Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Wednesday Comics: DC, September 1981 (wk 1 pt 1)

I'm reading DC Comics' output from January 1980 (cover date) to Crisis! I'm a couple of days later than my usual Wednesday post, but I'm looking at the comics at newsstands on the week of  June 4, 1981. 

This month is notable as we have 2 new series. These are the first new series from DC since New Teen Titans debuted with a November 1980 cover date.

Arak Son of Thunder #1: Thomas and Colon/DeZuniga present a partial origin of the 8th Century Native American, Sword & Sorcery hero. He's picked up afloat in the Atlantic in a canoe and adopted into a group of Vikings. As an adult, he's at odds with the leader's bloodthirsty nature. He battles a sea monster that's in the service of the sorceress Angelica, then sets off for the court of Charlemagne. In a sea of off-bramd Conans, Arak is certainly a bit more original in concept that the usual comics S&S fare.

Batman #339: Conway and Novick/Mitchell bring back Poison Ivy, not in her later, plant-controlling eco-terrorist mode, but doing her original femme fatale with plant toxins conception. Here she kisses a number of prominent men in Gotham (the board of Wayne Enterprises as it turns out) on one pretext or another and puts them in her thrall--including Bruce Wayne. She calls them all together and has them sign a document giving her control, and forbids them to tell what has happened. As Batman, Bruce confronts her, but using some vines to strangle him, she makes her escape. Batman is afraid he won't be able to stop her, and is unable even to tell the police what she is doing thanks to the suggestion.

The Conway/Novick Robin backup has him still performing with the Hill Circus. He reflects on how he was shaped by two fathers: his biological one and Batman. His quick thinking saves him from plummeting to his death when his distraction harms his performance.

DC Comics Presents #37: Starlin and Thomas present a sort of off-beat team-up with Hawkgirl. When a Kryptonese inscription is found in an archeological dig, Hawkgirl calls in Superman. They discover the site used to be a laboratory for Supes' grandfather, Var-El. He found a way into an "X-Dimension" where the expended energy of suns is pooled. While exploring, Superman falls into a vortex toward a red sun. Hawkgirl flies in to rescue him, dodging the weird bird creatures that live there and having her wings catch fire to save the Man of Steel. This is the sort of quirky but throwaway story typical of team-up books from the Big Two, but the characterization of Hawkgirl is pretty good for the era.

Flash #301: Barry Allen gets fired for missing work all the time, because he can hardly tell his boss what's really been going on. But when his boss goes for a pacemaker tune-up and gets kidnapped, the Flash runs to the rescue. He also figures out that the kidnapping was a ruse to turn the guy's pacemaker into an atomic bomb. Meanwhile, the villain masquerading as Barry's dad seems to be getting closer to revealing his plan (finally). 

In the Firestorm backup by Conway and Cowan/Smith, Hothead is still dealing with the Hyena, and the mystery of the hyena's alter ego. All signs point to a member of Day household, possibly Doreen's sister.

Ghosts #104: Dr. Paul Geist, Dr. 13's in-story mentor and the guy whose files all these stories are supposedly from, is out in favor of Squire Shade, a more conventional horror host who looks like the Gentleman Ghost put on a few pounds. He's not off to a great start.

The first story by Kanigher and Silvestri is about a brutal, Stone Age guy, who is convinced he's being haunted when he seems is own shadow in bright light and runs right into his comeuppance at the hands of a mama triceratops. The next (by Kanigher and Bender) is about a stuntman turned director who is getting spectacular, Oscar-winning stunts in his films by making sure the stunt performers die. The table's are turned when the ghosts of two of them ensures the director dies performing a stunt. 

The last is almost a 2000AD sort of tale, again written by Kanigher, but with suitably grotty art by Giffen and Beatty. In the distant future following a nuclear war, a cruel but wealthy man falls into the hands of all the robots he's tortured and mistreated, who remake him in their image and vow to replace his parts as they wear out so their vengeance can go on forever.

Jonah Hex #52: Mei Ling leaves their son to be watched by Jonah and the young boy from last issue while they are working on the farm, but the baby gets stung by a scorpion. Hex tries to suck the poison out, but the baby still mounts a fever and Mei Ling is furious. The fight turns to his inability to give up the gun over these past few issues, and she doesn't want to hear his excuses. When the mother of the boy who was helping him shows up to say her son has been kidnapped by men out for revenge on Hex, Hex takes up his guns to ride out and save him. Mei Ling warns him that if he leaves she won't be here when he gets back. Hex tracks the kidnappers down, but walks into a trap in a shack rigged with dynamite.

The Bat Lash story picks up where the last installment left off: a bunch of soiled doves have guns on Lash. The entrance of a blundering customer allows Bat Lash the chance to escape, but conflict between him, the woman who robbed him, and her henchman, wind up with the social club burning down and the Confederate gold melting and running down the street. Lash saves the woman, and she just might be starting to warm to his charms, but then she notices he stole her horse.

1 comment:

Dick McGee said...

"In a sea of off-bramd Conans, Arak is certainly a bit more original in concept that the usual comics S&S fare."

Very much so, and in the long run he was no Conan-clone at all. I really quite liked Arak, had the entire run - about 50 issues IIRC. Actually had a proper conclusion and everything, it's very much the character's whole biography.

Sadly, I was a little too "grown up" to grab the action figure of him when he (inexplicably) got one in the Warlord line.