up the the fourth blog now, which continues with Superman, will go through Flash Comics, and begin Batman
I’ve just posted the first entry on the successor blog, Babblings about DC Comics 3!
I made an error earlier, I said this was intended for Action 635. In fact, it was for 642. I had assumed it was the earlier of the two crossover issues, simply based on the line-up that appears in the story – none of the post-635 series are included. But the ending makes it clear that it was for the latter issue.
Neil Gaiman’s script was rejected by John Byrne. At the time, it was a hard and fast rule that no one knew Superman’s identity, and Gaiman insisted on the characters meeting as Clark and Hal. Neither would budge, and the script got set aside. The story was finally published in 2001.
This special also has a large art team, divided chapter by chapter. Eddie Campbell, Mark Buckingham, John Totleben, Jim Aparo, Kevin Nowlan, Jaosn Little, Michael Allred, Eric Shanower, Terry Austin and Arthur Adams.
The story begins with a prologue in Berlin, shortly after the end of World War II. Blackhawks Janos Prohaska and Weng Chan go rooting through rubble, searching for a lost weapon. They come across the remains of the Justice Society of America, although they do not realize who these people are. We see Sandman, and the remains of Hawkman’s wings, but it’s Alan Scott’s lantern that grabs Weng’s interest, and he takes it with him.
Jumping to the present day, Hal is feeling lost and alone, and turns to Clark for a shoulder to cry on. Lois Lane wrangles the two into attending a gallery opening that night.
Catwoman makes a cameo, running into Hal. But the catkin emerald she was interested in is not there, so Selina leaves. Exploring the gallery, Hal comes across the lantern, on display. He is fascinated. It’s a Green Lantern lantern, but not one he recognizes. He uses his ring to scan it.
Deadman comes across the confused heroes, and tells them they are dead. They aren’t. Not quite. But they have been pulled into the magical, somewhat sentient flame that powers Alan Scott’s lantern, and are between being alive and dead.
The Flame’s burst of energy draws the attention of the Phantom Stranger.
He convinces Hal that he does have the willpower to tame the wild magic of the flame, and get it back into its battery, dormant.
The final page makes it clear that this was intended for issue 642. The story printed there uses a similar marquee in its background.
Action Comics Weekly comes to an end with issue 642, a full-length crossover story. Superman, Green Lantern, Nightwing and Deadman are all involved, as well as Guy Gardner.
Elliot S Maggin scripts this tale, which opens with a flashback to the death of Abin Sur, and his selection of Hal Jordan as successor. In this version, we learn that Clark Kent was brought as a possible Lantern, but declined.
The art changes from chapter to chapter. The various creative teams are: Gil Kane, Steve Ditko and Art Thibert, Jim Aparo and John Nyberg, Curt Swan and Ty Templeton, Jim Mooney with Ian Akin and Keith Garvey, and Carmine Infantino and Kevin Nowlan.
Green Lantern is investigating an unusual military installation. The man in charge wants no spying eyes, and shoots Hal right in the chest. Hal lays dying, and his ring summons potential successors. It might summon a doctor as well, but apparently has given up on Hal.
Most of those chosen are not characters we know, have ever seen before, or will ever see again. Clark Kent is brought again, as is Nightwing.
Guy Gardner is selected as well, completely nonsensically. He has removed his ring temporarily, and the story treats this as if it means he is no longer a Green Lantern the second he takes off the ring, despite the mental connection between the ring and its wearer.
Deadman comes to see what all the fuss is about. This is all taking place in a millisecond. Deadman is able to converse somewhat with Hal, which makes sense. Superman can also communicate with Deadman, because he can sense this all happening at great speed. That really doesn’t explain why he can see Deadman at this event, but not in normal situations.
You can tell from the way I am picking at it that I did not enjoy this story. There was no likelihood that Hal was going to die, so the story was just pointless. That might have been ok if it were a lot of fun on the road, but it’s not. And so these weird errors, just sloppy writing by someone who can, and has done, better, annoy me.
After a lot of “what if this guy became Green Lantern?” Hal revives, and everyone is returned to what they were doing before.
About the only touch I like is the theatre marquee being changed in the final panel, reading Action – closed for renovations.
Action Comics returns in a few months, with an second annual to launch its return to a regular format.
And there is still just enough room on this blog that I can do an entry on the Neil Gaiman Action Comics Weekly story that never was.
Action 641 – The Demon and Phantom Lady end, a Human Target story, Superman makes peace, the Phantom Stranger and Wild Dog end
Superman gets the cover of the final issue of Action Comics Weekly to feature multiple stories, issue 641.
Morgan le Fay finds herself attacked by both Jason Blood and Etrigan in this final story by Grant, Pacella and Wray. Jason has her severed hand, which he throws right in her face. Etrigan’s demon fire is more useful, but less humiliating.
But Glenda and Randu are now trapped in Hell, with Jason determined to find them, just as Merlin’s torturer planned.
The story continues in the Demon’s own book, which begins in a few months.
Phantom Lady confronts her father in the final chapter of her series, by Strazewski, Austen and Martin. The photo shows Dee Tyler’s father as a young man, participating in lynching a black boy.
The father explains the circumstances of the photograph, and being dragged into the lynching against his will.
Dee understands her father’s explanation, so all is well between them. But a blinded Guerreheart vows revenge.
Phantom Lady does not get another solo series, but is next seen not too long down the road in the pages of Starman.
Mark Waid, Curt Swan and Dick Giordano share a fun little Human Target story, in which Christopher Chance takes the place of an Adam West-type actor, on a tv series clearly based on the old Batman show.
This story may well have been sitting in the DC files for a while. A Human Target story from many years earlier ended announcing a story with this title in the following issue, which never got printed.
The Human Target next appears in a one-shot special, corresponding to his short-lived tv series.
Superman’s tale of anger against Quraci immigrants comes to an end in this chapter, by Stern, Swan and Anderson. Unfortunately, Superman uses the lame reasoning that everyone in North America is an immigrant, an argument usually used by white supremacists against native rights.
Kupperberg and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez give the Phantom Stranger a final story, as a young boy manifests the power to make his wishes reality. Never a good thing, when an impulsive child can make their slightest whim come true.
The Phantom Stranger triumphs over the boy, making him realize how deadly his actions are to those he loves. But the Stranger also implies that he will force a control over the boy’s power, to prevent this happening again.
Phantom Stranger continues to appear regularly in both the Spectre and Swamp Thing.
Collins, Beatty and Nyberg bring the Wild Dog story to a close, as he follows the drug chain to the top of the corporate ladder.
Although the story makes nothing of this, one cannot help but notice that the dealers in direct contact are black, while the ones running it from above are white, exploiting those below them. Not that this makes much difference to Wild Dog, who mows down everyone in the meeting room.
Wild Dog does not return for about a decade, showing up next in the Lobo series.
Action 640 – Speedy ends, Glenda and Randu go to hell, a singer shows her gratitude, Phantom Lady gets the picture, and Wild Dog makes threats
Wild Dog gets the cover for Action 630.
Verheiden, Springer and McLaughlin bring the Speedy story to a close in this issue.
The actor has kept a tail on Speedy, but when he finally sees her dying brother, he realizes that no one is trying to embarrass him. That he has just been a jerk. The two brothers reconcile.
Speedy’s series comes to an end, teasing another case to come. Roy returns in the next Green Arrow annual, but we don’t see him working for this agency again.
Morgan le Fay gets the better of Etrigan in this chapter of Grant, Pacella and Wray’s Demon series.
Things are not looking good for Glenda and Randu either. They have followed a false trail, lead by the Philosopher’s Stone, and wind up entering Hell. Etrigan winds up imprisoned by Morgan le Fay, but she does not pay attention to Jason Blood. At this point, the Demon and Jason exist separately, and Jason sneaks up behind Morgan.
A dog sealed in unbreakable plastic and a man holding up the subway with a water pistol full of gasoline are the main problems that Hero Hotline have to deal with in this chapter, by Rozakis, DeStefano and Wray.
But the best moment is when the country singer, rescued in the previous issue, shows her appreciation, avoiding the muscly guy and going for the geek who actually saved her.
Phantom Lady breaks into Guerreheart’s estate in this chapter, by Strazewski, Austen and Martin.
She fights off dogs and guards, and hits the bad guy right in the face with her wrist laser. She gets the picture that is being used to blackmail her father. We do not see it, but Dee does, and is shocked.
Wild Dog continues his spree of vengeance in this chapter, by Collins, Beatty and Nyberg.
He heads after the big dealers, after getting their names from the gangster boy. Two headbangers have come to buy drugs, but get held as hostages by the dealers when Wild Dog breaks in. Wild Dog kills all but one of the drug lords, and the headbangers run for their lives.
Action 639 – Speedy at the hospice, Glenda and Randu at Wookey Hole, Hero Hotline helps out, Superman starts a new story, Phantom Lady blends in, and Wild Dog gets mad
Phantom Lady looks pretty proud of herself on the cover of Action 639.
Speedy shows that actors are not as impressive fighters in person in this chapter by Verheiden, Williams and McLaughlin.
Speedy tracks the actors brother to an AIDS hospice, which is being picketed by right-wingers.
The Demon is not the main character in this installment of Grant, Pacella and Wray’s story. Glenda and Randu are in focus, as they follow the Philosopher’s Stone to Wookey Hole.
There, as Merlin suffers, Morgan le Fay is restored to life, without her hand. But Etrigan is not completely absent, watching over her return.
A few different storylines are being followed through the Hero Hotline series, by Rozakis, DeStefano and Wray. A country music star has been kidnapped, and there is still that cat plotline.
But the story in focus this issue is a hostage taking at a liquor store.
Superman begins another, very brief, storyline before Action Comics Weekly ends. As before, Stern, Swan and Anderson are the creative team. The hero deals with racism against Quraci immigrants in the US.
Dee Tyler gets a good idea of what is bothering her father, the Attorney General, in this Phantom Lady installment, by Strazewski, Austen and Martin.
Her father is hosting a costume ball that night, and Phantom Lady proves to be a popular choice, making things easy for Dee, who follows some men to her father’s office, and learns that he is bring blackmailed.
Collins, Beatty and Nyberg continue with Wild Dog’s anti-crack campaign, hunting down the gangster boy who enticed the young kid into delivering drugs.
Wild Dog catches up to him right after the guy has had sex, which leaves him in a very vulnerable position. A few shots to the crotch is all it takes for him to give up the name of the man above him.
Action 638 – Speedy confronts intolerance, the Demon takes the bait, a new hero gets a name, Superman addresses his flock, Phantom Lady in combat, and Wild Dog loses his cool
Yes, that really is a Kirby Demon cover on Action 638.
Speedy continues his search for a missing man in this Verheiden. Williams and McLaughlin story.
Roy goes to question the man’s brother, and action movie star. When Speedy tells the man his brother has AIDS, the man accuses Speedy of lying to create a scandal.
Grant, Pacella and Wray continue the Demon story, as Jason Blood calls on Etrigan to fight the monster that emerges from Sillbury Hill.
Glenda Mark and Randu Singh also head to England, concerned about Jason. None of the three realize that they are doing exactly what Morgan le Fay intended, but we learn this, as does Merlin, as he is being tortured.
Rozakis, DeStefano and Schaffenberger give the new guy a hero name in this Hero Hotline chapter, as he heads out on his first mission, to get a cat out of a tree.
Nancy and Sluggo appear to cameo as Hot Shot (as he comes to be known) shoots fire at the poor cat. It works. But geez.
Darkseid heads back to Apokolips, to have fun torturing and tormenting the Consortium. Superman is left to address his followers, insisting that they should not treat him as a god.
It doesn’t really work. We see this religious cult again following the Death of Superman.
Phantom Lady continues her hunt for Guerreheart, the man causing problems for her father, in this chapter, by Strazewski, Austen and Martin.
Phantom Lady’s holographic images prove quite useful as she stands up against armed men. She even manages to capture one.
Wild Dog is in a bad mood in this story, by Collins, Beatty and Nyberg, after the shooting of the child. While his friends console him, and debate the situation, Wild Dog decides the time is right for drastic action.
Wild Dog bursts into a crack house, and sets it on fire.
Action 637 – Speedy on the case, the Demon heads to England, Hero Hotline debuts, Darkseid’s reward, Phantom Lady goes clubbing, and Wild Dog gets bloody
Speedy gets the cover and the lead story in Action 637.
Verheiden, Williams and McLaughlin have Speedy searching the unwelcoming parts of Los Angeles for his missing man.
He encounters a fair bit of hostility at the man’s former address, and learns that the guy he is searching for has AIDS.
Etrigan shows his stuff in this chapter, by Grant, Pacella and Wray. He is scary enough to get rid of the rival demon in the boy’s body. But that was all just a warm-up for the real story.
Glenda Mark sees the image of Morgan le Fay in the Philosopher’s Stone, and Jason follows Glenda’s vision to England.
Silbury Hill, the ancient artificial mound, erupts, revealing a mythic looking rider.
Bob Rozakis, Stephen DeStefano and Kurt Schaffenberger introduce a light-hearted new series, Hero Hotline, in this issue.
It’s a breezy and bouncy tale, as young Billy Lefferts, who has the power to emit fire, starts a new job at Hero Hotline. The name of the company is pretty self-explanatory. Call for a hero when you need one.
Stern, Swan and Anderson have Superman helpless against Darkseid. Having empowered both the Superman worhsippers, and the Consortium, out to destroy them, Darkseid is not pleased that the Consortium fared so poorly against Superman. So he sends them off to be tortured on Apokolips.
Strazewski, Austen and Martin have Phantom Lady hit the clubs in her second chapter. Her costume pretty much assures her entry anywhere.
But the club owner she questions proves to be of little help in finding out what is troubling her father. We do get to see some of her gear in this story, wrist lasers, and holographic images of herself.
Collins, Beatty and Nyberg helm this chapter of the Wild Dog story, as the young boy Jack offered a job to gets lured by the bigger money in the drug trade.
As a result, the boy is in a crack house when it gets raided by the police, and is shot during the siege.
Action 636 – Speedy and the Demon begin, the Phantom Stranger crushed by jazz, the villain in Superman revealed, Phantom Lady debuts, and Wild Dog returns
The Phantom Stranger is the one series that appears in Action 636 that does not make it onto the cover. Gotta feel bad for him.
Speedy finally moves into how own series, by Mark Verheiden and Louis Williams. The story begins with a brief recap of his early life, time with Green Arrow, and heroin addiction.
Roy needs a job to support him and Lian, and gets hired by a private investigator. He begins his hunt for a missing person.
Alan Grant, Mark Pacella and Bill Wray begin a Demon story, which follows events from his mini-series, with the death of Harry Matthews.
Jason Blood no longer wants anything to do with the Demon. He wanders around blaming Etrigan for everything in his life.
A woman’s child gets possessed, and she calls Jason to help. Though he doesn’t want to, he goes. He tries to exorcise the child himself, but fails.
So he does the only thing he can, and invokes Etrigan.
Andy Kibert joins Paul Kupperberg for a Phantom Stranger story that deals with the black musicans ruthlessly exploited by the white music industry. The protagonist is an elderly man, playing on the street for coins, whose recordings had made a company rich. When he encounters his old “partner” on the street, and the man ignores him, the musician seeks out vengeance.
It’s scary and sad, and beautifully rendered. In the end, the man doesn’t want millions, he just wants respect.
Stern, Swan and Anderson reveal that both sides of the Superman-as-god forces have been backed, and the powers and technology given, by Darkseid.
Dee Tyler, the new Phantom Lady makes her debut in this story by Lex Strazewski, Chuck Austen and Gary Martin. Dee has just graduated from an elite finishing school for women in Paris, which seems to be run by Sandra Knight, the origins Phantom Lady. Certainly, Dee has learned a lot more than math.
She returns home to Washington DC to discover that her father, the Attorney General, is under a lot of pressure, and criminal forces are involved.
Collins, Beatty and Nyberg return along with Wild Dog, for his third storyline of the run. This one is a very anti-drug story, centring on a young street kid.
Wild Dog finds the boy work which is honest, but dull and low-paying. A teenage gangster offers him big bucks to deliver drugs.