Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Back in Action: ACTION COMICS WEEKLY #633


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.

This week's cover by Swanderson, that is the art team of Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson, delivers one of the classiest, most iconic covers of the whole series.  The Blackhawks form up in the skies as their leader appears majestically, almost ghost-like in the heavenly clouds.

Black Canary

"Knock 'Em Dead" Part 10: 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.  Again, Black Canary's story is printed second out of six features in this issue.

The penultimate chapter to the mystery of the actress hunting her ex-husband and his friends opens with a shocking and bloody image of Ken Glazier.  It's hard to tell if he's alive or dead, but either way he doesn't look good since he was captured by his ex-wife, Cat, last time.

While Black Canary receives treatment for her wounded arm, Seattle Police Lieutenant Cameron tells her that his men searched the theater and found no trace of Cat.  She escaped somehow.  Canary refuses to see a doctor or get actual stitches until the killer is found.  An officer tells Cameron that a boat team found a body dumped in the water that matches the description of Deb, the prostitute who was the police's original suspect in the killings.  Since Canary actually saw Deb a week ago, Cameron asks her to come with him to identify the body.

When they arrive at the waterfront, Black Canary confirms that that the dead woman is Deborah.  Cameron and the police speculate how the body was dumped since it was found in an unusual location, the type that would have left plenty of witnesses.  This leads Black Canary to suspect the body may not have been dumped into the water from the dock or a boat at all.

She walks along the sound until she comes to a sewer outlet.  Then she realizes that Cat escaped the police cordon at the theater by slipping into the sewers.  She follows the tunnel past rats and other vermin with blood on their teeth.  At the edge of the tunnel, she finds a lair, what she describes as a shrine or altar constructed by the killer.  And the altar was dedicated to Cat's daughter.  Her dead daughter, apparently.

Then she learns that Ken Glazier didn't make it to a hotel.  He's caught and hurt bad, but still possibly alive.  She anticipates that Cat will return to the theater with Glazier.  Canary doesn't have much time to save him, but she does have the will to see this to the end.

[Click the images below to enlarge.]

This chapter is mostly about setting the stage for the grand finale.  Deborah is dead.  The true killer, Cat, is revealed, but she has a hostage, her real target all along.  Black Canary knows where she is, and what's more, she may know how to defeat the killer.

Other notes of interest: In case anyone is unsure about Black Canary's public identity, Lieutenant Cameron calls her Dinah.  While she didn't really have much of a secret identity for a lot of her Bronze Age appearances, at least her police liaison knows who she is at this point in the game.

Something else: Dinah looks tough as hell on page two when she's getting her arm treated by the paramedic.  She doesn't always need a black jacket to look badass, which is reinforced during the Ed Benes era of Birds of Prey when she mostly went sleeveless.  But this is added confirmation.

The Rest

Green Lantern by James Owsley and M.D. Bright features a lot of Hal Jordan fighting Malvolio, Lord of the Green Flame, who looks a lot like early Image Comics' version of Alan Scott.  Hal and Malvolio fight a lot and Malvolio is so obviously overpowered that he punches Hal into the center of the planet, where Hal discovers a gold space station (?) full of Malvolio's followers.  Then there's more fighting.

Cherie Wilkerson and Tom Mandrake finally bring Nightwing & Speedy back to the United States as--hey, wait!  What happened to Roy's daughter?  Did I miss something important a couple issues ago? Where the hell is Lian?  Anyway, they head to Washington with the C.B.I. jackass who fired Roy a while ago.  They're also being followed by Hunter, the mysterious cop in the fedora, who is captured by agents of Lord Danvers, who seems to be the evil power behind the drugs and guns going through Northern Ireland.  Nightwing and Speedy make a deal with Sepulveda, who then seems to betray them and it looks like they're getting arrested.

In the two-page Superman strip by Roger Stern and Curt Swan, two armies clash in the desert as the super-powered Followers who believe Superman is a god wage holy war against the super-powered bad guys who believe Superman is the Devil.  Superman can't stop them, but he figures he can knock out their power source if he can find the object that is emitting radiation to both groups.  He flies to space looking for it, then appears to be atomized by something.

The Phantom Stranger continues to fight the Lords of Chaos and their agent Tannarak in the third chapter by Paul Kupperberg and Fred Carrillo.  The Stranger fights Tannarak and his giant liger monster, then Tannarak appears to capture Cassandra Craft and hold her hostage.  But when Tannarak threatens to kill her, Phantom Stranger has an epiphany and attacks her first.  He reasons that it's not actually Cassandra Craft, but his other enemy, the sorceress Tala in disguise.

Martin Pasko and Rick Burchett have some fun in this installment of Blackhawk, as the drug that the Nazi babe slipped into the crew's coffee turns out to be the same L.S.D. that the government was developing.  After she shoots and wounds Olaf, she parachutes from the plane.  Meanwhile, Jan, Weng and everyone else aboard start tripping balls and seeing all sorts of amusing hallucinations that put them in serious jeopardy.  Olaf, despite his gunshot wound and blood loss is the only one capable of landing the plane safely.  That is, until he's attacked by Jan who has jealous visions of Olaf with Natalie Reed.  Will they all crash and die?  I guess we'll find out in a week.

Next week, I'll look at Action Comics Weekly #634, which continues Superman and Green Lantern's adventures while wrapping up the current sagas of Black Canary, Phantom Stranger, Blackhawk, and Nightwing & Speedy.

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