Action Comics Weekly #639 (Hero Hotline)
Writer/Colors – Bob Rozakis
Pencils – Stephen DeStefano
Inks – Kurt Schaffenberger
Letters – Agustin Mas
Editor – Brian Augustyn
Y’all know what word I haven’t used in a couple weeks now? Penultimate! As in, this is the penultimate chapter of Hero Hotline! Hard to believe things are moving this fast… and yet, here we are!
Let’s do this… for the second-to-last time!
We pick up at the meat plant, where Flex and Private Eyes have come up empty on their search for Ms. Boulder. They call into SOOZ, who doesn’t really have any suggestions for them. Private Eyes then realizes that the fella guarding that meat freezer door just happens to have a signed 8×10 of Ms. Boulder sticking out of his back pocket… but, how can that be if he hadn’t seen her? Well, clearly the dude is lying. Sure ’nuff, Eyes peeks through the wall and sees the buxom country star shivering away. When they confront the old fogey, he… get this… brandishes a meat cleaver, and actually manages to do some slicin’ and dicin’ on Private Eyes’ arm!
Flex kayos the creep and rips the freezer door off its hinges to save the “Siren of Satan”. The old man is arrested, and everything’s hunky dory.
We next shift scenes to the liquor store hold-up, where Voice-Over and Microwave Mom are trying to deduce whether or not this robber is the same guy who murdered M.M.’s husband, Martin one year earlier. As the baddie rants and raves, and threatens to do harm to his trio of hostages, V.O. uses his powers to throw his voice. Pretending to be God, he has a heart-to-heart with the robber.
The bad guy ain’t buyin’ it… and so, the heroes up the ante. Microwave Mom super-heats some of the bottles inside the store in order to give the guy a “sign”. As the bottles pop their tops, the robber begins emptying his gun… into the bottles, of course. You really don’t think anybody’s actually going to get shot here, do you?
This dude’s really losing his crackers here… and Voice-Over sees his opportunity. As the “Voice of God” he encourages the robber to confess his sins…
It’s here that we learn that this guy was in fact responsible for the death of Microwave Mom’s husband, Martin. And then… well, with his soul freed of sin, the robber proceeds to put his gun up to head, and…
Wow. He really did it, dinnae? V.O. tries to blame it on the fact that the dude was on drugs… but, it’s pretty clear he knows what’s really up. The Captain of Police rushes back into the scene… and all we see is the robber’s hand… clutching a crucifix. With all of their super-powers, the Hero Hotline couldn’t defuse this situation without casualty.
We wrap up with Hotshot and Stretch on their way back from saving yet another cat in a tree. A woman rushes toward them and asks for help. Ya see, there’s a dude in the subway threatening to shoot another guy if he doesn’t stop smoking. Stretch gets a closer look, and tells her not to worry… it’s only a squirt gun. She confirms this, but reveals that this squirt gun… is filled with gasoline!
That was a fair amount heavier than I was expecting it to be. I’m really not sure how to even follow it. I guess we can just break down each beat.
First, we get some hackin’ and slashin’ at the meat plant. I gotta say, I wasn’t expecting to see blood on that cleaver! That should have been a sign that this entire chapter was going to be a bit more intense than the others. I really dug the use of Private Eyes’ powers here… he is able to take a look into his wound, and deduce whether or not it was something he needed to concern himself with. Naturally, you’re going to want to stop the bleeding… but, he was able to tell that this wouldn’t leave him with any permanent damage, which I thought was pretty cool.
At the end of the chapter, we get an anti-smoking advocate threatening to spritz gasoline on someone who refuses to stop smoking. Again… pretty heavy stuff… far more extreme than I would have expected to see here. We’ll have to wait until next week to see how that works itself out… but, definitely worth noting.
Now… we gotta talk about the middle portion. Some really solid stuff here… and a little bit to unpack. We know that Microwave Mom’s husband, Martin was murdered during a hold-up at a liquor store… and so, anytime there’s a liquor store hold-up, M.M.’s ears are perked. Turns out, this time… the would-be robber was in fact Martin’s murderer!
Voice-Over gets to use his powers of throwing his voice in order to get into the bad guy’s head as the “Voice of God”. The robber has an… almost literal… “come to Jesus” moment, when he becomes convinced that God is actually speaking to him. He reveals his greatest sin… killing Martin. Acknowledging his crime… clearing his conscience, he feels his only recourse is… ending it all!
Now, this is an act that doesn’t only affect the robber… this is kinduva “stain on the soul” of Voice-Over and Microwave Mom too. If V.O. didn’t push… didn’t make this guy confess, it’s likely that he wouldn’t have killed himself. Ya see, it was that one step too far… the robber was already convinced that God was speaking to him… Voice-Over could have had him do pretty much anything at that point… including and especially, dropping his gun. Instead, he pressed for information.
There would have been plenty of time to interrogate this guy… or even pull the “Voice of God” gimmick on him at a later (and less armed) time. We can see that V.O. really feels this one… in that he tries blaming the dude’s actions on the drugs he was taking. While the drugs might’ve dulled his senses a bit, I’m pretty sure we all know what really caused him to pull the trigger.
Microwave Mom seems a bit less affected… which, is to be expected. Sure, she had a hand in getting V.O. “into” the robber’s head… but, for her… this was personal. There’s likely some vindication in this dude blowing his brains out. When the Police Captain asks if there was anything they could have done to stop this, she outright says “no”. It’s an amazing amount of depth for these brand-new characters, who we’ve only spent a handful of pages getting to know. Really good stuff here.
Overall… I’d say if you’re going to read one chapter of Hero Hotline… this probably ought to be the one you check out.
Tomorrow: A new arc for Superman?!