Sunday, May 26, 2019

ACW #617 - Blackhawk


Action Comics Weekly #617 (Blackhawk)
"Seems Like Old Times..."
Writer - Martin Pasko
Artist - Rick Burchett
Letters - Steve Haynie
Colors - Tom Ziuko
Editor - Mike Gold

I don't really have a pre-ramble today... but I wanted to start by thanking everybody for their outpouring of support over the past several days.

--



We open with "Chop-Chop" taking some picture in a photo-booth that he can send home to the "old man" to explain why he dropped out of school... and give him a good idea of just where he went.  On their way to the airstrip Olaf chats... about a semi-recent beef between he and Janos.  Turns out, they were both wanting to... ahem... "pork" Natalie.  Weng doesn't think this is that big'a "phuggin" deal... which, I gotta say... it really surprises me to see such phonetic-near-cursing in a 1988 issue of Action Comics!



Back at Blackhawks, the gang kicks around the idea of helping ol' Leslie Richardson out.  Naturally, they're going to check into his background before accepting the gig... however, they might just go out and enjoy spending some of his non-refundable retainer before attending to that!



We shift scenes to Sumatra, where that old fella (Van der Houten) is still attending to that giant flower.  He is approached by his guy again with an update.  The woman ain't about to talk... and would rather die.  The old man demands his men head back into the swamp to look for answers while he angrily hacks the flower to pieces.



We jump ahead three days, and find Blackhawk and Company finally getting around to doing their research.  A recent Stars and Stripes tells the story of the missing American Aviatrix, though the report differs somewhat with the findings of some Dutch Investigators... though, the "meat" of their report is classified, so who knows?



The fellas try and figure out why Leslie would go to such lengths as to hire them for this.  Assuming of course, that the woman is dead... what would be the point?  Just to clear her name as a clumsy pilot?  Either way, Jan ogles her picture for a bit, suggesting he wouldn't mind "bunking" with her, before deciding they'll take the gig!  The celebratory glass-clanking is interrupted by the arrival of our man Weng...



... who introduces Olaf!  We quickly get the jist of the beef between he and Jan.  Ya see, it looks like Olaf actually was the one to first... uh... "pork" Natalie... even got her pregnant!  Oh, and from the sounds of it, Olaf also beat the hell out of her... even costing her her eye!  Wha--?



Jan and Olaf break into a full-blown bar room brawl, which is halted with a single gunshot.  Hmm, I wonder who this shapely silhouette might belong to...



--

Another excellent chapter of Blackhawk!  Ya know, I was nervous when I first noticed Marty Pasko taking over for Mike Grell for this one.  Not that I dislike Pasko in any way, I think he's fantastic too... it's just that, with a property like Blackhawk... a property that I have such little working knowledge of, I was afraid that I might dislike another writer's take.  Thankfully, that isn't the case at all!

I'm even collecting the Pasko-written New Format Blackhawk series that follows this, and I'm really getting excited about checking that out after our little Action Comics Weekly experiment concludes!

Now, whatta we got here anyway?  Well, some phonetic-near-cursing, for one!  When I first read Weng's use of "phuggin", I thought to myself... "There's no way the Comics Code Authority was cool with that!", and, as it turns out... there's no CCA Stamp on the cover.  In fact, there hasn't been one since the switch to the Weekly format!  You'd think with all of the manipulations I've done with these covers over the past several months, I'd have noticed that!  I guess your humble host isn't as perceptive as he thought!

I guess shifting the book off newsstands and into the Direct Market afforded DC some liberties, and allowed them to be a bit more mature-ish with the dialogue and subject matter.  Not that I mind (I actually think it's kind of a hoot), it's just one of those weird things to wrap your head around, ya know?  I mean, this is Action Comics... arguably the flagship superhero comic book!

So, phugs and porks aside, I think we're building a really neat story.  There is mystery in the classified files, we've also got that wacko with the giant flowers... but the most interesting part to me concerns the Olaf-Nat-Jan business.  Janos believes Olaf responsible for Natalie losing her eye... though, Weng tells him (and us) that he has the story wrong.  I'm looking forward to seeing how this all plays out.  I mean, if Olaf did knock her up... then, rough her up... to the point where she loses an eye... there isn't going to be any way to redeem him, right?  There's got to be more to this story.

Overall, really enjoying this... and very happy Rick Burchett stayed on for the art!

Tomorrow: Wild Pup makes his move!

Saturday, May 25, 2019

ACW #617 - Green Lantern


Action Comics Weekly #617 (Green Lantern)
"Assault on a Green"
Writer - Peter David
Pencils - Richard Howell
Inks - Arne Starr
Colors - Anthony Tollin
Letters - Helen Vesik
Assistant Editor - Dan Raspler
Editor - Denny O'Neil

Hey gang, I'm going to be honest... I wasn't sure this post was going to go up.  Up until yesterday's look at the Action Comics Weekly Preview, all of the posts from the past week had been written well ahead of time.  Generally speaking, ever since moving to the Action Comics Daily format, I'm usually at least a week ahead.  But, after this week my "buffer" of posts ran out, and I was left thinking it might finally be the right time to hang it up... or at least go on "hiatus".  Just didn't really feel like it mattered, ya know?

Then... I thought of some words from a very wise individual, who has been trying to instill in me that Chris is on Infinite Earths has long since ceased being a "blog"... and it has transformed into a "resource".  This same wise individual was extremely excited and supportive when I switched to the ACD format, because, well, it hadn't been done before.  He told me, time and again, that this place would become the place for all things ACW... anytime a future comics historian wanted to know about the odd stories that took place in this weekly anthology, they could come here and find out!

It's for that reason that I decided to keep going.  Also, because I do believe that very same wise individual would be mighty disappointed if he found out I ended the streak... this week.

So, famous last words... and with apologies if my heart doesn't seem completely in it over the next little while: Let's try and see this one through.

--



Hal joins Arisia at her sublet, where it would appear she has a bit of a shrine to Disney's Lady and the Tramp... which she is meditating in front of.  I guess that makes sense, considering... ya know, she's a child.  He attempts to apologize for snapping at her, but she is unresponsive.  Our man isn't sure if this is actually meditation or just the silent treatment... and so, he leaves.  No sooner does he go, than Arisia opens her eyes, and moans his name.



We follow Hal over to Police Headquarters, where Rensaleer was able to procure the prison records for those two Freak Show members who crashed the Tech Expo.  Turns out there's a pretty good reason why they were so elusive... ya see, the both of 'em are listed as deceased!



We shift scenes to the office of "a" Hawkes.  I mean, we know who we're supposed to think this is... and, since this isn't our first rodeo, many of us probably know who this will actually turn out to be.  Whatever the case, she is shrouded in darkness.  After receiving a Facetime from Castle (on a doohickey that looks like one of those table-jukeboxes you might find at a 5 and Diner), she instructs him to use... Incinderella to stop Green Lantern.  Incinderella?  Sheesh.



Back at Police HQ, Rensaleer gives Hal the quick and dirty about Hawkes Industries.  The C.E.O., Milton passed away a year ago, leaving the operations to his elder daughter Veronica.  Lillian is noted as having been given a "minor post".  Hal takes his leave, and during his flight, happens across a rooftop-washer-woman who is fretting about losing her hung laundry to a gust of wind.  Yeah, really.



Hal makes the save, and our lady gives him a hug... which soon becomes heated.  Yes folks, it's here that we meet Incinderella.



The rest of the Freak Show appear, and a fight is on!  Runaround Sue zips passed Hal with such speed, that he believes for a moment that his old friend Barry Allen has returned!  Sue snatches Hal's ring off his finger... without considering that he might still be able to control it, even if he's not wearing it.  The power ring "punches" her in the face.



Hal lunges in for another round, only to be halted by... yet another new member of the Freak Show, Stasis!  We wrap up with Hal stuck in... well, stasis.  The state of stasis, not the guy Stasis.  Oh!  And the geeks finally formally introduce themselves as "The Freak Show".



--

So yeah, this is still pretty silly, ain't it?

Let's consider something for a moment.  The whole gimmick for the bad guys (as far as we know at this point) is that they'd been declared legally dead.  While kinda "ehh", I feel like there's still potential for this to get interesting.  I mean, as we trudge along through this arc, I'm pretty sure that whole plot point is forgotten about... or, at the very least is immaterial... but, we'll play along for now.

So yeah, that much is interesting... or at least has the potential to be.  They're also working for one of the Hawkes sisters... which was established last time out... which, for me... kinda lowers the stakes.  Just doesn't seem like that big a deal.  Maybe this re-read will change my mind... but I doubt it.

I wanna talk for a moment about the contrived set-up to ensnare Hal here.  I mean, did Castle call Incinderella for help, and she was like "Yeah, right after I finish my laundry..." to which he replied, "Laundry?  That's perfect!  The Laundry's the thing wherein I will catch conscience of the Ring!" (lookitme, breaking out some pseudo-Shakespeare!).

Just seems so silly... first that Hal would even stop to help, because... c'mon... it's just laundry.  Second that he'd actually drop to the roof to give the washer-woman the opportunity to jump his bones.  Just so many tumblers gotta fall into place for this to work.  Oh well, I suppose the fact that it gets us from Point A to B is what matters... and the quicker we get there, the quicker this arc will be over!

Tomorrow: Be cautioned, there's gonna be some mature-ish language in Blackhawk!

Friday, May 24, 2019

Action Comics Weekly PREVIEW (1988)


Action Comics Weekly Preview (1988)
Green Lantern: "... And the Pain Shall Leave My Heart"
Wild Dog: "Moral Stand, Chapter One: Point of Order"
Secret Six: "Listening to the Mockingbird"
Superman: "Faster Than a Speeding Bullet!"
Deadman: "The Section Chief"
Blackhawk: "Another Fine War"
Writers - Jim Owsley, Max Collins, Martin Pasko, Roger Stern, Mike Baron, & Mike Grell
Art - Gil Kane, Terry Beatty, Dan Spiegle, Curt Swan, Dan Jurgens, & Rick Burchett
Letters - Albert DeGuzman, Gaspar, Carrie Spiegle, Bill Oakley, & Steve Haynie
Edits - Denny O'Neil, Mike Gold, Dick Giordano, Mike Carlin, & Barbara Randall

Today we're going to do something a little bit different.  We're going to push back our #ActionComicsDaily coverage by one day so we can spend some time with the Retailer/Prolific Letterhack EXCLUSIVE: Action Comics Weekly PREVIEW from 1988.

This is something that had just recently come to my attention as something that even existed.  You see, during the bi-weekly Chris is on Infinite Earths Podcast, I have a segment which I refer to as "The Hot Take".  Generally speaking, it's a place where I read over old Letters Pages and USENET Posts, just to "take the temperature" of where the fandom was at certain points in comics history.  Sometimes their "hot takes" are right on the money... other times, not so much.

Well, one of my main sources for "hot takes" has been the letters pages of Action Comics Weekly.  I was keenly interested in how folks received the change in format, especially with the direction of the this blog over the past several months.  I was pretty surprised to learn that DC Comics sent out photostatted "advance previews" of ACW.  My eyes and ears perked up at the possibility (no matter how slim), that I might one day get my hands on a copy!


And so, the hunt was on.  I mean, stranger things have happened... I did manage to get the Action Comics Weekly in-store sign...



... so, how hard would this be?

Well... as it turned out, it was a little bit harder.  First, because I'd never seen the thing... so, I wasn't sure what to keep an eye out for.  Second, these letters pages were the only places that mentioned it!  I googled all of the variations of "preview" "advance copy" "Action Comics" "Action Comics Weekly" "ACW" "ACW promo"... and nothing would come up.

Then... I found it!  At, of all places, Amazon!


Part of me wondered if this was the real deal... but, at $15, I decided it was "worth the risk".  And so, a week-ish later, into my hot little hands fell the book we're going to take a look at right now.


Worth noting, the "synopsis" portion is just a recollection of my initial run-through of Action Comics Weekly #601... considering this preview is almost exactly the same (minus a few credits, and moved/altered word bubbles), I figure I could get away with it.

I removed the "Review" sections, as this is more just a way to let folks see what this Preview Edition looked like.  Of course, if you're interested in my thoughts (not that I assume anyone would be), you can check out the original piece, right here.

--



We open with Star Sapphire having a space battle with a (rather goofy-looking) construct of Hal Jordan.  She laments the fact that she once loved him... but now, there's only hate.  Ya see, she blames him for the fact that her people have vanished... and she's going to eventually want her pound of flesh.  Meanhwhile on Earth, Hal and his... girlfriend, Arisia are couchin' it at John and Katma's place.  It looks like this "living arrangement" might be a bit too close for comfort for the Stewarts.


Hal complains that he's broke (what else is new?), and so John suggests he... get this... goes off and robs a South African Diamond Mine!  No joke... he actually suggests this.  At the same time, Katma is reaming out Arisia for hogging the shower.


John ensures Hal that the African Mine is closed down... so, it'll just be a case of "finder's keepers", and so our man is Africa-bound.  One page later, he's there picking up diamonds... and getting shot at!  He uses his ring to disarm the soldiers, and asks himself why he doesn't feel all that bad about breaking the law.


Back in the City, Star Sapphire pays the Stewart apartment a visit... annnnnd kills Katma-Tui!  They're not messing around here, folks.


We wrap up with Hal returning to the pad, only to find John Stewart hunched over the body of his now-dead wife.  Naturally, John blames Hal.


--



We open during a Davenport City Council meeting where a member of the Committee For Social Change has taken over the proceedings.  He is demanding Wild Dog be handed over to him for his crimes against their organization... otherwise, he's going to start putting holes in members of the board.  The Quad-Cities Police Force already has the place surrounded.


Back inside the C.S.C. spokesman continues ranting... and gives Wild Dog thirty-minutes to appear, otherwise innocent blood is going to be on his hands.  Reporter, Susan King (who we met during the mini) is on-hand to cover the meeting... and isn't quite sure how they're going to get out of this one.


Well, it just so happens that at that very moment a maintenance man enters City Hall.  After bumping into a Civil Servant, he ducks away in a closet, where we learn that he is, in fact, Wild Dog!


Meanwhile the Police put their heads together over how to handle this present crisis.  Lieutenant Flint (at least I think that's who this is) suggests maybe they just dress a dude up like Wild Dog... after all, his costume is pretty easy to replicate.  Well, he's not wrong!


The point is, however... moot.  Wild Dog's already locked and loaded as he approaches the Chambers... and proceeds to blow the C.S.C goons away!  It's been a little while since I've read a Wild Dog story, so it's a little shocking just how violent this fella gets!


We wrap up this chapter with Quad-Cities' Finest rushing into the Chambers to discover the wake of Wild Dog's latest endeavor... however, the man himself is nowhere to be found!


--



We open in Orsonville, where there is quite the heavy acid rainstorm going on... it's literally melting the flesh off of the citizens!  Ya know, Acid Rain is up there with Quicksand on the list of things I was sure would impact my life in a profound way.  Anyhoo, we get a shot of the Technodyne Plant, which may or may not have anything to do with anything... but almost certainly does.  From here we shift scenes to this odd woodland mansion called "The Enchanted Forest" where Bert Convy tells all of the patrons that they're going to be closed the following night for a private party.


After making the announcement he follows up with a couple of fellows (including original Secret Six member, Carlo di Rienzi) regarding some R.S.V.P.'s... and so, we're about to meet some of the invitees.  Starting with Mr. King Savage... another original member of the Secret Six (they're all going to be members of the original Secret Six, by the by).


Then, Lili de Neuve... an aged French film star.


Next, Crimson Dawn... which isn't that red mark that Psylocke had on her face during the late 90's, but yet another Secret Six veteran.  She is Kit Dawn-Langman, a model.


Then, Tiger Force... a beat-up old boxer, who appears to have trouble even signing his name... though, he tells a fan that he's going to write a book one'a these days.


Off to August Durant, a former Physicist... now an old man reliant on pills to stay alive.  He quarrels with... I dunno, maybe his wife... before getting in the car.


Back at the Enchanted Castle, Bert Convy (actually a dude named Rafael) is pleased to hear that the gang's all RSVPed... and hopefully, this will draw the mysterious Mockingbird out of the shadows as well.



We shift scenes to San Francisco, where a man is arriving for a "job interview".  It's ten o'clock at night, so he's a bit suspicious.  Upon arrival, he meets five other people... including a woman in what appears to be a hockey mask.  Nobody comments that this is weird... so, whattayagonnado?


It's quickly established that each of these folks have disabilities.  One's blind, another's deaf... one's in a wheelchair, and as mentioned, one's wearing a hockey mask.  They were all called here by a Mr. Byrd (hmm...) and none of them seem to be all that pleased.  In fact, a fight breaks out between them straight away!


They are then interrupted by a video monitor... it's Mockingbird, who offers them each a new life they'd never dreamed possible... so long as they agree to be his new Secret Six!  We wrap up with a mention of an entire city having just been wiped out... going to assume that has something to do with the acid rain.


--



We open with Clark Kent stood atop the Daily Planet Building enjoying both the view and a beverage.  Among the voices he tunes into, he hears a man crying out for help.  Clark "supes up" and heads down to see what's up.

Annnnnd, that's it!
--




We open with Deadman stood atop a satellite somewhere between the Earth and the Moon.  His mission, at present, is to track down the 278 criminals who had escaped from Nanda Parbat... and I think I'm bored already.  It's like reading an Iron Fist story and seeing mention of "K'un-Lun".  Anyhoo, he heads toward Earth and intercepts an airplane in the middle of a "Guns for Drugs" operation.  The Pilot and Co-Pilot are speaking in somewhat hushed tones as to not wake the "Section Chief" (who we'll meet in a minute).



Deadman heads into the back to check in on the Chief, and finds her wide awake.  A bit about "Guns for Drugs" for context... because the story itself is kind of light on that, and a quarter-century removed... it's easy to get lost in.  During the 1980's, the C.I.A. was allegedly involved with trading weapons for cocaine.  This was pretty timely when this story was written.  I hate linking to Wikipedia, but you could read more about it here.  Anyhoo, Deadman winds up face to face with the Chief, who looks like she's checking the sight on her rifle.



The plane eventually lands on a small strip in Belize.  The Section Chief introduces herself to some locals... we learn that her name is Major Grace Kasaba.  The Central Americans are a bit disappointed Ronald Reagan himself didn't show up, but, whattayagonnado?  Together, they head into the jungle and toward a Mayan Temple to do the thing.



Kasaba and Company run into an archaeologist who isn't keen to the idea that they're here.  He's afraid they'll wind up vandalizing the priceless ruins... and he's probably right to feel that way.  This is, after all, kinduva war zone.  At this point, Deadman remembers that this whole thing was a trade of weapons for drugs... and decides to head back to the plane for some hocus-pocus.



Deadman takes control of the pilot of the rig, and... get this... calls into Dade International Airport in Florida to tell them to expect a plane full of cocaine!  They think it's a gag... but he assures them he ain't kidding around.  Deadman takes out the co-pilot, then diverts course from the clandestine airstrip in the Everglades to Miami-Dade.  Take a look at the "symbols" used to disguise the cursing here... never seen a swastika used before!


With this part of the gig done and buried, Deadman returns to the Mayan Temple to check in on Major Kasaba... and, get this... as he approaches her, it seems as though she can see him!


--



We open in Flashback Land... and it's V-J (Victory over Japan) Day (September 2, 1945).  American streets are filled with celebration and ballyhoo following the unconditional surrender by Japan.  American soldiers returned home, reunited with their loved ones... and in the words of one guy, pretended that life wasn't "boring as hell".


That boredom was short-lived, however... as just a year later there was some goings on in Vietnam that required their attention.  Fed up with French rule, the Viet Minh started a revolution.  Battles raged during the Winter of 1946/1947.  This brings us to "now" as we jump ahead to February, 1947...


... Where Janos Prohaska... Blackhawk is taking a bath in a Singaporean... uhh, cathouse (?) while reading the funnies in Stars and Stripes.  He's rather displeased to learn that Milton Caniff had left Terry and the Pirates to start Steve Canyon... something Reggie and I briefly discussed during a recent Cosmic Treadmill After Dark!


Suddenly, the door is kicked in by a man called Zalecki.  He's ticked off... and wielding a blade, while demanding $10,000 (that's about $112,604 in 2018 bucks).  Meanwhile, downstairs a blonde woman arrives at the... uhh, cathouse... and she's looking for Blackhawk.


Back upstairs, Blackhawk pulls the ol' "You Brought a Knife to a Gunfight" thing... and shoots Zalecki in the gut.  Our mystery blonde hears the gunshot, and might now know exactly where to find her fella.


--

So, this was the mysterious and evasive Action Comics Weekly Preview Edition!  I hope you all enjoyed this peek into some lesser-talked about DC Comics history as much as I did.

What follows are blown-up images of the letters and copyright information that proceeded the actual comics portion of the package.  There's a lot of neat information in them.  I honestly would have paid the fifteen bucks just to get these!

It wasn't until reading them that I realized that our "Original Six" features (plus Nightwing and Black Canary) were intended as being the "core" stories of the run.  I'd always assumed that outside of Superman and Green Lantern, they'd just be playing it by ear!

Anyhoo, again... I hope some folks out there found this interesting.  Also, again... if you wanna see my "reviews" of the stories featured in this issue, go 'head and click the cover below:


Thanks for reading (if ya still are), and indulging me in checking this one out!

--

Et-Cetera:



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