Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Wednesday Comics: DC, December 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 September 24, 1981. 

Adventure Comics #488: Two Dial H stories here. In the first by Rozakis and Infantino, Jinx, a villain with bad luck powers is convinced that all the superheroic duos appearing in this one small city most be the same people, and he surveils them long enough to confirm his suspicions.  In the end, not even bad luck can stop the ring-throwing Captain Saturn and the cold-powered Snowball from taking him down.

The second story by Kashdan and von Eeden is weird because it's odd to see the Dial H stuff drawn by anybody but Infantino. Beyond that, it isn't memorable at all, as the kids take on the poison-wielding Belladona, "Princess of Potions." 

Detective Comics #509: Conway and Newton bring Catman sets a trap for Batman as he wants to retrieve the scrap of his cape Batman tore off last time they met. Catman is convinced his cape is magical, giving him nine lives, and the tearing of the cape ruined it's magic--and now Catman has a scarred face to prove the loss of his luck. He thinks the cape can heal it. He puts Batman in a rising tide death trap, but of course Batman escapes. He tracks Catman to where he has Selina Kyle captive and he has finally recovered the missing piece of his costume. His face isn't fixed, though, and Selina explains that perhaps the magical cloth has been used too many times and it doesn't work anymore. (She doesn't mention she might have used it to cure her illness.) Batman defeats Catman. Later, Selina tells Bruce she is leaving Gotham because her past is always in the way between the two. Meanwhile, Bruce, unaware that he is being watched closely by someone from his past, who is determined to find a connection between Bruce Wayne and Batman.

In the Batgirl backup, she is still trying to take down the Annihilator who has siphoned Supergirl's power. Batgirl manages to free her friend, but they are unable to defeat the Annihilator (who continues to mutate), and he teleports away. Annihilator decides he's going to repopulate Gotham (after he destroys it) with his own super-progeny, but he needs to mind the right mate. He starts building a ray to use on the woman he wants to carry his offspring. Batgirl and Supergirl have tracked him down, but with his precognitive powers he knows they are coming. He muses that Batgirl is a prime specimen for his mate.

Legion of Super-Heroes #282: I get the feeling Thomas fashioned this entire arc just to give an explanation for the Reflecto statue in the adult Legion story in Adventure Comics #354, and it shows. Anyway, we've got most the Legionnaires still imprisoned on Earth in the 60s as commies or something, and Superboy, Dawnstar, and Phantom Girl are in Bgztl. Luckily, Superboy regains his memory, and even more luckily, Dawnie is able to track down the not-dead Ultra Boy. Also, the Time Trapper is defeated, the other Legion members escape, and back in the 30th Century they change the statue of a dead Ultra Boy to Reflecto, 'cause he kinda died. Sure, Roy (and Paul).

New Adventures of Superboy #24: I had this issue as a kid. After the Curator strikes Superboy with a Red Kryptonite bomb, the Boy of Steel is blind without his Kryptonian glasses, imperiling either his effectiveness as a hero or his secret identity. A blind Superboy is still an effective one, though. In the Superbaby backup by Rozakis and Calnan, Superboy foils an alien invasion while being baby-sat.

Sgt. Rock #359: Kanigher and Redondo bring back the Iron Major, who manages to capture Rock and beat the hell of of him but doesn't kill him since Rock spared his life last time. The next story by Bill Kelley with amateurish art by Ron Randall has a young woman getting close to a Nazi officer to get travel papers for her husband. The Nazi double-crosses her and kills her husband but is killed accidentally by his subordinate, trying to shoot the woman. 

The Men of Easy feature has whistler Canary providing the wedding march for a couple whose church pipe organ was destroyed by a German attack. In the last story, a WWI pilot's cat, Blind Faith, helps him after a crash when he has been blinded. The cat jumps at a German sneaking up on him, allow the pilot to turn and shoot.

Unexpected #217: In the cover story by Sheldon Mayer, Lincoln is removed from the timestream moments before his assassination and brought to 2265 in order to run for president of the galaxy. The ol' Railsplitter figures out everything is not on the up and up, and turns the tables on the disguised aliens, foiling their plans. Next up, Sciacca and Carrillo give a slightly modified version of the Japanese Yuki-onna legend where a man marries a beautiful but mysterious wife and has kids, but loses it all when he asks too many questions about his wife's past.

Mishkin/Cohn and Speigle present the tail of a hat store owner who chooses not to ask too many questions when his business turns around with the patronage of an odd man and his equally odd friends--even after he discovers they all are hiding aliens under the hats they bought. Drake and Vince Perez/Vicatan present the sort of story you might have seen in an EC sci-fi book.  In the future, a criminal left adrift in space after she tried to steal from her partner crashes on a planet with deformed mutants, descendants of the victims of ancient Earth nuclear accidents. ("3 Mile Land," offer as example.) They want to breed with her to produce normal children, but she isn't having any of that. After poisoning the mutants, she escapes with a seeming "normal" human only to find he is another mutant concealing that all of his limbs are separate mutants, and all vying for her affection.

The closing page is another meta bit, signaling the 3 Witches will no longer be hosting the book. We see tombstones of other DC horror hosts like Destiny and Dr. Geist and features like Johnny Peril and Dr. Thirteen.

Unknown Soldier #258: Haney and Ayers/Talaoc love their dramatic set-pieces gets to battle a Nazi in the bell of the Notre Dame Cathedral on a mission in Paris to find the injured Allied spy, the Sparrow. In "Swan Song" by Mitchell and Spiegle a young pianist turned "demo man" plays his last to lure German soldiers toward a home before he blows up their artillery outside. 

The Captain Storm story has got a guest appearance by JFK, as Storm goes on a mission to find the missing PT-109, unfortunately, the story ends on a cliffhanger with it unclear if they all make it back home with a Japanese sub blocking their way. I'm guessing they do, but we'll see next issue!

World's Finest Comics #274: In the Burkett and Gonzales/Breeding pick up from last issue. With Batman now super-powered but dying thanks to the Power Charger, he rushes off to save Superman from the Weapon Master. Armed with futuristic weapons stolen from the Fortress of Solitude and maybe elsewhere, he's tough to handle, but even he can't stand up to the combined might of Superman and Super-Batman. In the end Weapon Master makes his escape, and Superman has to let him go to rush to save Batman. Using the Weapon Master's device to drain the powers from Batman, the Dark Knight is depowered but not dying. The Barr/von Eeden Green Arrow story plays on the plot of the reporter refusing to reveal his source after the police want to know how GA knew about a drug deal he busted. Ollie refuses to reveal his source and a judge gives him 24 hours to change his mind or go to jail. Ollie does some soul-searching, but ultimately decides to take the jail time for his ethics.

In a new Zatanna feature, Conway and Colon pit the the sorceress against a mystically empowered food critic who becomes The Shrieker on a fancy cruise. Rozakis and Saviuk have Hawkgirl live Hawkman and take the rocket so he can't follow. Katar tries to enlist his JLA friends to follow her, but they aren't willing to get involved in this marital drama. He goes home and let's himself go for a bit, but a serious of robberies at the museum get him to pull himself together and get back in action. In the Marvel Family story by Bridwell and Newton, Captain Marvel is stymied by a villain with the ability to create silence, which keeps Billy from turning into his heroic form. Billy's a smart kid, though and has a plan involving a telephone and a tape recorder.

1 comment:

  1. If I'd seen it back in the day that Space Lincoln cover would have gotten my sixty cents. Baffling WTF covers are generally the best way to market to me.

    Sgt. Rock's cover is a classic bit of macho bad-assery. "Speak up, you Nazi rat."

    Looking at the titles this week overall I can see why DC was struggling in this era. Just seems kind of uninspired and all over the place.