Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Wednesday Comics: DC, March 1981 (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  December 11, 1980. 

Batman #333: Wolfman and Novick/McLaughlin cast Batman and Talia in an international spy thriller. They are first in the Swiss Alps checking out secret bank accounts and getting chased on skiis by guys with lasers, then they're flying to Nepal, and finally sneaking into Hong Kong through the marsh, all in an attempt to find out who was behind Falstaff. Talia really gives the reader some basic info on the then-current status of Hong Kong, which has the effect of making Bruce look terribly uneducated. Leaving Hong Kong, Bruce is drugged and captured.

In the backup, Robin and Catwoman are doing their own globetrotting investigating the same issue. They wind up in Shanghai and meet up with King Faraday, who Catwoman does not like. Then they're double-crossed by Chin Ho, terribly stereotypical Chinese criminal and former associate of Catwoman's. The story ends with our heroes about to be injected with cocaine against their will.

DC Comics Presents #31: Conway delivers a slight story, but it's got Garcia-Lopez art so it isn't all bad. Robin and Superman independently stumble upon a circus where someone is mind controlling the performers. Turns out it's one of the clowns, and he isn't doing it for crime or world domination or the like. He just wants to be in charge of the circus!

The "Whatever Happened to..." backup is about the Golden Age Robotman by Rozakis and Saviuk. Of these stories so far, it actually tells what happened to Robotman (he was in a cave in and wound up in suspended animation) and provides an end to his story (he gets a new-ish human body), so I call it a success.

Flash #295: Though Flash has never been a favorite character of mine (I have probably read more issues of Flash in this series than I have at any other point in my life!), I would describe this run by Burkett/Heck as solid, late Bronze Age material. It isn't a series that is particularly remembered, but it's a lot more consistent, I think, than say Conway's work of this period--maybe even Wolfman's outside of Teen Titans. But nobody is writing articles praising it in 2021. This issue--the wrap-up of the plot by Gorilla Grodd to make everyone forget him--pretty much continues in that vein, except that I feel it has a bit flatter resolution than some other stories. Grodd's plan is to get Solovar and the Flash to kill each other, and he does this by mind controlling them and causing them to act out an interaction where he plays the other and betrays them in the semblance of a dream. Now, he doesn't mind control them to think this happens or actual just dream it, they act it out. And he doesn't mind control them to think he's the other one, he actually disguises himself to look like them. That all just seems silly to me, given Grodd's power set. Anyway, it's this having to act it out that clues the Flash into the fact this isn't an actual dream (he dreams in super-speed) and allows him to warn Solovar so they can thwart Grodd.

The Firestorm back-up has Stein calling in Ronnie so they can save a scientist in an experimental bathyscape form a ship captain bent on killing him for some reason. An accident turns the scientist into Typhoon with blue skin and really long orange sideburns. To be continued!

Ghosts #98: Ghosts continues to haunt me with stories free of any horror or even atmosphere for the most part. The Dr. Thirteen/Spectre cover story by Kupperberg and Adams/Blaisdell is the best of the bunch. Thirteen is still out to prove the Spectre is a fake, but gets distracted by a return to his ancestral home to help an investigative reporter get the goods on his father's former partner, Sontag. Seems the guy has sold shoddy construction materials, leading to 30 deaths. It turns out that not only is Sontag guilty, but he murdered Thirteen's father as well. The Spectre shows up and has Sontag kill himself. Thirteen still vows to get that vengeful spirit, and he notices that police Lt. Corrigan and the Spectre always show up at the same places. Something interesting about Thirteen's dad: he was a diehard rationalist too, and got his assistant to fake a haunting after his death, so his son was disprove it and learn a lesson about being skeptical of the supernatural. Parenting 101, right there.

The Ayers/Giella art on the story by Wessler is rough, and the story itself is a confusing tale about a guy's ghost haunting his hotel, but then returning to his body to animate it so he doesn't know he's driving his own customers away. Or dead. The second story by Wessler and the Redondo Studio is kind of amusing as a money-grubbing, abusive orphanage operator gets smacked around by the ghosts of the parents of a young girl she won't let get adopted because she wants to milk the girl's inheritance. "Spirit, Don't Save Me!" by Kashdan and Mandrake has a chemist killing his partner, but then getting so badly burned by chemicals he wants to die, but his partner's ghost gets him medical attention to keep him alive and prolong his agony.

G.I. Combat #227: Three Haunted Tank yarns, as usual, all by Kanigher, Ayers and Glanzman (who trade off penciling and inking). The first one at least has novelty going for it, in that it's told from the point of view of the tank. Not the ghost of a Civil War general haunting the tank, but the tank itself. This highlights one interesting thing about the Haunted Tank, that I didn't expect before I embarked on this project, which is it isn't always the same tank. In fact, it might be multiple tanks in one story. Okay, perhaps it's not that interesting. Anyway, we've also got "The Bleeding Target" wherein one of the tank crew realizes the tanks he's blowing up actually have living people on the inside, and the best of the three, "The 13th Kill," where the Haunted Tank helps take out an installation protecting a u-boat pen, and manages to out smart a German tank commander "ace."

The O.S.S. story has always-interesting Grandenetti art. In it, an agent poses as a dead parachutist (thanks to a drug) to fool the Germans into thinking they've gotten secret intel on Allied plans, but it's all a ruse to plant disinformation. Kashdan and Borillo give us the obligatory Korean War story, with a soldier shooting in Morse Code to give the U.S. forces the enemy's position. Finally, a Marine tricks his buddy with kids in to letting him be the one to take the suicide mission in the perfunctory "Helping Hand."

Jonah Hex #46: This Fleisher/Ayers and DeZuniga story may be the highlight this week. Hex and his new bride are trying to find a town where they can buy land and settle down, but face prejudice at every turn as a mixed race couple. Taunted by bigoted goons in one town, Hex has had enough--but his bride reminds him of his vow to forsake violence. The bigots don't give up so easy though and follow the Hexes as they leave town. When a broken wagon axle leaves Hex unable to walk with an injured back, and Mei Ling rides into town for help, the goons come after him. Hex injured and with jammed pistols, uses his knife, a convenient rattlesnake, a field fire, and final concealed rotten boards in a barn to dispatch his foes in a kind of rural Die Hard. It all ends happily with the doctor Mei Ling found agreeing to sell them some land.

The Scalphunter backup by Conway and Ayers sees Ke-Woh-No-Tay go through some torturous rituals to join the Mandan tribe. He completes them, though, and there's a girl there he's interested in, but trouble rears it's head as the tribe has captured an old trader, a friend of his father's.

1 comment:

Higgipedia said...

Oh man, Haunted Tank. That brings me back.