Thursday, July 7, 2022

Thursday Comics: DC, October 1981 (wk 1 pt 1)

I'm reading DC Comics' output from January 1980 (cover date) to Crisis! I'm a day later than my usual Wednesday post, but I'm looking at the comics at newsstands on the week of  July 9, 1981. 

Arak Son of Thunder #2: Thomas and Colon/DeZuniga pick up the story with the Son of the Thunder washing up, well, somewhere in Europe, where he meets Corinna, the beautiful daughter of Lord Hessa, and runs afoul of the mute knights that protect her. He's taken to the castle, where Hessa takes a dislike to him and has him thrown in the dungeon--but not before Arak discovers the knights are merely armor animated by magic. In the dungeon, Arak meets Malagigi a sorcerer serving Carolus Magnus. Before Malagigi can clue Arak in on what's going on, the not suspicious at all Corinna frees our hero and gets him to run away with her into the forest. It turns out Corinna isn't daughter but mother to Hessa. She made a pact with a devil, and she's used Arak to help her escape. In the end, she goes willing with the devil to Hell, as revoking his gift makes her age rapidly, and she can't take it. Malagigi and Arak set out for Charlemagne's court. Setting-aside, a rather Conan-y story, which makes sense and it works.

Batman #340: Conway/Thomas and Colan/Gonzales have Batman take on another one-shot villain, the Mole. The mole has been mutated by exposure to toxic chemical into a humanoid mole (which is convenient as mutation goes, since his nickname was "the mole" before), and he's getting gruesome revenge on the people he thinks are responsible. Batman puts a stop to it, of course. This story has a bit more of a horror angle than your average Batman story, but it's otherwise unremarkable.

DC Comics Presents #38: I've read this Pasko/Heck Superman and Flash team-up before in the DC Showcase trade for DCP. Anyway, Superman and Flash find the world around them frozen in time--just when they both need to rescue someone from a deadly situation (Jim and Fiona, respectively). It's all due to the machinations of an alien tyrant, but she tricks our heroes into thinking the other is to blame so they fight each other. The thing I find most interesting about this story is that some of it takes place at a location 102 miles from Central City and 322 miles from Metropolis, which might help in locating the two. Or might not.

The "What Ever Happened To..." backup by Wein and Saviuk is about the Crimson Avenger, the first costumed superhero to appear in Detective Comics. Lee Travis, feeling forgotten, is dying of an incurable condition. Seeing a boat in trouble in the harbor, he rushes to the rescue as the Crimson Avenger, stopping to save a young boy along the way. The boat is carrying chemicals and ready to explode, but he guides it away from the city, but dies in the blast. No one on the boat knew who he was, so it appears he will be forgotten, but he told his name to the mother whose boy he saved and she and the boy remember. A simple story, but the sort of thing this strip was meant for.

Flash #302: Finally the identity of the villain impersonating Barry's dad is revealed, and it turns out to be the Top, which, no offense to all you Top stans, but I find sort of anti-climactic. Anyway, most of this issue is the Flash dealing with the Top's accomplice, the Golden Glider. In their first skirmish, she mesmerizes him somehow, and the smitten Flash lets her go. And man, the people of Central City turn on him quick for that. In their second clash, he's onto her tricks and relieves her of the hypnotic gem that made him fall for her. 

In the Firestorm backup, Ronnie is visiting the home of his girlfriend Doreen Day. He's trying to figure out the connection the Hyena has to their family. He decides to snoop in Doreen's sister Summer's diary, but the Hyena appears on the window seal and they do battle. Firestorm winds up in the middle of the Harlem River.

G.I. Combat #235: In the first Haunted Tank story, it seems that since now that the crew is in a Sherman tank, the ghost of General Sherman shows up to take over and Stuart is given the boot along with his Confederate emblem. He flashes back to the H.Q. in the Sky, where Alexander the Great first ordered him to look at the tank crew. Hans von Hammer was there to, in case you are interested, suggesting that Enemy Ace was dead by World War II. Anyway, eventually after we get several pages of how callous Sherman is, Stuart is back. 

The second story is much better than that nonsense, and is sort of Twilight Zone-esque, with the crew picking up a soldier with a head wound, who keeps asking about whether Stein is still alive. The crew assumes Stein was his body, and they are unable to stop the G.I.'s reckless search, but eventually it kills him. His dogtags reveal he was Stein.

Rounding out the issue, with got an O.S.S. story with Vera trying to get an art book that supposedly carries a message to Control out from under the nose of Goering as she tries to escape his castle. Then there's "P.F.C. Snafu" by Kashdan and Vicatan where a G.I.'s screw-ups in an artillery squad wind up being their lucky break. Finally, in a "Woman at War" story by Laurie and Trinidad, a M.A.S.H. nurse in Korea, refuses to take the life of a Chinese soldier who had spared hers, even though the Chinese forces had killed her twin brother.

Ghosts #105: Better than last issue, but that may be damning with faint praise. The highlights: A Kanigher/Carrillo story set in 18th Century Sicily where a French soldier seduces a local girl with promises of marriage, leading her to commit suicide but after vowing that he will be with her even if in death. Sure enough, years later on the day he is to marry another girl, an earthquake sends him fleeing into the graveyard, where he winds up falling into a chasm around the dead girl's grave and being buried alive. A Haney/Zamora story of graverobber has Digger Duggan agreeing to take a drug that will make him appear dead provided by the doctor he works for. He's buried alive, but dug up by a competitor who mistakes him for dead, but ultimately winds up on the vivisection table.

Less good is the Allikas/Spiegle tale of a child custody battle that gets really ugly when the recently deceased dad tries to convince his daughter to drown to be with him forever. He has a change of heart, though, when she appears willing to do it. The less said about the Snyder/Estrada story about a farmer who complains so much to the ghost in a wishing well, the ghost strangles him and steals his body, the better.

Jonah Hex #53: In true cliffhanger fashion, this issue reveals Hex was not in the cabin when it blew up last issue. He pursues the kidnappers and succeeds in getting the kid, Petey Foster back and returning him to his family. Unfortunately, He returns home to find a note from Mei Ling saying that has left him and taken the baby. In the meantime, Mei Ling seeks a shelter in the house of Hiram and Ruth. Hex proceeds to get drunk and starts seeing illusions from ghosts of the past including his abusive father and his old enemy El Papagayo.

In the mostly charmless Tejano Ranger backup by Cohn/Mishkin and Veitch/Yeates we are introduced to Antonio Ramirez, a Hispanic Texan, who sides with the colonists from the U.S. against the Mexican central government, serving as a ranger. He faces prejudice from the gringo Texans, and ends up facing the spears of General Rojas' cavalry, as he is captured by Mexican forces.


Dick McGee said...

Always liked Arak. Wasn't anything else quite like it on the market back then - or now, really.

Both those Haunted Tanks stories stick in my memory. The Stein twist was pretty effective, and even as a kid I remember being annoyed that they brought Stuart back despite the fact the crew had shifted to an actual Sherman at last. Historical Sherman was no prize as a human being himself, but at least he wasn't an outright traitor to the United States like Stuart.

jdh417 said...

That Arak issue sounds great. I hope I can run into some back issues somewhere. I've never read one before.