Action Comics Weekly #627 (Nightwing & Speedy)
“Rocks and Hard Places, Chapter One: Travels”
Writers – Marv Wolfman & Cherie Wilkerson
Art – Tom Mandrake
Letters – John Costanza
Colors – Adrienne Roy
Editor – Barbara Kesel
Today we start the one we’ve all been waiting for… err, well, I’ve been waiting for. Hopefully y’all have too. Today, we get to inject some new-old blood, and follow up on the banger of a Nightwing story that we’d read through all them weeks ago.
Are there any hopes that this one will measure up? Will the I.R.A. get involved? Will Marv’s co-plotter add anything of value to the proceedings? I guess I’ve vamped enough, and it’s time to finally find out!
We open with Dick and Roy catching up on a ferry boat of some sort. We learn that Roy has taken the past six months “off” from the rigors of life, both super and mundane to try and figure things out as a new dad to li’l Lian. Speaking of whom, Roy pops off to go feed the tot, leaving Dick alone. Upon noticing a mysterious blonde slinking behind a pair of dudes who look to be up to no good, Dick’s nosiness gets the best of him.
He follows the woman… who’s following the men, all the way down to the ship’s car hold. We’re going to assume he was getting all Nightwing’d up along the way, because next we see him, he’s in costume. The fellas break into the back of a red van containing a casket. The gal unchains the tires, and closes the goons inside.
She then rushes over to the Door Release console and… opens the bay? I know what you all must be thinking: it couldn’t possibly be that easy… but, you’d be wrong! She hops into the driver’s seat, pops that sucker into gear… and off she goes!
Meanwhile, Roy hears the ruckus, and decides he probably ought to look into it. He leaves Lian with the kindly Mrs. Sebastian from the next cabin over.
Back to the action, Nightwing is following the van, which is careening into the drink. One of the nogoodniks inside doesn’t appear to have survived the trip. The van proceeds to sink, but the casket it was carrying floats to the surface.
The cruise ship shines its lights onto the buoyant brouhaha, and Speedy hops into action helping out his Titans partner and pal, who is currently exchanging punches with the surviving goon.
Nightwing gets knocked off the casket, and the baddie pops the locks. Inside is… unsurprisingly, a corpse. Also, nondescript packages… maybe drugs? Maybe documents? The art isn’t quite clear.
Another speedboat enters the scene, and the police open fire. Speedy worries a random shot might take out Dick, and so he fires an arrowline in his direction. I guess getting hit by an arrow is moderately less dangerous than getting hit by a bullet? Maybe? Well, I suppose it’s all relative. It’s a moot point regardless, because the bad guy manages to grab the line, and proceeds to choke Dick out with the thing.
Remember when you were a kid, and you ordered something via mail or over the phone? Or maybe you started a magazine subscription. You’d wait for whatever it was to arrive… and toward the end, it would become a situation where that afternoon visit from the mailman would define your entire day? The anticipation builds… you see the mailman heading up to your box… once they’re out of sight, you rush out to check out the loot… annnnnnnd, whatever it was… it didn’t come.
That’s how I’m feeling with the start of this feature. I was looking forward to it as something new and different… and, heaven help me, exciting. I’ve sat through mundane and dull stories and features that have long overstayed their welcome, in hopes that this arc would knock my socks off right out the gate. What I get instead is… well, something not all that great. The mailman didn’t drop off the latest Nintendo Power, just a Penny Saver.
Maybe I’m being too harsh? Maybe my expectations were too high going in? Hell, guys, maybe I’m just burnt out on this series becoming Action Comics Weakly? Maybe I’m just bracing for a story that I’m fearing will veer a bit too far into Irish political unrest. I dunno… I just wanted something better to start. Something like the first time Nightwing joined the lineup. In fairness, this is just the opening chapter… it just isn’t inspiring much confidence. Maybe tomorrow’s Part Two will put this thing on track.
I’ll give it this much, the story we get is actually action-heavy… which has been one of the top complaints I’ve heard from readers during this endeavor. For a book called “Action”, there’s precious little of it more often than not. Nightwing gets some punching in… we get a van submerged in the drink. Speedy gets to fire an arrow. Shots are fired from all over the place. It’s a pretty frenetic deal… and for that much, I’ll give this chapter its props. Also, the art’s pretty nice. Fingers crossed that I’ll enjoy tomorrow’s chapter more!
Tomorrow: More of the same!