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Tony Mantegna

Tony Mantegna is one of six strangers brought together by a mysterious, hooded figure that is known only as Mockingbird. Each of these people has experienced a loss or setback of some type. Mantegna had won a Pulitzer for an exposé he wrote on corruption in a mine workers union. While researching, he was caught in a suspicious, accidental dynamite blast that resulted in a loss of hearing. Mockingbird wants this new Secret Six (the original group from the late 60s comic have retired) to be his mission operatives. In exchange, he offers each of them some device that compensates or eliminates their losses. Tony receives a sophisticated (certainly outmoded by contemporary standards) headset. The Secret Six had only a couple of missions before the story ended and Action changed its format back to a monthly 32-paged comic from the weekly anthology experiment.

The story of Mantegna’s mine workers union piece is recounted in Action #624. Harry Shandler, a union foreman, was alleged to divert union money into his personal bank account. Mantegna contacted Shandler, and an interview was arranged for his magazine employer. A new photographer, Tom Pearson, was sent along with him. Quoting the story: “But I was working with a new photographer, Tom Pearson—helluva nice guy, but there were…certain tensions. And I guess I just wasn’t on my game.” The two were given access to explore a mineshaft alone. They stumbled across a live charge, and Tom pushed Tony away from it just as it exploded. They were rescued. The story gives no indication of Tom’s injuries, but Tony later awoke in hospital and discovered his sense of hearing had been lost. The closing scene of this chapter is set in a Los Angeles cemetery. Tony is talking aloud at a grave. He talks about leaving town for good and moving to San Francisco.

“…You know…the way we always talked about doing some day. I’m sorry we didn’t get around to it while you were still here. I won’t be able to visit as often. But I’ll still bring flowers. And I’ll never stop loving you, you know that.”

Tony places the potted flowers on the grave. An older woman approaches him from behind to ask if he knows where a particular section of the cemetery is located. Tony can’t hear her though because he’s not wearing the electronic device Mockingbird gave to him. A caretaker informs her that he can’t hear her (“He’s stone cold deaf.”). She asks the caretaker if he knows him and he replies, “Not really. I just see him a lot. He comes out here once a month on this date, every month…to put flowers on his lover’s grave.” The final panel is a close up of the head stone with the name “Thomas John Pearson” engraved on it.

The Secret Six and Mockingbird referred to here have no connection to the villainous Secret Six written by Gail Simone.

Mantegna first appeared in Action #601 and confirmed gay in Action #624 (Dated 11/1988). Created by Martin Pasko and Dan Spiegle. Art by Frank Springer, Frank McLaughlin, and Carl Gafford.

Thanks to Angie for bringing this character to my attention!

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September 27, 2021
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