ACW #638 – Speedy

Action Comics Weekly #638 (Speedy)
“Exiles, Part III”
Writer – Mark Verheiden
Pencils – Louis Williams
Inks – Frank McLaughlin
Letters – Tim Harkins
Colors – Julianna Ferriter
Editor – Robert Greenberger

Heyyy, izzat a Jack Kirby cover on our Action Comics Weekly?  Howzaboutdat?  Unfortunately, I’m not usually of the mind that Kirby always equals better.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan… but, this just looks like a re-purposed pin-up.

Welp, I suppose we’d better get used to lookin’ at it… it ain’t goin’ anywhere for a week!  On that subject, wait’ll you get a load of next week’s cover… cuz, talk about woof.

We open with a news reporter reporting on a demonstration going on outside of a local AIDS Hospice.  Some dude in a hardhat talks about how he doesn’t want none’a this in his backyard.  We see that Speedy (in full costume) and his new boss Burley are watching this on a bar television set.  They have very different opinions on the AIDS epidemic… I’m sure you can pick out which side of the argument both find themselves on.  It’s almost cartoonish in their opposition here.  Roy stands up for the rights of those with AIDS… Burley immediately insinuates that Roy’s gay.  Cartoonish… zero subtlety here.  Roy stomps out of the bar (again, in full costume), and heads over to a pay phone to ring up that woman who he’d saved from the purse-snatcher a couple of weeks back.  His call, however, is interrupted by the arrival of a towncar.

After a pair of heavies… who just parked their boat on the sidewalk… inform Speedy that “dey’re boss wantsta tawk to ‘im” about the Lossner Investigation.  And so, without any question, our second-favorite archer hops into the back of the hooptie.  They arrive at the sprawling mansion of the Hollywood actor, Sean Bauman.  He might be an Arnold Schwarzenegger stand-in, only with He-Man’s haircut.

So, what’s the deal with all’a this anyway?  Well, ya see… Bauman’s real name is, are you ready… Phillip Lossner.  He’s the brother of the missing Donald Lossner… and the guy who put Burley Investigations on the case!  Out by the pool, they compare notes… and lemme tell ya, Phil ain’t pleased to learn that his brother has the AIDS.  He lashes out at Roy… calls him a liar… threatens him… all that jazz.

Speedy realizes that this conversation ain’t going anywhere productive, and so he gets all “screw this” and heads for the door.  Bauman’s heavies grab him before he can… and the A-Lister gets in Roy’s face and accuses him of spreading lies in order to ruin his career as a leading man.

Roy manages to hiptoss the heavies, and… for whatever reason, he just starts firing gimmick arrows all over the place.  Like, explosive ones… which, I suppose makes sense if he’s trying to escape, but… here’s the thing: Bauman’s compound is littered with (I assume) innocent civilians!  Roy’s willy-nilly arrow-slinging seems more than a bit irresponsible and reckless here.

Roy fights his way to the garage, and goes to steal one of Bauman’s motorcycles in order to make his escape.  Then… oh boy… then, we wrap up with Bauman… who stopped chasing Roy long enough to get into a Randy Violent costume (headband and all), shows up brandishing a big-ass gun!

Wow, this was bad.

I mean, I’m not one to usually just come out and say something like that… but, wow.  This was just so dumb.  I’m not even sure where to start with this one.

I guess we’ll go beat-by-beat.

The AIDS crisis/hospice scenario presents itself with a “teachable moment”… which, our writer doesn’t take advantage of.  That, to me, is a bad thing for the message of the story… but also, a good thing in that it kinda zigs where I was expecting it to zag.  I figured Roy would hop up on his soapbox to lecture Burley about how HIV/AIDS is actually transmitted… which, again… good for the “message”, bad for an entertaining read.

Of course, this scene is still written with very little subtlety… Burley immediately accuses Roy of being gay.  Which, c’mon… what grade are you in, pal?  You’d figure Roy would be like, “wow, you’re kind of an a-hole” and maybe leave to fill out that application at Del Taco like he threatened a few weeks ago… but, nope.

Instead, he heads out to try and make time with that girl who’s purse he saved last week.  Unfortunately for him, the heavies arrive.  Now, here’s another one of those missed moments.  Roy hops into the back seat of their car without any questions.  Last week, we had that really great scene where he was dealing with his inner conflict… he’s a hero, but he’s also a father.  You’d almost expect that to at least waft through his head here.  Ya know?  Like, thinking about how dangerous it is to get into a stranger’s car… especially when you’ve got a little baby (who’s getting younger every chapter) to consider!  But, nope.

Then we meet Sean Bauman… who is actually Donald Lossner’s super-secret brother, Phillip.  He doesn’t cotton to the idea that his brother has AIDS… and assumes that Speedy’s just trying to screw with his career.  So, what does he plan to do?  Kill Speedy?!  Isn’t that just a little bit harsher than the public finding out that his brother has AIDS?!

Then, Speedy starts flingin’ splody arrows everywhere… which is, ya know, dumb.  Then… THEN… Roy tries to steal the Bauman-cycle… which is, also dumb.  But, then… dumbest of all, he’s confronted by Sean Bauman… who stopped, mid-chase, to tie a headband around he noggin, and squeeze into a pair of Randy Violent’s camo-cargos!  This is just so dumb.  I really don’t know what they’re thinking here.

Here’s the question though… did I hate this?  No, not really.  I understand that it’s awful… but, it’s so over-the-top awful that it kind of passes into the realm of campy.  High energy… high impact… no regard toward consequence, just stupid mindless action.  It’s bad, yes… but, I dunno, I kind of enjoyed it for just how bad it was.  Also, I think it thinks it’s much deeper than it actually is, which in a case like this, almost makes it all the more endearing.

Tomorrow: The Demon Went Down to England

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