Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Wednesday Comics: DC, May 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 February 11, 1982.

Batman #347: Slifer and von Eeden/Marcos present one of those "people talk about Batman" type stories within a story as a small-time crook tries to persuade a buddy to join in on a bank robbery, but his friend relates two tales of their biggest obstacle: Batman. In the end they decide to go straight. More interesting is the politics of the story. A group has been setting fire to slum tenements ostensibly as a "blow against capitalism." Batman calls it the "big business is bad syndrome." When the arson hurts someone in the community Batman is able to show the group the error of their ways. 

The rest of the issue is filled with mystery "shorts" with Bat Family characters: Batman and a retired police detective turned security guard solve the mystery of a detective's murder. Then, Alfred gets in the game by proving that the nephew of a friend's employer murdered his uncle and made it look like suicide.

Flash #309: Bates and Infantino/Smith have a time-traveler from the 98th Century comes back to the 1982 to find out if superheroes are real, and if so, steal the powers of one to save his future from a monster. The Flash prevents the visitor from stealing his powers but helps him by leading the guy back to the day Barry Allen became the Flash (April 23rd, if you were wondering) and allowing the visitor to get duplicate Flash powers. The visitor returns to his time and as the Flash of the 98th Century, sacrifices himself to save his people.

In the Dr. Fate backup, all seems lost as the Helm of Fate has been stolen by Malferrazae and Inza is dead. Inza's spirit reveals to the grieving Nelson that there is a way to bring her back, by reuniting her body with the entity of jealous the Lord of Chaos made from her. Nelson smartly defeats the Jealous entity, by showing interest in her, causing her to turn her wrath on herself. This allows him to snatch back the helm and reassume the mantle of Dr. Fate. Using his power to his utmost, he is able to defeat Malferrazae and repair the damage done. Inza is restored and the riff between the couple patched.

G.I. Combat #241: The Haunted Tank crew in some ways seem to be the luckiest guys in the war. They are being transported from North Africa to Sicily on an LST, but they are attacked by German aircraft. Everyone else on the ship is killed, but the vessel runs aground and the door opens to let the Tank about before the ship is consumed in an explosion. Anyway, Jeb is guided by his superiors to a series of locations seemingly for no reason, but really to to drive a narrow wedge through the enemy lines while the American forces followed in secret behind them. The tank is destroyed, but the crew survives and wins the day. 

The second Haunted Tank yarn is a flashback to their earliest days in Africa. Once again, the Tank is the only survivor of a squadron, but Jeb grabs his dead captain's helmet to replace his missing one, inadvertently spurring the company coming behind them to come to their aid in an assault on a German fortress.

The other stories include a history of the song "Taps," and a story by Allikas and Bercasio set in the Korean War where a rich kid learns he can't always buy his way out of work or trouble, but steps up and becomes a better man and soldier. The O.S.S. story involves trying to keep the site of the D-Day landing secret from the Germans. Hitler thinks the Allies are using reverse psychology via a captured spy and the landing will be in Calais, but Control is employing reverse reverse psychology. Or something like that.

Jonah Hex #60: Hex has been kidnapped and is on a ship to China. When pirates attack, Hex falls off the ship, but then washes up on the Chinese coast. He's nursed back to health by a local couple, but then captured again by the authorities. It turns out a Warlord wants Hex to do something for him--and they've got Mei Ling captive to ensure his cooperation. 

The El Diablo backup by Cohn and Ayers/DeZuniga has the town all riled up due to some abductions which they blame on a new religious group that's moved into town. I was thinking wrongly accused Mennonites or something, but nope, they are full-on robed, Satanic cultists into human sacrifice. They call up the Devil, but El Diablo turns the tables on them, because he and the Devil apparently have an understanding.

Saga of the Swamp Thing #1: Just in time for the movie (premiering on February 19, 1982) we get a new Swamp Thing title by Pasko and Yeates. After a recap of his origin, we find Swamp Thing near Limbo, North Carolina, near the Great Dismal Swamp. He's having a bad time of things, as he loses a hand while trying to save some dumb hunters from a bear. While waiting on his hand to regrow, he befriends a strange young girl who's father was preparing to kill her because he thinks she's a witch. Instead, he accidentally kills himself after the Swamp Thing intervenes. Meanwhile, a guy working for the Sunderland Corporation is after Swamp Thing. He's got Swamp Thing's dismembered hand, and he tells his boss Swamp Thing is dying.

The Phantom Stranger backup is by Jones and Spiegle. The Stranger bears witness to the strange end of a corrupt Baptist Preacher who fleeces his parishioners and uses his church as a front for his heroin operation. Unfortunately for him, one of his flock is a former voodoo practitioner, and when she gets wise to his con, she summons a swarm of cockroaches to end him.

New Teen Titans #19: Wolfman and Perez bring back Dr. Light and again play him as a joke to the heroes. He tries to rob an Indian exhibit in (I guess) a Midway City museum, only to run afoul of visiting museum curator Carter Hall in his Hawkman identity. Somehow, his light power brings to life monstrous incarnations of Vishnu. Light leads them to the Titans, hoping they will protect him from the vengeful beings. Once Robin and Hawkman get the truth from Light, Starfire uses her power to reverse the effect and banish the creatures. Light goes back to jail.

Superman #371: Wein and Swan have Superman puttering around the ol' Fortress, when he discovers a 
race of tiny, other-dimensional aliens have taken up residence in the Kandor replica Superman built in the old bottle. They want to live and normal sized people somewhere in our universe. Superman helps two volunteers to grow to human-size, but they are devolved into humanoid monsters by Earth bacteria. Superman is able to turn them back to normal with Kryptonite. He promises to work on a way to vaccinate them all, but until then they must remain in the bottled city as the new Kandorians. This has the feel of a "discontinuity nod" as the tvtropes folks say.

Rozakis and Calnan bring "The Private Life of Clark Kent" over here from World's Finest. An exposure to the rays of a purple sun gives Superman temporary mind-over-matter powers, which leads to numerous instances of hm creating money out of nowhere until he realizes what's going on. 

1 comment:

Dick McGee said...

"They call up the Devil, but El Diablo turns the tables on them, because he and the Devil apparently have an understanding."

I would expect they do, it's right there in the name. They're probably in the same bowling league.

"Wolfman and Perez bring back Dr. Light and again play him as a joke to the heroes."

This whole period read a lot better before DC let Brad Meltzer ruin Light's character (and several others) with Identity Crisis. I'll take mildly incompetent cowardly Doc over brain-fried rapist Doc any day of the week.