Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Wednesday Comics: DC, August 1981 (wk 2 pt 1)

My goal: read DC Comics' output from January 1980 (cover date) to Crisis! This week, I'm looking at the comics at newsstands around May 21, 1981.

Action Comics #522: A nutty professor with a life long love of Baum's Oz builds his own ticktock man. The robot helpfully tries to keep his absent-minded master by on time, but that leads to the creation of a time tornado, as these things do. Superman has to stop him, naturally. 

Speaking of nutty professors, in the Atom backup by Rozakis and Saviuk, Dr. Hyatt has built a device that can steal and store the energy of a hurricane, which he plans to send back to 1931 to hurricane season. When the Calculator shows up to still it, the Atom gets thrown into the time vortex too.

Adventure Comics #484: At this point, Wolfman is pretty much asking fans to come up with most visual details of this book. In addition to coming up with heroes and villains, he now asks for fans to decorate Chris's families new home and dress Chris's and Vicki's school peers. This leads to things like the really ugly costume on the Bounty Hunter in the first story here, and the weird design on his companion, The Pupil, who looks like a giant eyeball in a mortarboard hat. Of course, the Dial H kids defeat these clowns. There's a running gag with a grumpy homeless guy continuing to be in the way of the ongoing conflict, which pays off in the second story when he develops broadcast depression super-powers (thanks to a radioactive exposure in the first), and becomes a pied-piper leading the townsfolk to suicide attempts. Again the Dial H kids save the day. It seems an odd story for a kids' book, but hey, it was the 80s when you could play depression, homelessness, and attempted suicide in a light way.

Brave & the Bold #177: Barr and Aparo team Batman up with another detective, Elongated Man. When members of the charitable Hangman Club are being murdered, the two Leaguers are on the case, but the murderous Hangman seems to stay one step ahead, even hanging the Batman using Elongated Man as a noose and rope at one point, which is sort of gross. Anyway, the two ultimately realize the Hangman is actually killing the Club members to cover his real goal: killing his own wife. I like the way the issue shows the detective chops of both protagonists.

Detective Comics #505: Little Angela Lupus is dying of leukemia and needs a bone marrow transplant from her brother, Anthony Lupus. The problem is Lupus has disappeared. What Batman knows that the Lupus family doesn't is that Anthony was a werewolf, and after their first encounter, he may be dead. Turns out Batman may be wrong about that last part, as there seems to be an Anthony Lupus doing illegal hunting in Alaska. Batman manages to track down Lupus who is still a werewolf and capture him. Batman assures Lupus he can find a cure for his condition. Conway and Newton provide a sequel to the story in Batman #255 (1974). 

In the Batgirl backup by Burkett and Delbo, Batgirl is on the trail of hunchback killer who has terrorizing women all over Gotham. Batgirl plays lure to get the hunchback to attack, but in the struggle she drops the knockout gas pellet she was going to use to subdue him, and they both get knocked out.

House of Mystery #295: In the I...Vampire story we learn the secret origin of Bennett's elderly side kick Mishkin, who started hunting vampires with him as a boy after his mother was turned. Sutton's art is nice on this one. It's downhill after this story. The next story is about alien's targeting earthling by selling them fancy new cars in only red or blue. I don't get it. 

Then, Post and Henson deliver the typical cautionary tale about a kid who removes a mysterious woman's turban on a dare and is horrified by the monstrous face he sees on the back of her head. The last story by Jones and Craig is a bit "Living Doll" from the Twilight Zone and "Amelia" from Trilogy of Terror. Harry is trying to marry Isadora or her money, but her daughter Lilah sees through him, and eventually locks him in the attic with a Zulu fetish doll he wouldn't let her buy.

Green Lantern #143: The "backdoor pilot" for an Omega Men series continues. Hal spends most of the issue strapped down with his ring warding off attempts by the forces of the Citadel to take it away. Meanwhile, Carol (and the reader) get to here a number of monologues from Auron. The value/importance Wolfman puts on this character eludes me, other than he winds up being the deus ex machina to secure GL's, Carol's, and the Omega Men's escape.

Sutton and Rodriguez/Mahlstedt continue the Adam Strange backup. Strange returns to Rann only to find that Sardath and the Rannian people blame him for Alanna's death. A detail on her lifeless, crystalline form, reveals that it's a trick. Hoping she's still alive he heads out for a rematch with Alva Xar.

World's Finest #270: My brother and I had this issue as kids so I have fond memories of it. In the Superman/Batman story by Conway and Buckler, Metallo has busted out of Superman Island and now has a Black Hole as a power source. Once the heroes track him down, Metallo uses the intense gravitation to take out Superman, but Batman smashes his control board, and Metallo gets sucked into his own Black Hole. 

In the Haney and von Eeden/Smith Green Arrow story, Count Vertigo is back and uses his vertiginous powers to force Green Arrow to acquire the crown of Vlatava. GA does so, and Vertigo smashes it with a sledgehammer! To be continued. In the Hawkman/Hawkgirl story by Rozakis and Saviuk/Rodriguez, Hawkman has been cured but a Thanagarian invasion fleet is leaving the planet, headed for Earth, and Hawkgirl has got to deal with the Shadow Thief before she can do anything about it.

In the Red Tornado story by Conway and Delbo, Reddy takes on Robot Killer a luddite with a homemade (but snappy) costume. Finally, in "Our Son, the Monster" by Bridwell and Newton, Captain Marvel has to help the son of a neighbor who has been transformed into a chubby green creature, by aliens' misguided efforts to reward him with good-looks.

It was enjoyable to revisit this issue, and I think that it's one of the better issues I've read of the title since I started this review.


Dick McGee said...

" Dr. Hyatt has built a device that can steal and store the energy of a hurricane, which he plans to send back to 1931 to hurricane season."

O-kay then. Because 1931 wasn't already a bad enough year for hurricanes (it's got its own wiki page, even)? Or are they implying that year was so awful because the future uses it as a temporal dumping ground for bad weather?

"The Pupil, who looks like a giant eyeball in a mortarboard hat."

That is a seriously terrible double entendre going on there.

"...but hey, it was the 80s when you could play depression, homelessness, and attempted suicide in a light way."

Yeah, that sounds like the decade I remember. If they'd worked in some casual homophobia and American military adventurism they'd really have nailed the spirit of the times.

"Then, Post and Henson deliver the typical cautionary tale about a kid who removes a mysterious woman's turban on a dare and is horrified by the monstrous face he sees on the back of her head."

I'd accuse Rowling of cribbing "freshman year" Voldemort from this, but of course they both stole the idea from mythology, either the Japanese yokai version or the much later English urban legend about Edward Mordrake.

Trey said...

It's the opposite. The device is takes energy from hurricanes. He's going to stop the storms of that year and steal their energy for electricity.

Dick McGee said...

Oh, well that's much less insane. What does Chronos want with the thing though? Aside from the usual "because it's shiny" super-thievery motivation, that is? I wouldn't have thought a guy with proven time-manipulation tech already really needs a hurricane-powered energy source.

Trey said...

It's the Calculator, not Chronos. I think he just wanted more power.

Dick McGee said...

Oh right, I fixated on "time vortex" and thought Chronos. The Calculator makes more sense. If I recall my school days in the 80s properly, even the little handheld Texas Instrument ones ran through batteries like mad back then, and a full-body one that can materialize objects out of thin air must be even worse. :)

JB said...

Gosh, I remember owning that GL comic (the cover art looked like Hal's head was on backwards) but can remember absolutely nothing of its interior/story. I wonder if I somehow lost it before ever having a chance to read it.

bombasticus said...

Now that you mention it, I think Auron is Marv's effort to incorporate a Starlin style metaphysical monologue character . . . which in this issue turns literal with the big data dump. Poor Carol. I don't remember any balloons for her that say anything like "who is this glowing hippie, why he talking at me about this solar system I don't even care about" but said balloon would have been welcome just to get a little air in the panels.

bombasticus said...

Oh right! This one has Demonia in it too, giving off a strong Mystique vibe. Auron in full Dark/Phoenix mode too, not so much Starlin like I thought. Tigorr is Wolverine, Broot is Colossus, Harpis might actually be Nightcrawler, Kalista is the Magenta Witch (a twist!) and Primus has glowy eyes and no sense of humor. Oh that Wolfman!