Action Comics Weekly #630 (1988)

Action Comics Weekly #630 (December 13, 1988)
Green Lantern: “Will”
Black Canary: “knock ’em Dead, Part 7”
Secret Six: “… The Mockingbird Still Singing O’er its Grave…”
Superman: “The Power From Beyond!”
Nightwing & Speedy: “Rocks and Hard Places, Chapter V: Attacks”
Blackhawk: “Mr. Blackhawk Goes to Washington”
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
Letters – Albert DeGuzman, Steve Haynie, Tim Harkins, 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

What a week!  Okay, not really… but, we did say goodbye to one of our originals, in the Secret Six.  That’s sure to change the tone of the book going forward!  If I’m not mistaken, that feature will be replaced in these pages by our only long-form visit with the Phantom Stranger… so, look forward to that!

This week’s cover comes to us from the great John Severin.  You might know him best from his tenure at Cracked Magazine.  Ya know, before it devolved into a useless and mostly unfunny website.  Ehh, I guess mileage may vary there.  Is it even still a website?  Who knows?  Whatever the case, it’s a neat cover… and tons more interesting than anything that’s happened to Superman so far over the course of 60 pages!

Onto the Poll… 

Last week saw Blackhawk grab the well-deserved win.  It almost feels unfair… speaking personally, anytime Blackhawk is part of our lineup, I feel like it immediately out-classes everything else in the book!  Poor Dinah and Hal come up empty… I will say, at least one of those deserves their goose-egg though (it’s the one that Captain Atom is currently guests-starring in).  Let’s hop over to this week’s poll… maybe Secret Six can walk off into the sunset with a win?  Yeah, probably not…

Best Story in Action Comics Weekly #630?

Green Lantern

Black Canary

Secret Six




Shareable Poll Link: https://linkto.run/p/SQTDKHI8

We open with Hal and Captain Atom facing off, and exchanging energy blasts.  If you recall, they both recently met an alien in the guise of Sylvester Stallone Randy Violent, and have very different views for how to deal with him/her/it.  Hal wants to come to a peaceful solution, while Nate’s fine with a “pieceful” one… as in, blowing the Bethel Traveler to pieces.  The two heroes do-si-do over the next several pages trying to convince the other that they’re right.  Since this is such an “iffy” subject to begin with, both seemingly become more and more unsure of their position with each shift of the panel.

The Bethel Traveler lay down below, but is still able to “view” the entirety of the fight.  He/she/it is very conflicted… but cannot help but to continue to observe.

Hal and Cap continue to fight… Atom makes an offhanded remark about underestimating Green Lantern.  After all, all he’s had to go on were stories about Guy Gardner… and, if you recall… Batman took him out in (cue the laugh track) One Punch!  ha-ha-ha-ha… tired of those references yet?  Me too!  Though, in fairness, back in ye old 1988, back before constant retweet and “like” baiting was a thing, this was probably a pretty clever (and topical) callback.

The fight concludes after a last ditch “slam into one another as hard as you can” maneuver.  After a massive explosion, and a clearing of smoke, we can see that Captain Atom is the last man standing.

We wrap up with Captain Atom returning to confront the Bethel Traveler.  Here’s the thing, though… “Randy” takes Cap out with a single blast.  Er, I mean JUST ONE BLAST.  Can we make that a meme?  Okay, okay, I’ll stop.  Anyhoo, the Traveler decides that maybe Earth will be more of a permanent abode for him… heaven help us all!

Feels like we’re just filling time here, dunnit?  I don’t know why this entire chapter needed to be a fight scene, especially when it feels like the entire fight scene was the same explosive collisions repeated three times.

I will say, however, that I appreciate how Hal and Nate started getting into each other’s heads between blows.  Neither of these fellas has the foggiest clue what they’re doing.  Are they right?  Are they wrong?  Are they both wrong?  Who knows?  But, there comes a time where you’re just so heel-dug on a position, that you refuse to accept any other opinions, regardless of how much sense you know they make!  That’s basically American Politics in a nutshell.  Lookit that, I think we just solved politics, people!

In all seriousness, not much else to this one though.  The Bethel Traveler is intrigued by the battle he/she/it observes, and decides to take their shoes off and “get comfortable”.  What does this mean?  Who knows?  Could be the best, worst, or most indifferent thing to happen to the Earth in eons.  It’s ultimately not going to matter, but we’ll burn that bridge when we get to it.

This is an arc that really should’ve been truncated.  It’s just so samey and repetitive… and Captain Atom really comes across like a doofus.  At least he is depicted as a competent fighter… he’s been such a clown, I almost expected his silver bottom-half to fall down revealing heart-covered boxer shorts.

Oh well, t-minus two weeks til… MALVOLIO!

Picking up where we left off last time, Black Canary is looking into that convenient warehouse skylight, where she sees The Deb being held up down below.  I’m still not entirely clear if these dudes are police officers conducting a potentially-fatal sting, or just a bunch of guys who dress alike.  Whatever the case, they threaten to kill her… and Dinah makes her move.  She beats up the maybe-cops, while The Deb beats a hasty retreat.

We shift scenes to a payphone outside a diner, where a short-haired woman, who I initially assumed was Dinah herself, is speaking to somebody about Deborah Tilden’s vanishing act.  Inside the diner, this same short-haired woman (Anna?) runs into Cat… ya know, “Peter Pan”.  Looks like they’re old friends… both in Seattle “visiting”.  Anyhoo, Anna alludes to the fact that a “terrible disease” took someone named Dannie.  Gonna go out on a limb and assume the Dannie was Cat’s daughter?  Ya know, the one in those pictures?

Cat cuts the convo short when see notices a bus stopping nearby.  On it… The Deb!

We shift scenes again to Ken Glazier showing off the latest ransom note he received to a his buddy on the b-ball court.  Not totally sure what to make of this… there are allusions made to Ken’s ex-wife… there’s some connection to Rich (from It’s Instrumental) and Walt Sarno… should we go out on that limb one more time, and assume that his ex-wife might be Cat?

Later, over at “a contemporary theatre” called “act”… ya know, the place where the Pan play’s happenin’, Dinah runs into Lieutenant (I actually spelt that right on my first try!) Cameron.  They exchange pleasantries, and the daughter of the latter excitedly rushes up to show off her Peter Pan and Hook autographs.

They consider where The Deb might’ve gotten off to… just as the camera pans down to reveal that she is currently bound and gagged among the pipes.

We close out with Glazier putting on a glove… Cat spiking the ever-loving hell out of her hair (when is it spiked enough?), and Dinah striking a pose like she’s modeling for the Sears catalogue… as they all prepare to enter the end-game.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one…

This was okay, but the art really makes it difficult to follow.  Well, the art, and the random introductions of side characters who may-or-may-not be of any consequence.  Not sure who Glazier was shooting hoops with… however, they made a point of letting us know he’s gay.  Why bother with any details if he ain’t gonna come back?  Also, Anna.  A lapsed pal of Cat… who knows of some tragedy that (we assume) befell her.  It’s cool to include chance meetings in a story, but for Pete’s sake, can we make this character not look exactly like Dinah?!  Feels like a red herring… but, like the laziest kind of red herring!  I mean, are we supposed to be confused while reading that scene?

Oh well.  Let’s look all the way over to the very edge of those limbs we’ve spent the last eight pages creeping down, and make “asses out of u and me”.  It’s time to make some predictions!

  • Dannie was Cat’s daughter, who tragically passed away from a “terrible disease”
  • Cat is Glazier’s ex-wife
  • Glazier mentioned he couldn’t give blood last issue… so, perhaps he’s HIV positive?
  • Maybe Ken, Deb, and Cat used to be into the drug scene, and did some needle-sharing
  • Bada-bing, bada-boom: AIDS… and Cat’s going to exact revenge on anyone she can?

Thing of it is, we’ve still got four more chapters of this to go… so, there’s still plenty of time for me to be proven 100% wrong.  The fact that this ended so “penultimately” made me think we were actually approaching the end-game.  Heck, I said as much in the synopsis!

Overall… this is still a ton better than the first Black Canary arc, though seven chapters in, it’s beginning to show its age.  The art, while nice to look at, is horrible to “read”.

Our final chapter opens with Carlo “Mockingbird” DiRienzi wrapping up the story of how he survived the sabotage of the VTOL way back at the start of this thing.  If you recall (and I don’t blame you if you don’t), Carlo was an escape artist… so, ya know, escaping and defying death is sorta what he does.  I’m not sure this explanation required a whole two pages of this final chapter, but whattayagonnado?  As Carlo yammers on, Fenedy pulls up to the gate of the estate… and shoots the absolute bejeezus out of a stationed guard!

Back inside, Carlo reunites the Six with his son Rafael.  Turns out that after Carlo assumed his new role he planted that security box for his son to find.  Betcha forgot about that!  I know I did!  Anyhoo, he claims this was done in order for the new Six to learn about the deaths of the original Six from someone not-named Mockingbird?  I… uh… guess?  As this story meanders, Fenedy bursts through the front gates.

Inside, DiRienzi’s portly guard rushes over to inform his boss about the to-do on the estate.  Vic and the Six ready themselves for action, but Carlo calls them off.  He doesn’t want the Secret Six to risk their lives anymore… as he sees it, their job is done.  The Sixers (who actually refer to themselves as such) rush off regardless.

Carlo tackles Vic, knocking his Bebop/Rocksteady style gun away from him.  As he scrambles to nab it himself, Fenedy swings in from the skylight.  It’s always the skylight with these people.  Anyhoo, Fenedy lands and shoots “Mr. Byrd” right in the chest.  Vic responds by spearing the “S.O.B.” through a nearby railing!

Fenedy falls to the floor below, and winds up impaled by a big ol’ spike of wooden railing.  Whoops.

Oh, and Mockingbird’s dead.  There’s that, too.

We wrap up with the New Secret Six being retired… allowed to walk off into the sunset with their miraculous “gifts”.  So, all’s well that ends well for the folks we’ve grown to know and love over the past eight months.  They say their final goodbyes back at their San Francisco headquarters… however, once they leave… a monitor powers up.  On it appears… Mockingbird???

Ya know, I was all ready to start bagging on this for its poor pacing when we got a quarter of the way through the chapter, and were still in “flashback land”.  I didn’t think such special attention needed to be paid to how Carlo made his escape.  All we really had to know is that he did.  And we’ve known that for the better part of a month now.  It could’ve been one panel of dude with a sly smile on his face reminding us that he’s an escape artist.  Didn’t need to see the whole show.

I guess I did decide to bag on this for its poor pacing.  Hmm… that really wasn’t my intention.  What I was trying to say was, this final chapter didn’t really require a full eight pages.  the back three-quarters were (mostly) high octane action, parlayed into a pretty satisfied (dare I say, thrilling?) conclusion.

Both of our (assumed) antagonists wind up biting it at the end.  Fenedy and Carlo are no more… both dying as a result of their own bravado, more than anything.  Sure, it would’ve been nice to get a bit more “closure” after all the time we spent chasing (and being chased by) these characters, but, who knows what the future plans were for this property at the end of 1988?  For all we know, Pasko may have already been planning a “Gen Three” Secret Six team.  The sorta-kinda twist ending suggests that very well might have been in the works.

Who y’all think the new-new Mockingbird in the very last panel was?  Probably Geno.  I mean, it’s almost gotta be.

I was happy to see our new Sixers get the opportunity to walk away… and keep their “gifts” to boot.  It isn’t often that sort of thing happens… and this explains why we’ve never heard from these folks again.  I gotta hand it to DC… in an era where they’re rehashing and reheating every damn thing (I mean, there was a Dingbat in New Challengers), they’ve let these folks remain in retirement.  At least, as far as I know.  I might’ve missed Johns and Didio killing them all in a single panel… or referring to having killed them all off-panel.  We’ll just assume they’re still around, living their best lives.

I’m happy we made it through this Secret Six feature… as it, along with Blackhawk, struck me as the two (of the original six) that I would probably struggle the most with.  Having little experience with either concept (outside of the pre-Flashpoint take on the Six), I feared it’d be a slog.  Turns out the toughest part of the Secret Six feature was the restraint it took not to mention… for thirty weeks… that New-Sixer Mitch Hoberman looks exactly like Terry Long.  Whew… it feels so good to finally say that.  It was as though I was holding in a sneeze for eight months!

As the Consortium approaches, Clark Kent is walked down the winding tunnels where the Elders of the Fellowship have sought refuge.  He learns that all who remain of the Fellowship were survivors of that attack we witnessed via Bob Galt’s super-projection power all them weeks back.

Clark looks on while these goofs kumbaya in Superman’s name, and appear to exhibit some actual super-powers.  Realizing that this… really shouldn’t be a thing, he decides to let his super-senses take in the surroundings.  He finds that there’s an odd radiation in the air… and when he attempts to find out its point of origin, he deduces that there isn’t one!  He now knows there’s far more than meets the eye to this Fellowship.  They are being controlled by someone, or something very dangerous.

Man, we’re so close… this is almost starting to feel like there’s an actual story to follow!  That said though, there still isn’t all that much to say.

All we’ve got is that there’s more than meets the eye about the Fellowship, and possibly, the Consortium as well.  Even if it’s not Superman, looks like there is going to be some sort of “higher power” involved.  The question is: Who or what could it be?

Picking up where we left off last issue, Roy’s new Belfast digs have just been firebombed.  Fortunately, he’s already in costume… complete with quiver of trick arrows.  He fires a sort of collapsible umbrella-arrow through a nearby window so the kids can attempt to escape the flames.  Button manages to get to the outside, where she rushes over to the Train Turlet guy.  He consoles (and extinguishes) her, before handing her off to a pair of police officers.  Here’s the t’ing, though… these cops are the very same people who tossed the Molotov through Roy’s window!  Button overhears them openly discussing this fact, and so they decide, this kid’s gotta disappear.

While Button is being gagged and tossed into a squad car, Train Turlet bee-lines it to Roy’s house… only to find that the doors have been boarded shut.  Inside, Speedy grabs Moira and Lian and makes a desperate leap from the attic.

Roy’s none too pleased to see Train Turlet, and mentions that anytime there’s trouble… dude seems to be there.  He asks for Button, and is directed to the spot where a cop car had been parked a few moments prior.  Whoops.  If it ain’t one kid Roy’s losing, it’s another.  We soon learn that she’d been taken to a Friends of the Empire (F.O.E.) office… where they hope to use her as their “ace in the hole” if Speedy survives.

Inside the burned out husk of a house, Speedy is informed that he “lucked out”, the fire didn’t cause any structural damage.  I wanna note here that Roy is decked out in his red and yellows during this entire exchange, and nobody’s even raising an eyebrow.  He does eventually change into his civvies, however, as Moira isn’t comfortable around him in “uniform”.  He gets a call, assumedly from Train Turlet… where he is informed that the F.O.E.s have Button.

Roy is pointed to a nearby train yard, where sure-nuff, Button is being held.  The F.O.E.s are looking to use her as bait… kill Speedy upon arrival, and blame the entire mishegos on the Sanas (forgot about them, didn’tcha?  I know I did!).  Well, here’s the thing… the Sanas are there… and they storm the station!  Speedy snares the F.O.E.s in a net-arrow and snags Button with a line.

Well, almost.  One of the F.O.E.’s manages to cut the rope and reclaim the tot before hopping into a train.  Roy then hops onto that same train… which we now see is rapidly approaching a car full of dangerous explosives!

Not a bad chapter… and, while I’ve enjoyed our time alone with Roy up to this point, I think it’s about time we call in Nightwing.  I commented that I’m looking forward to the upcoming Speedy solo feature… which, I was surprised to discover (as I was “getting ahead” on creating Action Comics Daily-covers) wasn’t written by Cherie Wilkerson!

I know I’ve said it as a joke, a time or two, but damn… Speedy loses kids an awful lot, doesn’t he?  I mean, even just making the observation… it’s like, every single time out, he either hands a kid to a stranger, or just flat-out loses one!  That’s some wild and weird stuff.

What are our other real takeaways here though?  We know that the police are in cahoots with the Friends of the Empire… and that the Sanas and the F.O.E.s are at-odds.  I get the feeling it’s more a “race to the bottom” with the two organizations, and we’re not supposed to be rooting for either one, and that works fine.  It is a neat bit of complexity for your standard superhero story… and there ain’t nothing wrong with that.

So yeah, another fine outing… downright strong when compared to the overall more “meh” features we’ve been getting during this stretch of Action Comics Weekly.  I will say, however, that the art sometimes makes it look like Speedy is still on heroin… sunken eyes, sallow features… just not too pleasant to look at.  Not outright bad, but, it’s been better.

We open with Mr. Claiborne, at least I think it’s Mr. Claiborne, exiting the Hotel Bedford.  A car sidles up to the curb… inside, an equally obnoxious-looking fellow asks the way to the Quay.  When Claiborne can’t answer, the occupants of the car chase him down and beat him down soundly.  We shift over to the Blackhawk Airways Offices at Changi Airfield, where Janos is filling Natalie in on the particulars of the last arc.  Their chat is interrupted by the arrival of Mairzey and the bird.

Jan ain’t too keen on her walking in on him in his skivvies… gotta say, I didn’t realize he was so modest… anyhoo, Nat informs him that Mairzey is her new assistant, and everything kinda blows over.  It’s a much cuter scene than I’m explaining it to be.  She tells him that there’s a dude from the State Department waiting to speak with him… to which, Janos finally decides to throw on a pair of pants.

The State Department guy marches in, and immediately ingratiates himself to Nat and Jan, by referring to the former as “Miss Young Communist League, 1937”.  She also realizes, in reading the letter from Washington, D.C., that she is not among the invitees.  This looks like it’s going to be a boys trip… or at the very least, a non-Communist one?

The suit introduces himself as Wendell Hardesty, and he informs Jan that Claiborne is now “out of the picture”… but doesn’t go into any actual detail.  He is particularly careful with his words while Natalie is present.  From here, we jump right on over to the White House, where Janos critiques President Truman’s methodologies.  Truman kinda pushes the blame for the recent “microwave thing”… and the blame makes its way almost completely around the room.  Again, a much cuter scene than I’m explaining it to be.

When the President finally gets to make his pitch, we come to find that it has to do with the creation of the C.I.A.  As they not yet have the authority to conduct covert ops, Truman has decided to turn to Blackhawk… and make him a Special Agent of the President!

Like we have for the past few weeks, we now shift over to Munich to check in with the Reich.  Frau Koblenz is still being chatted up by a pair of dudes.  Turns out, there’s this “truth serum” the Germans have used… whose formula is now owned by an American pharmaceutical firm called Darabont-Catchart, Incorporated.  This neatly dovetails into Janos’ world, as this current “covert op” has to do with the transporting of said drug out and Germany and into the United States.

We wrap up back in D.C., where we get the particulars on this “truth serum” (from a time-traveling Ted Cruz?).  Turns out, Janos’s trip… might just get trippy, because the serum is actually an hallucinogen called D-Lysergic Acid Diethylamide, otherwise known as L.S.D.  Far out…

Another fun installment for Janos and the gang!  I tell ya what, one thing I wasn’t expecting when we started this journey was for Blackhawk to have elements of situational comedy.  In my obliviousness, I assumed this would be a dismal “war book”… not that there’s anything wrong with war books, they’ve just never really been my speed.

I didn’t think I’d be able to draw parallels between this and the bwah-ha-ha era of Justice League International… and yet, here we are!  We get these moments of, I dunno, normalcy… but, with pretty great comedic timing.  Dunno… just really loving the tone and feel of this story, the situation, and this crew.

The L.S.D. angle kind of caught me by surprise, though admittedly, I’m not much of a student of “real” history (if this is even rooted in such)… so, more astute readers might’ve picked up on this right away.  Still, an interesting wrinkle… which opens up some very intriguing possibilities.  Whatever the case, I’m happy to see the beginnings for the disparate storylines (Blackhawks and Munich) dovetailing into one.

Just really can’t say enough good about this feature.  I’ll miss it when it’s gone!  Thankfully, there’s that New Format ongoing that follows.  Really looking forward to digging into that!

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