ACW #621 – Wild Dog

Action Comics Weekly #621 (Wild Dog)
“Fatal Distraction, Chapter Seven: Stab in the Dark”
Writer – Max Collins
Breakdowns – Terry Beatty
Guest Pencils – Dick Rockwell
Inks – John Nyberg
Letters – Tim Harkins
Colors – Carl Gafford
Editor – Brian Augustyn

First day after a vacation is always a weird one.  Haven’t completely come out of that vay-cay head-space yet.  I’ll probably share some pics of the trip on Superman day… which, will be sure to thrill.

Today though, I’m just gonna waddle my five-pounds-heavier self over to the keyboard, and knock-out the penultimate chapter of this here Wild Dog arc!

We open with Jack Wheeler handing over a “suspect sketch” he’d put together on the Night Slasher.  Lt. Flint is quite surprised to see the kind of artistic talent his pal has… and we learn that art was something that Jack’s former lover, Claire had always encouraged.  Andy suddenly flips the script completely… and tells Jack to back off.  To stay out of the QCPD’s hair for the remainder of this case.  Jack joshes him that the PD’s currently got a half-dozen bodies they’re stepping over… but “agrees”.  As their contentious chat wraps up, we’re reminded that Wild Pup has been listening in the whole time.

We jump to the next day where Jack has taken Lou Godder out to lunch.  Godder is a bit tweaked that Jack didn’t tip him off to the fast-food veggie-terrorist story before it all went down, as he would have really appreciated the “scoop”.  Jack suggests that there might be an even juicier story in the offing… the Night Slasher!

Lou jots down three nearby hot spots for singles, all of which have had Night Slasher activity since the killings began.  This seems like really basic information that Jack should have been able to deduce himself, but we’ll allow it.  That night, Jack goes undercover.

After checking the first two spots without any luck, our man heads to the third… where he finds out Night Slasher, complete with fly-fishing lure earring!  She’s chatting up a member of the Metal Minds band… and suggests they “have a little fun” in his van.  He’s got another song to play, so she agrees to head into the van and wait.

She unlocks the back door, and is shocked to find… Wild Dog!  She goes to kick him low, but he (mostly) side-steps it.

He then clamps down on her right shoulder with his shock-mitt, which puts her on the floor.  She attempts to scramble for her blade when… Wild Pup leaps onto the scene!  He tries holding the Slasher down, and winds up getting stabbed in the chest for his troubles!  Uh-oh!

Well, it finally happened… Wild Pup got shanked!  I’m honestly surprised it’s taken this long!

But, let’s start by talking about Jack’s chats with his pals.  Jack and Andy have a pretty complicated relationship, right?  Jack does what he can to help Andy (and the QCPD) out, but it’s often to the detriment of the police themselves.  It makes them look foolish in a couple of ways.  First: Wild Dog is able to accomplish things the Police can not… and Second: The Police don’t appear to be able to apprehend (or even control) Wild Dog.  These are things that Flint’s gotta constantly be reconciling in his head when weighing the pros and cons of being “in bed” with a vigilante.

That said, Andy’s characterization here, feels a bit stilted.  Like, dramatically hot and cold.  They go from talking like old buddies to “listen here, mister!” in the course of a single panel.  Felt very unnatural… but, we’ve only got seven-pages to work with here, so there probably wasn’t enough paginal real estate to bring it all around more organically.

Especially since we needed to jump right over to Jack chatting up Lou.  This was another weird interaction, and feels like it was included just so we could give Lou a few lines of dialogue.  It’s been established during the course of the past couple of Wild Dog arcs that Jack’s more than just a “shoot first, ask questions later” mad man.  That is to say, he’s not a half-bad detective in his own right.  That being said, I’m not sure why Jack would need Lou to jot down the locations of Night Slasher activity.  It should stand to reason that Jack would already know where the baddie has been striking, right?  I mean, it is a pretty big local news story, innit?  Oh well.

This brings us to the end.  Wild Dog puts the Slasher on the ground… just for the Pup to arrive and put himself into some pretty grave danger.  It looks as though the Slasher was able to rebound from her shock-mitting pretty quickly, so for all we know, the Pup just saved Wild Dog’s life.  Now… that said, just how sloppy is Wild Dog being portrayed here?  That he’d simply turn his back on a serial murderess?  It’s not like he was distracted by something off-panel, either!  He was just closing the Metal Minds’ van door!  C’maaaaaahn, Jack… that was dumb.

Overall, it feels like “guest artist” (who has pencilled like half this arc), Dick Rockwell is coming into his own.  Didn’t have any real uggos this time out.  And, while a bit stilted-feeling, this was still a worthwhile chapter.

Tomorrow: The Secret Six are in a bad situation (oh yeah, oh yeah), it’s time they got some adult ed-u-ca-tion

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