Friday, June 4, 2021

DC, August 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 May 22, 1980.

Action Comics #510: Again Bates and Swan deliver a story where at least it's hard to predict where they might be going. Luthor gives up on an opportunity to assassinate his foe for the sake of the mysterious woman Superman just rescued. He appears to have gone straight due to his new found infatuation with this woman--well, except for kidnapping her then performing supposedly life-saving surgery without her consent. That stuff she doesn't appear to mind. Where is Bates going with all this? We must wait until next issue.

Adventure Comics #474: House ads promise Aquaman is coming next issue. Maybe that will shake things up. Starman takes on some robots with a roller ball in place of feet which have a goofy charm. Ditko also gives us some good retro sci-fi aliens and costumes. Plastic Man has the criminal mastermind Archie Type putting a hit out on our hero. A bunch of pun-named assassins come after him. It's sort of fun. I might like this better if it was in a collection of its own, so I could get into its comedic vibe.

Brave & the Bold #165: Man-Bat and his wife are desperate parents trying to get ahold of an experimental South American drug that may treat their daughter's potentially fatal insomnia. Batman intervenes because the drug is being smuggled in by an unscrupulous doctor and may be tainted with botulism. Pasko has Batman initially unwilling to share information and come on heavy-handed to contrive a fight between him and Man-Bat. The issue ends with Man-Bat swearing vengeance against Batman should his daughter die, which is a pretty unusual ending for a team-up book, I feel like.

Detective Comics #493: Burkett and Newton bring us a Batman/Riddler story that seems to have been sponsored by the Houston Bureau of Tourism. Batman lands at Hobby to team up with the Vigilante's nephew, the Swashbuckler (who I'm guessing didn't have many appearances), then he gets to visit Astroworld. In the normally nonsuper-powered-lead-character Tales of Gotham feature, Red Tornado follows an elderly black lady around and gets a taste of life in a poor and stereotypical part of Gotham. Harris and Nicholas bring us their least interesting Robin story yet, but at least we find out who the guy is who has been following Dick Grayson. Wein and Giordano give us a really 70s tale of the Human Target and criminal truckers. Burkett and Delbo continue with Batgirl dealing with the fallout of a couple of issues back. Continuity!

Green Lantern #131: Barr and Staton have Evil Star out to destroy the sun after first making it's light more yellow to thwart GL. Not a bad story, but the second part of the trial of Arkkis Chummuck in the back up is still the most interesting part of the issue to me.

House of Mystery #283: The cover has nothing to do with this issue's contents. The first story by Mayer and Tanghal is really predictable, but satisfying as a life-long swindler and double-crosser believes he's made it into heaven, only to find he's been deceived this time. The second story by Kashdan and Nino might be a parable about not being prejudiced against other cultures, or it could be read as the admonition: if wives would only tell husbands they were trying to save their lives with unorthodox, folk medicine, needless deaths of legitimately suspicious friends could be avoided.

Legion of Super-Heroes #266: Conway and Janes have Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel accidentally unleashing an evil genie. For some reason, Conway thought this plot deserved a two-parter.

New Adventures of Superboy #8: The cover shows Ma Kent at Clark's funeral slapping Superboy--and to my surprise the scene actually occurs in the issue. Bates delivers another mildly intriguing "puzzle" plot as Ma and Pa Kent mysteriously forget Clark is Superboy, leading Superboy to fake Clark's death. To be continued, naturally.

Sgt. Rock #343: The main story could almost be a comedy, though Kanigher and Redondo play it straight. Rock gets a concussion and is out of his head, just as Easy is supposed to be getting a visit from a Colonel who is all about spit and polish. The backup story "Crabs," seems like it scuttled in from a horror comic. Steve Bissette writes and draws this ambiguous tale about an island overrun by the titular creatures and the madness of a G.I. that seems catalyzed by their presence.

Super Friends #35: Romeo Tanghal fills in for Fradon on story involving a circus and imposter heroes. Very kid friendly.

Unexpected #201: The first story here by Skyrenes/Lillian and Heck is a bit Hammer Horror-ish and deals with curse on a haughty noblewoman and dated Romani stereotypes. The second story by Wessler with interesting art by Jim Craig, involves a funhouse where a Hall of Mirrors unleashes evil doppelgangers of people. It's a lot of set-up for little payoff, and I don't understand what happens in the ending.

Unknown Soldier #242: Haney and Ayers have the Soldier sent to stop a secret German plan to cripple Russia. The problem is, the Soviet spy only has half of the plans. The rest are in the hands of the mysterious Russian partisan, the Anvil. It turns out the Anvil is a woman, and the Soviet spy is a double agent. Awesome Kubert cover, but mediocre story.

Untold Legend of Batman #2: The definitive Bronze Age origin of Batman continues courtesy of Wein and Aparo. This time, the focus gets broadened to the supporting cast, giving short origins of Robin, Alfred, the Joker and Two-Face.

Warlord #36: Read more about it here

Weird Western Tales #70: This is the final issue of the title's 59 issue run. It continues the story from last issue with Scalphunter escaping the sadistic sargeant (and taking the woman disguised as a Union soldier with him). Pursued by some of the troops, they make a stand in an ice house, where their cunning gives them the upper hand. Scalphunter rides off into the sunset.


Anne said...

Several disguised women soldiers showing up this month! (Also imposters and doppelgangers in both Super Friends and Unexpected?)

I have my fingers crossed that Thunderbolt will show up to fight the evil genie in LOSH next month.

Trey said...

That's probably a better conclusion than what Conway is going to give us!

bombasticus said...

Flagging all the "to be continued" plots is great insight. They don't seem to be struggling any more . . . lots of books coming out, plenty of art talent to go around . . . but the writers who survived the implosion seem to be burning out.

I think I remember that B&B if there's horrible speculation about how long a human can live without sleep. Not a Haney detail so if it's in there, we're definitely in Paskoland now.

Trey said...

I think there is definitely a degree of that. I will give it to Bates that he has a facility with a certain type of story--a specifically DC kind of story, I think, that probably doesn't survive Crisis if it makes it that long. They don't have the emotional resonance with the adolescent (or probably adult audience either) but its a shame the comics landscape wasn't able to support those stories in addition to other types.

Dick McGee said...

I was apparently down to just Warlord and Untold Batman at this point, the rest are all unfamiliar. Must say that lugging your daughter around while you're out Man-batting around Gotham doesn't seem like you're really all that concerned about her safety, Mister Langstrom. Doubt that baby carrier is rated safe for personal aerobatics.