Posts tagged ‘Mike Grell’

Action 608 – Green Lantern on Oprah, Wild Dog in trouble, the Secret Six have trust issues, Deadman gets out of the jar, and Blackhawk ends

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Green Lantern looks very serious on the cover of Action 608.

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Peter David takes over the scripting on Green Lantern, with Tod Smith and Danny Bulanadi on art.

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Hal is quite late for the taping, to Oprah’s dismay.  He gets stopped along the way, fighting crime.  He does make it, though, and begins to answer Oprah’s questions.  When he tells the audience that he was chosen to be a Green Lantern because he is without fear, they break out in laughter, to his and Arisia’s dismay.

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Layman goes up another notch of evil in this Wild Dog chapter, by Collins, Beatty and Nyberg. Layman has implanted bombs in the suits of his men, to kill them before they can talk against him.

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Layman also gets the follower he has seduced to provide him an alibi.

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Meanwhile, Jack has been discovered to be friends with the reporter, and the investigating police officer.  Too dangerous to keep in the group, Jack is on the death list now.

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Mockingbird tries to turn the Secret Six against Rafael, but the young man bolts before the team can decide who to believe, in this Pasko/Spiegle story.

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As the Six debate, and decide that Rafael is more trustworthy than Mockingbird, we also see the set-up for their next mission, with contaminated pork products.

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Deadman makes it to the top of the mountain, and out of the hell jar in this chapter of the Baron/Jurgens/DeZuniga epic.

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Deadman does some body jumping to get out of the facility, and winds up in the body of the director of the CIA.  He has a big embassy function to attend that evening, which Deadman decides to attend.

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Grell, Burchett and Marcos bring the first Blackhawk storyline to a close in this issue.

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Massie gets killed by the Red Dragon, and Cynthia, really a nun, reveals that she came not for the treasure, but for a stolen religious artifact.

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That doesn’t matter much to Red Dragon, who scrambles her air fleet to take down Janos.  But the other Blackhawks arrive to save the day.  Well, Andre and Chuck do.

Blackhawk returns for another story arc further down the road.

 

Action 607 – Hal can’t win, Deadman and the Senseis, Wild Dog has a friend, Rafael meets the new team, and the Red Dragon’s real treasure

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A dramatic Secret Six cover on Action 607.

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Owsley and Smith continue to give Hal Jordan a hard time.  Even sleeping in is a chore, now that Arisia has discovered daytime television.

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Trying to be useful, Hal heads to the Middle East, and tries to stop fighting between the two sides, but his efforts are not appreciated.  He comes back home, distressed, and Arisia makes a joking suggestion that he go on Oprah to explain himself.  Hal thinks it’s a great idea.

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Deadman and D.B. Cooper climb the mountain in hell in this chapter, by Baron, Jurgens and DeZuniga.

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This chapter gets a bit confusing.  Deadman encounters the Sensei, and though Cooper insists they should not talk, they do.  The Sensei informs him that Cooper is really the Sensei.  Deadman defeats both Senseis, tossing them off the mountain, and then finds another D.B. Cooper.  Which kind of lets one just ignore the confusing chapter and move on.

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Wild Dog fights off the morality hit squad, as they try to blow up the newspaper print shop.  He succeeds, but the police are on the way.

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The reporter, Lou, comes to take Wild Dog away from the site before the police arrive, and Jack discovers that his friend knows his secret identity.

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Rafael invades the base of the new Secret Six.  He has to fight his way in, and winds up captured.  But seriously, what did he expect?  Pasko and Spiegle continue as the creative team.

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Rafael informs them of who he is, and that his father, Carlo the magician, was one of the original Secret Six.  This is the first the new team learn of the old one, and of their deaths.  As the story end, Mockingbird contacts the new team, warning them against trusting Rafael.

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The Blackhawk story, by Grell, Burchett and Marcos, has its penultimate chapter in this issue.

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As Janos goes after the treasure, Cynthis goes after something else entirely, a statue.  Massie confronts her, and calls her “sister.”  Before that can be explained, Blackhawk shows up, and fights with Massie again.

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Too much fighting, too much time.  Red Dragon knows something is up.

Action 606 – Hal has no friends, Rafael listens to Mockingbird, Deadman in hell, Superman worshipped, newspapers are evil, and Blackhawk in a cockfight

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Superman gets the cover of Action 606, so that means I will update what is going on in his 2-page series this issue.

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Owsley is joined by Tod Smith on the art as he searches for someone to share his troubles with.

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Hal goes to visit John Stewart, in prison for the murder of Carol Ferris. Hal can do nothing to clear him, and John is still pissed about Katma Tui’s death.

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Hal forces his way past Alfred and goes to see Bruce Wayne, but Batman, having recently lost Jason Todd, is not in a sociable mood.

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Hal doesn’t even manage to see Clark Kent in person, as he is swamped with work.

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Finally he turns to Green Arrow, who one would have expected Hal would have turned to first. But even Oliver Queen gives Hal the brush off.

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Pasko and Spiegle show the Secret Six what happens when they try to learn anything about Mockingbird, or even more about their mission than they are meant to know, as Mockingbird turns off their devices again.

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Meanwhile, Rafael has opened his father’s safe, and found a wristwatch.  It broadcasts Mockingbird’s messages, and Rafael learns that a new team was formed, and old team told they were going to train their successors.

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Baron, Jurgens and DeZuniga have a lot of fun in this chapter, as Deadman arrives in hell in a jar, pulled there by a creature who claims to be the devil.

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I think that the man Deadman spots, who is stated as being still alive, is meant to be Nixon, but it’s not a great rendering.  On the other hand, the hell supermarket is really fun.

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Deadman runs into D.B. Cooper, the infamous and never captured hijacker from the 70s.  He leads Deadman to a mountain, the only way out of hell.

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So what’s been going on in all the Stern, Swan and Beatty Superman chapters that I have skipped?  Not a lot, frankly.  Superman has come to the aid of a man in danger, and rescues him.  The man worships Superman, thinking he is a god.  Lots more to come with these, but I’ll probably just update the story every time Superman makes the cover.

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Collins, Beatty and Nyberg put one of Wild Dog’s best friends in danger, as he writes an article for his paper against Lyman and his moral crusaders.

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The fact that the newspaper wrote against him is proof of their evil, immoral way, and Lyman sends his goon squad out to blow up the paper, but Wild Dog shows up.

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Grell, Burchett and Marcos stage a fight for the alpha male status in Blackhawk, between Massie, the Red Dragon’s former lover, and Blackhawk.  Janos wins, and gets taken to the Dragon’s bedchamber as a reward.

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We also discover that Cynthia Hastings is not who she claims to be, and that she and Massie have a past.

 

Action 605 – Green Lantern enslaved, Deadman under glass, Wild Dog is faking it, Rafael asks questions, and Blackhawk dines with Red Dragon

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Deadman does not look happy about being the cover feature for Action 605.

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Owsley and Kane are joined by Donald Simpson and Dick Giordano, both doing inks, as the Star Sapphire storyline comes to a sudden end.

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We catch up with Hal Jordan, in chains on an alien world.

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The Star Sapphire’s spree of evil gets gut short when she is taken by the same alien slaver who captured Hal.

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Green Lantern’s ring returns to him, and between them, Hal and Carol are able to break free and return to Earth.  But then Star Sapphire disappears, and Hal has no idea what happened.  The reader has no idea what happened.  I’m not even sure the writer had any idea what happened, as this never gets directly resolved, and Star Sapphire does not return for years, not until Green Lantern’s next book, in the 90s.

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Baron, Jurgens and DeZuniga ship Deadman off to Washington DC in this chapter, sealed in the capsule, and visible to all.

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Thanks to an easy-to-scare guard, and an unstable platform, Deadman breaks free of his prison.

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But instead of getting out of there, he chooses to explore a bit, and finds an intriguing ancient jar, also under glass.  A voice in the jar invites him in, and though Deadman refuses, it turns out he doesn’t have a choice.

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Nope, Wild Dog isn’t dead.  He’s just playing possum to lure the morality murderers closer, before getting up and shooting them.

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With these two dead, Layman needs more men for his squad.  His background check on Jack Wheeler reveals that he is an ex-marine, so Jack is invited to join the group he has been fighting.

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Marty Pasko and Dan Spiegle give the spotlight briefly to Rafael, the son of Carlo, one of the original members of the Secret Six.  Mockingbird had been providing a rare serum to keep Rafael alive, back in the day, and so Rafael was one of the very few people who even knew of the Secret Six.  Now, with his father dead, he wants to find out what Mockingbird knew, and how much he was involved.

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The new team continue with their attack on the head of Technodyne. It goes very well.

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At a press conference, they air the tape they made of the terrified boy confessing, and expose the needless deaths the company caused.

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Grell, Burchett and Marcos make things look pretty dangerous for Blackhawk as this chapter begins.  The Red Dragon has him and Cynthia Hastings at her mercy.

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And Andre is still far too busy to be part of the story.

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The Red Dragon has heard of Blackhawk, and is intrigued that a famous war hero would so quickly have become a smuggler.  He offers to lend his skills to her organization, and the Dragon seem suitably impressed.

 

 

Action 604 – the murder of Carol Ferris, comic books are evil, becoming a movie monster, getting in the bottle and Andre’s busy

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Wild Dog gets the cover of Action 604.  No comment.

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Owsley and Kane put John Stewart on the hot seat in this story.  Because he was known as Green Lantern, he is implicated in the damage done by Hal Jordan during his fight with Star Sapphire.  As John is trying to explain, Hal’s ring suddenly lands on his finger, and puts him into costume.

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Carol Ferris has shown up to testify, and John accuses her of killing his wife.  It then appears that John suffocates Carol in the middle of the courtroom, before dozens of witnesses.  But John knows he is not causing that.

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Indeed, Carol is not dead, she just made it look that way, so now the police are after John.  What a bitch.

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John sends the ring back to find Hal, but maybe shouldn’t have done that, as he then gets arrested.  On the other hand, Hal in in chains on an alien planet, so he needs it as well.

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Collins, Beatty and Nyberg have the morality squad go after a comic book store in this one, blowing it up, and ensuring the hatred of all of the readers.

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Wild Dog catches up with them as they attack a truck driver for carrying porn mags, among the many other things in his shipment.  Wild Dog gets shot.

He does not die, I’m sorry to say.  There is more of his series coming.

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The Secret Six go after a teenage tech wizard, the president of Technodyne, in this chapter, by Pasko and Spiegle.  A few issues earlier, a small town was wiped out by the acid rain from a technodyne factory.

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The boy they are going after lives in a pleasure palace, and is a huge fan of horror films.  The “attack” on the boy is also a diversion, as the company’s records are raided.

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The boy is confronted by the killer from his favourite slasher series, and the Six get the information they need.  The new Six.  The bodies of the old Six have just been discovered…

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Baron, Jurgens and DeZuniga begin this Deadman chapter with a bang, as the spaceship bursts out of the pyramid.

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It just keeps flying up into space.  Deadman catches up and takes control of the terrified and confused CIA operative inside, but cannot figure out the controls.  He puts the man into a trance, and returns to Earth.

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That doesn’t work so well for him, as the CIA chief has her super-weapon.

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Now that she has Deadman bottled, I should probably start calling her by her name, Major Kasaba.

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Blackhawk puts his plan into operation thanks to Grell, Burchett, and Marcos.  Janos Prohaska and Cynthia Hastings fly into the Red Dragon’s territory, and pretend the plane has sprung a leak.

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Andre Blanc-Dumont gets brought into the series.  Or at least, an effort is made to do so.  He’ll be back when he is ready.

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And we end as Blackhawk meets the Red Dragon.

 

Action 603 – Green Lantern vs Star Sapphire, the Secret Six learn the rules, Deadman chats with a ghost, Wild Dog joins the group, and Blackhawk accepts the mission

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A sombre Blackhawk cover on Action 603.

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It’s pretty much non-stop action as Owsley and Kane have Hal Jordan catch up to his former lover, and murderer of Katma Tui, Star Sapphire.

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When it looks like Hal might win, Carol acts scared and possessed by the evil queen of the Zamarons, but that is just an act, and the story ends with Star Sapphire triumphant.

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As the old Secret Six burn in the wreckage of their plane, the new ones gather to find out what happened to their high tech gear, in this Pasko and Spiegle tale.

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The deal is that they will perform missions for Mockingbird, and not try to find out who he (or she) is.  As long as they do this, their devices will continue to function.  They begin their first mission.

But wait, how is Mockingbird giving them orders if Mockingbird was one of the original team, and the original team are dead?

How indeed?

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Baron, Jurgens and DeZuniga have a bit of a time out in this chapter.  Deadman and Talaoc start fighting, with Talaoc claiming to be a god (the god Talaoc, I betcha).

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Deadman insists that Talaoc is a ghost, and with some prompting, he recalls a life before the arrival of, what is clearer to us than to him, an alien spaceship.

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Which explains where the weapons come from, and that unusual sound emanating from under the pyramid.

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Collins and Beatty continue with Wild Dog, as he learns of the bombed bookstore.

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Though he talks about morals and purity, Lyle Layman has no problem cozying up to a widow, one of his followers.

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Wild Dog is not sure if the bomber is Layman, or just one of his devotees, so he joins the group as himself, Jack Wheeler.

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Grell, Burchett and Marcos lay out the plot in this chapter of the Blackhawk story. There is a stolen cache of gold, lost during the last days of World War II in the far east, and now most likely in the possession of a notorious smuggler and thief, the Red Dragon.

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Blackhawk and Cynthia head to the hangar to get his ship. They will pose as rumrunners, aiming to get captured by the Red Dragon, and go from there.

Action 602 – the funeral of Katma Tui, Deadman sees a ghost, Wild Dog and the crusader, the Secret Six get murdered, and Blackhawk checks for tags

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Excellent Green Lantern cover on Action 602, though not really related to his story.

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Owsley and Kane deal with the consequences of Katma Tui’s murder, which John Stewart blames Hal for, indirectly.

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Arisia and Kilowog join the two men at Katma’s funeral, which gets crashed by a gloating Star Sapphire.  She and Hal fight it out.

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Baron, Jurgens and DeZuniga continue the Deadman story.  The CIA chief is surprised to be able to see Deadman, as surprised as he is to be seen.  But she is the one who goes on the attack, with an odd weapon that is able to hurt him.

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Hiding inside another person does not help, she can see that as well – perhaps even the way the reader can, with a glowing outline.  But the CIA chief also has a spirit inside of her.

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And this spirit looks far more suited to the ancient pyramid than anyone else.

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Collins, Beatty and Nyberg introduce the villain for this first Wild Dog storyline.

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Lyle Layman is leading a conservative crusade, spouting all the usual moralistic garbage as a justification for oppression. And, in this story, for fire-bombing a porn store.  He has a devoted following, willing to turn his words into deeds, no matter how violent.

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Pasko and Spiegle introduce us further to the new Secret Six.  Each one has suffered some debilitating ailment or injury, which prevents them from continuing with their careers.  Mockingbird offers them all high tech gear that will overcome these problems.

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At the same time, the original group gather for drinks as they await word from Mockingbird, who has a plane trip lined up for them.

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The new team head home with their devices, which abruptly stop working.  But they are still better off than the original team, who discover their plane has been rigged to crash.

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Grell, Burchett and Marcos show almost all there is to Blackhawk as he fights off four men.

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After defeating them, he gets down to business with the woman who came to hire him, Cynthia Hastings.

 

Action 601 – Green Lantern, Wild Dog, Secret Six, Deadman and Blackhawk begin, and Superman gets two pages

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Action becomes Action Comics Weekly with issue 601, running six different features in each issue.  It was not as successful as had been hoped.  The experiment lasted for less than a year, and the comic returned to it’s former format.

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Green Lantern was really the mainstay of this weekly book.  After the cancellation of the Green Lantern Corps series, Hal moved here, now one of the few people to still bear a Green Lantern ring.

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Hal had never managed his alternate identity well, and finds himself sharing John Stewart’s apartment.  This is made more awkward because John’s wife, Katma Tui, and Hal’s current girlfriend, Arisia, are also sharing the tiny suite.

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As Hal is out one day fighting some criminals, Star Sapphire comes to the Stewart apartment, seeking vengeance.  She finds Katma Tui.  Close enough.  Carol Ferris murders Katma Tui.

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Max Collins, Terry Beatty and John Nyberg continue to relate the adventures of their creation, Wild Dog.  He had debuted the previous year in his own miniseries.

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This series never really worked for me.  Wild Dog was a gun-toting vigilante, dressed as though he were a serial killer.  The art never really seemed to compliment the series.

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The Secret Six get a surprising revival, by Marty Pasko and Dan Speigle.  A short-lived spy series from the late 60’s, the Secret Six had only appeared in the History of the DC Universe since the cancellation of their book.  This strip picks up their lives many years later, aging them all.

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The six, very different, people had all been blackmailed into becoming the Secret Six by Mockingbird, who was really one of them.  Now, so many years later, Mockingbird has summoned them all again.

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Mockingbird also gathers a new group of people.  As well, we see some shady doings by the Technodyne Corporation.

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The Superman series, by Stern, Swan and Beatty, will likely get the least coverage of the various Action Comics Weekly series in my blog.  It is confined to the centre spread in each issue, and done as is it were three newspaper daily strips, though in colour.  In the first chapter, Superman comes to help a man who calls for aid.

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Mike Baron, Dan Jurgens and Tony DeZuniga begin a really wild and enjoyable Deadman storyline in this issue, in a very low-key way.  Set shortly after the events in his recent miniseries, Deadman is feeling sort of lost and aimless.

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He winds up poking around an archaeological dig in Central America, which the CIA have taken away from the academics.  Deadman is shocked when the head of the CIA operation is able to see him.

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By far the best strip to run in this weekly book is the Blackhawk one, by Grell, Burchett and Marcos, continuing in the style of the recent Blackhawk miniseries by Howard Chaykin.

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The first installment is spent mostly setting up the post-World War II environment that the adventures will take place in.  A woman comes to hire Blackhawk, who is already proving how tough he is by fighting four men from his bathtub.

Action 458 – Blackrock debuts, and Green Arrow and Black Canary end

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A rival network, and all that entails, are introduced by Maggin, Swan and Blaisdel in Action 458 (April 1976).

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UBC has been causing a lot of problems for Morgan Edge.  We discover that they have lured a number of anchors away from WGBS, including Lola Barnett.  But the one thing WGBS has that UBC doesn’t is a super-hero.  The head of the network, Tanner, orders the company scientist, Peter Silverstone, to create one.  We see Silverstone fashion the gear and the costume, and decide on who the person inside must be.

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But neither the reader nor Superman has any idea who is beneath the mask as this new hero appears, during a robbery by a vacuum truck.  Superman mistakes the man for a criminal, and they wind up in a brief fight.  This new hero can travel through the airwaves, and channel them through a miniature tv aerial he carries.

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The story uses parallel structure well, as in the second robbery by the vacuum truck.  Superman follows the radio control waves to the truck’s operator, while the new hero deals with the truck directly. Both believe they are responsible for the victory.

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The new hero than manifests in Lola Barnett’s office at UBC, and she christens him Blackrock.  About time. Was getting tedious avoiding using his name.

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The issue concludes with some more pleasing parallel structure, as Edge and Tanner both freak out, wanting to know more about Blackrock.

The story concludes in the next issue.

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Black Canary really loses it in the final back-up story that she shares with Green Arrow, by Maggin and Grell.

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Luthor attempts to hypnotize Canary into killing Green Arrow, but it backfires, and she gets hypnotized into killing Luthor, and really tries.  He barely escapes with his life.

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When Green Arrow finally arrives, he is far more concerned with calming Dinah down, and bringing her back to herself.  Luthor gets away, and a note informs us that he can be found next in the Joker’s book, where they work together.  For part of it.

As for Green Arrow and Black Canary, they head back into Green Lantern’s series, as that gets revived.

And the Nutty Kid actually does sort of resemble Jerry Lewis in the final panel.

 

Action 457 – Jon Ross debuts, and the Nutty Kid revealed

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Not even going to talk about the cover of Action 457 (March 1976). Shooting fish in a barrel.

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A villain and a supporting cast member are both introduced in this story, by Gerry Conway, Curt Swan and Tex Blaisdel.  Whirlcaine, with the powers of a whirlwind and a hurricaine, proves to be an interesting, if minor, villain over the next few years,  Jon Ross would be a much more significant player than this story implies.

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The boy is introduced as dying of some ridiculous disease that has no symptoms, and can be cured by Superman revealing his identity.  There is a story from the 1940s with a similar premise. But that was the 1940s.  Pete Ross, his old high school buddy, is Jon’s father, and asks Superman to reveal his identity.  The great irony, although not explained till the end of the story, is that Pete Ross has known Clark was Superboy(man) since they were kids, but Clark never knew.

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Superman reveals that he is Clark Kent, but Jon Ross does not believe him.

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In the story’s best scene, he tries to prove it by taking Jon to the WGBS office, and showing him how everyone believes that he is Clark.  But Steve Lombard overhears, and misunderstands, the plan, and exposes Superman.

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I alos love the intelligent touch in having Superman wrap Jon in his invulnerable cape when he winds up having fight, and defeat Whirlcaine.

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In the end, Jon proves to himself that Clark is Superman, by the lack of normal bathroom crap.  Lazy, Clark.  You should have known better.

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Maggin and Grell have the middle chapter of their Nutty Kid story, and it largely belongs to Black Canary.  She had disguised herself as a clown to get on the helicopter with the kidnappers.  Her identity gets exposed, and she id forced to fight them while still in the air.

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Green Arrow is racing to reach her, but Dinah has already beaten the bad guys, when she “saves” the Nutty Kid, who turns out to be Lex Luthor in disguise.

 

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