.

Overall… this arc, oddly paced though it might be (in my opinion), is definitely worth a look.  As luck would have it, Nightwing’s Action Comics Weekly adventures have actually been collectedNightwing: Old Friends, New Enemies is also available digitally.  Wow, it’s been awhile since I ended a post with a link to DC Digital!

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