Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Wednesday Comics: DC, November 1980 (wk 1, pt 1)

I'm reading DC Comics' output from January 1980 (cover date) to Crisis! This week, I'm looking at the comics at newsstands on the week of  August 14, 1980. 

Batman #329: The Two-Face story continues from last issue. He tries twice to kill Batman, first with a bomb, then with a fire, as the Dark Knight works to get the goods on Karoselle's murderer. Batman has figured out that the killer is Two-Face, but doesn't have the proof or motive yet. He enlists Gilda, Harvey Dent's ex, to trap her current boyfriend, who Batman now reveals to be Two-Face in disguise. It turns out Karoselle was really Moroni, the mobster responsible for Dent's disfigurement, with a new face. Two-Face thought he had killed him before, but Moroni escaped albeit now without the use of his legs. Batman disguises himself as Moroni to draw Two-Face out. He appeals to his former ally to turn himself in, but in the end, it's Gilda's appeal that gets Two-Face to surrender. A solid effort from Wolfman and Novick, but not memorable. 

The backup story features more of Barr's take on the Dynamic Duo, and the Rich Buckler art is welcome, but this story is nothing special. There's a mobster awaiting a heart transplant, but someone steals it. Batman and Robin recover it and find out it was the mobster's own daughter behind the theft. This story has continuity with the main feature with a subplot involving a doctor thinking Batman is too uncaring to visit his sometime informant who is in the hospital (since last issue), but it turns out he's wrong. 

DC Comics Presents #27: Starlin's back, this time with Wein, and we get the first appearance of Mongul. He wants Superman to get an artifact for him from a crypt on a distance world that turns out to be the new home world of the Martians. This leads to conflict with Martian Manhunter who's trying to specifically keep Mongul from getting the key to planet-sized, super weapon, the Death Star War World! Superman wins the fight, but plans to not to turn over the key once Mongul frees his friends. He fails to keep Mongul from it, and Martian Manhunter rightly takes the Man of Steel to task over his over-confidence. Superman vows to get back that key or die trying! Best story this week. The backup, though, is "Whatever Happened to...Congo Bill" by Rozakis and Tanghal where Congo Bill takes on... a guy in a gorilla suit. I feel like this feature is being under-used so far.

Flash #291: The Barry Allen lookalike gangster tries to kill Fiona again, but is foiled by her neighbor's kid who thinks the guy is Barry Allen, too. Allen has had about enough of this and calls in King Faraday to explain the truth. To his neighbor. Because that's what matters. There is a scene of the Flash running up a searchlight beam just before this that is the sort of stuff tiresome Marvel fanboys claim DC characters always do but doesn't really happen that often. Anyway, the mobster has allowed himself to be captured because while all this was going, as he tried to hit the international assassin Sabre-tooth from last issue and is scared. Sabre-Tooth escapes from prison for revenge. He's wearing a costume now like the Flintstone's version of Hobgoblin's outfit (all shaggy fur) except it has tusks. Barry Allen uses his resemblance to the mobster to draw Sabre-Tooth out, and the Flash quickly dispatches him, because he's the sort of guy that can run up beams of light, and what can a guy with a gun and a furry suit do against that?

The Firestorm backup by Conway, Perez and Smith, is mostly Raymond and Stein dealing with personal issues. Stein has a job interview and is trying to stay sober. Ronnie gets bullied by that nerd Carmichael, then has to go with his girlfriend to pick up her sister from the airport. She has had some sort of unspecified "sickness." We end on a cliffhanger with an attack by the Hyena. 

Ghosts #94: Holding steady with mediocrity from last month, I think. The first story by Mimai Kin and Win Mortimer is a cautionary tale about genealogical research. James Fitzroy discovers in old documents that his family's original name was Muldoon, and they were from Ballybrooke not Galway. He returns to the old sod and discovers his ancestor was a hanging judge and had a man executed that later proved innocent. A man whose new bride cursed the judge's family. Then, he meets up with a beautiful, spectral woman in a wedding dress. He's found dead the next day. In the next story by Wessler and Sparling, a blind man (who looks kind of like a young Joe Walsh) is caught in a shoot out between gangsters and his service dog is shot and killed. The dog's ghost continues to be the man's companion. The gangsters, not realizing the dog is dead already, plan to kill him so he, uh, can't pick them out of a line-up, I suppose. Anyway, the ghost dog has his revenge. 

In a yarn by Kashdan and Newton a surgeon in a Latin American country takes a bribe to murder a pro-democracy agitator on the operating table. The man's ghost haunts the operating room, and gets his revenge when the surgeon is brought in after being in serious car crash. The last story, again written by Kin with art by Barretto and Colletta, has a wrongdoer dying in perhaps the dumbest fashion. After killing a man for his poker winnings, Bailey plans to brick up his body behind a wall in an old mill. Before he's done the guy's ghost emerges, and they tussle. Bailey is knocked out, but when he comes to the ghost is gone. He just has to finish the wall, which he does. Only then does he realize he's now on the other side and can't get out!

G.I. Combat #223: I couldn't get ahold of this issue, so the cover is all I have to offer.

Jonah Hex #42: Scalphunter is absent from this issue, so the main story gets 8 more pages. Fleisher and Forton need them as they set up a 3-parter. Jonah Hex has been trying to take down the Sugar Wallace gang who has been stealing sheep and running homesteaders off their land. Eventually, Hex kills them all with some dynamite in his hotel room and a shoot out in the streets. What Hex doesn't know is that Wallace has been acting on the orders of the Mayor and a cabal of wealth businessmen in town who know a new railroad spur is to be built and want the sheepherders' land to profit from it. With Wallace done in, they contrive to get the law to take care of Hex, specifically Marshall Jeremiah Hart. Hart gets a fair among of "screentime" this issue, to set him up as the stalwart, traditional Western lawman, with a fast gun and sure aim. Meanwhile, Hex meets up again with Mei Ling who he wants to marry, but she'll only agree if he gives up his guns. The cabal of businessmen murder one of their number, then tell Hex it was one of Wallace's gang that did it, and tell Hart it was Hex, setting up the confrontation. I can't say Forton's art is stellar, but it will be interesting to see where the story is going.


Dick McGee said...

Did you mean GI Combat #223? That's teh cover you're showing, and #224 came out in December 1980 if the database I looked at is correct. I read a lot of HT over the years but this one's a bit beyond my time, so the contents remain a mystery either way.

The "ghost dog" thing sounds like it could be a decent basis for a story, but the writers on Ghosts were usually phoning it in so probably not getting that much effort.

Had no idea Mogul was such a relatively recent character. Would have thought he was around in the 1970s, partly because (as you noted) the whole "War World" thing has always had distinct overtones of being a Star Wars ripoff, which were everywhere in the later part of that decade.

There must be a joke waiting to be told about Batman, Wonder Woman and appearing on thinly-veiled bondage fetish covers, but I can't quite assemble it. At least Bruce isn't being spanked or whipped there.

Trey said...

Yes, it's 223. I fixed it.

Well, Mongul had to be after Darkseid and Thanos, but yeah, I would have guessed a couple of years earlier.

Anne said...

There sure are a lot of disguises going on in that Batman story!

I'm going to assume that Superman giving Mongul the key's to the War World is something that doesn't get brought up much in later years, because it makes Superman look really bad. Especially his whole vow to kick Mongul out of War World or die trying. More like, kick him out within the next half hour, or give up and let Mongul go on an intergalactic killing spree, apparently. Really not Superman's finest hour!

Trey said...

These last two Starlin drawn (but written by different people) stories so I kind of different Superman. He's very confident (perhaps a bit condescending) and doesn't listen to others. Given the similar portrayals, I wonder if Starlin sort of plotted these stories and the "writers" just gave feedback and dialogued them, but I don't know.

bombasticus said...

Escapologist Batman must have had a certain demographic. I wonder where they are now and where that trope goes. Love the reminder that someone named "Moroni" (who is really the "Carousel" twirling around like the wheel of fortune) was involved in the uncanny birth of Two Face. Shame there was never an Arkham Asylum 2 to delve these tarot tropes but probably just as well in the long run.

As for Mongol, if memory serves (might be very wrong) this only became a big deal when Byrne took over. But the challenge of dialoguing a super-confident man of tomorrow is an interesting one. Does he ever need to say anything or even have thought balloons? Or is reading a "good" issue of Superman a little like watching the weather channel?