Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Wednesday Comics: DC, July 1980 (part 1)

I'm 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 April 10, 1980.

All-Out War #6: Kanigher and Evans pull an unexpected Buck Rogers (original version) riff, with Viking Commando transported briefly to a post-apocalyptic future with Yellow Peril Asians who revere Hitler trying to kill a girl with an outfit like Shakira in Warlord. After that, there's a really grounded story of the Seabees. Black Eagle and crew take on a submarine. A WWI doughboy runs away to hide in a cave for years, but comes out to kill some approaching Germans in WWII. The best story here is the Force 3 yarn. It's not Grandenetti's best art on the strip, but istory-wise it feels like a capstone, with brief origins presented for the three--and then they get to kill Hitler! And this story is a capstone, given this is the final issue of All-Out War and the last appearance to date of Force 3 and Black Eagle.

Batman #325: There's a fill-in writer, Roger McKenzie, but weirdly they let him tie up the storyline with the challenge to Gordon's leadership of the GCPD. The title page suggests Batman is trying to kill Gordon, but in Silver Age style, it's a lie. It is actually a scene from the story, though, which is a bit unusual. Not a bad issue, but nothing notable.

DC Comics Presents #23: This one has a lot going on, which is par for the course for Superman titles in this era. O'Neil and Staton set up Dr. Fate as trying to find a cure for a generational curse that is turning his wife into a monster, but he needs the corpse of her ancestor, and that guy isn't in the grave. Meanwhile, on Earth-1, a physics experiment brings a flying pirate galleon from the past of Earth-2 to Earth-1--with Inza'a ancestor as captain. Superman discovers an imp with a grudge against the pirate is involved. Dr. Fate arrives in time to wrap it all up.

Flash #28: Another pretty good one from Bates and Heck. Doctor Alchemy is back, despite Al Desmond's supposed reform. Has Barry Allen's friend reverted to his criminal ways?

Ghosts #90: This issue is weaker than most (and that's saying something), or maybe it only feels that way because the cover story "Phantom of the Disco" doesn't really do much with that intriguing title. The Kashdan/Nicholas yarn has a murderous heroin addict hiding from the cops in a disco, but the ghost of the girlfriend he killed makes him reveal himself to the police. The lead story has a weird, elemental monster and a cursed ship captain, but no actual ghost. The middle story is one of the standard "a ghost can't hurt a person but can make them do something stupid" tales. It's sort of a staple for this comic.

Jonah Hex #34: I like Spiegle's art, but he definitely isn't the definitive Jonah Hex artist. The scar doesn't quite work. He does make him look a bit like Josh Holloway, which is interesting. Anyway, this story--about a gang after gold in a hidden valley sacred to the Cree--is pretty good, if fairly standard stuff.

Justice League of America #176: Conway doesn't beat around the bush. This issue starts with the whole JLA busting in on the Satin Satan's sanctum to rescue Firestorm. The final battle occurs at a roller disco called Hell on Wheels. There's the suggestion that the Satin Satan was possessed by the a demon, but the last panel casts doubt on that. We never find out, because this is her last appearance, which is too bad.

Secrets of Haunted House #26: The cover story is a EC riff by J.M. DeMatteis and Nicholas and Gil about a boy with an imaginary friend and a horrible foster family. Spoiler: the friend's not imaginary and the foster family dies one by one. The other two stories are kind of dumb: A guy kills his twin for a heart transplant and dies in the same elevator shaft due to his brother's ghost, and a forcibly retired conductor gets to drive Merlin's toy train forever.

Superman #349: Pasko and Swan have Superman returning from a trip into space to a gender-switched Earth--and the various superfolks think he's a notorious criminal! Turns out it's all a trick by Mxyzptlk, which is telegraphed in a couple of clues early on. It's a nice story of the Superman type.

Superman Family #202: The jerk Supergirl is crushing on apparently isn't cured of being accidentally super-hypnotized by her into becoming a superhero. He causes all kinds of trouble until she can recreate the accident and un-super-hypnotize him. A Bridwell/Schaffenberger Mr. and Mrs. Superman tale reveals when the Earth-2 Superman first encountered Kryptonite, and how he found out about Krypton. Rozakis and Calnan give Clark Kent jury duty, where (on the sly) he helps one Angry Man convince the other jurors to acquit. Lois helps a ballerina to defect from Russia by impersonating her in a Conway scripted tale with nice art by Oksner and Colletta. In the final story, Jimmy Olsen gets rescued from criminals by a high school journalism student.

Weird War Tales #89: The cover to this issue has Nazi Gorillas. If you know Bronze Age comics, you will already have a suspicion the story doesn't live up to the cover. It doesn't, but Kashdan and Landgraf do give us gorillas. The best story this issue is a perhaps goofy but affecting tale by Kanigher and Rubeny about WWI soldiers rising from their battlefield graves to save their sons from dying at the same spot in WWII. Rubeny's mood and sometimes gruesome (for the Comics Code) art sells it.

Wonder Woman #269: Stressed out over all her recent life upheavals, Wonder Woman decides to pack it in and return to Paradise Island. There's she's got a giant monster to fight. I've read beyond this, so I know, but on the basis of this issue, I think you'd be hard-pressed to guess where Conway is going with all this.


Dick McGee said...

Remarkably, I read precisely none of these. Interesting to see so many disco references. Mxyzptlk seems to be doing Rule 63 decades before it was an internet meme - was there a femme Jimmy Olsen and if so, what was her name, I wonder?

Kind of sad I missed the Weird War one though, that would have been worth owning just for the cover art. I think it was that rightly pointed out that "Primate platoon" is a legitimate description for a unit composed of plain old homo sapiens too, but who wants to argue with Nazi gorillas?

JB said...

Disco was big in 1980. 1980 marked the first appearance by Dazzler in Marvel comics.

[man...loved those old Dazzler comics]

Sorry; I DO understand you're talking DC, not Marvel.

Dick McGee said...

I will admit to having been a Dazzler reader myself, at least for a few years. First issue was a rare example of a painted cover in that era. Then again, I was also quite the Ms. Marvel, Spider-Woman and She-Hulk fan too. In hindsight I seem to have had a bias towards Marvel Comics with female leads.

DC was kind of light on those back then, wasn't it? Aside from Wonder Woman I don't believe there was a single one. Admittedly, I think Marvel only had the three themselves but still, better than one.

Anne said...

Weird War has a heck of a cover this time around! Pity the story didn't live up to the sales pitch.