Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Wednesday Comics: DC, September 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 June 18, 1981. 

Detective Comics #506: This whole issue has a bit of a (comics code approved) giallo vibe, I think. In the main story by Conway and Newton/Mitchell, 10 months ago, Batman saves a woman from a burning car. The woman is horribly burned, but alive. The car seems to have been bombed. In the present, men in the fashion industry are being killed, and Bruce Wayne winds up in an altercation in a dance club with a woman with immense strength who snaps the neck of a fashion designer with one hand. The woman, the Manikin, removes her coat and mask and appears incased in an articulated, full-body, metal outfit. The clothes she leaves behind are designer and not of the commercial produced variety. Batman goes to question the designer of the garment in question, but the Manikin attacks again. She is too strong and fast for the Batman, and eventually tricks him and knocks him out. To be continued.

In the Batgirl backup by Burkett and Delbo/Giella, the hunchback killer believes he's killed Batgirl, so he leaves her alone when she is merely unconscious. Noticing the hands of a cellist at a concert, Batgirl realizes that the hunchback is a musician of a stringed instrument due to his calluses. Guessing he is a mandolin player, she manages to track his likely identity by checking music stores in the areas the hunchback has operated. She gets lucky and discovers the hunchback look is merely a costume worn by the musician who believes his Muse only speaks to him after he kills. Slipping on a page of sheet music gets Batgirl captured again, he plays his haunting music for her, but then kills himself.

Legion of Super-Heroes #279: We reach the conclusion of the Grimbor story. With most of the LSH neutralized or captured by Grimbor, Princess Projectra and Karate Kid try to take out the energy chains with the Kid's weakness locating abilities, while Reflecto takes on Grimbor. Our heroes triumph, of course, and Reflecto is revealed to be not Ultra-Boy as the story has been leading us to think but Superboy! Thomas gets solo writing credit on this one, Conway having moved on, I guess.

New Adventures of Superboy #21: Bates and Schaffenberger present a pretty rare situation outside of Kryptonite: Superboy being uniquely susceptible to something. In this case, it's the tone frequencies of the voice of a wheeler-dealer business man named McKay. He gets Superboy in a contract that has him performing "charity" benefits weekly. Meanwhile, there's some sort of semi-corporeal creature in a lake whose touch turns things to crumbling mineral. In the end, Superboy returns the creature to space where it belongs, and Pa Kent points out Superboy is a minor and couldn't enter into the contract with McKay, voiding it. In the backup, Superboy builds a ship with the help of his slug sapient friends and escapes the planet under a red sun.

Sgt. Rock #356: In the first story (in a pattern not uncommon in this book), a by-the-book lieutenant learns a thing or two from Rock after he forces the sergeant to stop taking point all the time. They have to go into a French town overrun by Germans to get back the soldiers that got sent ahead instead. In a story by the Veitch brothers, three green and somewhat frightened troops are sent on a mission with a corporal famed for his bravery. When he is captured, they find their courage to rescue him, and also choose to keep his memory untarnished by not revealing he cracked under torture. In the last story, Rock recalls a nameless loner in Easy who nevertheless died making a heroic sacrifice for the unit.

We have no issue of Super Friends this month. That's because last month's was the final issue, and I forgot to note it at the time.

Unexpected #214: No Johnny Peril this issue (in fact, the Johnny Peril revival is over. Outside of Who's Who he won't be seen again until the 1990s), and the issue is better than average. In the first story by Kashdan and Panaligan, an archeological swindler gets buried in the fake tomb he had built by angry native peoples. In the cover story by Kelley/Bissette and Gonzales, a prizefighter is booked to fight a minotaur in a Greek cave by his avaricious son. Then there's a nonhorror pseudohistorical bit of nonsense about Teddy Roosevelt in the old west. The last story, written by Mishkin and Cohn with art by Gonzales/Colletta, is an atypical werewolf yarn. A tagger with dreams of making a name for himself as a graffiti artist instead becomes a hero when a well-placed spray can spray thwarts a subway werewolf.

Unknown Soldier #255: Haney and Ayers/Tlaloc continue the Soldier's adventures in China with his new lady friend, the pirate Lady Jade. Their beached ship is overrun by the troops of the Warlord Chang. Chang intends to use the artillery the Soldier was taking to the Chinese fighters to breach the citadel of Ur Jal. On the festival of Ching Ming he's got to sweep the tomb of his family. That works out ok because Ur Jal is exactly where the Soldier intended to go as the Japanese are using it as a munition depot. They breach the Citadel and Chang sweeps the tomb--before the Unknown Soldier blows the fortress up to destroy the munitions. Jade returns to her piratical ways, and the Unknown Soldier heads off to his next mission.

The Captain Fear story has a pirate fighting a ninja, which is pretty much all the comics reading youth of the early 80s could ask for, I think. The conflict is over the scroll Fear captured last installment where a samurai clan requests the help of the British in overthrowing the Shogun in return for helping fund the war against Austria. Fear doesn't know this though because he can't read, but a Spanish governor and ninja in the service of the Shogun want the scroll for themselves. The art by Simonson is great here.

The last story is a Dateline: Frontline story by Burkett and Estrada. Things are getting desperate in Bataan, with low food and high numbers of sick and wounded. The U.S. general surrenders, and it seems there may be worse things to come.

Warlord #49:  Read about this issue here. In the Claw the Unconquered backup by Harris and Yeates, Claw does battle with the demon his demonic hand originally came from. The battle seems to be a stalemate until Shalieka, the woman he met last issue, suggests she can perform a ritual to return their hands, though one will die. They agree, but Claw double-crosses the demon, cutting off his human hand and casting him into the maw of the Lord of Death. Claw enters the city the conquering hero, but a robed figure watching suggests Shalieka's actions have all been in the service of the Lords of Shadow. We never find out to what end, as this is the last Claw the Unconquered backup.

World's Finest Comics #271: Superman Thomas, Harris, and Bridwell write the sort of continuity heavy story Thomas is known for with art by Buckler/McLaughlin. Superman dreams of a masked man that shoots him with Kryptonite beams, and weirdly, that happens the next day as Atoman is released from a coffin. In trying to determine the identity of Atoman, Superman and Batman remember all the times they met for the first time (in their alter egos, etc.). Finally, they figure out Atoman is from Earth-Two. The defeat him there with the assistant of Superman and Robin from that world.


Dick McGee said...

I remember liking Manikin as a character quite a bit. A neat addition to Batman's long list of foes. Homaged her later in Villains & Vigilantes and Champions with a villain named Manikiller.

"In the Batgirl backup by Burkett and Delbo/Giella, the hunchback killer believes he's killed Batgirl, so he loves her alone when she is merely unconscious."

Well, that is a seriously unfortunate typo there - or was the hunchback a necrophiliac rapist? :)

I remember being quite sad that we never got more Claw after this month. Must admit I barely noticed Super-Friends vanishing.

"The Captain Fear story has a pirate fighting a ninja, which is pretty much all the comics reading youth of the early 80s could ask for I think."

You've read the Doctor McNinja webcomics, right? If not, highly recommend a binge read if you enjoy absurdist humor.

The guy on the cover of Unexpected is clearly annoyed by the fact that his opponent is obviously well outside of his weight class. That ref must be blind - as you can tell by the empty eye sockets. Me, I'm just curious about whether there are hooves in the minotaur's shoes, and if so how much do they impact his footwork.

"A tagger with dreams of making a name for himself as a grafitti artist instead becomes a hero when a well-placed spray can spray thwarts a subway werewolf."

Let me guess, blinded werewolf with paint in his eyes slips on a discarded spray can and falls onto the third rail or under a speeding train?

Trey said...

You got it in one!

Dick McGee said...

Heh. My old World of Darkness Hunter group used spray paint extensively against supernaturals back in the day, but we never managed to trip any monsters up with a dropped can. There was one fight in a grocery store where we managed a good old-fashioned banana-peel stunt, though.

Spray-painting monsters was known locally as the Jonny Quest Maneuver. I remember having to explain where it came from to some of teh younger players.