ACW #634 – Nightwing & Speedy

Action Comics Weekly #634 (Nightwing & Speedy)
“Rocks and Hard Places, Chapter Nine: The Circle Closes”
Writer – Cherie Wilkerson
Art – Tom Mandrake
Letters – John Costanza
Colors – Adrienne Roy
Editor – Barbara Kesel

Hey, it’s the final Nightwing & Speedy chapter!  You know what that means?  I no longer have to keep track of which Nightwing & Speedy “trade dress” I’m using from week to week!

… uh, in case you didn’t notice, I use alternating Nightwing & Speedy “trade-dresses” every week.  Sometimes it’s Speedy/Nightwing, other times it’s Nightwing/Speedy.  Aw hell, nobody but me cares… 

Let’s do this!

We pick up right where we left off… Speedy and Nightwing are about to be arrested for “stealing” a file from the C.B.I. Headquarters.  Now, rather than attempting to explain their situation, our heroes comment how embarrassing this all is before… proceeding to beat the hell out of the rent-a-cops?!  I mean, these poor dudes are only doing their job… c’mon!  After the hub-bub dies down, and by that I mean, once the cops are kayoed… Dick and Roy are called into an adjacent room by a C.B.I. Agent, presumably one of the “good ones”.

Inside the darkened room, she welcomes Speedy back to the C.B.I., but warns him not everyone is happy to see him back.  Yeah, no kiddin’, lady.  She explains that her gig is keeping a watch over C.B.I.-C.E.O.s who have “gone astray”.  She then informs the boys that, get this, Sepulveda’s on the takeWhaaaaaa?  Yeah, yeah, I think most of us figured that out like eight weeks ago, but whattayagonnado?

She’s just about ready to proceed with a “bust”, however, is unsure who Sepulveda is reporting to “on the outside”.  Nightwing’s like “duh, it’s totally that Danvers jerk.”, which… is actually all our Agent needs to hear!  I mean, she doesn’t ask for proof or anything!  Thank God Dick didn’t say any of our names!

Speedy wonders aloud how Hunter (our friend from the Train Turlet) figured it all out… and just like that, our stinky pal stumbles out of the shadows to explain!  It’s all tied up in the F.O.E.s (betcha forgot all about them… I know I did).

Well, at least now our Agent has a bit more to go on than the hearsay of a masked man, and so… she proceeds with the bust.  We see Sepulveda being frog-marched out of his office… some dude freaking out in his office… and Lord Danvers being arrested at the airport.  The wheels of justice sure move swiftly… when you’re running out of pages to tell your story!

We jump ahead to learn the fates of our antagonists… Sepulveda gets thirty-years in prison… “Teflon” Lord Danvers manages to have all charges dropped… and, uhh, Mr. Monroe has his bail set at two-million dollars.  Mr. Monroe?  Who the hell is this guy?  Have we met him?  Is my memory really so bad that I can’t remember meeting one of our prime antagonists?!  The hell?

Back at Roy’s apartment, he’s steaming mad that Lord Danvers “got off”, but is soon calmed down having received quite a pleasant missive from Moira and Button back in Belfast.  Everything’s going great for them.  Also, Hunter just sold the rights to his story, wrote a book, and is making a bundle.

We wrap up with the revelation that Lord Danvers didn’t actually get to go back to life as usual… he found himself caught up in some sex scandal… and hung himself.  Welp… all’s well that ends well…

If you listen real close, it’s almost as though you can hear the *crunch* of truncation with this one.  Everything gets wrapped up nice and tidy here… and with the quickness!

I know I’ve harped on how uneven the back-half of a lot of our features have been of late… ya know, moving into the all-too-brief “next evolution” of Action Comics Weekly (post-Crash), but… I mean, where there’s smoke there’s fire, right?  Maybe I’m imagining it… maybe I’m projecting… I dunno.  There’s no way to “double-blind” this sort of thing, and there’s no such thing as a “comics placebo”… so, preconceptions are just part of the gig!  I feel like there was some wonkiness behind the scenes… and, unfortunately, I’m judging these stories as though that is 100% true.

So, whatta we got here?  Nightwing and Speedy beating up some security guards/officers who were… ya know, just doing their jobs.  Hell, even if our heroes get cleared on the file-stealing issue, shouldn’t they have to face up to punching out innocent people?  Am I just not supposed to think of that?  I mean, this is a (relatively speaking) “grounded in reality” sort of story… shouldn’t this sort of thing be addressed?  Hell, even in a throwaway line where Roy complains about having to pay a fine or something?

From there, the heroes meet a “good” C.B.I. Agent, who is willing to take them at their word without question.  That seems like rather slipshod “secret-agenting”, doesn’t it?  It’s hard for me not to blame this on the perceived “truncation” of this story.  Ya see, this story had a relatively strong first half… meandering a bit, yes… but, it felt like Wilkerson was invested in “setting the table”.  Here though, the rapid-fire results we’re getting?  It’s just so tonally different and oddly paced that it feels completely out of place.

Then, the arrests go down… possibly introducing us to a brand-new character?  If he isn’t new, and I’m just too dense to remember, he certainly wasn’t featured prominently enough to fit here.  Was he just the “fall guy” for Lord Danvers?  I feel like that shouldn’t even be a question… if he was, we/I should know immediately!

I dunno, you guys… came into this arc a bit lukewarm, but it won me over.  Then, something happened.  Not sure what exactly, but around the second-half… third-third, the worm definitely turned.  Pacing was tossed out the window, and it was just a mad-rush to get to everything tied up so this can end in time for The Crash of ’88!.  It’s too bad, really.

Well, Nightwing and Speedy’s story it now behind us… but, have no fear, Speedy will be returning post-Crash with his own solo feature.  Oddly enough, it won’t be written by Cherie Wilkerson… who, for much of this story, seemed to want to write only about Roy anyway!

Tomorrow: The darkest day yet… the final Blackhawking!

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