Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Wednesday Comics: DC, January 1981 (wk 2, pt 2)

My goal: read DC Comics' output from January 1980 (cover date) to Crisis! This week, I'm looking at the comics at newsstands around October 23, 1980. 

Legion of Super-Heroes #271: continues the story of the last two issues. Light Lass learns the secret of the Dark Man, who is clone made from part of Tharok's irradiated brain (and apparently all evil). The various Legionnaires manage to escape from their confinement and make common cause with the Fatal Five who have decided the Dark Man doesn't have their best interests at heart. Blok (late of the Super-Assassins) gets to prove his worth to the Legion, but it all comes down to Tharok versus the Dark Man, which appears to lead to mutual annihilation.  Conway's and Janes' story is inferior in craft to the sort of stuff going on over in the X-Men at this time (and probably Teen Titans) but it's a solid story that only suffers for perhaps being a little drawn out.

Mystery in Space #115: None of these stories are particularly interesting except for some of the artists brought to bear. "Certified Safe" has got Bolland drawing Drake's story of a hotshot, space opera general whose overconfidence is his undoing when he's killed by a weird organism on a routine scout mission. Still, his political opponents meet the same fate. Denys Cowan is artist for a humorous tale by Allikas which has contestants vying to be delegates to a convention on Planet Rxaxx, only to discover it's our viruses they consider kindred intellects, not humans. La Rocque and Sech collaborate on a space opera yarn where a couple both sacrifice themselves thinking the other can then get to earth and warn of an alien invasion. This causes the aliens to change their plans of conquest because of the human power of love. 

The other two stories have artists from an older generation. Barr and Tuska give us a story of a spacefaring Noah contending with a AI gone mad. In "The Planet of Loathing" by Utley and Ditko, aliens contact one human to offer to help earth enter a new Golden Age only to be rebuffed. They unknowingly contacted a hardened criminal on deathrow.

New Adventures of Superboy #13: This is not usually one of my favorite titles in the DC catalog and this story isn't anything special--but the ending had a twist I wasn't expecting. This sort of continues from last issues story, with Clark acting extra cowardly to convince everyone he isn't a hero, which makes Clark seem really masochistic, but okay. On a plane ride to Coast City, he meets a young man named Harold who impresses Clark by seeming without fear no matter what happens. He and Clark become friends and later on the beach, he helps Clark out against some bullies. Clark as Superboy soon  soon returns the favor when Harold gets in over his head with some criminals. At the end of the story, we find out Harold's (or Hal's) last name is Jordan, and he will one day become Green Lantern. Well played, Bates and Schaffenberger! Other interesting continuity tidbits: comments regarding the distance from Smallville to Coast City puts Smallville in the Eastern Time zone and suggests it must not be too far from the coast, so it isn't in Kansas at this point. The story also mentions the Beach Boys as if they are new, so it must be set in the early to mid-60s.

Sgt. Rock #348: The lead story by Kanigher, Ayers and Randall has Zack, former bazooka man for Easy, preparing to head home because he lost his left arm. Zack doesn't go home though, instead following Easy into battle, and helping Rock out one last time before leaving him in the hands of his replacements, Short and Long Round. Jan Duursema pencils the next story about the depravity of the Roman gladiatorial games under Nero. Kanigher seems to like these historical asides. "Runaway" has really amateurish looking, apparently early, art by Ron Randall. It's a nasty tale of deserting British soldiers in World War I who disguise themselves with cowhides and escape the Germans only to die in a grisly mishap in an abattoir. The last story is a "Men of Easy" feature focusing on 4-Eyes and what happens the day he breaks his glasses. Spoilers: he still makes the shot.

Super Friends #40: Bridwell and Fradon introduce the Monocle, who has the power to fool any sense, and pretty much makes fools of the Super Friends until they lure him into a trap by pretending Wonder Woman is getting arrested for one of his crimes. Then the Wonder Twins take him down. The backup story is about Jack O' Lantern of the Global Guardians and features a leprechaun and a piece of the Blarney Stone for really concentrated Irishness.

Unexpected #206: The cover story is a Johnny Peril tale by Barr with appealing, sort of cartoony art by Sparling and Patterson. A robot appears to acting as a brutal vigilante. Johnny traces the robots to a factory and discovers the killer robot is the prototype for an assassin (and really more a vehicle or powered armor, but whatever). The creator, Dr. Haskell, powers the robot with a star-shaped talisman given him by a mysterious benefactors--who then apparently kill him for revealing their secret. More on this mysterious group is promised next issue.

Drake, Nicholas, and Demulder open the issue with a businessman wanting to wise up the liberal, vegetarian, animal-loving son of his old mentor. He drops him on an island with a gun where he believes he'll be forced to kill a rabid wolf and give up his beliefs. He returns to find the young man does now have a taste for meat--human meat! He's become a werewolf. "The Iron Beast" by Utley and Garcia is a bit like Bradbury's "There Will Come Soft Rains" except the machine looking for commands from humanity is a futuristic tank. 

Warlord #41: 
Read more about it here.  We also get more of a "Tale of Wizard World."


Dick McGee said...

I think that might have been the last issue of Mystery In Space I bought. The stories in were really, really lousy, to the point where they still stick in my head as such even after all this time.

Do the handcuffs on Wonder Woman on the Superfriends cover count as yet another bit of bondage art for her? I think they probably do. DC won't just won't stop doing that trope even on their "kiddie" book. Not quite up (or possibly down) to Empowered standards, but Diana sure comes close.

Having Jack o'Lantern with a leprechaun in a backup story when in a January issue seems like a tremendous waste. Couldn't they have saved it for either October or March for an appropriate holiday?

I'm not sure the writer on the werewolf story understands what "animal-loving" means if he thinks shooting a rabid animal is cruelty rather than mercy. Or was that just a figure of speech? Regardless, I don't see why a werewolf can't still be a liberal animal-lover, although I'll concede the vegetarian thing is likely going to be a struggle. If years of playing World of Darkness RPGs has taught me anything it's that werewolves are actually big furry ecoterrorists with superpowers rather than doomed victims of a terrible curse. :)

Trey said...

Ha! Well, as to the seasonal nature of Jack O'Lantern, remember while this story has a Jan 81 cover date, it went on sale October 23, 1980, so it hit at the right time.

Dick McGee said...

Oh, right, January does translate to October at the newsstand, doesn't it? Right in time for All Hallow's Eve then. Well done, DC. :)