Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Wednesday Comics: DC, November 1981 (wk 1 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 August 6, 1981.

Justice League of America #196: I've read this issue by Conway and Perez/Tanghal I don't know how many times since my childhood, and it still holds up. Batman, Earh-2 Flash, Hourman, the Atom, and Earth-2 Superman get taken out by the Secret Society members, one by one. Now the Ultra-Humanite stands poised to achieve his goal of wiping all the heroes off Earth-2! This is really rock solid 80s superhero comics here. This arc is the best so far of Conway's run.

Krypton Chronicles #3: Bridwell and Swan walk us through more of Superman's family tree, this time without even a hint of conflict in the framing story. We get the story of the Kryptonian Noah and the sort of Krytonian Archimedes--both of which are ancestors of Superman, as is the inventor of the Kryptonian surname. Clark's book is a big hit, which has Morgan Edge thinking about approaching Hawkman for a Thangarian saga.

New Teen Titans #13: Starfire and Raven enjoy a vacation on Paradise Island--that is until the purple ray turns Changeling into an enraged dinosaur--while the guys investigate Mento's disappearance, discovering Madame Rouge's secret base and Robotman. They recover Mento, but he's actually a mole for Rouge. Meanwhile, Wonder Girl gushes over Terry.

Secrets of Haunted House #42: Nothing really great here. There's a witch from the Amazon who gives a Great White Hunter talking boils that look like her face after he rebuffs her advances and kills her, courtesy of Gonzales/Breeding. Then, a humorous barb at comic book fanboys by Sciacca and Bender where the Devil gives said fanboy all the comics in the universe, killing him. I feel like their are some in-jokes here I don't get. 

Skeates/Cullins present a story of a astral projectionist who wants to kill a guy for undisclosed reasons. His heart is too weak to do it, so he trains he successor, who reneges on the deal, but then his ghost gets revenge. Three escaped convicts get turned into the crew of a model slave galley in a story by Kashdan and Pender. 

Wessler and Ayers/Rodin put a murder in a blackly humorous situation after he hides his wife's head in a bowling bag, but then gets caught up in who close call for discovery after another. Finally, Mishkin/Cohn and von Eeden/Mushynsky combine forces for a story of ghosts who switch victims to make it easier to enact their revenge.

Superman #365: "When Kryptonians Clash" Bates and Swan have Supergirl out to get Superman after he cures her of a rare disease. This isn't any slugfest, of course, but another of their puzzle stories and yet another nefarious alien plot. This one at least hints at a conspiracy as the alien is about to reveal who put him up to this when he is vaporized.

In the Rozakis/Schaffenberger "The In-Between Years" backup, Clark is in Metropolis for college, but Superboy has eventually settled anywhere yet, and the world wonders where he's going. Clark in the meantime is having to save folks like reporter Perry White without revealing Superboy's in town. In the end, White catches on though.

Weird War Tales #105: The Creature Commandos are really back, this time. This again hammers DeMatteis' frequent theme for this strip of the people who created the commandos being the real monsters, as Shrieve leads the team in terrorizing and driving out a town full of German sympathizers in the U.S. Shrieve views the situation in black and white, but some of the Commandos have more empathy. 

Kanigher and Yandoc present a tale of a German concentration camp commandant who has his face replaced with a replica of a dead Jewish prisoner and has the prisoner's number tattooed on his arm, so he can escape when the camp is liberated. Heading to South America to connect with Nazi expatriates, he is captured. No one believes his story, and he is gassed and his skin winds up making a lampshade for the leader. Kanigher is back again with Ditko with a story of German conjoined twins, separated after an accident, with one raised in the U.S. and one raised in Germany. By unlikely circumstance they both end up dying on a German U-boat on opposing sides. The final story by Kashdan and Estrada that posits a future where wear is expediently waged by robots playing chess--but the system falls apart when Mauritania cheats by sneaking a human player inside the robot.

Wonder Woman #285: The final showdown with the Red Dragon, and the of his schemes. What I noticed most about this issue is that it perfectly illustrates Conway's vagueness about Wonder Woman's power level. We have her saving the day, by jumping up and redirecting a missile in flight with her strength, then "gliding on air currents" back to the ground. Then she has an extended conflict with the (as far as the story tells us) relatively human but badass Red Dragon. 

The Huntress backup by Levitz and Staton has hints of unresolved sexual tension between Robin and Huntress, which feels a little off since earlier installments have played up the "big brother, little sister" dynamic, but it serves only to leave a thread dangling for another story. Her DA beau, after he's finally out of harm's way from the joker toxin breaks up with her because he can't have a superhero girlfriend.

1 comment:

Dick McGee said...

Weird War Tales #105: Great cover, but I'm guessing it wouldn't fly in West Germany back when it came out. Swastikas were and are a sore point for good reason, but I guess DC didn't care about international sales so much?

Secrets of Haunted House #42: That is a seriously lazy cover, but it certainly is eye-catching so I guess it's doing its job.

New Teen Titans #13 and Justice League of America #196: These are both iconic covers, although I think I have to give the first place prize to JLA for having a (sort of) gorilla on the cover. Possibly the Ultra-Humanite's crowning moment in comics, although watching him betray Lex in the cartoon just so he could have a more comfy prison stay slightly tops even this great story.