Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Weekly Action Comics Weekly Review: Issue #627

In 1988-89, DC changed Action Comics from a monthly Superman-focused series to a weekly anthology, also changing its name to Action Comics Weekly. It lasted 42 issues before reverting to a monthly format. I am going to review all 42 of those issues, one per week (sort of) for 42 weeks. This is the twenty-seventh of those reviews.
For the first time ever, this issue only had five stories, the last one being double-sized. Or, technically I guess it was two normal-sized chapters back-to-back, but that's pretty much the same thing. To celebrate/honor that fact, I'm only going to write five sentences per story, just like I did that other time. For this cover, I've got nothing. It's boring, and the decision to do a close-up of Nightwing's face as well as a shot of his full body, both making similarly serious but not exactly the same expressions, is truly baffling.
A guest appearance by Captain Atom? Sweet, I love that guy! I was not wild about what a tremendous, overly-zealous ass he was here, but I do like that the alien's vessel was destroyed because it makes the whole situation more dangerous and complicated, and I'm glad it wasn't Green Lantern who did the destroying. He needs to be able to be the hero of his own story, so this seems like a good way to keep that intact while still worsening the circumstances. And while all the action was good, the moment of the alien ship's destruction was the best, elegantly simple while fittingly bombastic.
Mockingbird removing his hood is the headline here. The reader still doesn't get to see his face (I am saying "he" because everyone else has so far but I would bet it'll actually be a woman, not sure why just a hunch) but the fact that Rafael now knows Mockingbird's identity means we ought to be filled in very soon. That mystery has been central to the Secret Six from the start, and coupled with just how much the team seems to have uncovered about their enemies and Mockingbird's ultimate goals by now, things appear to be coming to a close. I'm going to miss this narrative when it wraps up. It wasn't always the best, but it's been solid fun and extremely well-paced all along, especially considering it's a bunch of seven- or eight-page installments.
I really enjoy the tense darkness that pervades this story. It's the atmosphere that both Sharon Wright and Randy DuBurke seemed to be shooting for last time Black Canary was in this book, but back then they kind of lost their way while with this arc they are nailing it. There's just as much mystery as before, but it's more compelling now, and easier to follow. I also loved seeing Black Canary do some old-school, beat-cop-style investigating. She makes a great noir detective, because she's as hard-boiled as anyone but more noble than most.
The bulk of this is Superman imagining what might happen if he chose to fight his foes. That's lame. Don't spend a whole chapter showing me something that doesn't count while literally zero progress gets made. There's some value to gaining insight into Superman's thoughts, but we've had that all along, and the balancing act between saving Bob Galt without encouraging his worship is the entire point of this storyline, so not much new gets added here, if anything at all. That said, it was high time we got to see Curt Swan drawing Superman in costume and in action again, so yay for that, but boo for it being fake.
Nightwing and Speedy are on a boat to Ireland, Speedy hoping to take a six-month vacation to connect with his daughter and his roots, but of course things don't go as smoothly as planned. The young heroes end up involving themselves in some kind of drug smuggling operation, and becoming targets for whatever criminal organization is behind it. The story is a bit boringly straightforward thus far, but I dug Tom Mandrake's art. It was moody and grounded but still fantastical at all the peaks in action. The best example of this is when one bad guy gets his head blown off by another to keep him from talking, and rather than being gory and horrible, it's a literal explosion, the man's skull bursting apart almost comically but with such force and suddenness that it still has the intended impact.

In conclusion, here are all the stories from this issue, listed from worst to best:
5. Superman/"Panic in the Sands!"
4. Nightwing and Speedy/"Rocks and Hard Places"
3. Green Lantern/"And Now...Captain Atom"
2. Secret Six/"A Bird in the Hand..."
1. Black Canary/"Knock 'em Dead Part 4"

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