skjam: Man in blue suit and fedora, wearing an eyeless mask emblazoned with the scales of justice (Default)
[personal profile] skjam posting in [community profile] scans_daily
...There was "Action Comics Weekly", DC's first attempt at a weekly comic book. It was an anthology comic somewhat on the model of 2000 AD, several continuing stories each week, with seven page chapters (and a two-page Sunday comics spread for Superman.) There were several interesting projects done during this run--I especially liked the new Secret Six they had. Sadly, sales and logistics reasons meant that the experiment lasted less than a year.

Love that Kirby art, though I think this might have been an inventory piece DC had lying around. 2 1/3 pages from each of the seven-page storiesin Action Comics Weekly #638 (2/7/89), one double-page spread, and a special treat!

Yep, this is Roy Harper before he got "upgraded" to Arsenal.

The next page reveals the reason Speedy's taking this case personally. It seems he once did drugs, and AIDS can be spread by shared needles, like he used back when he was doing heroin. "There but for the grace of God"...he's feeling down, and only one thing can make him feel better--Hooking up with the woman he briefly met last issue. Or at least she's willing on the phone.

But no time to celebrate potentially getting laid, as the plot kicks back in. Two large gentlemen in a black limo want Speedy to meet their employer, regarding the Lossner investigation. There's a Corinthian leather joke. At the employer's mansion, Speedy is decidedly unimpressed, Roy hung out with Ollie back in the wealthy playboy days after all. His host turns out to be Sean Bauman, one of Hollywood's top action stars.

Bauman, perhaps suffering from 'roid rage, leaps to the conclusion that Speedy is working for one of the tabloids to smear him by claiming that his brother is gay. (This was back when having gay relatives could in theory ruin your career.) Bauman's bodyguards start working Roy over.

Roy scolds Bauman for caring more about his public image than his brother, and throws off the guards.

Speedy escapes to the backyard, which is a small forest. He stumbles across the garage and decides to...borrow...a motorcycle in aid of escaping quickly. But not quickly enough, as Bauman has had time to change into camo pants and a headband, and acquire a semi-automatic rifle.

From relevance to mysticism, as we turn to Jack Kirby's Demon.

Jason Blood's supporting cast, Glenda and Randu, are getting on a plane at Gotham Airport. The customs officer is puzzled by the mystic stone in Glenda's luggage, but she passes it off as a pet rock.

Meanwhile, Jason himself is driving in England, investigating something related to Morgan le Fay. Suddenly a demonic-looking warrior springs from the very earth itself.

Etrigan heals Jason Blood with fire, and the exorcist proceeds to hitch a ride.

This has all been observed by Belial, a demon that's captured Merlin and is slowly bleeding him of his power (and blood.) It then turns its attention to London's Heathrow Airport, where Glenda and Randu are disembarking. This time the pet rock story fails to convince the customs officer, as the mystic stone starts glowing. Randu is forced to resort to the Jedi mind trick to get them out of there. In the stone, Glenda sees what appears to be a hideously twisted version of Morgan le Fay.

And now we turn to "Hero Hotline". The premise of this one is that a mysterious "Coordinator" has hired a number of low-powered heroes that go out on missions as requested by the job too small. It's an ensemble piece, not unlike Hill Street Blues or Saint Elsewhere. Which also means that cutting it up is even more damaging than to a single-hero story.

Anyhow, it's early in the day at Hero Hotline HQ, and a captured felon turns out not to have been thoroughly frisked. He has a straight razor, and grabs the first young woman who comes in the door as a hostage. This proves to be a mistake, as she karate chops his razor in two with her diamond hard fingers.

The fellow with the goggles, Les, has vision powers. The bearded fellow, Sturgis, is just really strong and has trouble deciding on a codename. Today he's "Flex." They're investigating the disappearance of Melanie Boulder, a buxom country-western singer, at a meat-packing plant. They start their search.

Back at HQ, there's an assignment for Microwavabelle and Voiceover. Mrs. Jackson is also known as "Microwave Mom"; her control of microwaves makes her quite powerful, but since she's a widowed mother of small children, she can only do the hero thing part-time. Mr. Greenwald has the ability to imitate sounds and throw his voice, and is rather more egotistical than his utility as a crimefighter will support. Seems there's a liquor store robbery in progress. Mrs. Jackson has a bit of a mad on for liquor store robbers, since one of them killed her husband and was never caught.

Naturally, the cat lands on top of Stretch and takes its terror out on him. Stretch is unpleased with the rookie, but the kids are happy, and the Coordinator is satisfied with the results.

Back at the meat packing plant, Flex and Les come up to a meat locker door that's being guarded by a sour-faced fellow. He assures them that "that hell-spawned harlot" did not come this way, nope, he hasn't seen that "siren of Satan." Failing to catch on to the obvious conversational clues, the heroes backtrack to see if the singer could have used a different route. We then see inside the meat locker, where Melanie Boulder is huddled against the cold.

Sorry about this next scan, but my scanner is just a tinge too small to get it all. This storyline was notable for being the first time the notion of people worshipping Superman like unto a god was done seriously.

And now for your viewing pleasure, Phantom Lady! This version was Dee Tyler, the daughter of a Washington bigwig. (I'm not sure how long she lasted before being replaced in the role.)

The Capitol Building, night. (I don't think the coloring does a very good job of conveying the nighttime lighting.) Roger, aide to Dee's father, is moping about his attraction to her. Just then, Dee, in costume, comes rushing out of a cab and bumps into him. (This knocks off her trademark shades.) He instantly recognizes her, despite the "disguise", but there's no time to talk about that, because terrorists have captured the Vice-President and Speaker of the House and are marching them down the front steps.

Roger wants the cabbie to call the cops, but Dee realizes that this is the sort of situation ideally suited to a barely-trained woman in a skimpy costume and a congressional aide with a pistol. As long as that skimpy costume comes with a hologram generator.

Phantom Lady dropkicks the power armor, and discovers that she's not, in fact, Magnus Robot Fighter. owie. Bullets don't do much to the Unitank either. The cabbie gets the hostages to take his car while he stalls the remaining terrorists. The cabbie goes down quickly, but not before the hostages manage to escape.

Dee manages to stop the remaining terrorists from using their getaway van by creating a hologram of an oncoming vehicle, the terrorists crash while trying to avoid it. The armored terrorist finally gets his helmet off and blabs that "Guerrehart" is the leader of the arms smuggling ring Les Mille Yeux. This confirms Dee and Roger's suspicions, but now how to prove it without the scandal destroying her father?

And from sci-fi tinged heroics to a somewhat more realistic street-level story...

Sadly, the raid, even outside killing an innocent bystander, didn't accomplish much; the crack house will doubtless quickly be filled by another gang. Worse, nothing is hapening to get to the big shots of the drug rings, who the reporter suspects have paler skins.

That evening, the reporter, Lou, is watching a crack house (perhaps the same one) which is doing heavy business. Jack, the blond guy, shows up in his Wild Dog persona, and offers Lou some exclusive pictures.

He's decided to start climbing the ladder here at the bottom rung. Politely knocking on the door and requesting entry fails to work, so--

In the next room Wild Dog sees a man about to light a crack pipe, splashes gasoline on him (as the building starts to burn) and jokes that smoking is hazardous to your health.

And now a treat. As it happens, I bought this issue from Len Strazewski, the author of the Phantom Lady feature, (his signature is on the cover) and Philip Moy was only a couple of tables down and just happened to have an empty commission queue. Mr. Moy told me this is the first time anyone's asked him for Phantom Lady--and this version is pretty rare to see in any case....Enjoy!

Your thoughts, questions and comments?
( --see my fiftieth birthday approaching!)

Date: 2011-06-12 03:49 am (UTC)
silverzeo: (Default)
From: [personal profile] silverzeo
So this means Action comics cheated it's 900 issues?

Date: 2011-06-12 03:54 am (UTC)
aaron_bourque: default (Default)
From: [personal profile] aaron_bourque
Not exactly. They've been continuously published . . .

Date: 2011-06-12 04:22 am (UTC)
silverzeo: (Default)
From: [personal profile] silverzeo
Hard work that has been ignored, forgotten, and pretty much wasted...

Date: 2011-06-12 04:17 am (UTC)
star_of_airdrie: (Junkie)
From: [personal profile] star_of_airdrie
God Roy, what have they done to you? There was always so many layers and in many ways he was flawed in a way that made him so real.

Well, the new book looks good, we'll see the reboot jump on (or off) point

(and having done AIDS hospice it's wonderful how I'd forgotten so much of all the early crap... still so far to go... hopping off soap box now, won't mention the cutbacks effecting retroviral research grrrrrrrr)

Date: 2011-06-12 04:48 am (UTC)
crinos: (Default)
From: [personal profile] crinos
I actually read some of hero hotline.

One of the members is a Soccer mom with Microwave manipulating powers, I remember in one issue a gun toting maniac takes over a school bus with her kids on it, when she finds out she goes down there, and microwaves the contents of the guys stomach (not fatal, but it does give him a bad stomach ache.)

Date: 2011-06-12 05:46 am (UTC)
heckfire: (Default)
From: [personal profile] heckfire
That's...actually a pretty creative way of stopping a criminal. One for the notebook, at least.

Date: 2011-06-12 05:59 am (UTC)
khaosworks: (Default)
From: [personal profile] khaosworks
My favourite strip in Action Comics Weekly was actually the Secret Six continuation. Wish I still had those issues.

Date: 2011-06-12 07:58 am (UTC)
icon_uk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] icon_uk
AFAIK, Dee was Phantom Lady right up until the start of Infinite Crisis, where she was stabbed through the chest by Deathstroke in a scene that not even Perez art can make less distasteful.

Date: 2011-06-12 01:18 pm (UTC)
kenn_el: Northstar_Hmm (Default)
From: [personal profile] kenn_el
And not only is Deathstroke a 'fan favorite', but he's getting his very own title in the Nu U!

Date: 2011-06-12 08:19 am (UTC)
icon_uk: (Katie Cook Doug)
From: [personal profile] icon_uk
I also LOVED the concept of Hero Hotline, metahumans (et al) who are happy to use their powers in small, useful ways as specialist consultants rather than frontline heroes.

I always felt that at least one of the New Mutants should have taken a similar role. Graduating from the school, but realising the heroic life is a little on the risky side, but that integrating mutants into society can be done in any number of ways and something akin to Hero Hotline would have been ideal, a sort of "X-ecutive Placement" scheme.

And yes, I DID have an organiser in mind... something to occupy his free time after his OS outsells Windows, Apple and StarkTech OS2, and whose power is a testament to the possible commercial applications of mutancy.

Date: 2011-06-12 04:45 pm (UTC)
icon_uk: (Doug)
From: [personal profile] icon_uk
Aww, you guessed! :D

Date: 2011-06-12 07:50 pm (UTC)
stubbleupdate: (Default)
From: [personal profile] stubbleupdate
House to Astonish does something similar with their Official Handbook of the Official Handbook to the Marvel Universe

Date: 2011-06-13 11:38 pm (UTC)
icon_uk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] icon_uk
Could you elaborate please?

Date: 2011-06-14 06:14 am (UTC)
stubbleupdate: (Default)
From: [personal profile] stubbleupdate
The Official Handbook to the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe is where the House to Astonish team take an obscure and bizarre character from the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe and repackage them for the modern Marvel era.

Usually this involves some element of consultant work.

Date: 2011-06-12 11:07 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] hybrid2
I have a few of those.

It made me realy like Wild Dog.

Shame I never got the whole stories.

Date: 2011-06-12 12:18 pm (UTC)
blackruzsa: (Default)
From: [personal profile] blackruzsa
These look pretty nice. Huh.

Date: 2011-06-12 11:45 pm (UTC)
nezchan: From Super Friends (heh)
From: [personal profile] nezchan
It totally looks like Roy's being assaulted by He-Man there.

Date: 2011-06-13 06:45 am (UTC)
01d55: Jigglypuff (Default)
From: [personal profile] 01d55
So in that mad dog comic, the hero burns a black man to death for being addicted to cocaine?

Date: 2011-06-13 08:21 pm (UTC)
halloweenjack: (Default)
From: [personal profile] halloweenjack
That's a pretty wild mix of creators and characters; I can't remember if I bought any. (Didn't one of the covers to this series have Superman holding miniature versions of the characters, drawn by Dave Gibbons?) Austen's Phantom Lady reminds me of some of the porn comics that he used to draw.

I did get the Wild Dog limited series, and it was a big disappointment. Collins and Beatty had had a decent hit with their previous comic, Ms. Tree, and seemed to think that this character was something special as a quote-endquote "realistic" vigilante (which led to a slapfest with the Comics Journal, which gave it a very snarky review), but Wild Dog seemed like one of the vigilante-wannabes that Frank Castle kills at the end of the Punisher miniseries Welcome Back, Frank.

Date: 2011-06-13 11:41 pm (UTC)
icon_uk: (Pizzazz Misfits Jem)
From: [personal profile] icon_uk
I like the Phantom Lady the introduced here, and IIRC she has an interesting array of abilities, her bracelets and cape clasp being holographic projectors so she could use illusion, mirages, lasers and her invisibility... Sort of a combat Jem! :D


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