Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Back in Action: ACTION COMICS WEEKLY #610


My review of "Bitter Fruit" Part 1 has been updated to include scans of pages.

Every Wednesday, I review an issue of Action Comics Weekly featuring a backup story starring Black Canary among others.  Each installment of Back in Action will look at Dinah's story and touch on my favorite or least favorite moments from the rest of the strips in these issues.

Black Canary's second appearance in ACW was issue #610.  The cover, showcasing the Deadman feature of the comic, was done by David Lloyd, the artist behind Alan Moore's V for Vendetta!  Boston Brand's face is ghoulishly exaggerated as he attempts to walk the tightrope between Heaven and Hell.

Black Canary

"Bitter Fruit" Part 2: written by Sharon Wright, pencilled by Randy Duburke, inked by Pablo Marcos, lettered by Steve Haynie, colored by Gene D'Angelo, and edited by Mike Gold.  Last issue, Black Canary got the first feature in the book.  This time, she is last.

The second part of "Bitter Fruit" opens with a phone conversation between an mysterious man named Doug and another man in Seattle.  They talk cryptically about "Scales" and "doing a job" and finding "Librado".  The man in Seattle looks like William MacDonald, the INS agent shown last week, except this guy has a goatee, and MacDonald was in Nebraska last time.

With page 2, we pickup where we left off last week.  Dinah opens the door to find Rita, bruised and battered.  Dinah had invited Rita over to her apartment above Sherwood Florist with the intention of offering her a job in the store.  But Rita refuses to discuss how she got the bruises and storms off when pressed on the matter.

Then, after thinking about it and maybe feeling desperate, Rita returns and lays out the situation for Dinah.  Last issue, we saw Rita run out into the alley with a baseball bat when someone she knew was getting beaten up.  That victim was her brother, Luis, and the assailants were a couple of "shakedown grunts".  Rita explains how her father's health problems have forced her to sell drugs in the past, and now Luis borrowed money from some unsavory characters.  Rita knows her father and brother are keeping secrets from her, which prevents her from helping them.

Dinah says, "I have a friend who has some… interesting… connections."  Translation: Black Canary is going to get to the bottom of this situation.

As Rita leaves Dinah's place, she gets in a van driven by somebody--it's unclear who, maybe Luis?--while the bearded man from page 1 watches her from around the corner.

Pages 6 and 7 show Dinah outfitting up as Black Canary, while a shot of the cityscape focuses on a building with scales on the side.  There's some even more cryptic dialogue about business mergers and concerns that aren't attributed to any speaker.  Very vague.  Annoyingly so.

The last page shows to men hunting egrets or some kind of bird with a pistol.  One of the men is named John and works for the Department of Fish and Game.  The chapter ends with a panel of a dead bird.  Again, very vague.

Click the images below to enlarge.

Okay, I have no idea what the hell is going on!  I thought from last issue that this story was going to be about immigration and racism but that is nowhere to be found in this chapter.  In fact, the beating of Luis doesn't seem to be based on bigotry or racism at all; it's just street-style debt-collecting.  There are lots of people we don't know talking about things we don't understand.

I'm worried that for a short story spread out over short installments, this plot might be too big and unwieldy.  That was a problem I had with Black Canary's miniseries that came out a few years later, and the first arc of her ongoing series in the '90s.  All of these stories were edited by Mike Gold, and I wonder if this direction was his push.

The highlight of the issue is seeing Dinah suit up as Black Canary as played by Heather Locklear, but everything else is too ambiguous to be entertaining.

Speaking of Dinah's costume, it's better than the Justice League International look she incinerated last week, but it's still missing the fishnets.  I hope to see it in action next week.

The Rest

Green Lantern gets the lead feature this time around.  His story, written by Peter David and drawn by Tod Smith, continues the question posed by a woman on Oprah of all things: Is a man without fear a man insane?  Hal Jordan tests his fearlessness by confronting a sword-wielding maniac without his power ring.  After defeating the man and discussing the strangeness of the case with the local Chicago PD, Hal goes to the hotel room and screws his elvish alien girlfriend, Arisia.  But when Hal goes to the bathroom, Arisia is attacked by the room service bellhop brandishing a knife.  Given Peter David's involvement, the script is pretty good.  The sex-with-Arisia aspect is awkward if you take into account she's an alien and only, like, fourteen years old, but other than that it's decent.

The Phantom Stranger gets a nice done-in-one story written by Paul Kupperberg and drawn by Kyle Baker.  A computer geek named Kenny Bush Miller who is constantly tormented by, well, by the whole world is possessed by a demon.  The Phantom Stranger has to confront a monstrous mashup of magic, man and machine in what 1988 perceived as cyberspace.  Baker's art is really, really good in this story, but suffers from some unspectacular coloring.

Deadman's story by Mike Baron, with art by Dan Jurgens and Tony DiZuniga, continues this absurdly comical premise that Satan has escaped confinement in a jar and possessed First Lady Nancy Reagan, while Deadman has taken possession of Russian Premier Mikhail Gorbochev's wife, Raisa.  After probably sparking a World War by firing at the First Lady with a sci-fi ray gun, Deadman leaves the State Dinner in the body of a buxom woman named Major Kasaba.  At her apartment, they find that the "Satan" Deadman thought he was chasing was just a minor demon named Yakin.  The real devil is inhabiting the body of famed skyjacker D.B. Cooper.  Yeah!

Continuing from last week's Superman two-pager by Roger Stern and Curt Swan, Clark Kent is trying to get information from Bob Galt, a man who worships Superman like a deity.  For reasons unknown, men have tried to kill Galt.  When Clark takes Galt to The Daily Planet building to confide in Perry White, Galt reveals an uncanny power, to cast his thoughts and memories like three-dimensional projections.  Despite it's brevity, this is a really enjoyable feature.  With Curt Swan drawing Stern's story, it would have to work pretty hard to not be great!

Secret Six by Marty Pasko and Dan Spiegle reads like a great daytime soap opera.  I don't know who these characters are, I don't know what their angle is, what they hope to achieve, if I should even be rooting for them to survive… but it's fascinating to see play out.  There are a couple of dramatic twists in this chapter, which would be more dramatic, I assume, if I knew the stakes involved.  I don't, but it's still an enjoyable read.

Next week, I'll look at Action Comics Weekly #611, which begins a new feature starring Catwoman, as well as the continuing sagas of Black Canary, Superman, Green Lantern, Deadman, and the Secret Six.


  1. What?? No link to Captain Carrot's Burrow? lol

    She does really look like a Heather Locklear wannabe in that picture, doesn;t she? hahahaha Didn't notice until I read this.

  2. The captain's burrow is now represented, Sean! :)