Action Comics Weekly #635 (January 17, 1989)
“The Crash of ’88!”
Superman: “Power Failure!”
Green Lantern: “The End”
Writers – Mark Verheiden, Roger Stern, & James Owsley
Pencils – Eduardo Barreto, Curt Swan, & M.D. Bright
Inks – John Nyberg, Murphy Anderson, & Romeo Tanghal
Letters – Carrie Spiegle, Bill Oakley, & Albert DeGuzman
Colors – Tom Ziuko, Julianna Ferriter, & Amory Williams
Editors – Robert Greenberger, Mike Carlin, Denny O’Neil, & Dan Raspler
Cover Price: $1.50
Wow, back again already? What a weird issue of Action Comics Weekly we just read, wunnit? Part crossover… part business-as-usual.
Today’s piece marks a real turning point in our journey… from here on out, this place is going to start looking a lot different. Well, ya know, as different as it can look considering we’re still gonna be looking at the same book.
This week’s cover comes to us by Eduardo Barreto, who actually drew the story inside! It’s pretty good… and unlike most covers, it actually has something to do with the feature story! Go figure…
Alright, let’s take a look at the last “normal” ACW Poll:
Looks like Blackhawk stomps into the sunset with a “W”! Well done, folks! I can’t remember whether I voted for Blackhawk or Green Lantern… both were very strong!
Speaking of Green Lantern… this week’s poll is the very last time we can vote for that feature! Not many choices this week… which may or may not be to Hal’s benefit!
Shareable Poll Link: https://linkto.run/p/7Y41DEKG
Thanks for stopping by (and voting)! Tomorrow, we begin the final stretch in our Action Comics Daily project… wouldja believe it? Come on back again, and see just how weird this book’s about to become!
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.
The Consortium is rather annoyed that Superman has interfered, and has seemingly cut their feed of the proceedings. They don’t get the opportunity to fret long, however, as they are met by… their “Silent Partner”. Weird scene, it looks like they’re all sitting in the dark side of a shadow or somethin’… or, was it seed? What am I talkin’ about? Probably nothing.
Up in the who-knows-where, Superman manages to escape the booming interdimensional portal… but, will it even matter?
Cuz ya see, the Fellowship geeks are suddenly completely without their powers (and, from the looks of it, perspective… unless one of the Fellowship is a giant… which, hell, they very well might’ve been). The Superman Worshipers refuse to stand down… in fact, they’d rather die in his name. The Consortium appears to be all too happy to oblige that request.
Okay, we’re finally getting somewhere… sorta. After 35 weeks, and 70 pages… we’re finally going to be figuring out who is behind this entire boondoggle affair. If my “hints” haven’t given it all away, you’re in for a nice surprise in the coming weeks.
As for this chapter? It’s par for the course for the Superman strip. Nothing special… but, hopefully that’s all about to change. No promises though…
We open with Hal hoofin’ it away from Malvolio… if you recall, last time out, Big Mal destroyed Hal’s Power Ring, leaving our hero rather defenseless against any further assault. Hal provides us with a bit of exposition via his internal monologue… he headed into space in pursuit of that Wooden Bethel Shrine (remember that?), and ran afoul of Malvolio… a 300 year-old man whose father was a Green Lantern (who Mal himself murdered). His mother was an Earth woman. That about catch us up? Anyhoo, Hal attempts to put a little space between he and the big bad, to buy himself some time to consider his options.
Hal finds himself in a sort of armory… where all of the guns appear to be made of gold. Great! Thinks he, if these weapons are gold… Malvolio won’t be able to effect them. I… uh… thought we already learned that Mal’s Power Ring works a little bit differently than the rest of the Corps? I didn’t imagine that, did I? Whatever the case, Hal “suits up”…
… and before long looks like the prototype for many a Liefeldian character yet to come! Just like many of those Liefeldian characters, Hal Jordan proves to be a rather lousy shot with his giant cannon. Missing Malvolio with every blast, he does manage to punch many holes into the side of the golden space station… almost getting sucked into the vacuum of space in the process. If not for Malvolio saving his bacon with an emerald construct, anyway…
Hal flops down to the ground right in front of the baddie… and he’s down to his final weapon, a golden bow and arrow. Malvolio laughs… and, uh… I can’t really blame him. After some tough-guy talk, Hal draws back… and releases, right into Malvolio’s heart!
Now, here’s the rub. Hal, stood over the prone body… takes Malvolio’s Power Ring, and heads back toward Earth.
Back in the station… Malvolio wakes up, plucks the arrow from his chest, and gets back on his feet. He’s… pleased.
Ya see, he wanted Hal Jordan to take his Power Ring with him back to Earth… that was the whole point of this. Suddenly, the golden space station disappears, and Malvolio stands in complete blackness. Where he’d sadly remain… even until today.
Well, that’s a wrap for the Green Lantern feature! We’ve gone from the brutal murder of Katma Tui… to the arrest of John Stewart… to an appearance on Oprah… to the introduction of the Freak Show… to the break-up with Arisia… to an intergalactic peace summit with Priest… to the Bethel Traveler, and a tangle with Captain Atom… and finally, to Lord Malvolio. It’s been a weird arc, hasn’t it?
It’s hard to talk about the biggest takeaway from this chapter without diving headfirst into the crazy amount of possibilities, and “back doors” it presents. What we have is Hal Jordan returning to Earth… wearing the Power Ring of a madman! While pretty much all of this bit was swept under the rug… it did actually get a passing mention a few years later in Green Lantern (vol.3) #25 (June, 1992).
|Green Lantern (vol.3) #25 (June, 1992)|
So, even in the post-Emerald Dawn landscape, Malvolio’s Ring was still a thing. Haven’t the foggiest idea it wasn’t ever brought up again after this… but, it’s there! And so, it could be argued that… when Hal went cuckoo-bananas during Emerald Twilight, he was wearing Malvolio’s Ring! This fact was not lost on many USENETters of the day, who held to the possibility that Hal’s eventual retribution would be facilitated by the return of Malvolio (and not via the introduction of a giant yellow fear bug from outer space).
In fact, James Owsley… then, Christopher Priest held firm that Malvolio was the key to undoing the whole Parallax mess! In a USENET post, dated April 26, 1996 he would shed much light on Malvolio, including:
“Malvolio’s ring is DC’s instant way out of this Parallax business. They’ll never use it, but it is there.”
While we’re already looking the USENET post… let’s dig a bit deeper:
Regarding Malvolio’s vital stats:
“Born in England in the year 1612. His father was an offworlder, a Green Lantern from Space Sector 1634. There was no GL of Earth at that time. Malvie’s dad was a big blue-skinned guy. He fell in love with an Earth woman (probably against the Guardians’ wishes)”
Regarding his Alan Scott-esque Uniform:
“There was a reason for that, but I honestly can’t remember. I believe we were going to asset Scott’s uniform was actually based on Malvolio’s”
Is there any connection between Malvolio and Alan Scott?
Did Malvolio’s Power Ring work on wood?
“Malvolio, like Priest, doesn’t need a ring. See, Denny O’Neil (my GL editor at the time) and I agree the limitations of Hal’s ring were (ironically) imposed to keep him from going nuts. That the limitations were mostly mental or post-hypnotic. Malvolio didn’t know any of the rules. He doesn’t know his ring can’t work on yellow, so Malvie’s ring *can*. In fact, Malvie, like Priest, can connect to the GL force without a ring.”
Did it work on yellow?
“It *did* work on yellow.”
What of Malvolio’s father?
“Malvolio was/is insane. A congenital defect. He has major ego problems. Although he worshipped his dad, at some point he realized his dad was an idiot and that he, Malvolio, alone should have the power of the ‘green flame’. He killed his dad in his sleep–an incredibly ignoble gesture, and something that fuels Malvie’s insanity all the more.”
What’s his connection to Priest (the character, not the dude)?
“Malvolio was never a Green Lantern. His father was. Malvie killed dad and took his ring–but he was never a member of the Corps … On behalf of the Guardians of the Universe, Priest fought Lord Malvolio … Priest was booted out of the GL Corps by the Guardians because he refused to kill Malvolio. Instead, Priest imprisoned Malvie and the little fathead pipsqueaks took Priest’s stripes.”
Explanation of “Malvolio’s World”…
“Here’s where it gets loopy, and yes, it’s probably my fault: ‘Malvolio’s World’, the mountain retreat, the alien scientist–everything we saw in that arc (we discussed this last week)–was an illusion. Malvolio was in JAIL, imprisoned by Priest and looking for a way out. He brought Hal there and created all this B-S for one purpose only… to get Hal to put on Malvolio’s ring, which Parallax wears today.”
Well… the dude (Hal) who’d become Parallax wore it when he went nuts, but close enough. At this point, Kyle Rayner was wearing a “reforged” version of that Power Ring. Kyle would eventually get a short-lived super-baddie called Oblivion… who some, back in the day, thought had ties to Big Mal.
What’s next for Malvolio (as of 1996)?
“I’ve tried no fewer than six times to bring Malvolio back. DC has no interest in the character. In 1992 I pitched ‘The Freedom Fighters’, a super-heroic (sort of) team consisting of Ray, Black Condor, Phantom Lady, the Hawks, Starman and Arion the Immortal. The team’s unlikely warped Professor X? Malvolio. DC declined it.”
A lot of interesting information there… in particular, the idea of “Malvolio’s World”. As we saw during this final chapter, everything faded to black at the end… everything Hal (and by extension, we) saw was a fake… an illusion! Everything there was in service of Malvolio ensuring that Hal took his ring back to Earth.
That’s really just about all they ever wrote on Lord Malvolio… outside of the Sleepers Novel, during which (from what I understand) he made some sort of pact with Adolf Hitler, and battled Alan Scott. I don’t consider the novels to be “canon”, so… it is, what it is. The entire Sleepers trilogy is available in audio format from Graphic Audio, if anyone’s interested.
And so, that does it for Hal, Mal… and the entire ACW-GL feature!