Sunday, August 11, 2013

365 Comics...221: Action Comics Weekly #622 (1988)

I reviewed the highly amazing podcast-to-comic Thrilling Adventure Hour anthology over in Thor's Comic Column this week at, and I kick off the review talking about my distaste of the anthology... which I'm sure the 10s of you who read this blog would be throwing a puzzled look at given the amount of attention I've been heaving towards Action Comics Weekly.  But what I say about anthologies there, that they're largely a mixed bag, and largely unmemorable, comes squarely back to ACW.  There's not a lot in this train wreck of an anthology worth celebrating, but it's fascinating to me nonetheless, as it's a rare experiment from a major publisher that they gave a fighting chance to.  Not that DC didn't do anthologies in the past, the 70's were riddled with them, including Word's Finest, Superman Family, Adventure Comics, All-Star Western and tonnes more, but they never did them weekly.  ACW was DC's answer to the bi-weekly Marvel Comics Presents, an ongoing anthology that had 3 concurrent story arcs and a stable lynchpin character (Wolverine) drawing the reader in.

Green Lantern front-loaded every issue while Superman maintained the 2-page center spread.  Green Lantern (as I've mentioned numerous times) was a disaster, and the Superman story (which I believe is one full story from the start of ACW through to its end) never gains any momentum because of its format.  Last issue James Owsley returned as writer of Green Lantern, with frequent collaborator Mark Bright (Quantum and Woody, Icon) along for the ride  ignoring everything that happened in the dire Peter David stretch, and promptly adding the game changer of blowing up Hal Jordan's power battery.  Left with 24 hours on his power ring, this issue Hal is off in space contemplating who he can turn to for help, and plays out three eye rolling scenarios of dealing with Superman in his head.  After the promising turn-around last issue, this one's head-shakingly bad.  And, though the cover image is false, the proclamation of "Green Lantern Cleans Up!" is true, as he has to gather all the pieces of his shattered power lantern.

Wild Dog's second arc finished off its run with Wild Pup winding up in the hospital after getting stabbed, and despite my eye-rolling at much of the "Wild Pup" arc it's a pretty tight finale, I'll admit.  The finale to the Blackhawk arc, however, is quite abrupt (it feels more like they're taking a break in order to catch up, rather than it being the convenient time in the plot to do so).  The Secret Six still remains my favourite feature in the book (26 years running in the top spot, though judging from the harsh reader feedback in every letter column, I think I was/am in the minority on this one), and I'm buzzing as we barrel towards the reveal of who Monarch actually is.  And finally, an unscheduled break for the Baron/Jones Deadman arc (at least I think it's unscheduled as I kind of tuned out of the Deadman story last ish) an 80's Starman interlude exploring Fox News style "fair and balanced" punditry on "pseudo-heroes" and their negative societal impact by Roger Stern and Tom Lyle.  It's a decent idea, and not executed badly but the superhero side (eg, the stuff with Starman in it) is pretty weak (80's Starman was kind of a dud).

Reading quality of this issue, I'd say about 45%.
Reader's poll rankings:
1. Secret Six
2. Wild Dog
3. Blackhawk
4. Starman
5. Green Lantern
6. Superman

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