Action-Plus: Great Frog (June, 1974)
“Young Man With a Drum!”
Writer – Elliot S! Maggin
Pencils – Dick Dillin
Inks – Tex Blaisdell
Edits – Julius Schwartz
From: Action Comics #436
It’s time for some Action-Plus starring
Green Arrow Great Frog! Yeah, Ollie gets enough shine in the world of comics analysis, and so we’re going to give this one to the hottest rock group of the Bronze Age… we got Roy Harper on drums… and a couple otha’ guys doing other musical things… it’s Great Friggin’ Frog!
Great Frog is one of those weird Bronze Age deals that I have a very strange fascination with… can’t explain what I dig so much about Roy Harper in a band… but I do!
We open with Dinah giving Ollie a clue she found regarding a fencing ring. It’s a “professional quality” guitar string, which was found in an expensive camera which was stolen from Milwaukee… but fenced in Star City. Ollie decides to look into some local rock bands…
… including, Great Frog! It looks like they’re performing in front of a packed house… of gravel. We’ll just assume those are heads and not rocks, right? Anyhoo, Ollie is surprised to see his old ward Speedy beatin’ the tom tom on stage… which sounds much more disturbing than it actually is.
Ollie heads backstage to take a look at Great Frog’s equipment… he finds a snare drum with a false bottom… which conceals, you guessed it… expensive cameras! Seems whoever’s behind this ring, is using unwitting rock bands to transport stolen goods. It’s actually not the worst idea… though, it is a pretty big conclusion to jump to, ain’t it? I mean, it wasn’t all that long ago that we learned Speedy was a junkie, right? Might stand to reason that he’s a willing accomplice, right? Nahhh… Ollie’s certain that Roy is well aware of the situation, and is conducting his own investigation at the same time.
After the show, Ollie goes to confront Roy about the shady dealings… almost giving him a pat on the back for his “undercover” work. Just then, Roy’s “agent” Archie enters the backstage area and demands to know what a “costumed clown” is doing there. Roy responds by… socking Green Arrow in the face!
On the way out of the dressing room, Roy (very obviously) tosses some sort of device at the “kayoed” Green Arrow. When the rest of Archie’s goons go to “dispose” of Ollie, they get their butts kicked.
We move ahead to the offices of the Mammoth Booking Agency where Roy is invited to join up full time in their operation… which includes both stolen goods… and drugs! Also counterfeiting, but I don’t think Speedy was ever addicted to that. No sooner do the Mammoth folks spill the beans, than Green Arrow bursts through a window. Ohhh, so that’s what the device was.
Ollie and Roy proceed to beat up the Mammoth guys… while Roy monologues about how they’ve been taking advantage of kids. Ollie’s all “yeah, I figured that out four pages ago”. Finally, the boss man agrees to talk.
After the Mammoth’s are hauled off to jail, Ollie pulls Roy aside and lectures him on the dangers of being too headstrong. He tells Roy that if he ever feels like he’s in over his head, to let him know. Yeah Ollie, just like when he was strung out, right? You were real helpful then. Roy calls him on his BS, and walks away.
This back-up… you know, when covering an entire issue, I usually just “tolerate” the backups… however, with this one… the greatness of Great Frog notwithstanding, we actually get some followup on the “temperature” of the Roy/Ollie relationship. This feels like vital and necessary reading if you were a fan of those characters. Roy and Ollie’s relationship has been shaky for a little while at this point… and it’s neat to see them sorta-kinda confront that.
I did find it interesting that cynical old Ollie’s initial assumption is that Roy must be conducting an investigation… rather than being a party to the crime-ring. I mean, he’d been burned by Speedy before… so, it wouldn’t be outta the realm of possibility that he’d relapsed. I like that Ollie didn’t even consider it. These days, it feels like Roy is pretty much defined by his heroin addiction… seems like everybody second-guesses his motivations, assuming he’s doing whatever it is he’s doing just to score his next “fix”. It was refreshing to see that wasn’t the case here.
I dig that Roy kinda tells Ollie off at the end. It makes complete sense. The guy who’s offering him help, is the same guy that booted him from his house while he was addicted to drugs! Kinda speakin’ outta both sides of yer mouth there, Ollie.
The art here was pretty great. Dick Dillin isn’t one of those artists I can immediately identify from his work… but, any time I see it, I love it! There’s a fella we lost way too soon.
Overall… a fun backup (a fun issue overall, actually), that might just be worth the hunt… don’t let it break your bank though… unless you’re a Great Frog completionist (and if you’re not, you should be!). I suppose if you wanna be a trade-waiter, there’s bound to be a Great Frog Omnibus in the works… right? Right?!