ACW #635 – The Crash of ’88!

Action Comics Weekly #635 (The Crash of ’88)
“The Crash of ’88!”
Writer – Mark Verheiden
Pencils – Eduardo Barreto
Inks – John Nyberg
Letters – Carrie Spiegle
Colors – Tom Ziuko
Editor – Robert Greenberger

Ya feel that?  That buzz… that hum… the pure electricity in the air?  Why, that can only mean one thing… it’s crossover time!

Friends, we’re about to find out that Crisis on Infinite Earths has nothin’ on… The Crash of ’88!

We open in the stormy skies over somewhere in South America.  Our pilot is Weng “Chop-Chop” (don’t call him “Chop-Chop”) Chan… and it’s 1988?!  Anyhoo, he along with two of his associates, are doing a job for Blackhawk Express, when suddenly… they’re shot out of the sky!  When they come crashing down, we find out that one of Weng’s partners is Clay Kendall, formerly of Ferris Aircraft.  The other, a redhead I don’t recognize.

Anyhoo, they leave the plane to assess the damage, only to find themselves under fire once more.  Before long, they’re surrounded by some Generalissimo type and his men.  This Colonel Diaz demands they be apprehended… and so, they are.

As they’re being marched toward… wherever they’re going to be kept, Weng flashes back to how this all came to be.  We learn that he’s not the President and C.E.O. of Blackhawk Express… and kinda hates the gig.  None of his employees seem to respect him… hell, some still refer to him as “Chop-Chop”.  He gets a call from the Board of Directors where he’s advised that he and Clay Kendall would be sent on this present mission.

We shift scenes to Green Lantern.  He happens upon Batman and Green Arrow… annnnnd, blasts them to smithereens?!  Well no, he just dreams that he does.  Ya see, he’s still kinda peeved at them for turning their backs on him way back in Action Comics Weekly #606!

Later on that day, Hal meets up with Dinah Lance for lunch.  He’s surprised she wants to hang out with him at all, considering how nobody else in the community wants to touch him with a ten-foot pole.  Before they order, Dinah suggests maybe Hal reach out to some of his pals who don’t wear capes.  The first fella he thinks about is… Clay Kendall!

We shift back down to Sumango, where the Blackhawk Expressers have been tossed into a holding pen.  Diaz arrives, and takes Weng out to show him something.  They walk deep into the jungle until they reach… this super high-tech base!  This is just him “flexing”, however (that is what the kids call it, right?).  He wants Weng to spill the beans on whatever it was he was transporting.  When our man keeps his lip zipped, he’s tossed back in the pen.

Back in the U.S.A., Hal and Dinah decide to pop in on Clay.  Of course we know, he ain’t home… his gal-pal, April answers the door and expresses concern for her guy-pal.  She explains that three days earlier, he got wrangled into a “sensitive” delivery endeavor down South America way… and she hasn’t heard anything since.  Hal tells her that he’ll do whatever he can to track him down.

Naturally, Dinah insists she come along for the ride.  Their first stop is the Blackhawk hangar… then over to the F.A.A, to check on whether or not a flight plan had been filed.  Turns out, it had… which prompts Dinah to say, “Brilliant work like this must be how you got your nickname, ‘The Emerald Detective’.”  Hmm… I don’t recall anyone ever calling him that, but okay!

They follow every fuel point between Blackhawk Hangar and Sumango, and eventually come across the downed cargo plane.  Outside it lays Kendall’s wheelchair… but, no bodies!

Just then, our heroes are rattled by the arrival of a hyooge crimson giant!  This sucker is looking to destroy everything in its path… and so, Dinah rushes toward a nearby hut to ensure any occupants get to safety while Hal endeavors to “hit ’em high”.

While Green Lantern fights with futility, Dinah finds herself surrounded by Diaz’s men.  Things ain’t lookin’ great for the good guys.

Hal continues to get knocked from pillar to post by this beast… and all Dinah can do is watch.  Diaz’s men have her restrained… not that she’d be all that much help against whatever the hell this giant is… but, it stinks all the same.  Hal, seeing no other option… sends his Power Ring off to find the “one man who can help”.  Give ya three guesses who that might be.

As Dinah and a kayoed Hal get dumped into the holding pen with the Blackhawks, we shift scenes to Metropolis… where Clark Kent is sitting in on a very boring City Council meeting.  He’s eating Cracker Jacks and chatting up an equally bored-looking fella sitting next to him.  Suddenly, the Power Ring bounces into the frame, which Kent, naturally, recognizes.  Claiming it to be the “prize” from his Cracker Jacks, he snags it and excuses himself.

Before long, Superman arrives in Sumango… and engaged in battle with the crimson giant!  As he exchanges blows with the beast, Dinah and Weng set up a bit of subterfuge to escape captivity.  They manage to pull off the okey-doke and outsmart the guards… which really begs the question, have these guards ever actually guarded anything before?!

Canary and Weng give the bad guys the slip, and manage to make their way into the high-tech base thing.  Inside, there are a bunch of monitors… and a curious crimson cube!  Inside the cube… is something shaped like a rotund man.  Hmm.  Well, before they can really do much investigating, Weng gets shot in the shoulder!

Dinah decides to do what anyone would do if they happened across a curious crimson cube… she kicks the bejeezus out of it!  Inside… well, lookit that, it’s Colonel Diaz!  Looks like this cube was something like a military-grade “Sega Activator”.  The Crimson Giant was just mimicking his moves!  Anyhoo, Dinah beats the hell out of him… and the effects can be seen by Superman, who is still fighting the big guy.

The Giant soon disappears… which, is a good thing… but, then… it reappears at the high-tech base, which is a bad thing.  Back at the cell, Hal finally stirs awake.  He finds Clay on his belly trying to hold down their position, returning fire to Diaz’s men.  Lucky for them, however, Hal’s Power Ring arrives just in the nick of time.

Before long, Green Lantern and Superman arrive at the high-tech base, and resume their battle with the crimson giant.  Just like before, this is more an exercise in futility than an actual fight… neither hero can seem to make a dent in the beast!

Luckily, since Diaz and his Monster were so concerned with Green Lantern and Superman, he doesn’t notice when Weng literally pulls the plug on the entire operation!  Diaz finds himself without his monster… and Weng superkicks him into next week.

We wrap up with Superman and Green Lantern corralling the bad guys for arrest, Clay Kendall heading home to April, and Weng returning to his position at Blackhawk Express, with a whole new confident attitude.

Woof, I’m a bit woozy… it’s been a long while since I covered something quite this long in the daily-blog format!  30 Pages… is a lot.  Don’t know how I did that for so long without my eyes permanently crossing!  I also don’t know how I was able to dedicate 2-3 hours every day on any of this… but, here we are again!  Might actually have to break my rule and share this one on social media to get a little bit of engagement-return on my time investment!

So… whatta we have here anyway?  Just what is The Crash of ’88!?  Well, it’s a weird one-shot, that happens to include several pieces of the Action Comics Weekly puzzle.  Is it “must reading”?  No.  No, it’s not.  In fact, if I were reading this as it was coming out, I’d have probably skipped this chapter.  Hell, I’ve actually never read this before right now… it just always felt so unimportant and skippable.

In finally buckling down and reading it… well, it’s still not all that vital to any of the characters involved.  I’m not sure if we come across the elder Weng Chan again, though, I am admittedly still quite ignorant of the final-whereabouts of “war” characters.  Further, I can’t really neatly “place” this anywhere.  Sure, that shouldn’t matter… and, for the most part, it doesn’t.  But, considering that this is part of Action Comics Weekly… is this before or after Superman’s dealings with the Fellowship?  Has Hal met Malvolio?  Did Dinah already live through her two arcs?  Again, questions that don’t matter in the slightest… and yet, I still kinda get hung up on ’em.

Let’s push all of that aside though, and just look at The Crash in as tight a vacuum as possible.  This is Weng’s story… and, lemme tell ya, I love the way Verheiden portrayed him.  He’s still this sorta snotty punk… grey temples and all, he’s still a snarky pain in the ass… and I just adored it!  It was great being able to catch up with him, despite my not really knowing all that much about him in the first place.  Seeing him as a weary and stepped-upon figurehead C.E.O. … then, seeing him find his backbone to the point where he lets the Board of Directors know that he’ll be the one deciding the direction of Blackhawk Express.  Really strong stuff!

Hal was here… well, to tie into Clay Kendall’s inclusion, and to be kayoed.  That’s some of what Hal does best… get knocked out.  I appreciated that they tried to tie in the superhero community turning their backs on him… especially since that scene will be one we’re going to revisit and emphasize toward the end of Action Comics Daily.  That scene, with Hal going “door to door” for help, informs the way Action Comics Weekly concludes… it actually “ends” twice, and we’re gonna look at both.

Dinah’s inclusion was well done, and I enjoyed her back-and-forth with everyone in the cast.  She and Hal make great partners, and I’m glad she was here.  Superman… well, we needed some way to illustrate how powerful/invulnerable the Crimson Giant was… and Superman was as good a punching bag as any.

Something to keep in the back of our minds: I find it interesting that Hal’s Power Ring was able to find Clark Kent… it’s going to be made clear that Hal doesn’t know Superman’s secret identity… but, does that mean his Ring doesn’t either?!  Have they decided that Hal doesn’t know just yet??  Am I just really overthinking this???  Just keep this in mind, as again… that whole secret identity hoopla really figures into the way this all wraps up.

I think if I were to make any complaints, I wonder why the roster was limited to Green Lantern, Superman, Black Canary, and Blackhawk?  There have been a bunch of characters in Action Comics Weekly that could have gotten little cameo appearances or asides.  Captain Marvel and Starman could have showed up to battle the beast… Deadman and Phantom Stranger could have stood off to the side being boring… I dunno, maybe if this story ran the entire 48-Pages of ACW #635 more folks would’ve shown up.

Overall… this was okay.  It’s likely not going to rock any socks and it isn’t “must reading” by any definition, but it’s still quite good.  I nice palette-cleanser to break up the series, as next week (as in, four days from now), Action Comics Weekly will be getting a new coat of paint, and will look drastically different.

Tomorrow: The Fellowship… Powerless!

One thought on “ACW #635 – The Crash of ’88!

  • Charlton Hero

    The end of an era here. For a crossover it was light in the loafers and not much of anything came out of it. I love "The Crash Of 88" tag line tho. So…yeah.


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