Wednesday, September 7, 2022

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

I'm reading DC Comics' output from January 1980 (cover date) to Crisis! Today, I'm looking at the comics at newsstands on the week of  September 10, 1981. 

Arak Son of Thunder #4: Thomas and Colon/DeZuniga bring Arak and friends to Charlemagne's court, where Arak's paganism and different appearance provokes Charlemagne's peers and leads to a dual between Arak and Rinaldo, which Arak wins. Later, a malign, living tree grows from the remnant of the Irminsul Charlemagne destroyed, so Valda and Arak must save the Emperor.

Batman #342: After Man-Bat's reform to a hero, then the effective resolution of his storyline in earlier this year, Conway and Novick reset him to adversary mode. After the encounter with Man-Bat in the Batcave last issue, Batman tracks down Francine Langstrom and finds out Kirk actually overdosed himself on his man-bat serum and thinks his daughter died of her illness and Batman is to blame. Batman tracks him down to cure him with the old antidote, but it doesn't work this time and Man-Bat gets away.

The Robin backup by Conway and von Eedon has Robin about to be burned alive on an upside down cross by a Satanic Cult. He manages to get free and takes the woman with him who was the intended sacrifice. They escape in the cult leaders big rig.

DC Comics Presents #40: Conway and Novick team Superman with Metamorpho. Simon Stagg duplicates the Orb of Ra in an attempt to cure Rex Mason of being Metamorpho, but Java the caveman, jealous of Sapphire's love of Mason, steals it and uses it to cause havoc. Our heroes join forces to stop him. It's good to see Metamorpho but this story doesn't really have any of the charm of his 60s run.

This months "Whatever Happened to..." feature we find out what became of the first Air Wave, Larry Jordan. Turns out he was shot and killed by a criminal, and his wife briefly took up the Air Wave identity to bring his killer to justice. 

Flash #304: Bates and Infantino/Smith bring the Flash into the digital age with the introduction of a new villain, Colonel Computron. Computron is out to get Willard Wiggins, the head of Wiggins toys, makers of the new, hugely popularly Captain Computron home video game. We're given two likely suspects--a disgruntled Wiggins Toys engineer and his wife, for Computron's identity, but the story tries to play a bit coy as to which one it is. There's a sequence where Computron digitizes the Flash and puts him in a video game where Infantino's presentation of digitization is pretty good.

In the Firestorm backup by Conway and Broderick, we get the origin of the Hyena, and Firestorm manages to keep her from attacking her family long enough that everybody gets to reconcile.

G.I. Combat #236: The first Haunted Tank has the crew sent on a hostage retrieval mission that seems more inspired by the recent Iran Hostage Crisis and other events of the 70s than anything World War II related. Arab allies of the Germans (called "terrorists" in the story) have kidnapped an American military officer. In the O.S.S. story, a German SS officer and chess champ gets a rematch with a Jewish champion turned O.S.S. operative after there match before the war end in a stalemate. The German officer wins the game--but the O.S.S. agent boob-trapped the board, and the German's predictable moves lead to both of their deaths in an explosion. The next story by Allikas and Rubeny has a G.I. faking correspondence to a dead buddy's mother--but it's okay because he turns out the mother was dead too and her friend from faking it. In a Kanigher/Carrillo story, a flight surgeon grounds a bomber pilot for several medical conditions, then has to help that same pilot fly blind so the surgical team can make a retreat from a Japanese attack.

The final Haunted Tank story is more ridiculous than most. When an explosion concusses Stuart's crew and leaves them acting delirious, Jeb ties them up in the tank and completes the mission solo rather than turn them over to the medics who might could help them because--well, it's not really clear, other than they never reported him for talking to ghosts no one else sees, but I don't think it's the same thing. In the end, Stuart prevails and the crew snaps out of it just in time to ride to the rescue.

Ghosts #107: I think this is the second themed issue we've had since I started this? Anyway, in the first story by Kanigher and Bender, a Welsh king takes his crown to the grave rather than pass it to one of his no-account sons. Which leads them to dig it up and generally engage in treachery and murder until all are dead, and the King's ghost sees it pass into the hands of a young shepherd boy. In the next story with art by Rodriguez, a circus acrobat murders his sisters lover, but then is attacked by a tiger and injured so the only circus job he can get is that of a clown. And he's going to lose that job too, until he steals a crown from a pawnshop and declares himself King of Clowns. That night, he drinks excessively in celebration near an oil lamp, and manage to catch himself, then part of the forest on fire. He dies in the blaze.

Finally, and most unexpectedly, the crown winds up with a chimpanzee who had been taught sign language then given an operation so they she could theoretically speak. The ghost briefly possesses the chimp and speaks through her, but then it winds up in the talons of an eagle who drops it out at sea.

Justice League #197: Hell hath no fury like super-villains scorned! The Ultra-Humanite's plan goes into its final phase with the 10 heroes captured in the previous two parts being banished to Limbo. All the heroes subsequently disappear from Earth-Two. Ultra reveals he knew this all along, and he and the Earth-Two baddies dismiss their duped Earth-One allies. Killer Frost ain't having it. She leads the Earth-One crew to the JLA satellite where they use the transporter to go to Limbo and rescue the heroes. The heroes return to Earth-Two and in a rematch, defeat their opponents, returning things to normal. 

1 comment:

Dick McGee said...

I remember the JLA story here being a good read. Ghosts seems to have gone even farther off the rails than usual (King of the Clowns? A possessed chimp with a crown?) but the cover is certainly puzzling enough to get some sales.