Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Back in Action: ACTION COMICS WEEKLY #632


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 issue's cover by Tom Grindberg shows Nightwing and Speedy under fire from the one or more of the warring factions of Northern Ireland.  I'm not sure if the toddler in Speedy's arms in this image is supposed to be his daughter, Lian, or the Irish scamp named Button that he's taken under his wing.  Likewise, I'm not sure he's trying to protect the child or use her as a human shield from the semi-automatic weapon pointed at him.  Also, I have no idea what emotion I'm supposed to be getting from his face.  Fear?  Pain?  Shock?  Did the baby just poop on his leg?  I guess I've seen better.

Black Canary

"Knock 'Em Dead" Part 9: 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.  Black Canary's story is printed third out of six features in this issue, coming after Green Lantern and Phantom Stranger.

Last chapter we finally received confirmation that the killer hunting Ken Glazier's old friends and acquaintances wasn't the prostitute named Deb.  The killer is, in fact, Ken's ex-wife, Cat, a popular actress appearing as Peter Pan in a local Seattle stage production.  Part 9 opens with Cat holding the Deb prisoner in the sewer.  She claims to be doing this because Deb killed Cat's daughter.  Deb denies this, but it doesn't seem to affect Cat, who kicks her into the water, leaving her to sink and drown.

Black Canary and Ken Glazier go to see Peter Pan in order to identify Cat.  The police surround the theater and Lieutenant Cameron joins Canary to make the arrest when Ken points out his ex-wife.  They watch the show and and Ken ID's his wife playing Pan.  Cameron says they'll arrest her after the show.

Cat, however, recognizes her husband, and during the climactic sword fight between her character and Captain Hook.  They take the fight off the stage and into the audience, and when Cat is close enough, she leaps at Ken, fully attempting to kill him in front of the whole audience.  But Black Canary is there to stop her.

They fight while the audience reacts in panic, storming for the exits.  Cat slashes Canary's arm with one of her knives and runs backstage.  Cameron checks to see that Black Canary is okay, and then they chase the killer.  Canary follows Cat through the men's bathroom and out a window, but there loses track of the killer.  Cat slipped into a sewer grate and spies on her pursuers from underground.

Unsure of whether Cat escaped through the police cordon or if she's just holed up and hiding really well somewhere in the theater, Cameron agrees to send Ken Glazier out of there to a hotel.  But when Ken gets in his car, Cat is waiting for him and makes him drive away at knife-point.

[Click the images below to enlarge.]

Randy Duburke's art is immeasurably better in this issue than it was back in the first Black Canary story from issues #609 through #616.  Black Canary still looks great even wearing solid black leather pants instead of her fishnet stockings, and her hair seems to fill up the pages like Batman's expansive cape.  The action is highly exaggerated but never confusing.

This story has been as great as any classic suspense thriller and really reminds me of certain types of movies from the '80s and '90s like Fatal Attraction and Basic Instinct, except without the explicit sex scenes and with a costumed vigilante.  The body count continues to rise as the story ramps up with two more chapters to go!

The Rest

From the pages of X-Force comes... BluddFire!!!
James Owsley and M.D. Bright continue the story of Green Lantern as Hal Jordan pursues the alien shrine-ship into space, reflecting on the fact that the alien only learned violence and aggression when it came to Earth.  Then something strange happens and Hal seems to be warped through time and space to a different star system with no way to find his way back to Earth.  He investigates a strange alien planet and finds its ruler, a human going by the name Malvolio of the Green Flame.

But as you can see, he looks a bit more like Alan Scott reimagined by an X-Men artist in the '90s.  Oh, and he's needlessly angry, too.

In chapter two of The Phantom Stranger's tale by Paul Kupperberg and Fred Carrillo, the titular character chases Tannarak across the skies of New York, learning that his recently deceased foe was resurrected by the Lords of Chaos.  Cassandra Craft tries to get him to stop but he doesn't listen to her because no one ever listens to women named Cassandra.  Tannarak goes to the Bronx Zoo, calling all the big cats to him.  After he summons lions and tigers and such, he draws in his energy and fuzes them all into one giant bipedal felinoid monster.

This week's two-page Superman strip by Roger Stern and Curt Swan is entitled "Holy War" and we learn that not only does the group known as the Followers believe Superman is a god, but their enemies, the evil organization determined to destroy them, actually views Superman as a devil.  They call him the Beast of the Apocalypse, which is all sorts of amusing to me to think of Superman that way.

The adventures of Nightwing & Speedy by Cherie Wilkerson and Vince Giarrano continue to deliver the action as our heroes from America find themselves beset by the Sanas and the F.O.E.s.  The girl named Moira is nearly killed in a bombing near the parade, Nightwing takes out some corrupt cops, and Speedy shoots down a helicopter gunship with his bow and arrow.  But the violence isn't limited to the streets, as even government officials poison each other to take power.

The latest installment of Blackhawk by Martin Pasko and Rick Burchett finds the Blackhawk crew
escorting a beautiful woman who fends of the flirtatious advances of Jan Prohaska.  However, when the Blackhawks let their guard down, the woman is murdered by the Nazi babe who takes her place and looks enough like her to sleep with Jan that night.  She infiltrates their group and when they take flight, she starts to poison their coffee.

Next week, I'll look at Action Comics Weekly #633, which continues the adventures of Black Canary, Superman, Green Lantern, Phantom Stranger, Nightwing & Speedy, and Blackhawk.

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