Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Wednesday Comics: DC, July 1980 (part 2)

My mission: read DC Comics' output from January 1980 (cover date) to Crisis! This week, I'm looking at the comics at newsstands around April 24, 1980.

Action Comics #509: A group of kooks garner media attention for their claims space travel is fake news and Superman is a big liar for claiming he's an alien. The twist: the kooks are actually aliens who have hypnotized themselves into forgetting their nature as self-protection. Clever plot by Bates, but no real action.

Adventure Comics #473: More Plastic Man and Starman! I have to say, it's a struggle to read this one every other week. I'm just not in to either of these.

Brave & the Bold #164: A Hawkman/Batman team-up by DeMatteis and Garcia-Lopez. It looks good, but the story about extradimensional aliens didn't really grab me, possibly because my copy is missing half a page of crucial exposition near the end.

Detective Comics #492: Burkett and Newton resolve the Batgirl story from last issue in a team-up with Batman. Mostly it's a story of Batgirl re-dedicating herself to crimefighting, which is a nice resolution to the uncertainty she seems to have been feeling since losing re-election. It's weird that her father who also happens to be a cop, seems to really want her to risk her life as a costumed vigilante. We get a somewhat charming slice of Gotham life with a heroic bridge painter in a story by Haney and Oskner. Then there's a unmemorable Man-Bat tale by Rozakis and Tanghal. The issue ends with another Robin at college story, but the Penguin's in the this one.

Green Lantern #130: I've read this issue before, and the lead story by Rozakis and Staton involving shenanigans in Modora with the villain Sonar isn't bad, but the backup Tales of the Green Lantern Corp strip by Toomey and Saviuk, "The Trial of Arkkis Chummuck" is great! Chummuck becomes a Green Lantern after killing--and eating--his predecessor, and some Lanterns are unhappy about it. 

House of Mystery #282: Several issues this month have the comics equivalent of an infomercial brought to you by Tandy's TRS-80, where the "Computer Whiz Kids" somehow help Superman defeat Major Disaster. It was written by Bates and drawn by Starlin. Anyway, in the comparatively less horrifying House of Mystery, de Matteis and Talaoc deliver a tale with an EC level of twists about a writer who's secretly a vampire pursuing a lover's lane serial killer who murdered his wife, then killing himself when he realizes the monster he's become. Then there's a very silly story about a guy who has his near-death body shot in to space because he's creeped out by the idea of cremation or burial, but he winds up burning up in re-entry. The last story involves a wealthy businessman who makes a deal with the devil for the sun never to set in his town for no good reason. The townsfolk murder her to get the sun to go down, thus forfeiting their souls too--and making it eternally night.

Legion of Super-Heroes #265: Conway/de Matteis and Janes/Hunt have Dawnstar and Shadow Lass (the other people of color on the Legion) wind up in Tyroc's Brigadoon-esque island homeland of Marzal. Marzal's origin is revealed (or repeated), and the ladies go home, so it all seems contrived to write Tyroc out of the book. Nice Dick Giordano cover.

New Adventures of Superboy #7: Some aliens trick Superboy into coming to their world, where he natural absorbs radiation that would harm the alien populace. But if Superboy leaves to go home, the return of the heavy radiation will kill them. Luckily, an comment by Ma Kent suggests Kryptonite is the solution to Superboy's dilemma. 

Sgt. Rock #342: Kanigher phones this one in. I'm not fond of it for two reasons. One, it posits Sgt. Rock as some sort of celebrity that would get interviewed: "the sargeant generals want to be." Two, it is based on members of Easy Company telling stories of "six different sides" of Rock, but all of them are really just he's a badass who's a good leader. It's just the one side!

Super Friends #34: This is like an all alien creature issue. The lead story has the Justice League trying to capture this lamb-tofu-squid hybrid looking thing which I assume is suppose to be cute but gets creepier the more you think about what it would look like if it was real and not drawn by Fradon. The backup involves the Wonder Twins, crooks, and a Kryptonian metal-eater.

Unexpected #200: Johnny Peril is back, having not appeared since 1969, courtesy of Barr and Tuska. Peril (at least in this story) in skeptical of the supernatural, and it turns out here he's right. The supposed supernatural disappearance of a wealth man, is really due to the actions of an extradimensional alien. In the next story by Kashdan and Abel, a young witch falls for a guy she's suppose to seduce and kill for her coven. In the final story, DeMatteis and Patricio take us to Summer Camp where a campfire monster story turns out to be true--despite being completely made up.

Unknown Soldier #241: Haney and Ayers send our hero to a Greek Island to find a German listening station and call in allied bombers. The problem is, the German's have built it under an ancient Greek oracle, that the folk of the island are still very much into. The Soldier comes up with a clever solution, then tricks a kid who helped him into believe the oracle said his father would definitely be coming home, which seems like it could set the kid up for disappointment, but oh well.

Untold Legend of Batman #1: This story by Wein and Byrne and Aparo is basically an excuse to tell the definitive Bronze Age origin of Batman--which really has a lot more to it than the modern version (or at least the last modern version I read). It covers the origin of the bat costume with Thomas Wayne's costume party outfit, and the fate of Joe Chill and Lew Moxon. All of these things were Golden Age stories, but I wonder if they had appeared since that time before this?

Warlord #35: Read more about it here

Weird Western Tales #69: We find Scalphunter still in Pennsylvania, serving as a scout for a Union Army company. He befriends a young soldier who turns out to be a woman in disguise. The story ends on a cliffhanger as her identity is revealed by a sadistic sargeant after a fight with Scalphunter.


Dick McGee said...

"Then there's a unmemorable Man-Bat tale..."

Honestly, is there another kind? The Batman Animated Series has been about the high point for the character, and even that was mostly just a twist of the Jekyll/Hyde concept. I love the design of the guy and the concept seems like it should be possible to tell interesting stories with it, but it just doesn't seem to happen. Maybe he belongs in a "monster squad" team book or something.

Of the rest, I had Untold Legend (which I quite enjoyed) and Warlord. I think the latter might be the first time I saw an overt "Quag Keep" level of "we're playing D&D with the protag today" storytelling in a comic. It's marginally better than "it was all a dream" but only very marginally.

ThrorII said...

Wow, memories!!!!!

My brother had "untold Legends of the Batman #1" (I was 11, he was 9). It was a great synopsis of the Batman mythos for those of us coming in to the comics 41 years too late.