Action Comics Weekly #627 (Nightwing & Speedy)
“Rocks and Hard Places, Chapter Two: Distractions”
Writers – Marv Wolfman & Cherie Wilkerson
Art – Tom Mandrake
Letters – John Costanza
Colors – Adrienne Roy
Editor – Barbara Kesel
If you read yesterday’s piece, you’ll know that I wasn’t terribly impressed by the return of Dick ‘n Roy to these pages. In an ACW-oddity (the only one of it’s kind), we’re actually getting two days in a row from the same feature! How ’bout that?
Looks like Nightwing & Speedy actually get a second chance to make a first impression! Let’s see if they make the most of it…
We pick up right where we left off yesterday… well, sorta. If you recall, when we last left Nightwing, he was being choked out by one of Speedy’s arrowlines. As we open here, that’s no longer the case. Nightwing’s just lounging on the floating casket. Probably not that big a deal, but when the last page of Chapter One and the first page of Chapter Two are literally facing each other in the comic… I feel like continuity needs to be a little bit tighter. Then again, I doubt this was on purpose… I’m sure Marv and the Gang were just as surprised to get a two-in-one as anyone else. Anyhoo, after some more arrow-lining, Roy pulls him onto the police boat. Oh, in case the scary cover-copy didn’t tip y’all off… we’re in the Irish Sea right now. Also, those little “packages” with the corpse were in fact, drugs.
Nearby, the surviving baddie who tried to steal the goods is helped up onto a dock by some of his “mates”. They proceed to question him about his supplier, and when he remains mum… they beat the holy hell out of him, perhaps even kill the poor bloke. Welp, let the punishment fit the crime!
Dick and Roy check into… maybe a hotel, maybe it’s Roy’s new Irish apartment… I dunno. Whatever the case, it’s here that Roy fills us in on, not only Lian’s propensity to poop, but his recent struggles with his C.B.I. gig. Ya see, he learned that there’s an Irish drugs-for-guns racket going on… and, check this out, the C.B.I. is in on it. Corruption in the Intelligence Sector? The hell you say! Upon reporting this to his superior, Roy gets summarily fired… only after an attempt on his life, that is. The C.B.I. doesn’t screw around.
Back in the present, Dick and Roy are taking Lian for a walk. Roy claims that he’s in Ireland for reasons unrelated to the drug-scam. He’s there to give Lian some “heritage”. The Harpers originate from Northern Ireland. Just so happens that, where Roy goes… drugs follow. Hell, has there been a single writer since 1971 who’s been able to write a Roy Harper story that doesn’t pertain to drugs? Why am I mentioning this little scene? Oh yeah, kindly Mrs. Sebastian makes an appearance. Turns out she’ll be watching Lian for Roy. Something tells me that we shouldn’t be trusting this woman. I could be completely wrong here… I’ve never actually read this arc before, but my Speedy Sense is tingling. Oh! Another reason I’m mentioning it… Roy makes a really lame Saturday Night Live reference, when he asks “Could it be Satannn?” Ya figure that could’ve been written more phonetically as “Say-tinnnnn” or something.
Okay, enough of that scene… and into another, with a sorta-kinda Pop-Culture reference. Roy compares himself to a red-headed Kunta Kinte from Roots. Ay yai yai. Think it’s safe to blame this on Marv’s co-writer? Aw, that probably isn’t fair of me to suggest.
Anyhoo, at this point, Dick suggests he and Roy duck into an alley and take off their clothes. Wow, without context, that sounds a bit odd. What I’m trying to say is, Dick realizes that they’re being followed, and it’s time to suit up and fight off some baddies. And that’s exactly what they do!
We wrap up with Nightwing just about getting the driver of the tailing car to talk… but then… poor dude’s head gets perforated by a sniper bullet. Nightwing and Speedy look to the skies and see a helicopter flying away. At that moment, in (I’m assuming) London, a shadowy man promises to neutralize the heroes.
Hey, hey! Now this was a whole lot more engaging than the first chapter!
I think this one pressed a whole lot of the right buttons for me. When I read a Titans, or Titans-adjacent story, I wanna see some real character interaction. We get plenty of that here… and, hamfisted nods to Pop Culture or not, it all felt quite genuine. Last chapter, we did get some Roy and Dick chatter, but it was more of an exercise in exposition. They were just giving us the Powerpoint presentation of “where we are now”.
I like the idea of Roy Harper, an orphan, thinking it important that his daughter have some “heritage”… though, I’d probably argue that she might appreciate it more when her days don’t revolve around, as Roy himself so eloquently put it, eating, drinking, and pooping. His heart seems to be in the right place though.
I will say, I was a bit deflated to learn that we’re going into yet another “shadowy agency” story. I mean, that makes three ongoing Action Comics Weekly features tugging at that thread. Hell, four chapters (Superman, Secret Six, and both Nightwing & Speedy‘s), which is to say two-thirds of this entire issue has to do with “shadowy agencies”. It’s enough already…
Overall, my nonplussedness has evolved into a cautious optimism, and I am looking forward to the next chapter(s)!
Tomorrow: The Wrap-Up of 627!