Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Wednesday Comics: DC, April 1980 (part 1)

Continuing my read through of DC Comics output from January 1980 (cover date) to Crisis! This week, I'm looking at the comics at newsstands around January 10, 1980.

Batman #322: Captain Boomerang shows up and pretends to be a real threat. I'm of course, biased by Boomerang's portrayal in the 80s Suicide Squad and later. Still, he doesn't do himself any favors of tying Batman to a giant boomerang as a death trap--a repeat of something he did to the Flash. Catwoman getting a terminal diagnosis from a doctor who neither names the conditions and suggests that some ancient Egyptian herbs (also unnamed) are the cure is also pretty silly.

DC Comics Presents #20: This story by O'Neil isn't really much of a team-up. Green Arrow pursues a oil tycoon, Bo Force, who's looking to get an exotic energy rich flood emerging from a geyser, and Superman just shows up to save the day in the end. The art by Garcia-Lopez looks good though!

Flash #284: I got to give it to Cary Bates. I have never been much of a Flash fan, and I would have not pegged this era to the place I'd get turned on to it...and well, I haven't exactly, but it's better than I expected! Last issue ended with Zoom and the Flash heading unstoppably into the distance past in the time bubble, but Flash jumps out, preferring to take his changes than spend eternity with Zoom. He winds up in a domain ruled by the Lord of Limbo, but other prisoners help him make his escape. The issue is very specific in its 1980 setting, and implies Barry Allen is "about 30" years old, and that he's been the Flash for about 10 years. Heck's art gives it a Marvel vibe, but the lack of direct confrontation between hero and villain feels un-Marvel.

G.I. Combat #219: Despite my previous griping about the Haunted Tank strip, the first story here by Kanigher and Glanzman is pretty good. Jeb plans to shoot it out with one of those honorable German officers whose path he's crossed twice before across different fronts of the war and two continents. A passing American patrol picks off the officer, before we get to see who would come out the victor. It's followed by a goofy but amusing O.S.S. story where an assassin uses trick shoes to take out his target. The other stories are typical war stuff.

Ghosts #87: The horror titles are lackluster this month. This one has a distasteful tale involving a freakshow that was likely inspired by Browning's Freaks. The other stories are merely forgettable.

Jonah Hex #35: Fleisher reveals an important part of Jonah's backstory, telling us why he quit the Confederate Army (due the the Emancipation Proclamation). Just about everything that could go wrong for him does so after that point, and his hunted as a traitor by his former allies and countrymen. There's some amusing stuff at the beginning with Hex taking down a group of outlaws.

Justice League of America #177: Conway and Dillin are mostly doing set-up here in that classic "each hero gets their own story" sort of JLA way. The reveal at end gives us the return of Martian Manhunter, who hadn't appeared since '77 and hadn't appeared in JLA since 1974.

Secrets of Haunted House #23: This issues "highlight" is a story by Wessler and Frank Redondo about a man saving his grandkids from fire ants. I recognize invasive fire ants were more of a "hot" (heh) topic in the '70s, but c'mon, Destiny! Is there nothing better in that weighty tome of yours?

Superman #346: Lois investigates a crooked game show and discovers Amos Fortune (a villain I only knew from the Who's Who) behind it. He uses his "Murphy Machine" to cause people to have bad luck. Unusual premise by Conway but still a bland story.

Weird War Tales #86: Two World War II yarns, one with a giant monster, and the other by Zilber and Sparling with a Twilight Zone-esque premise: a young soldier can make anyone disappear by willing it. Nothing special.

Wonder Woman #266: Continuing that story of Diana's time with NASA. It's okay. It's got another installment of the Wonder Girl story, too.

World's Finest Comics #262: The lead story here by O'Neil and Staton, where Superman and Batman battle a one-shot villain called the Pi-Meson Man, is probably the weakest--but at least it doesn't have an old lady with gravity control powers as a villain like the finale of the Green Arrow/Black Canary story. This time around, the old woman does look like an old woman, thanks to Tanghal and Colletta. The Aquaman story by Rozakis and Newton leaves me with a couple of questions: How does Aquaman's computer work underwater? And, does this story which mentions Barbara Gordon as a Congresswoman take place prior to the stories from the last couple of months mentioning she lost re-election? The Hawkman story by DeMatteis and Landgraf also references some recent DC events. I'd forgotten what it was like to have comics that came out on a consistent enough schedule they could actually have a shared universe! The last story, a Captain Marvel tale by Bridwell and Newton, gives backstory to the wizard Shazam, which I was unaware of. Fun stuff, if nothing groundbreaking.


Dick McGee said...


I feel like Captain Boomerang bringing back the same trick over and over again is somehow appropriate for his overall motif, but yeah, he's pretty lame. Is he still canonically deceased these days after being shot to death while killing Robin's dad? That was the last time I paid attention to him.

That is a very pink geyser boiling Ollie to death there. Was this Bo Force chap trying to tap into the Power Rangers' energy grid or something? "Too much pink energy is dangerous" as the saying goes.

Don't know if I'd mock Destiny like that. Fire ants may be long out of style, but don't act surprised when the murder hornets come for you. :)

To quote from the DC database on the Pi-Meson Man, who I had to look up:

"Pincus Bridger turned rogue after an accident caused his reactor to explode, covering him with radiation and forcing him to remain locked away from society. Bridger eventually learned that the accident had given him the ability to project radioactive energy and transport his body to different places. Using this power, he tried to murder the people he blamed for his accident, but he was spotted by a blind girl, who alerted Batman and Superman about his crimes. Bridger and his energy projection called "The Pi-Meson Man", were stopped and locked away in a cell until a cure for his condition was found."

Two things leap out at me: First, his name is Pincus. How do you not mention such a vital detail? Between growing up with a name like that and an experimental lab accident poking an eye out he was pretty much doomed to become a supervillain. Just ask Destiny. :)

Second, he was spotted by a blind girl? What? How does that even happen? This is going to be something dumb involving comic book science and pi-mesons being visible to the blind, isn't it?

Nice to see more Wonder Girl backup stories. Always liked her in the red uniform days.

Trey said...

You guessed it! She was blind, but not blind to pi-meson energy, apparently.

Dick McGee said...

Now I find myself wondering if Pincus could still see his energy emissions with his missing eye but not the functioning one. And could you build pi-meson lightbulbs so the blind could see by the "light" of them?

Still weirded out by that name. It's not exactly unheard of, but I've never seen it as a first name, always a surname, eg Greg Pincus, co-inventor of the birth control pill.

JB said...

Captain Boomerang also used the same death trap against Blue Devil's sidekick, strapping him to a giant boomerang. I thought it was silly at the time, but now that I've been alerted to this shtick, I find it kind of an inside joke at DC.