Action Comics Weekly #628 (1988)
Action Comics Weekly #628 (November 29, 1988)
Green Lantern: “Heroes”
Black Canary: “knock ’em Dead, Part 5”
Nightwing & Speedy: “Rocks and Hard Places, Chapter Three: Arrival”
Secret Six: “Remains to be Seen”
Blackhawk: “… And a Time to Gather Stones Together”
Writers – James Owsley, Sharon Wright, Cherie Wilkerson, Marv Wolfman, Roger Stern, & Martin Pasko
Pencils – M.D. Bright, Randy DuBurke, Tom Mandrake, Curt Swan, Frank Springer, & Rick Burchett
Inks – Romeo Tanghal, Pablo Marcos, Murphy Anderson, Frank McLaughlin, & John Nyberg
Letters – Albert DeGuzman, Steve Haynie, John Costanza, & Bill Oakley
Colors – Anthony Tollin, Gene D’Angelo, Adrienne Roy, Tom Ziuko, & Carl Gafford
Edits – Denny O’Neil, Dan Raspler, Robert Greenberger, Barbara Kesel, Mike Carlin, & Mike Gold
Cover Price: $1.50
I mentioned it earlier in the week but, yikes, wouldja look at the condition of this cover? Ya take what you can get from the cheap-o bins! Sometimes the Quarter Bin Gods smile upon us… other times, they give us some grimy-looking books. This is one that I may actually double-dip on… if I see it… and if I actually remember this when I do!
Speaking of the cover, if we disregard the fading, crinkling, and folks of my copy… there’s actually a fine piece of art to look at! It comes to us from George Pratt… who I really only know from that ridiculously overpriced (for the time) painted Wolverine: Netsuke miniseries from the early 2000’s. Talk about “sticker shock”, I remember buying the first issue of that without even looking at the price (my stack was horrendously large at this point, I was probably spending around $100 a week). When I got home, I was gobsmacked that I paid so much for part one of a random Wolverine mini. So much so, that it still sticks with me… going on two decades later. Oh well. This cover’s nice tho!
Let’s check in at the poll:
Welp, this is what we in the biz call a “mandate”. Folks really dug that second chapter of Nightwing & Speedy… and while that was my favorite too, I must concede that I completely forgot to vote myself! Not sure why I don’t just vote first thing… it’s not like I’m going to change my mind during the week!
My ratings for last week’s (#627) stories would be:
1 – Nightwing & Speedy (2/2)
2 – Black Canary
3 – Secret Six
4 – Green Lantern
5 – Nightwing & Speedy (1/2)
6 – Superman
Here’s this week’s:
Shareable Poll Link: https://linkto.run/p/BK7PMROY
We open our story outside an office building that suddenly and inexplicably sank fifteen feet into the ground. It certainly ain’t looking like the most secure’a structure at the moment. At that very moment, both Green Lantern and Captain Atom are hot on the trail of their missing Rambo-alien. Hal ain’t keen on Nate hanging about, after all, this entire thing is all his fault. They razz each other about their “approaches”, with Nate referring to Hal’s as being “Mother Theresa”, and Hal firing back by referring to Nate’s as being “Matt Dillon”. Is… is Matt Dillon known for blowing things up with his Nuke Powers? I must’ve missed that scene in The Outsiders. Whatever the case, they head to the Los Angeles Branch of Military Intelligence… and, naturally Captain Atom makes a comment that “military intelligence is an oxymoron”. Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.
Inside, the Military Intelligencers are readying to kill the alien menace. We also learn that Captain Atom is working with them… and has the same goal. So, was the whole “military intelligence” line some self-depreciation from ol’ Nate… or is he just being “that guy”, who can’t let the opportunity for an old joke to pass him by? Hal’s playing a weird sort of super-peacenik here… so, I kinda feel bad reminding you that he recently endangered countless alien lives when he blew the roof off of a crowded arena… all in the name of “peace”.
After a pretty lame argument, the two heroes head off in pursuit of Randy Violence, each hopeful that they find him first… so, they can choose the way in which he’s “dealt with”. Both heroes feel pangs of guilt that they internalize with a monologue apiece. Hal feels bad for bringing the alien here in the first place, while Nate accepts the fact that he “goofed” back in Big Trees. They each search for several hours… with no luck. Oh, also… that sinking building from the open? It’s still sinking… and we learn the whole thing started with… a boom.
As the heroes reconnoiter, Hal decides this would be the optimal time to recharge his ring. Just then, the sinking building starts to collapse. Seeing the danger, Hal rushes off toward the building… without finishing his ring recharge. I mean, the oath takes, what… less than ten seconds to say? He couldn’t get through that first? You probably see where this is all headed. Worth noting, Captain Atom sees no reason to intervene here. More of that “military intelligence” on display!
Before we know it, Hal’s in the thick of it… holding the building together via the force of his will. Captain Atom decides not to be a total jerk, and heads in to rescue some stragglers. After depositing them into a chopper, he learns that the alien menace is like… right there!
Hal keeps the building steady, and overhears a reporter interviewing a survivor. Dude introduces himself as the Chief of Maintenance, which is a pretty cool title… anyhoo, he was in his basement office when he saw… (wait for it)… Randy Violent! Hey, I thought it was “Randy Violence”? Oh well.
We end off with Nate swooping in to sorta thumb his nose at Lantern. He’s all “sorry you have your hands full… but I’m gonna go kill me an alien”. What a jerk.
Yeesh… but this one is annoying.
I know I’ve read most (if not all) of the post-Crisis Captain Atom… series, though admittedly it’s been a great number of years. But, I don’t recall Nate being this much of a jackass there? I mean, this is just horrid characterization. Hell, Green Lantern himself ain’t even coming across as genuine here.
We’ve got this difference in methodologies between both heroes… which is all well and good, but… the way they’re interacting with one another just puts my brow into a permanent furrow. This feels like a square peg-into-round hole approach to telling a story. It’s like we need a difference in opinion, but it’s being played to the Nth degree… where we’ve erased all sign of “character” to focus strictly in on “ideology”. It might be a story worth telling… but, I feel like this is the wrong way to go about it.
It’s like they got really close here to making things feel organic (at least on Hal’s end). Hal cops to feeling a measure of responsibility for bringing the Bethel Traveler to Earth in the first place, and as such, would prefer very much for him/her/it not to be atomized… or driven to atomize the entire planet. I get that. It’s just, like I said in the synopsis, Hal wasn’t worried about saving any lives when he nearly caved in that arena where the Interplanetary Peace Summit was being held a few weeks back!
Then, we’ve got Captain Atom. Not sure if he was supposed to be the stereotypical “Reagan Man” here (just not taken to the comical extreme of a Guy Gardner). Like I said last week, I don’t know (nor want to know) where Priest falls politically… but, it’s becoming easier and easier to guess. I feel like, and this is pure projection here, he was very pleased to be able to drop that “military intelligence” chestnut into the story.
Whatever the case, I feel like Captain Atom’s depiction here was completely wrongheaded. I don’t see him abandoning a fellow hero to go off and murder an alien, regardless of whose orders he’s supposed to be following at the time. He even mentally monologues as much… and yet, keeps following along. This just doesn’t feel right to me… and, if I haven’t made it crystal clear, I don’t much care for it.
Overall… we’re just spinning our wheels until the arrival of our main man… Malvolio to save us from the mundanity. This had some great art though!
We open with Dinah getting booked… or, at least that’s what it looks like. It’s made pretty clear that our Canary has some friends on the inside, one of whom is that Ken Glazier who we’ve met a few times already. They exchange information on what they know about this Barfly Killer. Turns out they found blonde hairs on the scene, and an Unfiltered Lucky cigarette butt… which, Ken surmises isn’t the most ladylike of smokes. Dinah hands off her leads, which includes a list of music stores, and the names Rich and Deborah.
Ken returns to his office, and receives a piece of mail. It’s actually a note written up ransom-style. Worth noting here, and I won’t be drawing much attention to it throughout today’s discussion, but this time out Ms. Wright is using this gimmick where she ends a scene with someone starting to say something, and starts the next with another character elsewhere either finishing the sentence or repeating what the person in the previous scene said. It’s… okay. If you look at the above image, you’ll see Dinah saying “I didnt–“ and the picture below has Glazier saying “–Sleep worth a damn last night.” Like I said, it’s… okay.
Next, we shift scenes to the severe-looking woman, who is spiking the absolute living hell out of her hair. As the gimmick goes, she repeats the last thing Glazier said in the previous scene. Looks like she’s headed off to watch a production of Peter Pan? Maybe… eventually?
We shift scenes over to Rich’s It’s Instrumental, where Deborah has just returned “home”. Rich, a rather creepy little bald fellow, quickly greets her, but excuses himself to attend to an interview. Turns out, the interviewee is the Severe-Looking Woman. She claims to be a fan of his work in theatre productions… and he seems to really dig having praise heaped upon him. She thanks him for the coffee, and leaves.
Following the interview, Rich and Deb get down to the nitty-gritty. He tells her that the Police have been sniffing around, and suggests she find a new place to dwell. He claims to have not told them diddly squat, but still thinks Deb ought to be on her way. He gives her an address where she can pick up her next fix of “horse”.
Rich then takes a sip of his coffee… and, uh-oh… it’s been poisoned! Rich… dies?
Back at Sherwood Florist, Dinah checks with Bob (who I still don’t trust) about a recent delivery. Looks like the local production of Peter Pan ordered a boatload of arrangements… and since they’re rehearsing this evening, that’d probably be a great time to drop ’em off. And so, we follow Dinah over to the theatre, where… she finds herself leaped upon by… a radioactive Bill Sienkiewicz drawing?!
Hol’ up, y’all. Has Black Canary actually become… good? Like ferreal? Naw, couldn’t be… could it?! Did we get us a new creative team’a somethin’?!
All kidding aside… I actually quite enjoyed this! The past couple of chapters had shown some uncharacteristic promise, and I’d say I “trepidaciously” enjoyed them for what they were, but this outing was especially solid. I can say, without any trepidation, that I genuinely dug this!
That said, and it’s just me being nit-picky, the scene-shift “gimmick”… I feel like if you’re going to use something like that, you need to commit to it for the entire chapter. They only used it for the middle section here, and it kinda feels uneven. But really, I think that’s my only real complaint… and, like I said, it’s nit-picky at best.
I think I’ve had Kelley Jones on the brain, because I’ve been saying “Kelley Jones-lite” in reference to Randy DuBurke’s new style. It’s with this chapter that I can see how wrong I was to think that. The new style is actually “Bill Sienkiewicz-lite”… and, ya know what… it really has its moments. While the final panel is a bit much, I really liked Rich’s death scene… it really looked like something we’d see in a Sin-kev-itch book.
So yeah, overall… this one quite surprised me! Hopefully it can keep up this level of quality throughout the rest of this arc!
We open on board a Northern Ireland bound train, where Roy and Lian Harper sit waiting to arrive at their new home. A brute enters the car, and notes that there are only three people here… the Harpers, and an old woman. Roy hands Lian off to the lady so he can head to the bathroom, awfully trusting ‘e is. On the way to the loo, he notices the brute… and what’s more, he notices the brute’s pistol! A fight ensues!
Roy gets the upper-hand, and threatens to turn the brute over to the authorities. Upon hearing this, the brute chooses he’d rather die… and actually throws himself from the train!
Our archer recovers, and a fella emerges from the train’s turlet. They make eye contact, and dude asks if this is Roy’s first visit to Northern Ireland. Worth noting, this guy is smoking… in a cramped train bathroom… good Lord, it must stink in there. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem as though Roy has been afforded the luxury of “holding it”.
The Harpers finally arrive somewhere in Northern Ireland… maybe Belfast? I dunno. Either way, they get out and head toward their new rental digs. We can see the train turlet man looking on. A shabby woman approaches Roy and sells him some really sub-par flowers for two shillings. Our man figures it’d be easier just to cough up the cash than argue, and so… he does. When he turns to hand the trash flowers over to Lian, however, he’s shocked to find that… she gone!
Like any terrified father might, Roy sneaks off into an alley so he can change into his colorful costume. A gun-toting train employees (at least I think he is) calls in to base that they’ve got our guy cornered. Not so fast, kemosabe, this doofus gets walloped and kayoed by a trio of trick arrows.
Roy follows the sound of Lian’s voice… which, I mean, why the tot hasn’t been gagged, I’ll never know. This just seems like a very sloppy kidnapping attempt. Anyhoo, it’s not long before Roy manages to find her… in a parking lot with a pair of nogoodniks.
Speedy swoops in and delivers a kick to a gross-looking dude… at which time, the woman holding Lian gives Roy a “biff” before rushing off down an alleyway. Lotsa alleyways in this one. The dude pulls a pistol… lotsta that happening in this one too. Did Michael
Scott Scarn write this? Anyhoo, dude is distracted by an oncoming car, and opens fire. He is then hit by said oncoming car. Speedy just stands there looking like a dope.
Roy then runs into the train station to see if he can find Lian… only to find the entire joint empty. Well, not entirely… the Train Turlet Man enters the scene and, wouldja lookit that, he’s holding li’l Lian! He tells Speedy that some woman left her on a nearby bench… and hands her over. I can’t remember, was Speedy’s civilian ID public? Well, if it wasn’t before…
We wrap up with the Harpers arriving at their new digs… and, gotta say, it’s pretty dang dismal.
Ya know… with as many random folks Roy leaves Lian with, you gotta imagine this is just like “Tuesday” for the dude. Oop, someone’s snatched the baby again, best go suit up and look for her!
In seriousness, we’re introduced here to the “Friends of the Empire”… and for whatever reason, they’re really keen on catchin’ the kid. You’ll have to pardon my extreme ignorance, but I’m not sure whether or not these folks are analogous to the I.R.A. I think anytime I think of rumblings in Ireland during the late 1980’s, my mind immediately goes toward the I.R.A. You’d almost think I knew a single thing about them… which, I’m sure I did at some point in my life… but, that point is not today.
I might just be projecting, for all I know these goofs are tied up with Cheshire… and she just wants her baby back. Whatever the case, this isn’t all that bad a threat for Speedy to face off with.
This was a mostly solid chapter, though, tied up just a bit too neatly for my liking. You’d think that an attempted babynapping would be a cliffhanger of sorts, and not something to be sorted out in a handful of panels… but, whattayagonnado? I guess we need to get to the next beat… which, ya know, is fine.
Overall… I am enjoying this. The art is a little bit wonky… got some very blobby-looking faces. Not sure if this is Mandrake trying to “do Irish”. As a man of Irish decent, I kinda hope not… because, woof. There were also some perspective issues in the middle bit, looked like Speedy was actually balancing Spider-Man style on the side of a building in a few panels. Otherwise though, not bad!
Still being trailed by those Sky-Bikes (for like the third week runnin’) Clark and Bob continue their hasty journey across the desert. Bob begins to pray to the Fellowship Elders for guidance. Clark thinks this is a great idea… and, recalling Bob’s odd ability to project images, suggests he project something big and dangerous to trip their Consortium Pursuers up once and for all.
Bob digs deep and projects… the Daily Planet Building! The Sky-Bikers freak out, fearing they’re just seconds away from becoming wall-pizza, and so, they bail! The building vanishes just as suddenly as it appeared.
Our heroes survive to drive another day (or, in our case, week). Actually, Clark looks back at the baddies… and thinks to himself that he would really appreciate some answers. And so, I gotta wonder if next week will be an interrogation strip? That could be a very good thing… or, a very bad thing.
Well, at least something happened, right?
Bob Galt got an opportunity to use his powers, and shine for a moment… which, was cool. It was also like the first time in all these twenty-eight weeks (to date) that I didn’t wanna punch him in the face… so, there’s that too!
Really not much more to say… it was a creative way to duck their pursuers, and really probably wasn’t the worst thing I’ll read today!
We open with Mockingbird reaffixing his mask while
his so–… Gino stands by dumbfounded. An attendant enters the room and informs Mr. Byrd that there’s a goings on requiring his attention in the Communications Room. Ya see, the New Secret Six has infiltrated “the workshop”. I hate tugging on these same threads in my synopses, but… didn’t Mockingbird already “discover” this last time? We shift scenes to “The Workshop”, where the Sixers are blasting the bejeezus out of some drab-clad workers. Meanwhile, Mitch finds himself stood before a wall full of drawers. He shoots the lock off of one and makes a most grim discovery.
Over the course of the next several pages… feels like we’re just eating up paginal real estate here… several Sixers exchange fire with the bad guys, while Maria and Luke send each other DMs. Mitch calls in his findings, and by now we can see that he’s opened several more drawers.
We shift scenes to poolside. We’re at Fenedy’s sprawling Georgetown estate (maybe?), where he is chatting up a man wearing an oversized hat (which, naturally, obscures his face… not that we’ll recognize him anyway!). It’s alluded to that he’s a member of White House staff… so, maybe that’s why he’s gone “faceless here”. Anyhoo, they exchange both pleasantries and threats… and it’s an overall dull conversation.
Back at The Workshop, Vic, Luke, and Tony reconnoiter with Mitch in the room full’a drawers. At this point, Vic makes a flippant remark about August Durant being Mockingbird… to which, Mitch unzips the bodybag inside the drawer, revealing the corpse of that very same August Durant. Whoops. Mockingbird decides to make his move, and taps into the VTOLs computer system to chat up Maria. He tells her that he’s totally cool with everything they’re doing… but, she and LaDonna have gotta get out of the VTOL P.D.Q., cuz that sucker’s about to blow!
Then, after setting a bunch of charges, and bringing all of the workers to safety… The Workshop (including the VTOL, and very likely the bodies of five members of the original Secret Six) is blown to smithereens!
We wrap up with with… the actual un-masking of Mockingbird! Turns out it’s… wait for it… the man behind the mask is… oh boy, here it comes… the brains behind this entire operation is… oof, my goosebumps have got goosbumps… it’s… it’s… it’s… exactly who we all thought it was, Rafael DiRienzi’s father, Carlo.
Well, there ya have it… all these months, and Mockingbird has finally been revealed as being “original sixer” Carlo DiRienzi. I don’t wanna project, but I’m pretty sure most of us following along figured that out several weeks ago… maybe even longer!
Really not sure what to make of him. Is he a good guy? Is he a bad guy? Is he one’a dem shades of grey (bro?). On one hand, we’ve got him sorta-kinda brainwashing his Son into acting like an infant? On the other, he seems to be really against killing… at least in this instance? I mean, he had no problem feeding a dude poisoned meat a few months back… but, this time out, not so much? I dunno. This feels less “complicated” and more just “confusing”.
This chapter felt a bit uneven… almost like they were buying time to ensure the unmasking scene was our cliffhanger. That’s fair enough, and makes good sense, but… the lead up was kind of redundant. Feels like we got an extra page or two of firefight… though, I should probably count my lucky stars we didn’t get an extra two pages of Fenedy! That bit of this story is still very very dull.
Overall… I guess we’ll see where this goes. The “reveal” didn’t rock my socks… but, at least it (mostly) made sense. Only two chapters left for this feature… so, we should be expecting 16 exposition-heavy pages in our future!
We open at Blackhawk Airways, Incorporated outside Singapore where one-eyed Nat is sobbing over a photo of her Son while new hired-hand “Mairzey” does her best impression of Leland Palmer ruining a dinner party. Nat’s bummin’ because her sister, Ruth has been taking care of her boy, but won’t be able to for much longer. What’s more, due to a lot of the “Red Scare” back home, Nat figures the only thing waiting for her there is a jail cell. So, it’s a tough situation all around. Mairzey suggests they go and tip a few back to take the edge off.
We shift scenes to the skies, where Jan and the Boys are returning home from the Van der Houten Affair. Claiborne is attempting to talk Janos into signing on and working alongside the C.I.A., but our man ain’t really digging the sound of it. At that moment, Marcia’s body is discovered in the back of the plane. When we last left off, I assumed that Janos himself found her, but I was mistaken… it was actually Chop-Chop who did!
Weng heads up to the cockpit to report what he’d found… and advises that, while Marcia still has a pulse, it ain’t lookin’ good. The team prepares for an emergency landing.
We jump to a small village outside of Munich, Germany. It’s referred to as a “Bizone” in the Ally-Occupied area of the country. There, a German doctor… or, just a doctoral-looking German guy holding a hypodermic… threatens a man who is gagged and bound to a cot. The Doc turns to a young man and sends him off with a package.
The young fella doesn’t get far before running into an entire military outfit. Not sure whose side they’re on… actually, not sure whose side anyone here is on… but, the point is quickly rendered moot. The young man gets all shot up… then bazooka’ed to bits! You and I might call this “overkill”, but I’m not about to tell these heavily-armed Germans how to go about their business!
We wrap up back in Singapore, where the Blackhawks are all headed to the hospital to check in on Marcia. From the looks on everyone’s faces… it doesn’t appear as though they’re in for much in the way of “good news”. Jan lashes out and lunges toward Claiborne.
Oh man, it’s great to have Blackhawk back in the fold!
I must say, I was a little surprised to be picking up immediately where we left off a couple months ago. I figured this would be a brand-new (mostly unconnected) adventure. I also assumed that Marcia was just “dead”. Didn’t expect for her to still have a pulse, and for her mortality to still be in question. Figured she was a “one and done” for ol’ Jan.
Other than that revelation (which may prove moot as we enter the subsequent chapters), not a whole heckuva lot to report here. Nat’s got some problems finding a caretaker for her Son… which, I dunno, kinda feels like an excuse to Pasko to beat the “Hey, McCarthyism was a bad thing.” drum? Well, at least the story is taking place during the Red Scare era, so it isn’t entirely without precedent. Still, I hope it doesn’t become a primary focus for this arc.
The aside in Germany was interesting. Don’t know what’s going on… or where it’s headed… or who we should be rooting for, but I’m interested to see how it unfolds.
Art is still top-notch. Really enjoy Burchett’s work… feel as though he’s a perfect fit for this period-specific story. Overall, just really happy to see this feature return to the lineup… this will be, however, Blackhawk’s final arc for this project.