The Heart of the City

Issue #64, July '92: Bill Messner-Loebs—Lovelier than Aphrodite; Jill Thompson—Wiser than Athena; Denis Rodier—Swifter than Hermes; Dan Thorsland—One of the many secret faces of Ares

cover: Wonder Woman holds a little girl as a gun fires at them.Diana arrives late to Ed Indelicato’s hearing (hearing?), which isn’t that bad a thing since Internal Affairs prefers to ignore Ed’s recent activity. It’s been steeped in mysticism, which is a royal pain to prosecute. Ed gets his badge back. (He’d lost it?)

He is introduced to his new partner, Cesare (Ches) Sabatini, and we even get an editorial note on how to pronounce the name, though later in the story Diana calls him “Chester.” Ah, an editor’s life is a good one! (Okay, so the guy was just introduced to Diana as “Ches.”)

Ches is a very delicate person: allergic to wool, hyper-aware of men’s fashion, concerned with his expense account, and mentions that his mother dressed him like a girl until he was 13. He’s stutteringly star-struck when Diana appears.

Strapped for cash, Ed suggests hitting a red-hot stand outside police HQ. It is Diana’s first experience with (let me Google…) a red-colored hot dog, and she eats it like a sandwich, from the middle out, choking on all the chemicals.

Ches declares that he reads Diana’s adventures every month (he has a copy with him), and especially loves the Purple Ray and “Egg Foo.” Diana assures him that those stories are merely made up.

A crying woman approaches the policemen. Her husband, a bank employee, has abducted their little girl. Ed explains that they don’t handle domestic disputes and Ches says the girl hasn’t been gone 48 hours. (Real life: kids get immediate attention and don’t have to disappear for 2 days to get the cops involved.)

The husband picked the daughter up from daycare and said he was going out of town. Diana swings into action, investigating the man who will be the object of her hunt so she can better understand where he might appear.

Meanwhile, our cops discover that a bug planted with a money laundering gang has finally shown signs of payoff. We discover that here is the husband, John, with the crooks. He tells them as they count their money that this is his last pickup. “I owe too many people MONEY.” He’s brought his daughter, Janey, with him. She watches a cowboy movie on TV and gets a charge out of saying, “Bang bang!”

Masked thugs break down the door, firing guns. They’re to leave no witnesses. John grabs Janey but is hit in the leg as he tumbles with her to the floor. Coincidental police sirens scare off the thugs, who work for a man named Simpson.

With everyone else dead, John grabs the money and his daughter, thinking this is his big chance. I mean, besides the fact that his name suddenly becomes “Tim Jancosky.” (See editor comment, above.)

Tim/John finds that the mob, led by a Donald Simpson, has set men at all the exit points to the city (which makes a device concerning Tim ordering airplane tickets near the end of the story have no sense, but…). Tim manages to knock out the one at the bus station and steals his gun, while his daughter (still called “Janey”) identifies it as a “bang-bang.”

Ed and Ches’s route to find Tim is fairly easy. Everyone they talk to knows the next step of what’s going on and tells them readily. Of course, every stop seems to involve a drive-by shooting of some kind, but no one is hurt, though they’re shaken.

Meanwhile, Diana tracks Tim’s foster parents and discovers that they did pretty awful things to their kids, like locking them into closets, thinking of them as animals, etc.

Ed & Ches finally arrive at the abandoned apartment building Tim and Janey are hiding in. Tim hears the gunfire and realizes they’re not safe, but blood loss from his leg wound puts him out for the count. Janey discovers his gun. “Oooh, bang-bang!”

Ed & Ches don’t know if the bad buys are already upstairs with “poor schmuck” Tim. Ed creeps down an upper hallway, spotting blood on an open door.

At the same time, Wonder Woman flies into the area. She can see little Janey pointing her toy, with a convenient shadow on the wall making her look big. In the hallway outside, Ed has drawn his gun. He sees the shadow of a menacing gunman, jumps inside and fires.

But Diana crashes through the window and deflects the bullet just in time. The final panel is of Ed hugging Janey and saying, “Oh god oh god oh god…”

The cover on this issue is a show-stopper: an innocent child in danger. The interior story was not an epic one, but rather a small-scale detective story with an emphasis on characterization. The next arc (after a guest fill-in) would be quite different in scope!

Letters: Mike Aragona, Diane Herbert, Daniel Toth, Robert J. Tolleson, Norrin Radd (yeah, right), John Curtis, and Nancy Champion.

 

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