Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Wednesday Comics: DC, March 1982 (week 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 December 10, 1981.

Batman #345: This one has a pulpy feel. It reminds me a bit of a Shadow or Doc Savage adventure. It begins with the mysterious Dr. Death killing a would-be betrayer with poison. Later, Robin is covered in dust by a mysterious flying figure. Batman discovers it's a toxin, and it's a race against time to save his partner. In the morgue, they discover the henchman killed earlier died of the same thing, but now they are caught and put into a death trap by Dr. Death! I'm sure it's just a coincidence that Karl Hellfern, homeopathic practitioner to the wealthy, has just come to prominence in Gotham.

There's a Catwoman backup here by Jones and von Eeden. Selina is hired to solve the mystery of some disappearing trains. She discovers the trains are apparently being diverted by ghosts!

Flash #307: Bates and Infantino/Smith are back. The Pied Piper returns with a scheme to both defeat the Flash and get revenge on his wealthy parents who have disowned him (and used their money and influence to hide the Piper's true identity). In the Dr. Fate backup from Pasko and Giffen and Mahlstedt, Totec sends Fate to a realm of the dead where his undead followers attack. Meanwhile, Totec begins a plan to usher in the Fifth Sun and return himself to godhood. Fate escapes from the undead, but then has to face a monster created from Inza's jealousy.

G.I. Combat #239: In Kanigher's and Glanzman's first Haunted Tank story, a maverick general who his superiors feel is reckless sort of proves them right by losing his son's life and then his own in a daring tank assault on a German fuel depot. In the O.S.S. story, Kana the Ninja is again dealing with anti-Japanese prejudice while trying to fight the Japanese. Next up, Boltinoff and Patricio have a woman inventor rescuing a squad of G.I.'s sent to destroy the cannon she made, which had fallen into German hands. Drake and Matucenio tell the story of a wastrel Balkan Prince who is forced to join the army by his father. He dies attempting to surrender to the Germans but his father is told he died a hero to spar his feelings.

In the last Haunted Tank story, Jeb and crew find a small Dutch doll with the mysterious message attached to it - "Aidez Vous! Denise." He leads them to a village being held captive by a German Panzer and associated troops. After defeating the Germans, they return the doll to the little girl who saved her town.

Jonah Hex #58: Jonah befriends a burly but simple-minded guy with a beloved dog who may be the only one that knows the location of a treasure. The only problem is the bad guys would like to get ahold of that information, and contrive a plan to kill them both.

The El Diablo backup continues to be good. This time El Diablo and his creator most face a renegade medicine man and his creation who looks a bit like Marvel's cowboy Ghost Rider. In the end, it's revealed that this white clad specter was sort of the original El Diablo.

New Teen Titans #17: Wolfman and Perez come up with a pretty good one here. One of the best so far of this run, to me. Wally's friend Francis Kane is dealing with a mother so overcome with grief for her dead husband and son that she spends all her time doing seances trying to contact them and blaming Francis for living, and weird manifestations of poltergeist type activity. Francis' mother believes she's possessed. Wally enlists Raven and later the rest of the Titans for help. The activity threatens large swathes of the city, and it looks like Francis may indeed be possessed but Cyborg realizes its magnetism, not magic. The reader finds out at the end that the silhouette of a devil has actually be Dr. Polaris with his horns, trapped in some other dimension and trying to use Francis to get out.

Secrets of Haunted House #47: This the last issue. It has a cover by Denys Cowan. They saved a few decent stories for end, I guess. Timmons and Carillo have a man planning to marry a woman then kill her for money. His plan is complicated by the boogey man he's had trapped in his closet with a light since his childhood. His would-be victim innocently releases the little man with predictable results. Sciacca and Estrada present a sort of Dorian Gray riff where a curse mirror turns a guy into a serial killer and reflects his moral decay. Kelley and Bisette present an atmospheric vignette about a ghostly woman cycling from girl to old woman while pursuing her animated, possessed teddy endlessly through the rooms of a haunted house. Kupperberg and Vicatan have an immortal witch undone when she mistakes two little people for children and tries to feed on their youthful life force. Finally, Cavalieri and La Roque present an unusual violent tale of a disturbed woman whose childhood trauma causes her to go into a dissociative state and attack when she holds a knife. Her son is killed and her husband soon to follow after a set of kitchen knives is delivered to their home as the result of a contest.

Superman #369: Superman learns the true meaning of Christmas. Not really, instead he fights the Parasite who has being using the actions of the unwitting FBI agent Cory Renwald (the kid raised by the Kents before Kal-El's crash as we saw a couple of months ago in Superboy) to set a trap. Superman overcomes the villain and gets a nice holiday moment with his almost-brother.

1 comment:

bombasticus said...

Does the Pied Piper story read any different with retroactive knowledge of the character's exit from the closet a decade later? Seems the parental relationship was a little more complicated than Bates felt the urge to explore.

Frances Kane was a great issue. Godzilla on Titans Island! This one too seems a little overshadowed by the parallels with Raven's situation: absent dad / sinister male possession figure, occult mom. The differences, I guess, are that Raven's mom is trying to make things right and her dad is the bona fide devil.