Hey Gang! Welcome to the FOURTEEN-HUNDREDTH Daily Discussion here at Chris is on Infinite Earths. I felt it appropriate for today’s milestone post to reflect on the project that helped facilitate the last three-hundred or so days of this blog continuing to remain as a daily-offering… and hopefully a small part of your daily (or weekly) internetting routine!
Hard to really put into words what I’m feeling right now… it’s almost akin to that weird sensation you might feel in the days following a graduation. All of the tension that had been built up… is just sorta gone, and with it… any sense of direction or purpose you might’ve had (with respect to blogging endeavors, in this case). It’s pretty weird is what I’m trying to say.
For the first time in about a year… I’m not at all sure what’s next! Throughout the latter half of the Action Comics Daily project, I thought up fun ways to extend the life of blog, including a stupidly ambitious concept wherein I’d launch my own “Volume 2” of Action Comics Weekly… just grabbing back-up features, one-shots, and whatnot to create our own anthology. Yeah, that was definitely a bit too ambitious’a thought.
Before I go feature-by-feature and share some of my thoughts on the Action Comics Weekly lineup, I wanna thank everyone who stuck by and kept visiting the blog throughout the project (and beyond… we’ve been at this 1,400 days now!). I means more to me than I can properly express without flailing my hands around and and raising my voice an octave or two. Thank You All.
Just one favor to ask, though: If you’ve followed along and/or enjoyed what you’ve seen here, please do me a solid and consider sending people over here if/when the subject of Action Comics Weekly comes up in conversation. Even just tag me up on social media or something (@AceComics on Twitter). Heck, this very post can serve as a decent “all-in-one” for the entire project!
With all that having been said, let’s hop right into our lineup!
Dinah had a pair of stints during this run… neither of them were all that great, however, the second was a marked improvement on the first. Writer, Sharon Wright and artist, Randy DuBurke were our main creative team… and, well… it took them awhile to find their groove with the character.
The initial arc (ACW #609-616) was more or less a complete mess. New main characters would be introduced with nearly every chapter. They were poorly fleshed out, and unfortunately, most of ’em looked interchangeable. I mistook one character for another on several occasions. I might be a bit denser than most, but, I’m not so dense that I wouldn’t be able to tell characters apart! Green Arrow only shows up in a handful of pages… which was kind of a bummer. Black Canary gets herself a cringy new costume… which was pretty hilarious. The whole arc wraps up very quickly… probably when Ms. Wright realized she was running out of pages to drop new characters into!
The second arc (ACW #624-634) was a lot better. Randy DuBurke took on an experimental art style, somewhat reminiscent of Bill Sienkiewicz… which at least made the pages fun to look at, if not easier to follow. The story is more straightforward… and all of our main characters are introduced pretty early on. No surprise “who-dat’s” for us to wade through during the second-to-last chapter here! This arc was a bit more heavy-handed… just like the first, it was “torn from the headlines”… but, rather than dealing with Illegal Immigration this time around, it was all about A.I.D.S..
If you’d care to read along with Canary’s Tale, just click the covers below!
If you’d have told me that I’d be coming out of this project extolling the virtues of Blackhawk… I’d have told you you were crazy! Blackhawk is the biggest success story in Action Comics Weekly, in my opinion. Hands down, I enjoyed my time with this feature more than any other!
Our first (of three) arcs (ACW #601-608) was written by Mike Grell, and gave new readers a pretty good introduction to the character of Janos Prohaska. This was my first time really following the guy, and I was able to keep up just fine.
It wasn’t until the second arc (ACW #615-622) written by Martin Pasko) where the rest of the Blackhawk team really made their presence felt. Initially, it was a bit jarring trying to figure out who all of these “new” characters were, however, it didn’t take me long to catch on. The third arc (ACW #628-634) was just as strong as the first two… and led into the “New Format” Blackhawk ongoing series (which I’m now really looking forward to checking out!).
To follow through the Janos Trio, just click the covers below!
The four-part Catwoman was the first SHOWCASE Presents feature we got as part of Action Comics Weekly (ACW #611-614). Shocking that it took that long to get a Bat-Adjacent story into this book! This short arc started off very strong… but ended on kind of a sour note. Without spoiling anything here, the final chapter kind of undoes everything good Selina had been working toward. It’s kind of a mess… and, to be honest, I’m still kind of annoyed by it!
This feature was written by Mindy Newell, whose work I usually quite like… and, as mentioned, I quite liked it here… until the end! Barry Kitson turns in some pretty great pencil work here too.
If you’re interested in checking out how the Cat screws the pooch… click dem covers below!
Crash of ’88!
The Crash of ’88, was a sort of “crossover” deal, which tied together some members of the Action Comics Weekly cast. The characters included Weng “Chop-Chop” Chan from the Blackhawk crew, Black Canary, Green Lantern, and Superman. It takes place in “current year”… and is, I dunno… kind of interesting.
This story takes place pretty late in the run (ACW #635)… and is probably where Action Comics Weekly should have wrapped up. This story was written by Mark Verheiden, with art from Eduardo Barreto.
If you’re interested in checking it out… there’s only one place to click!
I’ve made it no secret that Deadman ain’t one of my favorite characters. That having been said, this pair of arcs weren’t all that bad. Forgettable, perhaps… overlong, maybe… but not bad.
The initial arc (ACW #601-612) ran at least four parts too long. It was written by Mike Baron (who would return to write the second arc as well) with art by Dan Jurgens. This arc tries getting a bit political… and, I dunno… it might a little too silly to be successful. You ever wanted to see Nancy Reagan fist-fighting with Mrs. Gorbechev while their husbands cheer on? Well, then this feature might be right up your alley!
The second arc (ACW #618-621, 623-626) drops artist Kelley Jones into the Penciller’s Seat. As much of a Jurgens fan as I am, I can’t deny that Jones might be more appropriate for a Deadman story… especially one that deals with Voodoo rituals, like this one did. This arc got a one-week interruption (ACW #622) which really hurt the flow of the story… and even resulted in some inaccurate cover copy!
Though, if you’re reading this all in one “go”, you probably won’t even notice! Click dem covers already!
Etrigan joined the cast during the post-Crash “new-look” Action Comics Weekly (ACW #636-641)… and, woof… this felt like a complete and utter afterthought. Writer Alan Grant and artist Marc Pacella do their best to tell a compelling story… but, if you’re looking for a story that has, ya know, an ending… you’re barking up the wrong tree with this one!
This arc ends on a cliffhanger, that wouldn’t be paid off for over a year. If you’re interested in being dissatisfied… or have some familiarity with the ongoing series that spun out of this, click below!
Now, Green Lantern… our headliner.
Hal had one solid thirty-five part run (ACW #601-635)… but, during his time here, he had several different story arcs, and a whole bunch of talented creators crafting his adventures.
James Owsley/Christopher Priest writes the beginning and end of Hal’s time here, with a pair of interesting Peter David stories in between. These stories were originally the reason I wanted to begin this series of reviews… and, in fact were the basis for a series of podcast episodes we did almost exactly one year ago! If you wanna hear us talk our way through this run (for about six hours) click here.
During this run, Hal famously meets Oprah Winfrey… finds out he’s the victim of a sorta-kinda lobotomy… breaks up with his under-age girlfriend… faces off with Malvolio… it’s a pretty wild (and mostly swept-under-the-rug) era for Green Lantern stories here!
If you wanna read along while you listen to us babble (or just on its own), you can click the covers below.
Hero Hotline is… a weird one. Our final SHOWCASE Presents feature ran during the “new-look” era in the dying days of the anthology format (ACW #637-640). Bob Rozakis and Steven DeStefano bring us an experimental new property… which really shows the strength and possibilities of this entire shift in format. It makes ya realize just how much weirder and how much more fun this ACW endeavor could’ve… and probably should’ve been!
To read along, you know what to do… but, if I may make a suggestion, if you’re only going to read one part… make it the third one, it’s a doozy!
Just like Hero Hotline, Human Target really shows the sort of thing ACW should have been doing all along. Just a fun one-off with an underappreciated character… just for the heck of it. Too bad it came along in the final anthology-format issue of the run (ACW #641)! This one-shot comes to us from Mark Waid and Curt Swan… and I’d say it’s definitely worth a peek!
Nightwing’s run here is a bit of an odd one. Dick gets a couple of arcs during Action Comics Weekly… with the second one being branded as “Nightwing & Speedy”. Weirdly enough, this first one (ACW #613-618) was a Dick and Roy team-up too… heck, I might argue that Roy is the actual star here! Not sure why they had different “brandings”, but whattayagonnado?
Regular New Teen Titans writer, Marv Wolfman is the writer here… Chuck Patton provides the art. It’s a good story… but, as mentioned, it’s almost certainly a Roy Harper story first. Cheshire even shows up!
If you’re down to check it out, click the covers!
Nightwing & Speedy
The second Nightwing arc ran from ACW #627-634 (with two chapters appearing in #627), and writer Marv Wolfman handed the baton to Cherie Wilkerson, who up to this point, I’d never even heard of! She tells a pretty good story… though, just like with the first arc, this is definitely more a Speedy story than anything else. Lots of torn-from-the-headlines stuff here, with an I.R.A. analogue group getting into the mix.
Had a lot of fun creating the ACD “trade dress” for this one, with the alternating Nightwing and Speedy “branding”. If you wanna see Roy hand his baby Lian off to like a half-dozen strangers over the course of nine-chapters, just click the covers below!
Part of the post-Crash “new-look” Action Comics Weekly (ACW #636-641), this feature introduces the all-new Phantom Lady… and gets all up in beltway intrigue. It’s a weird one… but, in a good way. I’ll take a dozen Phantom Ladies before a single Phantom Stranger (more on him in a bit) just for the novelty.
Len Strazewski and Chuck Austen (yeah, that Chuck Austen) are our creative team here… and deliver a relatively low-stakes introduction to a hopeful new character.
Ya feel that itch? Ya know, the one that comes and goes… sorta “flares up” every now and again? That’s what the Phantom Stranger is to Action Comics Weekly.
The Stranger only had one real “run” here (ACW #631-634)… with a bunch of one-shots peppered throughout. Paul Kupperberg provided all of the scripts, with different artists for each bit. These stories… feel very “stock”, very “inventory”. I mention a time or two during the reviews that they feel like scripts that were found in an old filing cabinet DC discovered and was planning on dragging to the curb for trash pickup.
None of the stories (besides that four-parter) were all that bad… they were just dull, and felt very much out-of-date. If you’re interested in seeing for yourself, click-a, click-a.
And yes, in that first paragraph I was comparing the Phantom Stranger to herpes.
The New Secret Six is gonna make you work for it.
The initial chapter of this feature was eight-pages long (just like most everything not-called-Superman in this book… seven-to-eight page chapters), and I tell you what… I had to read this thing about four times to make a lick of sense out of it. The (pre-Infinite Crisis) Secret Six is just not a concept I have much familiarity with. Just so many ordinary names, and ordinary faces were thrown at us during that opening chapter… it was more than a bit overwhelming.
Acting as a faux-tour guide throughout all of these features, I feared I was doing my readers a disservice by not getting better familiarized with this crew… and so, I did. It took me more research time than writing time that day, but I did it. The Secret Six, as a concept, is just so niche… these characters (being reintroduced in 1988) hadn’t been seen since their dozen or so appearances in the late-1960’s! There just isn’t all that much to be said about them!
Once I found my footing, however, I rather enjoyed this. The first arc (ACW #601-612) was probably about twice as long as it needed to be… and still ended on a cliffhanger. The second arc (ACW #619-630) managed to pull things together, and give us a (mostly) satisfying ending. This might’ve been the only feature in Action Comics Weekly to be written as self-contained to these pages. There was a definitive ending for this group of characters… with only the tiniest of “The End…?” teases to close out.
Martin Pasko, Dan Spiegle, and Franks Springer and McLaughlin bring us all the Secretive Action… click dem covers for more!
Our second SHOWCASE Presents story (ACW #623-626) features the post-Crisis Captain Marvel as he takes up residence in San Francisco. Roy and Dann Thomas, bless their hearts, really tried to give Billy a new paint-of-coat for the late-80’s… but, well… this one might’ve been more miss than hit. DC Comics didn’t wait long before shifting this take onto another Earth entirely!
If you wanna see Billy Batson visit Camp Nazi… click below!
Even though Roy Harper has starred in two previous story arcs, he doesn’t get top billing until the very end of the run. This is post-Crash ACW… which, you might call “afterthought ACW“… or “limp across the finish line ACW“. Whatever the case, this isn’t the greatest.
Just as Black Canary vacates the pages with an A.I.D.S. story, her boyfriend’s ward Speedy gets his own! Yes, it’s another A.I.D.S. story. Mark Verheiden and Louis Williams deliver the goods… and, some of it you’ve gotta see to believe.
To see it, just click below!
Will Payton makes a surprise (and weird) appearance in ACW #622 (interrupting the Deadman feature… which probably caused the double-up of Nightwing & Speedy in ACW #627).
I initially thought this was Will’s introduction (because otherwise, why even bother with this one-off, right?)… but it wasn’t! This eight-pager actually hit the same month that Starman #3 came out… so, your guess is as good as mine.
Regular creative team, Roger Stern and the late Tom Lyle introduced the Action-eers to the Starman of the 80’s. Click the cover to check it out!
So, what character do you usually associate with Action Comics? If you answered with “Superman”, boy are you going to be disappointed. Okay, maybe that’s not fair… I shouldn’t speak for everyone. All’s I’ll say is I was disappointed. Unlike the other features to appear in Action Comics Weekly, Superman only received two-pages of story each week. Evocative of the old Sunday Strips, Roger Stern and Curt Swan would tell their story in short-bursts over the entirety of this run (ACW #601-641).
Superman had one uninterrupted run, but featured a pair of story arcs. The first one, featuring a group of Superman worshipers called The Fellowship lasted… something like three-hundred and fifty weeks. The second arc, featuring sort of a “One to Grow On” regarding accepting people different than you only lasted three or four weeks.
This is the only feature from Action Comics Weekly that I have actually captured here on the blog in its entirety… so, if you wanna read this thing all the way through, you can do so by clicking the covers below.
Finally, Wild Dog. Another highlight of this run for me… just barely edged out on the enjoyment-meter by Blackhawk. I’ve had a soft spot for the character, just about from jump street. He’s just cool looking! After reading his miniseries, I found out there was a little bit more too him than a cool costume… sure, his origin is a bit Punisher-esque, but whattayagonnado, right?
Our man Jack Wheeler had a trio of stints, and each of them took some street-level situations and ratcheted the stakes (and arguably the ridiculousness) up to eleven. From extreme takes on the “moral majority” (ACW #601-609), to a female slasher and a run-in with a “Meat is Murder” veggie-terrorist (not to mention the introduction of the would-be Wild Dog sidekick, Wild Pup!) (ACW #615-622), and finally literally burning down crack houses overseen by corporate America (ACW #636-641)… Wild Dog was always a good time!