The works of Award winning author, Rick Pipito, and more

A Police Drama

Title: Underworld

Publisher: DC Comics

Year: 1987  Issue #: 3 “Saving Grace”

Review by Rick Pipito on the storyline and plot points

This pick of the week is a different kind of comic book.  I was surprised when I found this issue that was not related to superheroes in any way whatsoever.  It is a police drama.  I’m not sure would work as a best seller in more that this 4 issue miniseries, but it definitely portrays a lot of realism.  There will be spoilers, so if you don’t want to know then don’t read below.  🙂

Okay, so the story begins in Manhattan with an unknown man’s point of view.  He is overwhelmed with the noise and din going on around him.  Just wanting his space, he attempts to go to the subway, but even under there, there is a gathering of people.  The portrayal of Manhattan itself is very realistic.  I’ve been there.  To me, the city was fascinating, but to someone who would want to be alone, I could see why this man would be going crazy.

A few frames are shown of a group of bums around a barrel fire, and then a different guy walking into a porn theater.  He has a picture of what seems to be a girlfriend or wife whom he has just been dumped by.  I think this was thrown in the middle just to show that there are all kinds of people in the city that we can relate to.

Then we go to the New York Police Department.  Officers Heroica and Chapel are female and male partners respectively.  Chapel is over excited this particular morning because he has ringside seats for a championship boxing match later that day.  Heroica is unimpressed and uninterested, but Chapel goes on to explain his excitement because his father was a pro boxer.  Now, as a person who competed in amateur boxing for a little under a year, I completely understand his enthusiasm.  I also know what it is like to have someone you are telling not really listening.  As the boxing fan you continue to tell them things to hopefully grab their attention.

While he rambles on, the pair are almost run over by a vehicle.  Heroica shouts, “That was the Night Prowler”.  Apparently there is a criminal on the loose by that name and description, so they get in their patrol car and pursue.

Change scenes to a movie set.  The film is rolling, but bystanders are trying to get past the barricades to get closer fan views.  Chip Clover is a rookie cop on street patrol trying to deal with an ignorant parent who can’t control their rambunctious child, and an old lady with an attitude, just to name a couple.  This is great because the creators portrayed how annoying and inconsiderate people can be.

Somehow in the distraction of his duties, Clover fails to stop the rammy child from getting past the blockade.  The kid stands in the middle of the street and freezes as the Night Prowler is barrelling toward him.  Clover runs to save the kid, but trips over his own clumsy feet, and is now also in the way of the vehicle.

This next part is typical of people who are afraid to act.  Everyone just stands there and watches.  That is except for the man from the beginning who was overwhelmed.  He happens to be walking by and sees the kid.  He grabs the kid out of the way, but the Night Prowler is going to run over Clover.  Here is the most ridiculous scene in any comic that I can recall.  Clover just lies prone and still, while the Night Prowler’s vehicle (a standard low lying car) runs over him, but only manages to tear the shirt off his back.  In real life, that car would have taken half of his head and all of the skin off of his back.  I don’t get why they just couldn’t have done a close call in another way than to make this seemingly real comic be so fictitious.

When they try to give the man who saved the kid a pat on the back, the man doesn’t want any rewards and grabs one of the officer’s guns.  As he places it against his head, Heroica and Chapel show up on scene.  Heroica is suddenly reminded of her dad.  She grew up an expert marksman, so she takes aim and shoots the pistol from the man’s hand.  Okay, I get the action drama part, but no police officer would have taken that chance on a possible suicide.  The discharge of their weapon could ricochet and injure or kill a bystander.

A few hours later (of boxing conversation and patrolling), the pair of officers is called to another scene where the suicidal man has been released and is now attempting to jump from a high building.  Chapel is the hero this time, by calling the man out on his bluff, or at least delaying him from attempting again.  There are a few more pages of dialogue and then a couple good shots of the boxing match that evening.  Then the story ends.

All in all, it was surprisingly a breath of fresh air from the norm.  I give it an overall 7 out of 10 for its unique and mostly realistic approach.


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