Also, one of the Blackhawk stories took place in my hometown of Oxnard, so that totally should be reprinted.

§ February 21st, 2014 § Filed under dc comics § 19 Comments

So at the shop the other day, we were briefly talking about Action Comics Weekly, that late ’80s run of Action from issue #601 through #642 where it was an anthology title featuring DC characters both famous and not-so-much. Mostly, we were discussing the fact that, as far I can remember, almost none of the material from these comics has been reprinted. We’ve had the Nightwing: Old Friends, New Enemies trade paperback reprinting the two serials from this series, but that’s about it.

Some of the material is past its sell date: that Captain Marvel serial spinning off from the Shazam! The New Beginning mini will probably never be seen again, unless someone actually decides to make a trade of that mini which includes the serial as “bonus material.” And, you know, never say never.

But there’s a lot of Green Lantern material in those issues, stories written by Christopher Priest (as “James Owsley”) and Peter David, and at least one storyline drawn by legendary GL artist Gil Kane. DC hasn’t been shy about dipping into their GL comics backlog to reprint for their trade paperback line, so it’s a little surprising that these stories haven’t made it into some book or another.

With the character popping up occasionally on the TV show Arrow, now might be a good time for that Black Canary ACW series to see print again.

Speaking of Arrow, I’ve had requests for solo Speedy comics lately, which are purt’near impossible to come by. There was that Speedy team-up with Nightwing that’s reprinted in the trade paperback mentioned at the beginning of this post, but there’s another solo Speedy serial in this series as well. (Say that five times fast.)

There are a handful of Phantom Stranger stories, including at least one drawn by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez. Okay, it’s not likely a reprint of these is particularly viable, even with a Phantom Stranger series currently on the racks, but I like the Phantom Stranger so let me dream my little dream here. (Same with all that Deadman material in ACW.)

And then there’s the “Sunday Pages” segment in each issue…the two-page centerspread starring Superman and drawn by Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson. That’s about 80 pages or so of unreprinted Swanderson artwork hiding in this run of weekly comics, not reprinted on nice paper with one full strip per page to avoid losing artwork in the gutter of a trade paperback.

A lot of this work would fit nicely (with room left over for related reprints) into those DC Comics Presents mini-trades, the 100-page prestige format comics priced at $7.99. They’d mostly vanished of late, though that Harley Quinn volume just came out a week or so ago.

I’m sure there are many marketing and editorial reasons why Action Comics Weekly‘s content has remained mostly untouched for republication. And I know DC has plenty of worthwhile material that also hasn’t been reprinted yet, so why should I think ACW is so special? (Again, I’m working on my memory that most of it hasn’t been reprinted…if I’m wrong, let me know!) It just seems odd that in the 25 years since its release, the majority of this material remains languishing, forgotten and ignored, in back issue bins. Like all anthologies, it contained its share of duds, but there was plenty of good, enjoyable work in those comics by solid creative teams.

Plus, there’s probably still at least some potential audience for ACW’s Wild Dog serial.

19 Responses to “Also, one of the Blackhawk stories took place in my hometown of Oxnard, so that totally should be reprinted.”

  • Snark Shark says:

    “Christopher Priest (as “James Owsley”)”

    anyone know why he used a pen name?

    ” why Action Comics Weekly‘s content has remained mostly untouched for republication. ”

    lack of interest? Though it was of least of better quality than MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS (weekly). Half of that was file story crapola!

  • Old Bull Lee says:

    I have this same feeling when reading my back issues. So much current crap is instantly in a trade, while past gold is ignored.

    I actually liked the Wild Dog miniseries.

  • John Platt says:

    I re-read Wild Dog a couple of years ago. It still stands up as smart satire.

  • caleb says:

    I bought a big stack of these from 50-cent bin a few years and was reviewing my way through them and…got distracted and stopped (still have about 12 to go yet).

    Most seemed pretty dated, some in a funny way (The Deadman story has ghosts and devils possessing Nancy Regan at one point, I think) some in a Whoo boy is THIS hard to read way (That version of the Secret Six).

    From the ones I read, the GL stuff seems viable based on the creators you mentioned, but I think the very best stories were the Blackhawk ones. At least of the issues I’ve read. I don’t know what DC’s done with the Blackhawk material in general, but there seems to be enough of it for a massive trade or SHOWCASE PRESENTS. (A SHOWCASE PRESENTS ACTION COMICS WEEKLY would actually be pretty awesome, but I don’t know how the legal logistics would work)

  • Thelonious_Nick says:

    ““Christopher Priest (as “James Owsley”)”

    anyone know why he used a pen name?”

    I’ve heard various theories over the years but to my knowledge this is the only response
    he’s ever given in public. I.e., it’s a personal matter, and he doesn’t care to discuss it.

  • Darren says:

    The jewel of this run is the first pairing of Mike Baron and Kelley Jones on Deadman, predating the two prestige format series.

  • Carl W. says:

    Mike, I am about to solve both of your problems at once! Nightwing: Old Friends, New Enemies was released rather recently. I read it for the first time in December and as you may recall, it is a bit of a de facto Speedy solo. You’re welcome!

  • Snark Shark: Priest is not his given name, as T_N mentions above. I’ve seen Owsley’s name as late as (I think) a Black Canary 12 issue comic in the mid 90s, as well as all (or most) of THE RAY mini-series. He wrote as Owsley on a lot of Marvel comics.

    The closest I heard to a reason for the name change, and this was something he actually said in a letter column, was along the lines of :if I ever got divorced, I would become a priest.” At the time he wrote that, when in World Wide Web was new, it took me awhile to even figure out that he “was” James Owlsley.

  • I. e., if someone asked why the name change, I never caught on because Priest never mentioned his real name.

  • Bill D. says:

    IIRC, a lot of important-to-late-80s/early-90s-Green-Lantern lore happens in those ACW stories, too, particularly involving John Stewart, Katma Tui, and Carol Ferris/Star Sapphire. But I think that’s also the run where Ollie tells the down-on-his-luck Hal to get a life, and I can’t imagine a DC with Geoff Johns in a position of power ever reprinting something that would portray Hal in such a bad light (ouch, sorry).

  • Ron Hogan says:

    I remember the Blackhawk stuff was spinning right out of the Chaykin series, so there was a further attempt to plunk the ‘hawks into a more historically/politically accurate post-war era, which at one point boiled down to them running into Kim Philby?

  • Mikester says:

    Carl W. – This is going to sound like a smart-alecky question but I swear it’s not…when you saw my post, did you see my mention of that trade in the opening paragraph? …The initial version of this post lacked that information, but my link to that Nightwing trade was added to the article about 20 minutes after I first posted this to my website (after doing the Googling I should have done in the first place!).

    I only ask because I wonder if my original version of this post made it out to the RSS feeds, and that’s what everyone is seeing in their feedreaders of choice.

  • BobH says:

    For the record, I read it on Feedly and was about to come over and tell you about the NIGHTWING book, noticed you updated it when I came to the site live. And I just checked and Feedly still has the old version.

    Some days I really miss Google Reader. It would usually catch updated versions of posts pretty quickly.

    I’ve got about a dozen scattered issues of ACW. Occasionally I think of getting the rest, just to have the Curt Swan or Dan Spiegle artwork, but I just know most of the other stuff is going to be so mediocre, and often just plain bad. I guess if I ever see them really cheap I’ll be able to justify it.

    There are two issues I definitely need to get, so that I’ll have the complete HERO HOTLINE story. I have the middle two chapters of that.

    And the series did have some great covers. I mean seriously, John Severin drawing Superman?

  • BobH says:

    By the way, just looking at the HERO HOTLINE chapters I have, and Mike, if you have a copy handy, little cameo of interest to you in #638.

  • Snark Shark says:

    “Deadman story has ghosts and devils possessing Nancy Regan at one point,”

    HOW COULD ANYONE TELL?

    ” this is the only response
    he’s ever given in public.”

    Interesting. Thanks!

    ” and this was something he actually said in a letter column, was along the lines of :if I ever got divorced, I would become a priest.” ”

    also interesting! Thanks!

    ” I mean seriously, John Severin drawing Superman?”

    Even better, John Severin drawing an ELEPHANT!

  • nerd who wishes to remain anonymous says:

    Now to be nerdy for anyone who gets the reference:

    “We’re not talking Oxnard at the beach, noooo! We’re talking Oxnard in the onion fields!”

    Thankyouverymuch.

  • Harvey Jerkwater says:

    I can’t be the only one who pictures that Action Comics Weekly cover as the Stranger about to indulge in bad ventriloquism, can I?

    PS: “Hey there, Skully.”

    SKULLY: [High-pitched voice out of the side of the Stranger’s mouth] “HI THERE!”

  • Nat Gertler says:

    There has been another TPB of material made for ACW, with the big asterisk that it was material that never actually made it into the series: Neil Gaiman’s Legend of the Green Flame.