Action Comics Weekly #636 (Speedy)
Writer – Mark Verheiden
Pencils – Lewis Williams
Inks – Frank McLaughlin
Letters – Tim Harkins
Colors – Julianna Ferriter
Editor – Robert Greenberger
It’s a new day for Action Comics Weekly! This weird little experiment is about to get even weirder. Four new features this week… well, three new/one returning… a “final chapter” for Phantom Stranger, annnnd we’re finally going to learn who the “big bad” is in our Superman feature.
This issue, well at least the procurement of it, comes with a brief story… so, apologies in advance. For a very long time, well over a year in fact, this was the only issue of Action Comics Weekly I needed to complete my run. I’ve been thinking/talking about collecting “white whales” for a while, and this very issue was one day among them!
During my hunt for this book in particular, I was working on the road… I was a mobile glass tech for a large windshield repair and replacement firm… you’ve probably heard of them, they have a very annoying jingle. Anyhoo, while off on my route, I would often stop at any book stores or comic stores I’d pass. It served a couple of purposes, a) I’d get to look at books, and b) bookstores, at least in my experience, have some of the cleaner public restrooms you’re going to find… beats the hell out of a gas station bathroom, anyway!
Well, this one day… a Sunday… I stopped at a Half-Price Books about an hour away from my house. My dealings with HPB are sort of like “famine to feast, and back to famine again”, in that some days I’ll walk out with more than I can carry… other days, I’ll walk out grumbling that they “never have anything I want”. Well, on this day… I found the one issue of ACW I needed, ugly cover and all! Paid a few bucks for it… which, admittedly was a bit rich for my blood, but… ya know, “white whale”.
Then, I hop back into my rig, and head about five miles west to take care of my next customer. Whattayaknow… they lived at the apartments right across the street from another used bookstore I frequented. After repairing the windshield, I popped in the shop to see what’s what… annnnnd, boom, two more copies of Action Comics Weekly #636! Adding insult to injury, they were only forty-cents a piece! This was a book that I’d never actually seen in “real life” before… and now, I was swimmin’ in em!
Oh well… least I got the thing, and we can begin talking about it… right now! It’s Speedy… solo!
We open with Roy trying to get his daughter, Lian for fall asleep… and so, he tells her a bedtime story… which facilitates a quick and dirty retelling of his origin story… even the part where he was hooked on drugs, and impregnating terrorists! I mean, that’s… I can’t even think of anything witty to say. It, uh, does the job… the tot falls asleep, but will she still respect her father in the morning? Eh, like she was even listening… looks like she’s de-aged from toddler to infant since last we saw her.
We join Roy… either the next day, or maybe later the same day… pounding the pavement, in full costume. Are we sure he’s not on drugs right now? I mean, dude looks goofy as hell walking the streets, in broad daylight… wearing the Speedy costume, as an adult! Anyhoo, enough “costume shaming”… for now. Our man is actually looking for work, and thinks he’s found a lead on a gig as an Private Investigator for some nearby outfit. Upon arrival for the interview, he finds himself in the middle of a bit of a to-do!
His would-be boss, Mr. Burley is tossed through his office door by a squat little bald fella. This fella’s packin’ heat, and looks to be about to “finish the job” when Roy fires an arrow into his barrel… and, that’s no euphemism.
Speedy then kayos the creep… however, is stopped by Mr. Burley. Ya see, the bald fella is a dude named Geniello… and he’s just being “emotional” right now. Dude’s (fifth) wife is cheating on him… and so, he’s just letting off some steam. Alrighty, then. So, Roy inquires about the gig… and Burley ain’t too keen on giving it to… well, a dude who just walked in dressed like Robin Hood’s cousin.
Roy’s all “screw this noise”, and decides he’d be just as happy serving people at the nearby Del Taco. Before he can leave, however, Burley stops him… asks why he doesn’t just sign on with the police or the feds. Roy tells him that ain’t his scene… even though we just spent something like nine chapters trying to get him back into the good graces of the C.B.I.! Burley begrudgingly decides to take a chance on our man.
That evening, after feeding Lian while scanning through the file Burley gave him on Mr. Donald Lossner, Roy hits the streets once more. After changing into his workin’ clothes, he happens across a young woman who just had her purse snatched. He chases the thief into an alley… annnd, is held up at gunpoint.
So… there are a couple of ways we can view this.
As a story, it’s not half bad. Some questionable parenting decisions and fashion-choices aside, this was a decent enough opening chapter. Anyone “uninitiated” to Roy and his world get a concise origin story for him… and, from there… we wander into a boilerplate “street level” story.
As a continuation of the last few times we dealt with Roy Harper in the pages of Action Comics Weekly? It kinda fails. It shows a lack of regard for the previous… what… fifteen chapters we spent with Roy (and Dick)? I mean, their nine-part second arc was basically a Speedy solo as it was… and none of that is reflected here.
Here, he’s complaining about only being able to afford ramen noodles and peanut butter… and pounding the pavement for work, when I’m pretty sure he’d be welcomed back into the C.B.I. post-the Sepulveda Affair. Hell, I’m pretty sure one of the agents literally welcomed him back into the fold during that last chapter!
Also, Lian has gone from toddler… like maybe just shy of preschool age… to infant. I know that happens in comics all the time… but, not usually two issues later in the same title, right? Is this a prequel? I dunno. I mean, knowing what we know now about how little the comics industry cares about things like “continuity”, it’s easy to write it all off… but still, it’s annoying.
I probably ought to mention Roy’s mind-boggling bedtime story… Hush little baby don’t you cry… daddy’s coming back after he snorts this line? Rock-a-bye Lian, tomorrow we’ll play… your terrorist mama tried to blow up the U.K.? Weird stuff. I get that it facilitated the retelling of Roy’s origin… but, wow…
Overall, not the worst way to kick off our “new-look” Action Comics Weekly… continuity frustrations aside, this still won’t rock any socks… but, it’s readable and enjoyable for what it is.
Tomorrow: We begin the winding travels of someone that rhymes with, uh, begin…