Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Wednesday Comics: DC, February 1982 (week 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 November 5, 1981. 

Arak Son of Thunder #6: Thomas and Colon/Rodriquez have Arak presenting his accusations against Angelique and her brother to Charlemagne, but the emperor and his paladins are skeptical. Ultimately, Charlemagne orders Arak seized so the joust can continue, but the warrior defeats the French guards and unhorses Angelique's brother, by flipping him off his horse by his lance! The White Cathayan is killed by his horse's hooves, so Angelique summons up a demon and makes good her escape. Everybody feels bad about not believing Arak then, and the Emperor send him off to try to rescue Maligigi. Valda chooses to go with him.

Crossing the Alps, they encounter a frozen elephant and troops which Valda thinks is a lost remnant of Hannibal's army, then they seek shelter in a handy hut. Too handy as it turns out, as it's a trap set by vampires to waylay travelers. Our heroes win the day, with Arak impaling a vampiress on the elephant's tusk!

DC Comics Presents #42: Levitz and Norvick bring in the Unknown Soldier for an unusual team-up. After dispelling a cloud of radioactive gas from about a nuclear test site, Superman starting musing about war. In his Clark Kent identity, he pitches a story about the causes of war to Perry White, but White thinks he sounds more philosophical than journalistic. A mysterious soldier enters the office and gives Clark a message for Superman but leaves quickly before they can ask any questions. The message sends Superman following a trail of clues to a rogue military base in the Arctic that is planning to cause nuclear armageddon, he's helped along the way by mysterious military officers of various sorts. He comes to suspect they are the Unknown Soldier, but he never finds out for certain. With the plot foiled, he visits the Unknown Soldiers supposed tomb to thank him, unaware that the Unknown Soldier watches from the shadows.

Ghosts #109: The first story here is a fantasy tale by Cohn/Mishkin and Zamora where a warrior continues his fathers' quest to slay an avatar of death. He succeeds but finds death far more capricious and prevalent in a post-personification world like our own. Next, Kashdan and Bender have an escaped convict being offered a way out of the country by taking an elixir to place in in near suspended animation, so he appears dead. In the end he's the hapless patsy of a vampire. Kashdan has another one (with Ayers this time) that harkens back to the sort of story this title used to have a lot of where a scuba-diving graduate assistant causes his boss' death at in the jaws of an orca so he can take credit for an archeological find. The professor's spirit gets revenge later by causing the skeletal jaws of the orca, on display at a museum, to fall and kill the guy. Finally, Jones and Carillo present an EC-style story of a nebbish creep who falls for woman he sees in a bar, but when he discovers she's with another guy plots to frame his rival for the murder of his nagging wife. Instead, he accidentally frames to woman he's pining for. No ghost in that one at all!

Justice League #199: The Lord of Time's needlessly complicated plan to acquire antimatter from the past is well underway. The partial amnesiac JLAers are making their way to the Grand Canyon with their DC Western character escorts. The Lord of Time has also sent a group of robots dressed as cowboys into the past to hedge his bets. 

As they approach the Grand Canyon, the League members start remembering more and more. GL's ring warns him the approaching antimatter is dangerous. The robots try to keep them on track, but to no avail. The Old West heroes take out the robot while the League members use their powers in a pretty implausible way to make the antimatter explode before it enters the atmosphere. They return to their own time (1981, specifically) to find Superman survived the Lord's krypton trap and has defeated the bad guy.

Weird War Tales #108: The Creature Commandos (whose logo is now bigger than the comic's title on the cover) and G.I. Robot! Sandwiched in between is this odd story "Jasper Pepperdyne: Defender of Space and Time" that reads like a "back door pilot" maybe and isn't really a war story, weird or otherwise. Instead, it's about a Victorian gentleman in his Victorian rocket than rescues the crew of a space shuttle in distress and regales them with tales of his adventures. It's by Barr and has great art by Garcia-Lopez.

G.I. Robot by Kanigher and Broderick has JAKE and Coker in the Pacific trying to help some local resistance fighters against the Japanese. The robot seems to develop a cross on the attractive woman leading the rebels, but Coker constantly dismisses the evidence because "robots don't have hearts." DeMatteis and Hall/Celardo present the best Creature Commando story to date with Lucky in the hospital after a suicide attempt. The reason (as we find out in a flashback) is that the Commandos had allowed themselves to get captured so they infiltrate a camp and get close to a French scientist being held by the Germans who want her to synthesize a new nerve agent. When the Commandos make their escape, Lucky is forced to kill the scientist who had been kind of him with his bare hands. As he recuperates, the other "monsters" in his unit are uncharacteristically compassionate, showing new or perhaps developing characterization for them.

Wonder Woman #288: The new creative team of Thomas and Colan/Tanghal takes over. Steve Trevor is still in the hospital in bad shape after getting a brain injury in last month's preview. (Thomas makes sure we know this is the second Trevor Diana has known and is actually from an alternate universe, defiantly refusing to let readers quietly forget those shenanigans, which I suspect Conway had intended.) A new superhuman appears on the scene, the beautiful Silver Swan, who is taken for a hero, but Wonder Woman suspects she is shady, and Wonder Woman's instincts are correct. In fact, Silver Swan has been stalking Wonder Woman at the behest of Mars, even moving into an apartment with Diana Prince and Etta Candy in her secret ID of Helen Alexandros. Silver Swan tries to kill Wonder Woman as she goes to return a brief case with secrets to General Darnell but holds off when there are witnesses and pretends to be a hero.

Meanwhile, Dr. Psycho comes to visit Steve Trevor. I'm sure that will fine.

In the digest format, Best of DC #21 is one that I have a lot of nostalgia for as a kid. My brother and I read it and re-read it until it got dog-eared. It reprints "The Untold Origin of the Justice Society" from the DC Special #29 (1977).

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