Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Wednesday Comics: DC, February 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 November 25, 1980. 

Legion of Super-Heroes #272: Conway was doing better for a bit, but this issue ruins that streak. It doesn't help that Ditko is on art. We get the origin of Blok, which is really dumb because his hatred of the Legion (strong enough to become a Super-Assassin) stems from a childhood misunderstanding of their evacuation of his homeworld. No one has since explained to him what really happened. He hasn't bothered to read about it anywhere. Nothing for it but to plan to kill the Legion. There's supposed to be a Dial H for Hero preview, too, but my digital copy didn't have it.

Mystery in Space #116: This one wasn't very good, either, despite an intriguing cover. The DeMatteis/Craig lead is probably the best of the bunch, with a race of robots capturing a disguised human who has come to enlist the robot's help against a mysterious alien invasion force. The robots, previously subjugated by humanity, are in no mood to help. It's revealed the robots were actually built from humans considered "inferior." Then in a twist, the disguised human reveals himself to actually be a robot--one of the invaders looking to ferret out hidden biologic life! The next story by Barr and Delbo is so dumb, I can't even bring myself to write about it in detail. Suffice to say,  it includes a alien race of living skeletons stealing an earth spaceship, crashing on a primitive alien world, and getting worshipped as a god, then sacrificed, thwarting an invasion of Earth. Dammit! I wrote too much. The next story by Wolfman and Smith is shaggy dog yarn about a mission to another world flummoxed by aliens giving them the silent treatment so they'll go away. 

Mishkin/Cohn and von Eeden/Celardo delivery a complicated time travel mystery, but by this point I'm skimming so I couldn't make sense of it. The last story by Drake and Ditko is like the sort of thing that would be published in an Atlas era Marvel sci-fi/suspense comic and involves a scientist making his house a rocket to escape a dictator.

New Adventures of Superboy #14: Luthor is in reform school but still manages to make a "power distorter" device he tries out on Superboy when he visits the school to give a talk to the inmates. With his powers going haywire, Superboy does things like set the fridge on fire with his heat vision and turn an armed car as transparent as Wonder Woman's jet with his x-ray vision. The funny thing is, Luthor had already thrown his distorter out in disgust because when he didn't work instantly, he thought it was flawed. Luthor breaks out to get it back, and he's bushwhacked by Pa Kent and son who take the device from him.

The backup has Superbaby (i.e. Superman as a toddler) teaming up with Zatara. It's goofy and mildly fun, in exactly the way you would expect.

Sgt. Rock #349: Easy gets a new soldier, which over course means he's going to die heroically this issue. And a good thing for him, too, because Kanigher gives him an singular trait that would have made his fellow G.I.'s kill him eventually: he's a ventriloquist who's always "on" and uses his dummy to insult his fellow troops and officers. Maybe I'm reading this all wrong, though! Could this really be the secret origin of Scarface, the dummy of the Ventriloquist in various Batman comics?

Bill Kelley (and no artist credited) gives a story of a Nazi-collaborating French singer who gets sent to a concentration camp anyway after his son and a Jewish fiancée escape Paris. Duursema does the art on a story of "game recognizing game" in the Korean War, where a U.S. bugler plays taps for a dying North Korean bugler. The last story is a "Men of Easy Co." feature where he learn that Bulldozer is really strong and doesn't care much about medals.

Super Friends #41: Rozakis is guest writer with Fradon still on pencils for a clash with the Toyman. The Wonder Twins are so often central to these Super Friends stories, it makes me wonder if that was editorial mandate. Anyway, they get fooled by a false Toyman, but then redeem themselves. 

The backup features the return of the Israeli hero Seraph courtesy of Bob Oksner. Seraph has to defeat a group of crooks or terrorists looking to steal the technology behind a new desalinization plant.

Unexpected #207: Barr and Sparling/Patterson bring us a continuation of the Johnny Peril story about the star gem amulet. A mob boss, Dan Blodgett, who already has one such talisman is eager to get a hold of the one Peril has too. He sends his fiancée to lure Peril from his office, but instead she tries to enlist his help.  Thugs show up to take the detective to their boss. Blodgett demands Peril give him the amulet and reveals the powers the star gem has given him in an attempt to get his way.  Before he can kill Johnny, the fiancée pulls the amulet away, causes Blodgett to change from a bloated slob back to his normal, nonpowered self. Still, the true master of the amulets plans on stopping Peril from interfering with his plans. One weird thing about this story is that twice Peril and a police lieutenant have a moment where we are told "their eyes meet, and a seeming eternity passes" like there's something going on between the two of them.

The rest of the stories here are pretty rough. Seeger and Nicholas/Trapani present a yarn where a money-grubbing charmer realizes the rich girl he's been wooing really does have a father with magical powers when a winged bear kidnaps her. The guy does what anyone would do: he decides to follow them to Iceland so he can learn magic, too, and get rich. Unfortunately, the harsh winter led to the father burn his magic books to stay warm; he's trapped in wing bear form, so instead of magical knowledge the guy gets eaten. The Kashdan/Infante "Timewarp" tale sees a stranger hung for the murder of a girl, but then it's revealed the true murderers were shape-shifting aliens who framed one of their own who was threatening to reveal their presence to Earth. The last story is again by Kasdan but has nice Grandenetti art. When a skull begins appearing to members of a family before their deaths, they all believe it is the result of a curse by one of their own, but in reality it's a hoax perpetrated by a living family member, who gets a supernatural comeuppance in the end.

Unknown Soldier #248: Haney and Ayers/Talaoc reveal a bit (possibly) of the Soldier's origin. SS officer von Stauffen has trained a deadly female agent named Helga for the express purpose of finding some weakness in the Soldier's past and killing him. In the U.S. she gains access to secret files that reveal the Soldier is the second son of a family with a long, proud military history. His father wants the older son in military service, and the second carrying on the family name, but both sons wind up in service in the Philippines. A grenade kills the older son and disfigures the younger, who goes on to train to be the Unknown Soldier. Helga takes the Soldier's father hostage and demands the Soldier show up. When he does she apparently shoots and kills him. Of course, the story is continued, though.

The backup story is more of Burkett and Ayers "Tales of the Ruptured Duck." I just don't care about this. I have a hard time believing anyone did. "The Duck" winds up saving the guy that fell out of the plane and was captured. Does that surprise anyone? Enough already! 

Warlord #42:  Read more about it here.  We also get the return of OMAC with writers Mishkin and Cohn and art by LaRocque/Coletta. OMAC has made an alliance with IC&C against Verner Bros., but the war isn't going well. Things get worse when OMAC is attacked by Vanquisher, a superhero working for Verners, the two are transported to have their battle in front of rolling cameras. The next issue promises "Vanquisher the Movie."

1 comment:

Anne said...

Legion of Superheroes, Mystery in Space, and Superboy all get great covers this time around.

Your frustration at the low quality of the back-up and anthology stories is much appreciated!