Action Comics Weekly #629 (1988)

Action Comics Weekly #629 (December 6, 1988)
Green Lantern: “So Long Ago the Garden”
Black Canary: “knock ’em Dead, Part 6”
Secret Six: “Beginning of the End”
Superman: “Journey’s End”
Nightwing & Speedy: “Rocks and Hard Places, Chapter IV: New Friends, Old Enemies”
Blackhawk: “Some Guys Can’t Take ‘No’ For an Answer”
Writers – James Owsley, Sharon Wright, Martin Pasko, Roger Stern, & Cherie Wilkerson
Pencils – M.D. Bright, Randy DuBurke, Frank Springer, Curt Swan, Tom Mandrake, & Rick Burchett
Inks – Romeo Tanghal, Pablo Marcos, Frank McLaughlin, Murphy Anderson, & John Nyberg
Letters – Albert DeGuzman, Steve Haynie, Bill Oakley, & Agustin Mas
Colors – Anthony Tollin, Gene D’Angelo, Carl Gafford, Tom Ziuko, & Adrienne Roy
Edits – Denny O’Neil, Dan Raspler, Robert Greenberger, Mike Carlin, Barbara Kesel, & Mike Gold
Cover Price: $1.50

Happy Friday, Gang!  Today we close out on the 620’s!  Next week will bring one of our “Original Six” features to a permanent end… and, by “permanent end” I mean… these poor suckers ain’t ever gonna be seen again!  Well, at least as of this writing anyway!  So yeah, the Secret Six will take their final bow next week.  Get yer hankies ready!

I get comment(s)!  Yesterday a great supporter of the blog, Chris U. asked for the chart we’ve been using to navigate these here ACW waters.  I shared it on Twitter, on the off-chance that a) he uses the platform, and b) follows me there… but, wanted to include it here too, just in case.  Also, I think it’s important to “check in” every now and again with our progress.  It’s hard to believe we’re getting so close to the end!

Speaking of Twitter… yesterday I accidentally used the wrong Blackhawk cover when sharing!  Whoops!  Nobody said anything, so I’m left to assume that the folks who follow me are exceedingly polite… orrrrrr, more likely, were paying just about as much attention as I was!  Sorry ’bout that… but rest assured that (probably/hopefully) won’t happen again… unless it does!

Let’s hit the Polls:

Pretty close week for the back half of the book.  I honestly can’t remember who I voted for!  It was either Nightwing & Speedy or Blackhawk… both had a decent showing!  Black Canary, despite a decent showing wound up with a goose egg… Green Lantern, got one too… only, I feel like that was well deserved.

Best Story in Action Comics Weekly #629?

Green Lantern

Black Canary

Secret Six




Shareable Poll Link: https://linkto.run/p/7GHAF73B

We open with Captain Atom, who had just left Green Lantern to hold up the teetering office building, confronting the Bethel Traveler what looks like Sylvester… err, Randy Violent/Violence.  The alien is in the basement hard at work rebuilding its wooden shrine.  Nate meatheadedly monologues in “Randy’s” direction, to which… the visitor actually replies!  This takes Atom aback, and so, he approaches in order to perhaps attempt a more diplomatic approach.  This gets him socked in the face.  Outside, Hal continues holding up the joint… but he is getting mighty tired.  Also, his ring is very nearly out of juice.  The First Responders (or maybe we’re up to the second or third fleet of responders) promises they’ll let him know just as soon as it’s safe to let the walls come tumblin’ down.

Back inside, Captain Atom and the Bethel Traveler exchange blows.  Nate ultimately bears down and unleashes his “strongest quantum bolts” and appears to blow a hole right through the alien’s back.  This causes a tremendous earthquake… which really hampers Hal’s ability to keep the place standing.  Worth noting, as the ground shakes, there are like dozens of people running in fear from the building.  Why in all hells were they still lingering in the first place?

Inside, Nate is gobsmacked that “Randy” survived the blast, and concludes that it’s too dangerous for this character to be allowed to live.  The Bethel Traveler nonchalantly just asks Atom to leave him/her/it alone.  The Traveler is just so tired, and having to fight with a shiny idiot isn’t their idea of a good time.  The Captain responds by… hitting “Randy” with “everything he’s got”.

This results in several nearby buildings losing power… and the sidewalk buckling under the pressure of this melee.  Finally, the Emergency Services folks give Hal the a-okay to let them walls fall… and so, he does.

We wrap up back inside, where Captain Atom looks to be about to land the killing blow on the Bethel Traveler.  He is suddenly blasted in the back, and when the dust settles he sees that he was just attacked by… Green Lantern.  We get a “over my dead body” line, and we’re out.

It never fails… this arc just feels endless.

… and I hate to spoil things, but… we’ve still got two more weeks of this… and it ain’t gonna wind up going anywhere.  If we were to compare it to an earlier “nothin’ happenin'” ACW feature, I’d probably say that this is Priest’s “Freak Show”.  Woof, y’all remember the Freak Show?!

So, whatta we got here anyway?  Outside of a bunch of meatheaded posturing from Nate… and Hal draining every last ounce out of both his body and battery… not a heckuva lot.

It’s building to an overlong… er fight scene between the heroes, which… I mean, it’s going to play out exactly the same way as every hero-on-hero skirmish plays out.  Not much more to see here.  An ultimately skippable arc… another roadblock on our path to meeting THE MAN.

Speaking of which, we are now just three weeks away from Malvolio!

We open with Dinah being pounced upon by a Bill Sienkiewicz drawing.  Turns out, while attempting to deliver some floral arrangements to a local rehearsal of Peter Pan, she accidentally wandered on stage.  Whoops!  We shift scenes to that Ken Glazier, who is on the phone with the Red Cross.  They want a donation of his rare AB Negative blood… but he knows he can’t be a donor.  Not sure if this is an allusion to AIDS or him being a junkie.  On the news, he learns of the death of Richard Malone (of Rich’s It’s Instrumental).  He calls in what he thinks he knows to Seattle’s Silent Witness Hotline.  Oh, and it’s confirmed that Rich was a victim of the Chloral Hydrate.  I’m tellin’ ya, this is a packed few panels!

Back at the theatre, we learn that Dinah instinctively socked her would-be attacker on reflex.  It’s not entirely clear here exactly who she punched.  It might be the Severe-Looking woman, who spent some of last chapter spiking the ever-loving hell out of her hair?  Ya see, she’s actually Ellen “Cat” Jamerson, and she’s playing the titular role of Peter Pan.  It’s, admittedly, been a minute (several, in fact) since I’ve ever seen Peter Pan… I can’t remember him ever wielding blades.  Maybe this is the “Seattle Cut”… or, maybe I’ve just never actually seen it!

Dinah sits through rehearsal, chatting up the director.  She’s mesmerized by Cat’s performance as Peter… and decides to talk to her a bit more while the actors are on break.  It’s a… weird, and wildly convenient conversation.  Dinah compliments Cat’s mannerisms on stage… then, immediately asks if she has kids?  Yeah, that’s a natural progression of conversation, right?  Anyhoo, we learn that Cat indeed does have a daughter.  I mean, we’ve seen the framed photos, right?  Though, I might’ve thought those were of “The Deb”.  Man, this art really needs to be a bit tighter if it’s going to be our guide!

We jump ahead to Black Canary loitering outside of Rich’s It’s Instrumental.  She overhears some neighborhood kids talking about the fate of the shop’s owner…

… before… oh, Lord… what in the… Good God, this is one ugly panel.

Izzat Throw Mama From the Train?  Yeesh!  Dinah cuts this character off as they’re leaving the building, and corners him (and his impossible hair) for questioning.  At first he ain’t too keen on spilling what he knows, but Canary’s able to persuade him with threats of sharp and pointy violence.  She wants The Deb… and so, this creep (Rich’s roommate) points her in the right direction.

Speaking of The Deb, our final scene takes us to a United Food Distributors warehouse… where our Dragon Chaser has wound up.  She’s let inside, but immediately held up at gunpoint.  I can’t be too sure, but it kinda looks like she’s been set-up.  This might be a Police Sting.  Whatever it is, Black Canary looks on from a skylight… and is very surprised that The Deb doesn’t have blonde hair.  Man, what would these urban vigilantes do without skylights?!

Man, but there was a lot going on here.

I hate to make assumptions about “experience levels”.  Here we have Ms. Wright, who notably ghostwrote some issues of Warlord for her then-husband Mike Grell when he was unable.  I couldn’t speak to the quality of those issues… but, the point I’m trying to make is, this Black Canary experiment isn’t her first time writing comics.

That said, however, the pacing and storytelling are kind of all over the place.  There are flashes of competence… but then, we get something like today’s feature.  We get four panels to start that run the gamut of several of this arc’s subplots.  I feel like those four panels could’ve been blown up to fill four pages… though, admittedly, I probably would’ve complained about that too.

There’s also that oddly convenient dialogue.  Everything seems to fall into place, however, not as naturally or organically as it perhaps should.  Dinah chatting up Cat, and with her second question asking if she has any kids?  That’s a stretch.  Hell, maybe it’s not… maybe this is how real people talk.  I know I don’t just chat up strangers and immediately ask for particulars on the size and shape of their families.  I’m guessing the kid will be the crux of this entire endeavor… so, we had to have it confirmed somehow.  All’s I’m saying is, there had to be a better way.

I mentioned the art being “our guide” during the synopsis.  This is the only ACW feature to this point where I almost feel required to go back and reread everything that came before just to be “on track” for the current chapter.  These faces keep blending into one another… and, there is a distinct lack of clarity.  It might be by design… it might be artistic license… but, what it’s definitely not, is easy-to-follow sequential art that tells a story.

In the first Black Canary feature I complained that we kept getting new characters added to an already bloated cast.  DuBurke did his damnedest to keep up, but, there are only so many ways you can draw a “generic white male”.  Here, I feel like we have a decently-sized cast… characters who ought to be memorable enough… but, they’re just flailing in the miasma of crosshatching, emote lines, and weird “lens flare”-affect.

Then of course, there was that panel.

Oh man, I don’t think I’ve seen a panel quite that damn ugly in a very long time… hopefully I won’t see one like that again.  Looking at this, I was actually reminded of that little ditty they’d put in the back of a lot of Marvel books back in the mid-eighties, starring Meatloaf.  Ya know, this one:

Besides the overall pained and ugly look, however, it’s not much of a match.  Close enough for my addled brain though!

Overall, perhaps a step back from the last few weeks… which is to say, still worlds better than the first arc.  The art is my main drawback… and, again… I don’t dislike it, I just feel as though it does a poor job of conveying story.

We open at the Georgetown Estate where Mr. Fenedy is receiving a phone call most urgent.  Judging by the events of last issue, we have a pretty good idea what that might be all about.  Nearing on an hour later, we join the New Sixers arriving at a mansion in Chevy Chase, Maryland.  They are swept inside, where they finally come face to face with… Mockingbird… aka. Carlo DiRienzi.

The New Sixers are a bit taken aback… they were sure that Mr. Byrd was actually August Durant this whole time.  To which, Carlo informs them that August, in fact, was Mockingbird.  He was actually the original Mockingbird.  Ya see, sometime back during the mid 1960’s, Durant fell ill due to exposure to a virus culture created by the Soviets… one that the United States government designated “V73”.  Durant was hospitalized and spent the next little while slipping in and out of a coma.  One night, he was visited by a man (who looks a lot like Fenedy… though, for all I know is that Hunter Thompson-looking guy before succumbing to male pattern baldness) who forced a pill down his throat.

This pill did the trick… August’s symptoms had all abated.  Here’s where it gets a bit dark.  The “Agency” offers to keep Durant alive, one pill at a time… so long as he acts in their interests.  He was tasked with assembling a secret team of six individuals, with a focus on dealing with international crime.  Durant would be both a member of this task force as well as their hooded leader/order-giver, Mockingbird.  And so, the original Six were born.

They remained a team until 1969… something, something, Richard Nixon.  After disbanding, Carlo DiRienzi would hold five-year reunions at The Enchanted Forest magic club (wow, been awhile since I’d thought about that place!).  Recently, DiRienzi and Durant spent some time together… August came clean about being the OG Mockingbird, and expressed that he needed help putting together a plan to neutralize a threat he considered more dangerous than full-scale nuclear war.  What he was talking about was a mutated strain of V73 being created via a partnership between TechnoDyne and Jefferson University.  This is, of course, V74… a strain that would have no antidote.  Durant proposes that the original Sixers come together and train an all-new team.

And so, Durant’s home was transformed into a base of operations, and teams of researchers and scientists scoured the microfiche looking for folks who had just been in accidents… who might be willing to work for their “miracle cures”.  Fans of Doom Patrol might think this all sounds a little bit “Chiefy”.  Well, at least Durant didn’t cause all of the accidents, right?

As we saw very early on in this series, the Original Sixers were all set to fly to San Francisco to train the next generation… when everything went a little bit “ca-ca”.  Mr. Fenedy had tampered with the VTOL’s computerized auto-pilot, causing it to crash.  The only one to survive was… you guessed it, Carlo DiRienzi!

We wrap up with Fenedy arriving at the smoldering fiery mess that was, just a few hours earlier, his “Workshop”.  He vows to exact vengeance on the Secret Six… for this time, it’s personal!

Well, well, well… we wanted the truth, but tell me this, friends… could we handle the truth?

Well, yeah… it’s really not Earth-Shattering stuff here… but, these are the answers we’ve been waiting to get for over a half-year now!  That’s one of the more fun byproducts of turning the blog into Action Comics Daily… this is as close to “real-time” as we’re going to get to experience these stories.  We’re getting one chapter a week… just like the folks back in ye old 1988.  If it took them six-months to learn who Mockingbird is… it’s also going to take us that long (that is, if we can control our Googling).

I appreciate how everything was tied together here… from the original incarnation of the team, to the “current”.  It all has a similar “bloodline”, and wasn’t just a name DC decided to reuse because (for whatever reason) they didn’t want to refer to the post-Infinite Crisis team as the Suicide Squad.

Now, reading this… and getting all of the context is great.  It doesn’t exactly inspire me to go back and read the original run.  I have a couple of those in my collection, and all I can recall about them is that they are very, very dry.  I am, however, interested in re-flipping through the Villains United miniseries that parlayed into the post-Infinite Crisis run… just to see if these New Sixers get a passing mention.  I’m hoping to have some sort of “Where Are They Now/Then?” to share with you all next week.

I’ve done a fair amount of research on this team, and have found that they will never appear again after our next and final chapter.  There could be any number of reasons for that… including the most obvious one: none of them make it out alive.  I have not read the final chapter yet… so, I couldn’t say one way or another how it’s gonna wind up going.  I will say, however, I’m looking forward to it!

Overall… a smashing good chapter, one that almost makes reading the rest of this run worthwhile.  Well, maybe just some of it.

Picking up from last week, Clark looks back at their would-be pursuers.  Just then, the Earth appears to open up and swallow both he and Bob Galt.  Clark ain’t exactly digging this, however, Bob tells him to just go with the flow, maaaaaaan.  Ya see, this crazy act of nature is being manipulated by Mother Tierra of the Fellowship.

Before we know it, our pair are plopped out the other end… in the Secret Sanctuary of the Fellowship.  They find themselves stood before Mother Tierra herself, who lambastes Bob as a traitor.  If you recall, he was sent to fetch Superman… and, instead, has returned with just some Mild-Mannered Reporter for a Great Metropolitan Newspaper.

Bob assures her that this is all in “his plan”, and projects Superman’s message to “Trust Kent” from like a hundred weeks ago.  She apologizes to Clark… and promises to introduce him to the Fellowship.  This pleases our man.

Elsewhere, the Consortium is brought up to speed by their rocket-bike duo.  They have tracked Galt’s trail all the way to that mass of upturned desert landscape.  This leads the Big Bads to deduce that the Secret Sanctuary of the Fellowship must be… underground!  Well, maybe these guys aren’t as bumbling as I thought!

Wowzers… stuff happened!  There might actually be more story in this two-pager than the last two chapters of Green Lantern!

And while stuff definitely happened… there still isn’t all that much to say.  We’re introduced to Mother Tierra, which definitely does tell us that we’re getting closer to meeting the rest of the Superman-hippies.  Also, despite his best (?) efforts, Bob Galt and Mama T. were a bit sloppy with their escape… they might be leading the (suddenly competent) Consortium right to their front door!

Whatever the case, I was pleased with the proceedings this time out… and am looking forward to seeing this one roll on.

We open with Roy and Lian about to enter their new Belfast digs, when suddenly they are attacked by… well, a little kid who’d been squatting in the place with her little sister.  The lights switch on, and little sister, Button (who doesn’t look completely unlike Alfred E. Neuman) is wondering just what big sister, Moira has gotten herself into.  When the kids see that this interloper is carrying a tiny tot, their demeanor immediately changes.  Moira reaches out and takes Lian from Roy’s arms… and Roy, who to this point has been handing Lian off to anyone who might wanna hold her is perfectly okay with this.  Is it any wonder she goes missing so often?

Just then, there’s a knock at the door.  Moira (who, for just this single panel, is not holding Lian) pleads with him not to answer it.  She admits that they’re squatting, but they’re doing so out of self-preservation.  Peeking out the window, she refers to the man as a member of The Sanas.  Not sure what that’s supposed to be, but I’m guessing he’s not part of the South African National Accreditation System.  She, Button, and Lian rush out of sight before Roy answers the door.

The fella introduces himself as Sean McMullen, and appears to be a pretty affable dude.  He welcomes Roy to the neighborhood, and invites him out to the pub some evening.  Once he’s gone, however, Moira fills Roy in on Sean’s true colors.  She claims that Sean killed her father… but doesn’t care much to elaborate.  We jump ahead to Roy at the pub, throwing darts (naturally) with McMullen and the lads.  He then asks just what in the heck “The Sanas” are.

The lads don’t much cotton to this stranger’s line of questioning… and like it even less when he accuses them of killing Moira’s father!  Roy gets his butt-kicked… and is summarily tossed into a back alley.  There, he runs into that dude from the Train Turlet again!  We learn that his name is Hunter, and he warns Roy to be careful… and maybe not ask questions about the F.O.E. (Friends of the Empire).  Not in a threatening “You bettah stop axin’ questions, see?” sort of way… more, with an actual concern for Roy’s mortality.

We shift scenes to a darkened office.  There, a pair of folks are talking about The Sanas versus the F.O.E.s… something, something, drug smuggling.  Something, something, weapons caches.  Oh, and also there’s that American who just moved to Northern Ireland who must be attended to.  I feel like there’s a bit of a lapse in equivalency there: Drugs?  Okay.  Weapons?  Sure.  That red-haired single dad who just moved in?  Mayyyybe not such a big deal?

We rejoin Roy walking home while licking his wounds.  Thankfully, he says what we’re all thinking… F.O.E.s?  The Sanas?  All these shadowy agencies, he’s going to need a scorecard pretty soon.  Anyhoo, by the time he gets home, Button has gone through all of his personal belongings and found his Speedy costume.  Clutch-secret identity-keeping there, bro.  Realizing he’s been outwitted by a three-year old, Roy decides to just change into costume right there.

Button freaks the hell out at the sight of our garishly-clad archer.  She’s afraid that all “heroes” are actually killers.  Before Speedy can calm her down, he hears the drumming of… well, large drums.  Looks/sounds like the Orange Day Parade is getting primed.  Moira tells Button to head to bed… although, it looks like it’s day time outside… although, Roy just spent the evening at the bar… ehh, who knows, we’ll just play along.  We’ll just chalk it up to a “Midnight Sun” scenario.

It’s here that Moira gives Speedy the full-deets on her folks.  Ya see, Dad was a Protestant and Mom was a Catholic.  The Sanas didn’t dig this, and so, they covered Dad with gasoline and lit a match.  Mom, then met and became romantically involved with that same Sean McMullen we met earlier… that is, until she overheard him talking about being complicit in Dad’s death.  She then hung herself.

Roy hugs Moira, and Button comes back downstairs complaining that she couldn’t sleep.  Though in fairness, it does still look like it’s the middle of the day.  We close out with a Molotov Cocktail being hurled through the window!

If you were to ask me to guess the direction this feature would go quality-wise once Marv Wolfman stepped away… I’d have probably made a toilet-flushing sound-effect.  That, would have been quite wrong!  If anything, I feel like the quality of this arc has improved quite a bit since his name disappeared from the credits!

Sure, we don’t get Nightwing (and haven’t in a few weeks at this point), and there are some minor flubs in panel-to-panel continuity… but, there’s a pretty good story here!  I had to do a little bit of research on Ms. Wilkerson (her name doesn’t come up all that often), and came to find out that she was working on the Ruby-Spears Superman animated series that was coming out around this time.  Interesting stuff!

Now, for the chapter… is this an I.R.A. riff?  I suppose I really ought to put a little bit of actual “real world” research into this, so I don’t have to keep asking that.  I feel like it probably is… but, ya know what they say about assuming.  Bound to be more interesting than our normal diet of “shadowy secret agencies” that abound in comics.

Roy here is… well, he’s an idiot.  Don’t much care for how he acts… yet, at the same time, I can’t say that he’s being written out of character.  He can be kind of a dunce.  I mean, mouthing off to a bunch of brawny Irishmen in a bar?  That ain’t smart.  Also, leaving his costume… and arsenal (!) somewhere a precocious toddler might find it?  C’mon, dude…

Overall though, (outside of the first chapter) this has been a really strong arc!  Looking forward to more… and, after these past couple of weeks, I’m even looking forward to our soloSpeedy feature that’ll be coming up as we enter the home stretch of Action Comics Daily!

We pick up where we left off last issue.  Blackhawk and the Boys are in the hospital, and learn that despite the best efforts of the doctors, Marcia Whatsherface was not able to pull through.  Janos rushes over to Claiborne, who he blames for the entire mishegoss, however before he can haul off and slug him, he’s held back by some of his own men.  Jan stomps out into the rain… but, Claiborne follows.  Outside, after some pleasantries about Marcia’s promiscuity, our man finally gets to feed this creep a knuckle sandwich.

Claiborne responds in kind.

The fellas tussle until the MPs get involved, and threaten to haul Jan off to… I dunno, military jail?  Claiborne calls off the cops, and… get this, offers our man yet another business opportunity.

We shift scenes to someplace outside Munich, Germany.  We learn that American G.I.’s destroyed a lab where Doktor Schmeling was concocting some sort of “miracle formula”.  So, maybe that’s what happened last chapter?  Two men discuss this with a Frau Koblenz (do we capitalize “Frau”?), who stood before a Nazi flag mentions something about establishing a “new order”.  What’s that definition of insanity again?

Back at Blackhawk Airways, Jan chats up Natalie for a bit… then they get a bit tipsy… then, naturally, they bang.  This leads to an all-time classic line from our man Jan:

We wrap up with Janos receiving an invitation to Washington, D.C. from… Harry S. Truman (and we’re not talking the Sheriff from Twin Peaks)!

It’s so weird… feels like not all that much happened here, and that’s something I’d normally hold against other features… but, here… it works!  Thing of it is though, if not much happened, there’s also not much to break down.  But, we’ll try!

Claiborne is a real a-hole, ain’t he?  Here, while Jan is mourning a woman who he felt he might have a connection (though, perhaps only a physical one) with, this goofball tells him that his sister would uh, consummate… in the line of duty.  So, any feelings he has for her are built on some wrongheaded romantic ideations.  Dude deserved to be punched in the face.  Kinda sucks that the Blackhawks might still have to work with this guy going forward.

Jan and Nat’s scene was pretty neat.  Both have valid reasons for drowning their sorrows, and find their way back into some comfortable arms.  I especially love Jan’s line the next morning about, if Nat looked any happier, he’d send a sympathy card.  That made me chuckle out loud… which is a rare thing when it comes to comics.

The Nazi-aside… ehhh.  Kinda bored with it already, even though it hasn’t even really started.  Hopefully it will prove to be interesting, though, if I’m being honest, I’d be okay with Blackhawk being a workplace dramedy.  Whatever the case, at least the good guys will be interesting!

Overall, yeah… maybe more happened than I realized.  I really enjoy this, and Blackhawk is probably the highlight of this Action Comics Daily exercise for me at this point.

(Not the) Letters Page:

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One thought on “Action Comics Weekly #629 (1988)

  • Chris U

    Big thanks for posting the chart.


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