Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Wednesday Comics: DC, January 1982 (week 4)

My goal: read DC Comics' output from January 1980 (cover date) to Crisis! This week, I'm looking at the comics at newsstands around October 29, 1981. 

Action Comics #527: Superman is a pawn in the struggle between two sorcerers from 1 million years in the future: Syrene and her husband, the villainous Lord Satanis. They seek Merlin's Runestone, but in the end Satanis is banished to Hell--at least until issue 539 when he's going to return to trouble Supes again. All this is courtesy of Wolfman and Swan.

Adventure Comics #489: Two Dial H stories again, with more one shot heroes created by readers against more one shot villains created by readers. The first story by Rozakis and Infantino/McLaughlin has the concept of the superheroes Chris and Vicki turned into having to appear in court to testify against the villain--which is difficult because they can't become the same heroes twice. They instead dial up other heroes and have to disguise themselves to keep their court date. The second story by Bridwell and von Eeden/Mahlstedt has the kids dialing in now identities to take on an alien menace who is a literal marionette with strings going to an x-shaped spacecraft. It's kind of a weird but interesting character than could have been used in a better story.

All-Star Squadron #5: As usual Thomas packs a lot of story in 28 pages. Most of the members of the Justice Society intend to resign and join the military in their civilian identities, but first they need to go to the Yucatan to find out what happened to Shiera Sanders (Hawkgirl) who was down there on an archeological expedition. Meanwhile, Johnny Quick and Robotman thwart terrorists at the statue of liberty, then arrive in time to see the new Firebrand's debut. The Buckler/Ordway art continues to be great for this sort of standard superhero material.

Detective Comics #510: Conway's mayoral contest subplot continues but seems to be drawing toward its conclusion as Reeves threatens to unleash photos revealing Batman's secret identity. Meanwhile, Lucius Fox is kidnapped, and Batman has to tangle with a foe he has dealt with in a long time--the original Mad Hatter. Now, up until this issue, there was just one DC Comics Mad Hatter, but here Conway retcons Alice in Wonderland-obsessed, Tennell character resembling Mad Hatter of his first 1948 appearance to be the original, and the hat-themed crime committing, mustachioed Mad Hatter that was in the tv show and the comics from the 50s-70s as "an imposter." Tetch says he was in a mental institution and that since getting out he has killed the imposter, but that guy shows up again in the late 80s.

In the Batgirl backup, the Annihilator is still trying to make Batgirl is bride, but the dynamic duo of Supergirl and Batgirl keep foiling his plans. Batgirl frets about being useless with all Supergirl's might, but in a twist, you can see coming a mile away, it's her clever thinking that wins the day.

New Adventures of Superboy #25: When Prof. Lewis Lang and his hippie-ish assistant Burt Belker bring back the Chaos Helmet from the Valley of Ur, Belker puts it on and is possessed by a Lord of Chaos. He becomes Dr. Chaos who looks like a costume color switched Dr. Fate. I wonder why Dr. Chaos never got picked up as a Dr. Fate foe? 

Unexpected #218: In the first story by Snyder and Ayers, the Mexican General is defeated in 1836 because the Texans attack during his siesta time. Okay, that may be "unexpected," but c'mon, DC! Next, Kashdan and Ayers have a story about a guy traveling to the future and discovering aliens have taken over Earth. His fellow researchers don't believe him, but he manages to track down the aliens in his present and wipe them out. He's killed in the process, and his fellow time travels never realize he saved the future for humankind. 

In the cover story, Native American survivors of a nuclear holocaust venture forth from their home into the deep swamps of southern Florida only to discover horrors including gator people eager to transform others into their kind. The final, meandering story by Kanigher and Vicatan, a woman finds the mask of Medusa in a scuba-diving scavenger hunt and lives only long enough to regret it.

Unknown Soldier #259: Haney and Ayers/Talaoc give us another one of their high concept yarns. The Soldier is in Italy and forced to fight a crazy Italian strongman who has sided with the Germans in a gladiatorial arena for the amusement of Goering who's decked out like a Roman emperor. In the gallery of war feature, a pair of young soldiers on guard duty on opposite sides of the Civil War bond over there commonalities, including their harmonica playing. That doesn't keep them from accidentally killing each other in the next day's battle. In the Captain Storm story, he finally manages to get John F. Kennedy out of harm's way and take out the commander of the Japanese sub he's been after, but only at the cost of his own PT boat.

World's Finest Comics #275: Metropolis is having a heatwave when Gotham unseasonable snows. it turns out to be Mr. Freeze in an abandoned Soviet space station, but I like that Kupperberg sticks with the Bronze Age idea that Metropolis and Gotham are not very far apart. Barr and von Eeden have prison leading Oliver Queen to develop even more of a social conscience as he befriends a fellow inmate Green Arrow nabbed and gets Black Canary to help his undocumented immigrant family deal with an exploitive landlord forcing them into crime.

Zatanna is still fighting that guy with a sonic scream on a cruise ship courtesy of Conway and Speigle. He's crazy powerful, being able to freeze a large area of water with a scream, but he gets an accidental electric shock and loses consciousness. His powers are gone but their source is still a mystery to our heroine. After some new bachelor bonding with Flash, Hawkman nabs the Matter Master who has been robbing the museum by changing the material of items so that the museum thinks they have been stolen and replace--and then stealing the items and changing them back. Bridwell and Newton have Captain Marvel have to come to the rescue of a kidnapped Billy Batson, which involves a stand in and the help of Captain Marvel, Jr.

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