Action Comics Weekly #642 (Chapter IV)
“Where There’s a Will, Chapter IV: The Restoration”
Writer – Elliot S! Maggin
Pencils – Curt Swan, Carmine Infantino, Jim Aparo, & Jim Mooney
Inks – Ty Templeton, Kevin Nowlan, John Nyberg, Ian Akin, & Brian Garvey
Colors – Glenn Whitmore
Letters – John Workman
Editors – Mark Waid & Brian Augustyn
It’s been nearly 300 days comin’… but, today, we finally wrap up Action Comics Weekly! We’re not done here, however. Tomorrow, we’ll do our normal compilation piece… to be followed by a… hmm, shall we call it a trip “through the looking glass”? Maybe we spend a few days taking a look at the “real” Action Comics Weekly #642?
Yeah, I think that’ll work.
We open with Deadman, fresh off his little run-in with Hal Jordan and Clark Kent, returning to the body he’s vacated… only to find that the “residual green energy” from that green light did the trick. From here, we jump over to that mustachioed negotiator… who, with the help of some residual green energy is able to successfully, ya know, negotiate. Meanwhile, Green Lantern is following the helicopter of the fella who very nearly murdered him!
In Beirut, that other negotiator… ya know, the one who was about to be perforated but good when the green light swept him away… turns out the residual green energy affords him the ability to produce a will-construct shield to deflect the shots. It’s academic from here. Meanwhile, Hal catches up to the chopper.
In New York, Nightwing is speeding around the street on a motorcycle… he uses the residual green energy to erect a pair of barriers to separate the rival gangs. He ensures them that the walls will dissipate as soon as they find a way to peaceably work out their differences.
Hal Jordan confronts Major Easterly. I tell ya what, the “vignette” nature of this chapter would be really cool… if any of the cutaways were in the least bit interesting!
Elsewhere, that Arch Bishop is able to use his residual green energy in order to convince a pair of officials of… something. I’m really not sure what his whole story was here. It’s like Maggin gave us way too much, and not enough at the same time. Whatever the case, it works out well for him.
While Hal and Easterly wrestle, with the former getting the better of the latter, we hop back over to the Dakotas, where Grampa Rufus is able to zap that mountain lion… bobcat… leopard… puma… jaguar… uh, “big cat” with his residual green energy to save the day… and his arm.
After Hal drops Easterly’s chopper, he decides it’s time to escalate his concerns… and so, he pays a visit to the Honorable Jerome R. Medowar of the Utah Supreme Court in order to try and torpedo the career of the decorated Major. The Judge is all about it… he ain’t the biggest Easterly fan, referring to him as a “politician”. He assures Hal that he’ll give it his best shot.
We pop back over to Guy Gardner, who, without his ring must depend on the residual green energy to turn the arms-dealer’s own will against him. Bada-bing, bada-boom… he gets his ring back.
Back in Utah, Medowar does a bit of digging on Major Easterly. He expresses a bit of trepidation, knowing that the Major’s in pretty deep, and highly connected. If this investigation goes sideways, he could very easily have the Judge assassinated! Hal assures him that he’ll be under his protection from this point on. Somehow, that makes the Judge comfortable enough to proceed. Has he… uh, not seen what happens to people under Hal’s care? I mean, I don’t wanna say he’s bad at his job or anything… but, there’s at least cause for concern, is there not?
Back in Metropolis, Clark is approached by that same kid who tried to fund-raise for his school band trip before he was whisked away by the green light. The lad is then inhabited by… Deadman! Boston confronts Kent, and sorta hints that he knows he’s actually Superman. So, at least somebody here knows the Secret!
Kent proceeds to leave the building… Boston body-hops in attempt to keep up. They share some small talk about life and death… and pass under a movie theater’s marquee. A worker is taking down the the letters for the film Fatal Attraction.
We wrap up with Boston jamming out of his latest vessel, telling Clark that, as far as “life” goes… he can have it. In a clever detail, the marquee only reads ACTION at this point… and the Real Steel Deal gives the reader one final weekly wink.
Well… for a “final” chapter (heck, a final issue), this uh… hmm. It wasn’t the worst thing in the world, but… was it any good?
Not really… it smells like page-filler, it quacks like page-filler… what I’m trying to say is… it’s page-filler, nothing more.
It’s a bit deflating to have been building to this for over forty weeks… and have just so danged little to say about the conclusion! Outside of the “epilogue” portion (which we’ll talk about more in a bit), this entire outing has been completely disposable. Again, it’s “page-filler”, and very likely eleventh hour page-filler, as the original Gaiman script fell through… so, it’s hard to get mad at creative/editorial. This issue was just a victim of circumstance… and an uncharacteristically rigid adherence to a newly-established continuity nugget.
If I’m being honest, this entire endeavor probably should have wrapped up with The Crash of 88! back in ACW #635. I have a sneaking suspicion that editorial feels that way too, as everything since then (outside of the wonderful Wild Dog) has been slipshod at best. If ya ask me… this whole thing ends with Superman saving the Fellowship from Darkseid and Hal Jordan returning to Earth, having to deal with the after effects of wearing Malvolio’s ring. Whattayagonnado?
So… let’s take this chapter apart.
The majority of the thing felt like I was reading Millennium or New Guardians… which is to say, we saw a bunch of civilians being given some powers. Also, I was incredibly bored.
The epilogue, however, was the thing. It was very well done, and the marquee reading “ACTION” at the end was… poignant. Perhaps I’m a little too close to this, but… I’ll admit, my typing fingers did get a little shaky as I worked my way through that final paragraph. It truly felt like everything we’ve been exploring throughout this past year is… done… complete… over. It’s sobering in a way.
The use of the marquee was especially appropriate and clever, as when this entire deal was announced, it was done via a series of house ads depicting… a marquee! Action Comics, following issue #600, went on a bit of a hiatus while all of the pieces were shifted into place. Here are some of the ads we got:
Pretty neat, huh? Brings everything around full-circle, don’t it? We’ll talk more about that tomorrow during out compilation post. Don’t forget… next week (as in the day after tomorrow) we’ll begin our look at what could’a been. That is, the original Action Comics Weekly #642. Will it be better? Could it be worse? We’ll get down to it in the coming days!
Now, if you’ll excuse me… I’m about to do something quite surreal. I get to trudge upstairs with this comic book… file it away… and, for the first time in about a year, replace the lid on my Action Comics longbox. Weird day, friends…
Tomorrow: Tying that final bow… but not taking that final bow.