Action Comics Weekly #639 (Speedy)
Writer – Mark Verheiden
Pencils – Louis Williams
Inks – Frank McLaughlin
Letters – Tim Harkins
Colors – Julianna Ferriter
Editor – Robert Greenberger
Woof… wouldja look at that cover? It’s a new week… and unfortunately, the covers just seem to get progressively worse as we go!
It’s Speedy time!
We pick up right where we left off… the dude in the Randy Violent cosplay is holding Speedy up in his garage. They share a bit of back-n-forth, of both the verbal and physical variety. Roy wins this battle… steals the motorbike, and gets away. Next thing we know, our second-favorite archer is literally kicking in the door of Mr. Burley. Ya see, he ain’t keen on having some of the facts kept from him. He didn’t know that Sean Bauman was the client… and also, the super-secret brother of Donald Lossner. Speedy explains that Bauman was rather peeved to learn that his brother was both, a) gay and b) stricken with AIDS. Now, wait just a second… has it ever been said that Donald Lossner was gay? I don’t think that’s been confirmed in so many words. Heckuva conclusion to leap to there, Roy.
Roy quits working for Burley right then and there. That night, he goes on a date with the woman whose purse he saved a few chapters back. It’s a pretty boring evening, until our man reveals that he has a daughter. Seems ol’ whatsherface might not be quite as interested as she initially thought. In fact, she spills her drink all over the place when she finds out.
Roy heads over to the bar to get her another glass of the bubbly, and on the bar’s television is a report from the AIDS Hospice. An anonymous patient speaks out on behalf of those suffering. Roy instantly assumes that this must be Donald Lossner. Sure, while we’re jumping to conclusions already… what’s one more? Worth noting, the bartender is all “Ehh, y’ask me, we oughta load all dem AIDS people onto a boat…” because, how else could we illustrate how tolerant Roy Harper is?
Speedy ends his date early… which, to be honest, doesn’t seem like all that much of a disappointment to our purse-snatched victim. We join our man later on, as he’s driving Sean Bauman’s motorcycle up to the AIDS Hospice. There’s a pretty big demonstration going on… seems there are a lot of NIMBY types in the area! Roy manages to get inside, since… ya know, he’s dressed like a cartoon archer in broad daylight.
One of the demonstrators hurls a rock through the window of the joint, and Roy is pulled into the Resident Physician, Doctor Fielding’s office. She kinda lambastes him for only caring about AIDS right now, while it’s “popular”… and asks where he and his ilk were years ago while folks were suffering in silence. Well, she’s kinda got a point there. She suggests maybe he was just as scared as the people demonstrating on the other side of the wall.
Well… this still ain’t all that great, now is it?
In reading those last couple of pages, I kept getting pangs of Denny and Neal’s “You were there for the (insert color) skins…” bit from Green Lantern/Green Arrow… only with AIDS patients/victims as the marginalized class. It feels wildly ham-fisted… and really, just something that could’ve gone without saying. I feel like it would have had more “oomph” if we got a moment with Speedy wondering to himself why he (or any non-Black Canary member of the hero community) hadn’t gotten involved with the plight of AIDS patients sooner. This just comes across as trying too hard to underscore the issue… and, at least for me, winds up missing the mark.
Let’s talk Lossner. I know my reading comprehension isn’t always the best, but I really don’t remember it being plainly stated that he was gay. Maybe I’m too dense to pick up on allusions, but… I figure something being written as unsubtle as this story is, would say so flat out. Feels like Speedy might be making some assumptions… then again, since this is such an unsubtle story, he’s probably going to wind up being right anyway.
Speaking of assumptions… how in the world did Roy know that the anonymous AIDS patient was Donald Lossner? Was his face supposed to be pixelated on the screen? It’s fairly featureless in the art… and, I mean, he only spoke under the condition that his identity not be revealed. Seems as though enough people know who this fella is, that there’d be some sort of image manipulation at play… right? Who knows… maybe I’m just thinking too hard about it.
Roy’s date was… pretty lame, but it was a means to an end. It got him to the bar, so he’d see the interview, so he’d get some direction, so he’d yadda, yadda, yadda. I thought it was interesting that his date seemed to want nothing to do with him after finding out about his daughter. I also thought it was interesting (in another way) how willy-nilly Roy was about his secret identity… especially knowing that his daughter could be (and eventually would be) used as a way of getting to him. Seems pretty dumb.
Overall… this is, what it is. It’s still not great, but worse yet… with this chapter, it’s no longer dumb fun either!
Tomorrow: What Glenda Saw…