ACW #637 – Hero Hotline

Action Comics Weekly #637 (Hero Hotline)
Writer/Colors – Bob Rozakis
Pencils – Stephen DeStefano
Inks – Kurt Schaffenberger
Letters – Agustin Mas
Editor – Brian Augustyn

It’s Hero Hotline time!  Otherwise known as the second-to-last Action Comics Weekly feature that I’ll be sharing with you.  There’s only one “newbie” left… and that’s Human Target (he’ll be making a single appearance, in about four or five weeks.

This is also our third and final “SHOWCASE Presents” feature… even though it’s not branded as such anywhere in the issue.  Editor, Mike Gold referred to this as being a Showcase in an old letters page… and that’s good enough for me.

This is also… one of the Action Comics Daily “cover brandings” I was most excited to show y’all.  I mean, the rainbow letters are just a whole lot of fun!

Now, I wanna warn you… we’re going to be dropped into the “deep end” here.  There isn’t much in the way of “proper” introductions in this story… it’s more just a bunch of wacky hijinks from a bunch of wacky characters.  We’ll do our best!

For a little bit of context, you might take a peek at the first four parts of the Hero Hotline miniseries that I reviewed here ages ago.  That series comes after this arc… but, it’s basically all the same characters.  Maybe one of these days I’ll actually cover the last two issues from that run here!  Can’t remember for the life of me how I lost track of it!

We open with the fella we’re going to eventually know as Hotshot reporting to work for his first day at the Hero Hotline.  Being a spritely young eighteen year-old, his mother insists on coming along to check out the place.  Like any teen-ager would be, he is pretty mortified.  They see the folks we’re eventually going to know as Mister MuscleFlexMister MightyBrother Bicep (uh, this dude likes to change it up) and Stretch.  The former has his hands quite full… and the latter is, well… an a-hole.  They eventually run into the robot, who we will eventually know as SOOZIE-Q (or, 500-2Q, if you prefer).  She isn’t much help either… she just refers them to the TV Set in charge before checking in on Mr. Muscle/Flex/et-cetera.

As Miste-err, the big guy… interrogates the baddie he just brought it, he appears to get a little bit of lip.  Turns out it’s just the Hero Hotline member, Voice-Over… who has the ability to throw his voice.  Ventriloquism powers seem pretty useful in the field, don’t they?  Suddenly, a job comes over the TV… turns out the famed country and western singer Melanie Boulder has gone missing.  Melanie Boulder, it’s worth noting, apparently has… large… uh, boulders.  The fella get all excited about this gig, and even wrangle the fella we will eventually know as Private Eyes in on it.

Somewhere across the room, SOOZ is welcoming Hotshot to the team… he goes on to demonstrate his powers to control fire and what-not, which gets him a “talking to” from his mother.  In response, Stretch… uh, stretches himself into a shovel, and scoops her out of the panel.

Hotshot gives Stretch a thank you pat-on-the-back… which is not appreciated in the slightest.  In fact, Stretch absolutely loses his crap… and starts screaming at the newbie for… whatever reason.  Ya see, Stretch is an old-timer… and doesn’t seem to cotton to these kids walking in off the street to join “this business”.

Next, we meet Microwavabelle or Microwave Mom… who, actually introduces herself by her code-name!  How ’bout that!  She demonstrates her powers by reheating Stretch’s cuppa coffee.

Just then, another job comes in… a special one for Stretch.  Now, if you have the ability to stretch, Plastic Man, Elongated Man or Mister Fantastic style… what better gig would there be for you than… rescuing cats from trees?  Stretch… isn’t amused.  In fact, he absolutely loses his crap… again.

Elsewhere in the room, that Baddie that Flex brought in has managed to free himself from the interrogation chair… and is holding up the entire Hero Hotline with… uh, like a straight razor?  Okay.  Before he can escape, however… the girl we’ll eventually know as Diamondette enters to announce that she’s been accepted to Medical School!  She doesn’t get long to celebrate, however… because this baddie promises to give her a “close shave” if the gang doesn’t cooperate!

Well… um… this would be what we in the biz call a “synopsizer’s worst nightmare”.  A whole slew of crazy characters, off-the-wall action… and, ya know… zero in the way of context.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lot of fun… but, the whole time I’m reading it, I’m worrying how I’m ever going to be able to actually describe it.  Thankfully we have already discussed the Hero Hotline at this blog, otherwise… oi, I couldn’t imagine how tough this would have been to get through.  On a purely “synopsizing” level, that is… the story itself is a lot of fun.

I’m going to include some of the information included in lieu of a letters page at the end of Hero Hotline #1 (1989).  It shares a bit more about the characters, and might make this a bit easier to digest.  Click’em to make’em bigger.

So, where do we even begin?  Maybe with just how odd it is to see a story like this in the pages of Action Comics?  I mean, if you ask me, this is the sort of thing we should have been getting the entire time during the Action Comics Weekly experiment.  There should’ve always been an “oddball” offering… a story/feature/arc that wasn’t afraid not to play it straight.  Something silly.  It’s crazy to consider that it’s taken us this long to get a purely comedic/satiric story in these pages!

The characters we meet are wacky, but… even in these short and frantic eight-pages, we can already tell that they have that nebulous quality of “heart”… and I’m really looking forward to “meeting” these characters all over again with you.  If I’m remembering right, they will be more-or-less fleshed out over the course of this arc, and we’ll have plenty more to say about them as we proceed.

Tomorrow: Darkseid!

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