Action Comics Weekly #632 (Nightwing & Speedy)
“Rocks and Hard Places, Chapter Seven: A Time of Changes”
Writer – Cherie Wilkerson
Pencils – Vince Giarrano
Inks – Tom Mandrake
Letters – John Costanza
Colors – Adrienne Roy
Editor – Barbara Kesel
Welp, Speedy’s time as the “headliner” of this feature sure was short-lived! We’re back to Nightwing & Speedy (rather than Speedy & Nightwing, that is)… and I’m beginning to wonder how much longer this one’s going to go!
We pick up right at the bomb-blast… and despite it looking as though our Moira was running away from the planted suitcase last time out, here it looks more as though she was running towards it! Roy runs over to her and calls for an ambulance… and by “calls for an ambulance”, I mean he screams “we need an ambulance”. At this point the entire Orange Day parade has gone a bit ca-ca, and Nightwing is already busting heads. Just then, an officer begins emptying his piece in Nightwing’s direction… which tells him that maybe they’re not on the same side.
Then, a Kesel Meats truck (featuring a rather well-endowed, or perhaps five-legged, bull on the side) bee-lines it directly at the cop. Turns out the driver is… well, hell, it’s Speedy. Dude can change clothes and steal a truck in less time than it takes for me to complete a thought!
They drive until they reach a roadblock surrounded by armed men. They are the Sanas! We learn that the F.O.E.s are their foes (yeah, they really say that), but here’s the thing… they invite the heroes behind the barricade for safety! Before they can get too comfortable, however, a helicopter swoops in… guns ablazing!
The Sanas are shot dead! Speedy manages to fire off an arrow-line into the rear rotor of the chopper, and sends it smashing into the side of a nearby building. We can see that this is one of those helicopters we used to joke about as kids… because the pilot appears to have escaped via ejector seat! A F.O.E. in the foreground takes aim on the distracted heroes, however, finds himself feeling the cold steel of the Man from the Train Turlet’s pistol!
Jumping ahead to Moira’s hospital bed, she’s recovering just fine. Just a broken arm and a few bruises… which, certainly beats the alternative. We learn that a woman (who we may or may not have already met… Roy meets a lot of middle-aged women… I mean, who else is he going to hand Lian to?) is going to take Moira and Button in… and that Roy is going to be heading back to the States.
Outside, Dick n’ Roy meet a woman named Sinnead who tries to set them straight on the Sanas. She suggests that they are a reactionary effort… not fighting to kill, but instead fighting to survive. She claims that she’ll be laying down her weapons now, however, since children are getting hurt. Just then, an old dude runs up… with a frickin’ grenade! I reckon he’s lookin’ to lob it at the hospital… but Sinnead meets him head-on. Unfortunately for her, it looks like the codger already pulled the pin!
We wrap up with some, if I’m being honest, boring “intrigue”. Dude sells weapons and information… gets himself poisoned with something that mimics a heart attack (must have been extra Chloro-floro-whatever left over from the Black Canary feature!). Meanwhile Train Turlet has booked himself a trip to the States.
Say it with me… another strong chapter.
But, I gotta say, fatigue is beginning to set in. Now, I’m not overly familiar with Ms. Wilkerson’s writing style, so for all I know, she has a very deliberate and slow-paced method. I have a sneaking suspicion there might be a hair of dreaded decompression at play though… not so much to “fill a trade”, but more to get us to the upcoming Action Comics Weekly “crossover” and deck-clearing (coming up in ACW #635).
I appreciate how, while we’re probably supposed to sympathize with The Sanas at this point, they’re still not depicted as overly “good”. They’re still, basically urban terrorists… very means to an end, crack as many eggs as ya need, insert whatever metaphor about goal-oriented ruthlessness you can here.
That said, the F.O.E.’s are definitely the “big bads”. I didn’t mention it during the synopsis, but we learn at the end that Train Turlet used to be part of something… perhaps the police force (?), but he had to resign. Maybe we’ll learn more about that next week… then again, maybe we won’t! I dunno if it’s enough to maintain interest… it really feels like we could’ve ended the story here. Moira and Button have a caretaker, Roy’s heading home… an F.O.E. has been caught… seems like a done deal to me! Oh well, guess we’ll find out next time.
We have a fill-in artist (well, penciller… Mandrake still provides ink) in Vince Giarrano… and, this probably isn’t his best work. Perhaps more evidence that this story might’ve been puffed out a chapter or two… maybe there was a time crunch, maybe it was Mandrake’s inks not jiving with his pencils… maybe I’m talking out my ass. Now, if you’ve seen some of Vincent’s non-comics work, you’ll know what a brilliant artist he is. It’s truly wonderful stuff.
Overall… solid, but long in the tooth. Perhaps this would read better all in one “go”!
Tomorrow: The Horizontal Goosestep!