ACW #624 – Secret Six
Action Comics Weekly #624 (Secret Six)
“The Sound of a Silent Heart”
Writer – Martin Pasko
Pencils – Frank Springer
Inks – Frank McLaughlin
Colors – Carl Gafford
Letters – Albert DeGuzman
Editor – Robert Greenberger
Last week ended with the promise of “Tony’s Story”. Could it be that what this feature needs is more character-focused stories?!
Let’s find out!
We pick up where we left off at the Tidewater Motel, where it looks as though Tony and Shelley are about to… get it on. Before things get too hot ‘n heavy, Tony backs off… citing that, among other things, he basically kidnapped her. There’s also the it about her being half his age, the uncomfortable situation, and… well… something else, but we’ll get there. He goes to leave the room, but Shelley pleads with him to at least be there with her. He complies.
As they’re both about to drift off, Tony is stirred when he thought Shelley was saying something. Ya see, she moves her lips when she prays… and if you recall, pre-Mockingbird, Tony was deaf. Reading lips became second-nature to him. He asks if Shelley’d be up for a late-night walk.
We join the pair down at the beach, where Tony begins to share his Secret Origin. Ya see, he was a reporter for Peephole Magazine… a Pulitzer Prize winner to boot! Ya know, I always thought Peephole was kind of like the Enquirer… and I can’t see any of those writers winning one of the biggest prizes in the field. Then again, now that I say it out loud, maybe “Peephole” is a take on People Magazine? Still though, are People Magazine contributors stacking Pulitzers on their shelves? Anyhoo… he was a hard-hitting, “tough as nails” sort (who we learn Shelley had somehow heard of), and he was looking into a crooked Coal Mining Union leader. Wait… a crooked Union leader? Say it ain’t so!
So, Tony made an appointment to head into the Mine to take a look. He took his photographer, Tom Pearson in with him. Once inside, they stumbled upon a stack of dynamite! Before he knew it, Tony was tackled out of the way of the blast by Tom!
Tom perished in the explosion… Tony was dug out a day later, but when he came to, he did so in “a world gone mute” (his words). This really hampered his reporting career, as he could no longer count on things like inflection to deduce whether or not someone might be lying to him.
He wraps up his story, and suggests that he and Shelley get some sleep… tomorrow they drive to Los Angeles so he can tie off some loose ends. Then, even though Shelley isn’t exactly clawing at him, he tells her more reasons why they can’t be together. He compares what she’s currently feeling to fear… not love. Well, “fear” might arouse some people, but evidently not Tony.
We close out the following morning in the Forest Glades Cemetery in L.A. Tony is there visiting the grave of his… lover. Ya see, it’s here that we learn that he and Tom were more than just coworkers.
Now, this is more like it. This is exactly the kind of story the Secret Six feature has been needing for… well, a very long time. Early on during the run, the story kind of “settled” on Vic for a bit. We learned about where he’d come from… and how he became the way that he was. Up until now, that was some of the strongest stuff this feature had delivered.
I feel like, and I might be wrong, but… when you drop a half-dozen brand-new characters into an already obscure property, it might behoove you to at least attempt to flesh them all out. Instead, what we’ve gotten is a few scattered adventures where I had to keep a “cheat sheet” to tell who was who. It reminded me of sketching out maps on graph paper while trying to traverse a dungeon in Phantasy Star.
Here though, Tony… a character I wasn’t even sure was a member of the team a few weeks back, gets a very thoughtful and thorough-ish backstory. The big reveal… Tony’s gay. Not so big a deal in “current year”, but you gotta imagine this fact probably made or (unfortunately) broke the characters for some readers. A fairly brave move… and one I wonder how the readership received. The letters pages that follow might be worth diving into.
My only problem with this chapter… and it’s no fault of the story, is all of this work and effort to develop the new Sixers isn’t really going anywhere. With thirty-plus years of hindsight, this entire endeavor feels like kind of a waste. Again, no fault of the story… maybe just now I’m starting to see the kind of potential that will go to waste.
Overall… as a chapter, it’s really good! A nice change of pace for the Seriously Stagnant Secret Six.