Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Back in Action: ACTION COMICS #629


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.

The cover to ACW #629, by Dick Rockwell, depicts the shadowy Mockingbird revealing his identity to the Secret Six.  It's a pretty iconic shot and it should get me excited for the story inside, but this cover lacks any sense of shock or excitement.  Mostly because the Secret Six don't look all that shocked or excited about this unveiling.

Black Canary

"Knock 'Em Dead" Part 6: written by Sharon Wright, pencilled by Randy Duburke, inked by Pablo Marcos, lettered by Steve Haynie, colored by Gene D'Angelo, and edited by Robert Greenberger.  Once again, Black Canary's story is placed second in reading order.

This chapter picks up where last week's cliffhanger left off: Dinah Lance was delivering floral set pieces to a local theater staging a production of Peter Pan and the Pirates, when it suddenly appeared as though a knife wielding maniac lunged at her with deadly intent.  And creeping up behind her is a man with a nasty-looking hook.

Elsewhere in Seattle, Ken Glazier learns from the local news that Rich, the drug dealing music shop owner was killed.  Glazier ignores a call from the Red Cross asking for a blood donation, insisting that he cannot donate blood.  Then he calls a police hotline to report Deborah's involvement in Rich's murder.  Meanwhile, at the morgue, Lt. Cameron connects Rich to the death of Walt Sarno, figuring the same woman to be responsible for both.  The coroner mentions that Rich would have died soon anyway; his blood work showed he had contracted AIDS.  Then a local uniform tells Cameron about an anonymous tip from their hotline.

Back at the theater, Dinah whirls around and knocks out the man with the hook hand, who it turns out was just an actor playing Captain Hook in the show.  The director calls cut and brings up the lights, revealing the floating knifeman as an actress named Ellen Jamerson playing Peter Pan.  Ellen goes by the name "Cat".

After they unload the flowers from Dinah's van, the director asks her to stick around.  Dinah watches part of their rehearsal; she's quite impressed by Cat's performance as a boy, her ability to expertly mimic mannerisms of someone else.  We learn that Ellen/Cat is an out-of-towner, temporarily visiting Seattle, and that she's here because of her daughter.

Later, Dinah dons the costume of the Black Canary and returns to Rich's music store to question Rich's roommate, Joe.  After she puts the fear in him, Joe gives up Deb's full name, Deborah Tilden, and that Rich's heroin distribution was conducted from a United Food warehouse.  When Black Canary gets to the warehouse, she sees Deb, but is surprised she's not blonde.  She realizes that Deb must be or was wearing a wig when she killed Walt Sarno.

Deb enters the warehouse to pick up her heroin, only to find a police officer holding a gun on her.  Is this a police ambush...or something more sinister?

[Click the images below to enlarge.]

In this chapter, we get to see both Dinah Lance and Black Canary in action.  Her quick reflexes in the theater offer a little comic relief as she mistakenly beats up an actor.  As the Canary, her interrogation of Joe is quick and ruthless, the sort of questioning that would make Batman proud.

The mystery deepens as we wonder what is the connection between Ken Glazier, Walt Sarno and Rich Malone.  Why is Deb targeting them each for death?  Or is she?  Maybe she's being set up to take the fall for their murders, but then why?  The biggest reveal for anyone paying attention--because it's not made explicit in the text--is that Ellen Jamerson, also known as Cat, is the same woman who was following Deb earlier.  So Cat is an actress with a talent for disappearing into her role?  Suspicious...

The Rest

This week's Green Lantern story by James Owsley and M.D. Bright is a little more focused than last issue, but it still feels like a lot of filler.  Hal Jordan spends most of the eight pages straining to keep a building from collapsing on innocent civilians and firefighters.  As he does so, Captain Atom finds the alien building his shrine-ship below the building.  Atom tries to apologize for lashing out before, that there was a simple misunderstanding.  But the alien hits him and that starts them up fighting again.  Captain Atom seems to destroy the shrine-ship and knock the alien out, but by then Green Lantern has returned and wants to fight Atom.

In Secret Six by Marty Pasko and Frank Springer, Mockingbird reveals what I imagine would be the answers to all my questions had I been following this story along from the beginning.

Roger Stern and Curt Swan's two-page Superman strip takes a new turn as Clark Kent and Bob Galt, the leader of a fellowship of Superman worshipers are prevented from interrogating their attackers when the desert floor swallows them and takes them to the secret lair of a woman named Mother Tierra.  She can manipulate the sand and stone, and she's none to pleased to see Clark Kent until Bob shows her the message that Superman sent him with heat vision advising him to trust Kent.

In the latest chapter of Nightwing & Speedy by Cherie Wilkerson and Tom Mandrake, which is the second straight issue with no trace of Nightwing, Roy Harper arrives at his lodging in Ireland only to find a pair of little girls squatting there.  Roy learns a little more about the Friends of the Empire and their rival, the Sanas.  The girls' parents were victims of the conflict between the Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland and Roy has inadvertently brought more danger right to them.

This chapter of Marty Pasko and Rick Burchett's Blackhawk is all sex and violence, but unfortunately no cool aerial combat.  Jan Prohaska has fistfight with special agent Claiborne after they learn Marcia died during her surgery.  Later, he goes back to his office, gets drunk, and sleeps with Natalie Reed.  Then they both get summoned to return to Washington, D.C.  Also, there's a bit with Nazis, including a blonde female Nazi officer sporting some impressive cleavage.  Sexy Nazis?!  To quote Django Unchained: "You had my curiosity. Now you have my attention."

Next week, I'll look at Action Comics Weekly #630, which concludes this story of the Secret Six and furthers the adventures of Black Canary, Superman, Green Lantern, Nightwing and Blackhawk.

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