ACW #642 – Chapter 3 (of 4)

Action Comics Weekly #642 (Chapter III)
“Where There’s a Will, Chapter III: The Summoning”
Writer – Elliot S! Maggin
Pencils – Curt Swan, Jim Aparo, & Jim Mooney
Inks – Ty Templeton, John Nyberg, Ian Akin, & Brian Garvey
Colors – Glenn Whitmore
Letters – John Workman
Editors – Mark Waid & Brian Augustyn

Well, here we are… the penultimate chapter of Action Comics Weekly!

Funny thing about that word… it feels like one that would be used incorrectly more often than not.  “Penultimate” just doesn’t sound like it ought to mean “second-to-last” or whatever… it sounds like a much more meaningful word… almost “powerful” in a way.

Reminds me of words like “prolific”… which, I’ve come to find in my time online, is misused nearly every time I see it!

We open at an Eastern European seaport, where it looks as though there’s about to be some sort of stand-off.  A mustachioed gentleman is brought in to try and diffuse the situation.  Ya see, this one fella’s grandfather just got his pink slip, and he ain’t handling it all that well.  As the negotiator enters the scene, he is struck by a green light.  Get used to that, it’s going to happen a few more times!  We shift scenes over to, I wanna say New York City… where two rival gangs are about to square off.  One group is definitely being depicted as more “noble” than the other, they’d rather use their words (and perhaps a dance step or two) than weapons.

From outta nowhere, Nightwing bursts onto the scene!  He starts taking out members from the armed side of the fracas, before… getting struck with a green light.  Hmm…

Next stop, somewhere in California.  Guy Gardner is confronting an arms dealer… and in order to prove that this dude ain’t nothin’, Guy even removes his own Power Ring… and slips it on the dealer’s finger!  Before he can kayo the creep, however, he is… dun-dun-dun, struck by a green light!

We now shift over to segregated South Africa, where an Arch Bishop is preparing to meet with a journalist about spreading the word.  Upon arrival, he is met with a vandalized church.  As he gives his statement, he is… struck by a green light.

Over in the U.K. (I’m guessing), there is a police stand-off going on.  The baddies are clad in balaclavas and are carrying some pretty heavy-duty firepower.  Before things can bubble over, our old friend Deadman arrives… and takes up residence in the body of one of the baddies!  Just then… you guessed it, he’s struck by that green light.

Meanwhile, in North Dakota, a Native American gentleman named Rufus is out camping with his grandson.  Their camp is suddenly attacked by some sort of big cat (I can never tell ’em apart!).  Grampa Rufus leaps into action… and is struck by that green light!  This is starting to feel like Millennium!

In Metropolis, Clark Kent is doing some research into something going on concerning the New York Mets, when… duh, he’s struck by the green light.  I thought we already established that he couldn’t be a Green Lantern for this Sector?  Like, in this very issue!

Next stop, Beirut… where a hostage negotiator is freeing himself from captivity.  Rather than just quit while he’s ahead and head for sweet freedom, he knows that his job won’t be complete until he frees the rest of the captives.  He rushes toward his captors… and just as they open fire, he’s struck by the green light.

Hail, hail, the gang’s all here.  Time stands still for a moment, and the specter of Hal Jordan rises from his corpse to take a look at all of his potential replacements.  Before he gets too good’a look, he’s met by another spirit vacating its body… Deadman.

Ol’ Boston’s all “Dude… you’re about to die… how lucky are you?“.  Hal still isn’t sure exactly what’s going on.  As Deadman tries to convince him to just “let it go”, one of the line-up of Lantern candidates in stasis begins to stir.  Naturally, it’s Clark Kent.  Now here’s where some of our backstage shenanigans begin to rear their heads.  Clark introduces himself to Hal as someone who “interviewed him once”.  Hmm.  So, with that line, it’s been established that Hal Jordan no longer knows that Clark Kent and Superman are one in the same.  If you remember that bit from ACW #606… it was pretty clear they did know each other’s secret!  Whatever the case, Clark is here to play the “angel” on Hal’s shoulder in opposition to Deadman’s “devil”.

Hal’s spirit flies around a bit, getting a better look at who’s hand might soon be wearing his (er, Malvolio’s) ring.  He can hardly believe that he beat these people out in the first place, considering their courage and resolve.  He asserts that his successor is his call to make… however, before he can commit to a pick… a “genie” emerges from his physical ring.

It’s… Abin Sur!  Err, shouldn’t it be Malvolio?  Or, at the very least Malvolio’s Daddy?  Abin (a programmed response operation of the ring) talks… a lot.  Like, a lot – a lot.  What it all comes down to is… Hal’s got a choice to make.  He can either live… or choose someone with a lesser will than he (remember, Hal’s the top banana on Earth) to follow in his footsteps as this Sector’s Green Lantern.

Taking advantage of the situation, Deadman takes this as his opportunity to convince Hal to “choose death”.  Clark’s all “Hey, hey, HEY… what is going on here?!” and tries to sway him the other way.  It’s to the point where Boston and Clark are basically just arguing among themselves… and are barely paying any attention at all to Hal…

… who, at this very moment, rises to his (physical) feet.  As his would-be replacements blink back to their prior locations, it’s make abundantly clear that Hal Jordan has chosen life.

Well, there we have it… Hal Jordan ain’t dead after all!  Whole lotta weird build to get here though, wasn’t it?  I mean, introducing all of these potential replacements?  It really did feel like those opening chapters of Millennium!  Which is to say, pretty dull… and ultimately unsatisfying!

We could talk about some of Hal’s would-be successors… but, really… why?  Outside of the superheroes, these aren’t folks we’re going to run into again (though, we’ll see ’em in the next chapter).  I do appreciate the “every day hero-ness” of the cast, which puts into perspective that Hal Jordan himself was chosen for the role while a civilian.

Something that stood out to me, and this is probably very “current year” of me, but… there were no women here!  Weird, right?  Nowadays, with the over-corrective nature of the comics industry, it’d probably be all women.

I dug Deadman and Superman playing the “angel/devil” on Hal’s shoulders, trying to convince him of his next move.  They felt like the right characters to fill those roles.  Deadman, as a dude who’s been stuck between life and death for so long, it would stand to reason that he’d be on the side of “letting go”.  Superman, despite anything that J. Michael Straczynski wrote, is a character who values life.

I didn’t like poor Malvolio getting jobbed out again.  There’s no reason why Abin Sur would have been inside this particular Power Ring to confront Hal.  I guess that’s just another indication that Hal’s Action Comics exploits (outside of the death of Katma-Tui and the breakup with Arisia) are completely null and void!

Speaking of which… it looks like he no longer knows Superman’s secret identity!  Ya see, that’s kind of the entire reason why this story even exists!  The original ACW #642 was scripted by Neil Gaiman… who, did his due diligence… and ya know, read Action Comics Weekly!

That scene from Action Comics Weekly #606 … again!

When he read (the oft-referred to) ACW #606, he took the conversation between Hal and Clark (as seen above… again) as the confirmation of Hal knowing Superman’s secret ID in the post-Crisis DCU.  Editorial decided, some time in the interim, to reel back on the amount of folks who knew the Secret of Steel… buuuut, didn’t fill in their freelancers.  When Neil turned in his script… which is very much a Hal/Clark “buddy” story, it got rejected!  Couldja imagine DC ever rejecting a Neil Gaiman story?  Well, it happened!  Pre-Sandman… but still… it happened!  Don’t worry though, as mentioned… that story will eventually be told… but, that’s for another day.

Overall… a bit of a long chapter here, with a whole lot of extra “stuff” that didn’t feel necessary.  I understand and appreciate the need to “fill pages”, especially when it’s a fill-in script… and, even more especially when it’s a Weekly title.  Nothing offensive, and the art was great!

Tomorrow: Let’s wrap this bugger up!

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