ACW #633 – Nightwing & Speedy

Action Comics Weekly #633 (Nightwing & Speedy)
“Rocks and Hard Places, Chapter Eight: Behind Closed Doors”
Writer – Cherie Wilkerson
Art – Tom Mandrake
Letters – John Costanza
Colors – Adrienne Roy
Editor – Barbara Kesel

Another Day… another Penultimate Chapter!  Lotsa “near-finality” headed our way!

We open with Dick and Roy returning to the States.  They are immediately greeted by a fella from the C.B.I. and ferried into a waiting car.  Inside. Roy is met by Mr. Sepulveda… in case you don’t remember, and I wouldn’t blame you in the slightest if you didn’t… Sepulveda is the C.B.I. big-wig who canned Roy all those many weeks ago.  Meanwhile, our friend from the Train Turlet (Hunter), has also arrived in the U.S. of A.  He hops into a cab… only to find that Lord Danvers is waiting for him.  After a bit of “prompting” (by a pair of over-sized goons), Hunter agrees to the ride-share.

In the first car, Sepulveda assures Roy he only fired him out of concern that he was about to blow a two-year undercover operation… so, nothin’ shady goin’ on ova hea’.  Well, except for, ya know, all the shadiness.  While they chat, a red sports car sidles up alongside the ride, and attempts to run them off the road.

Next thing we know, Dick and Roy are in their “work clothes”… so… hmm, does that mean they changed into costume in the car, while Sepulveda and his driver watched?  That doesn’t seem smart, now does it?  It’s really the only realistic way these scenes can flow together, right?  Annnnnyway, Nightwing and Speedy are met by some very, very, very inexperienced (and nervous) “freedom fighters”, who they handily wipe the floor with.

We learn that these geeks are members of The Sanas… or, at least, they claim to be.  They’re fighting for Ireland’s freedom, and I must say, they’re doing one heck of a job.  A-hem.  By now, Sepulveda and his driver have split the scene… probably attempting to get Bruce Wayne on the phone this very moment with an “offer he can’t refuse”.  After having The Sanas arrested, our heroes decide to use their own damn two legs to carry them the rest of the way into D.C.

Meanwhile, in the other car, Hunter makes his move.  This fella is somehow able to out-muscle Lord Danvers’… well, muscle, and commandeer the ride.  Ya know, this little bit right here might be the toughest for me to suspend my disbelief and “buy into”.

As luck would have it, Hunter is driving right by Nightwing and Speedy, and so he pulls over and offers to drive them the rest of the way.  Upon arrival at C.B.I. Headquarters, Speedy meets with Sepulveda and manages to convince him to hand over a manila envelope.  As the heroes go to leave, Sepulveda is informed that Lord Danvers is there to see him.  Oh, and this “Lord Danvers”?  He’s got ties to the F.O.E.’s.  I’m not sure if that’s been made clear to this point, but… that’s his story.

Nightwing and Speedy walk right past Lord Danvers on their way out… and find themselves getting stopped at security.  The guards ask about the manila envelope… which Speedy assures them they didn’t steal.  Well, get this, Sepulveda set them up!  Whaaaaaa?  This chapter ends with our heroes being arrested!

Okay, two things.

First… and my memory may be just plain cloudy, but… have we ever met this Lord Danvers before today?  I mean, he’s pretty forgettable, but… I really feel like we (or I) should’ve known who this guy was?  Especially if he’s going to be one of the “big bads” of the arc!  Again, maybe I’m just forgetting… I suppose I could just re-read the discussion pieces, but, ehh… 

Second, and this is a biggie… Did Roy and Dick really change into their crime-fighting costumes in the back seat of Sepulveda’s car?  I mean, general discomfort with some old fella watching you change clothes aside, this is just an all-around bad idea!  I don’t think Sepulveda’s the sharpest bulb in the shed, but even he might be able to put two and two together, and seeing Dick change into Nightwing, play “two degrees of separation” to deduce that maybe, perhaps, Batman is really Bruce Wayne.  Just weird.  You’d think some thought would go into that.

There was a fair amount of convenience strewn through this… even moreso than usual.  Really reinforcing my (likely misguided) belief that things went a little editorially-sideways during these mid-late weeks of Action Comics Weekly.  I mean, if we were to go back to the opening chapters of this arc… they were aimless, meandering, and even a little bit dull.  We spent way too many weeks dealing with Moira and Button… and, now… it’s like we’re just blowing through the story at breakneck speed.  Very uneven… however, since there was so much (editorial) change in the air, I’ll give the creative team the benefit of the doubt, and assume they were just rolling with the punches.

The cliffhanger ending?  Well, it was cliffhangery, I guess… though, why Speedy and Nightwing took Sepulveda (a dude who has screwed them over a number of times… including earlier the same day) at his word.  Seeing them get arrested prompted a… 

… instead of any actual, genuine surprise.  I guess we might be able to blame that on the “behind the scenes” machinations that I’ve already projected into this as well!  Here’s hoping it all comes together in next weeks final chapter!

Tomorrow: Beam Me Up, Supey!

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