Sunday, July 26, 2015

Weekly Action Comics Weekly Review: Issue #628

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-eighth of those reviews.
I should maybe change the name of this series of posts, since they are not weekly anymore by any stretch. Then again, "Randomly Scheduled Action Comics Weekly Reviews" doesn't have nearly as nice a ring to it...Anyway, this is late and I have kind of a lot to do today so I'm going to burn through these super-fast. Watch me.
Green Lantern is an ass to Captain Atom and feels kind of bad about. Captain Atom is a slightly bigger ass to Green Lantern and feels just as bad about it. They both desperately try to find the destructive alien intruder with no luck until, at the end, they figure out that it is responsible for causing a building to collapse. While GL holds the structure in place, CA prickishly decides to take out the alien on his own, and that's where things end. So not a lot of action here, but some very nice character work from both James Owsley and M.D. Bright, who make GL and CA seems like two sides of the same coin. They're both a bit arrogant, they both have trouble working well with others, and they both want to do what's right but aren't sure how in this case. It's tricky trying to be a professional good guy, and that's what this story is all about. In that sense, it worked, though it was admittedly not the most thrilling installment, what with the alien itself never being on the page.
Uh-oh. Black Canary is starting to slip into the kind of confusing territory it spent so much time in on the last go round. I think my biggest issue is it's hard for me to keep all the characters straight from one week to the next. There are a lot of players involved, it's not clear how everyone's connected, and they all spend a fair amount of time at least partially obscured by shadow, so remember who's who is not the easiest task. I probably should be better at it, and it's not as thought the creators do a bad job of distinguishing between people, but for whatever reason I'm not quite keeping up. That said, this is still a nicely moody story, and I'm really enjoying Black Canary as the stoic detective, so this is still a good read. I just need to trust that the befuddling bits will be clear soon, and enjoy the rest of the show in the meantime.
Alright, an all-Speedy chapter of the Nightwing and Speedy story. I like that there's no obligation felt to include both characters in every section. They're physically separated right now, so why not follow each of them individually for a bit? Here we see Speedy save himself and his daughter from the mysterious Friends of the Empire, the criminal organization that our heroes crossed paths with last time. As serviceable as that is, it's also a bit poorly paced. There's a certain amount of Speedy rushing through the action without any time to properly react to what's going on. He gets upset when Lian is taken from him and is of course happy once he saves her, but the real urgency of a father losing his child doesn't come through here, and as far as I can see, there's no attempt to make it do so. The story is concerned with banging out the plot points more than making each one or even any one of them count for anything. That's too bad, because it's not a bad plot for a simple superhero tale, but it's played all wrong here and ends up being too subdued to be interesting.
I forgot Bob Galt had a superpower, which made it doubly exciting to see him use it here. It was also real progress in the narrative, because now Superman and Galt have enemies they can question and not just run away from. I am feeling the limitations of the two-page chapters a lot more in this part of the story than I did before. Now that the heroes and villains are so close to fully confronting one another, and because Galt and Supes have been on the move for so many issues in a row, I find myself wishing hard that I could get a bit more story each week than I do. Even two more pages might suffice, just something so I didn't have to consume this one scene at a time. Or not's like one-half or one-third of a full scene at best. Roger Stern and Curt Swan handle their tiny space well, as they have from the beginning, but things are heated up enough now that it's always a little frustrating to have the story end so abruptly. Still, as I said, this week something significant actually went down, so it was better than the last few.
No big surprise, Mockingbird is Rafael's father. Sort of an inevitable reveal, actually, and for sure the most expected option for his identity, considering Rafael stopped being pissed off as soon as he saw Mockingbird's face last time. This story is clearly in its final act, which has been a long time coming and is, so far, quite good. It's moving fast now, and there's a pervasive sense of imminent danger that pushes things forward and carries the reader along. Plus this time, the Secret Six got to kick all kinds of ass, taking down baddies and blowing shit up and just generally pulling off everything they wanted to without much resistance form the opposition. They're clicking as a tea on a whole new level, and Mockingbird is being more transparent than ever, so the heroes are definitely on the upswing while the villains, we see, can't even get along with one another. With the promise of answers next week and the villains so badly beaten this week, I feel like the conclusion can't be more than 1-3 chapters away. I'm going to miss the Secret Six in this book. It's been a reliably entertaining ride.
Blackhawk is back(hawk). Picking up pretty much exactly where it left off several issues ago, the team discovers that Marcia was hit during the plane-on-plane firefight from the last chapter, while Blackhawk tries to turn down an offer to be part of the newly-formed CIA. We also see some Germans doing some kind of horrible medical stuff to a guy who's strapped to a table, followed by one of those Germans going to deliver something somewhere but getting show to death by soldiers instead. idea what that was about or where it will lead, but it happened right in the middle of everything. Oh, and at the start of the story we see Blackhawk's newest team member, whose name I forget—I forget the entire cast's names except for the title character—upset over how far away she has to be from her son. A lot of moving pieces in this story and several plotlines that at this point have no obvious connective tissue, but we'll see where it goes. My hopes are not super high, but I do always love seeing Rick Burchett draw these characters and this world, so that's something.

In conclusion, here are all the stories from this issue, listed from worst to best:
6. Nightwing and Speedy/"Rocks and Hard Places Chapter Three: Arrival"
5. Blackhawk/"...And a Time to Gather Stones Together"
4. Black Canary/"Knock 'em Dead Part 5"
3. Superman/"Wipeout!"
2. Secret Six/"Remains to be Seen"
1. Green Lantern/"Heroes"

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