Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Wednesday Comics: DC, May 1980 (part 1)

My mission: read DC Comics' output from January 1980 (cover date) to Crisis! This week, I'm looking at the comics at newsstands on the week of my 7th birthday in February 1980.

All-Out War #5: My favorite story this issue is Kanigher's and Granidenetti's Force 3 tale about Fredric (the Polish pianist--also Jewish we find out this issue) bringing a reckoning to the Nazi tank commander who killed his wife in the taking of the Warsaw ghetto. Granidenetti's gritty and almost primitive style (at this point) is great for this sort of thing. Black Eagle has a confusing (to me at least) adventure regarding a supposedly miraculous church--with a brief cameo by the Haunted Tank. Archie Goodwin and Rico Rival provide a downer tale of the Italian invasion of Ethiopia, proving these war books aren't all American jingoism. And then there's the Viking Commando to be ridiculous, as usual.

Batman #323: Catwoman's committing crimes again--or is she? After two (and a half) issues of misdirection later, it would appear, no, it's C-lister, Cat-Man. 

DC Comics Presents #21: Elongated Man has contracted some illness--and before Superman can cure him so has everyone else in the world. Turns out its an alien attack that actually transform anyone who gets it into that alien species. Superman sciences up a cure using the Gingold extract. It seems like the hyper-competent Superman is something lost with the Byrne reboot.

Flash #283: "Featuring the Trickster," is seldom a description I associate with a great comic. He's a little bit more menacing here than usual, but it feels like mostly this issue is about Bates setting up Barry Allen's new status quo after the climatic solution to the "Who Killed Iris?" storyline. The Heck/Chiaramonte combo on art is not great this issue, either.

Ghosts #86: "The Phantom City" has Michael Golden art and is a sort of a novel tale of an architect killed by home-invading bikers who die in the titular city construct by architect's son's toys and imagination. The cover story "Harem in Hell" from Allikas and Rubeny is about a guy more in love with the ghost wives (he murdered) and only keeps his new living one around to do housework. Of course, the tables are turned in EC fashion.

Jonah Hex #34: The Confederate survivors of Ft. Charlotte capture Hex, but luckily also a saloon gal who knows him a favor--and then sacrifices her life so he can escape. which is really a bit above and beyond, I think. 

Justice League of America #178: This issue I had as a kid. I think I still may have the cover--and a great one it is by Jim Starlin. Despero is back, and up to his usual chess-playing tricks in this Conway/Dillin joint.

Secrets of Haunted House #24: A man returns from a near death experience to find he now shares his body with a spirit of a killer in a Kashdan/Carrilo story. Sutton and Nasser offer a cautionary tale about what reading too much about the meaning of dreams might get you: eaten by demonic entites, as I'm sure you guessed. Maggin and Rubeny in a nonhorror tale offer a "humorous" alternate take on Noah's ark.

Superman #347: Superman encounter's an alien "ghost." Actually kind of an old school Doctor Who sort of story in basic plot, I think. Art by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, and here he gives us a real disco-era alien design.

Superman Family #201: Everything here is pretty business as usual, except for this crazy Supergirl story by Harris and Mortimer. Supergirl is fixated on this guy Peter Barton, who is in turn attracted to this fellow professor--except for the fact he erroneously believes her to be Supergirl. Supergirl challenges his male ego or something, he muses. Anyway, at a hypnotism demonstration, Supergirl's absolute infatuation leads her into accidentally super-hypnotizing Barton into becoming a super-villain. In the end, he can safely pursue the woman he's into because he believes he's somehow made it so she will never become Supergirl, and the real Supergirl has to hide herself from him, lest he get "triggered" again.

Weird War Tales #85: In the perplexing lead story, Kanigher and Castrillo have a mysterious spacecraft visiting the Earth over various eras, where we seen scenes of violence. In the end, when the surface the Earth is consumed by nuclear fire, the craft deems it time to beam Satan down to hell on Earth. Who was carrying the Devil around in a spaceship? Anyway, the second story has art by Tom Sutton. It's about a cursed, immortal warrior sowing chaos in the Hundred Years War, only to be laid low by the Black Plague.

Wonder Woman #265: Conway and Delbo have Wonder Woman teaming up with Animal Man (or "A-Man" as he says he's called here) against the Cartel. The story has A-Man calling the Mod Gorilla Boss a "publicity stunt." I wonder if this is an attempted retcon or just a dismissive way of talking about the original story? 


Dick McGee said...

Only one of these I remember was Superman #347, and that only vaguely - the cover's familiar but I couldn't tell you the story associated with it. That alien design's certainly distinctive. Four arms, a costume and hairstyle stolen from the Village People or perhaps a pro wrestler, facial horns and a set of antenna with deelie-boppers no less. I'm surprised they didn't give him a Creeper-style feather boa and a big tacky disco chest medallion to complete the look.

Re: Wonder Woman, didn't the original (and only, AFAIK) Mod Gorilla Boss story partly revolve around Animal Man's multiple whuppings earning the Boss a bunch of press exposure? That might be what he was talking about. You know it's a slow news day when "Animal Man defeated!" makes headlines.

Calling him "A-Man" makes me think of Ditko's Mister A character, almost makes me wonder if they were trying to tick Steve off for some reason. Having Buddy become a proselytizing Objectivist would have been an amusing way to mash the two characters up. "That's Mister A-Man to you, punk."

JB said...

Man I used to love that "Weird War Tales" stuff. Do they still have something like that on the market?

Trey said...

There was a Weird War Tales limited from Vertigo in the 90s, but I think that may have been the last time.

Dick McGee said...

There was Haunted Tanks Vertigo miniseries in 2008 with the story set in "Operation Iraqi Freedom" with the tank being an M1 as you'd expect. It's kind of an interesting read, although it lacks the gleeful implausibility of the originals. The main conceit was that ghostly Jeb Stuart is still doing his "protect my descendent" thing but the tank commander, Jamal Stuart, is African-American and both of them are less than thrilled with each other. I enjoyed it myself, but it's really nothing like the old HT stories - at no point does the M-1 in question shoot down an attacking plane while being paradropped, or sink a submarine, or anything even remotely as absurd.

Dick McGee said...

Ooh, looking into it further, there was apparently a 2006 Tales of the Unexpected story with the Haunted Tank and Nazi gorillas. Jeb's ghost gets in a swordfight with the ghost pirate Captain Fear. That sounds a lot more like it to me. Also a Sergeant Rock miniseries called the Lost Battalion.

How'd I miss those?

Trey said...

Sgt. Rock is really "weird war" but those others would certainly fit the bill.