Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Wednesday Comics: DC, May 1983 (week 4)

I'm reading DC Comics' output from January 1980 (cover date) to Crisis! This week, we look at the comics hitting the newsstand on February 24, 1983.

This is a big week with 10 comics.

Weird War Tales #123: There is no G.I. Robot or Creature Commandos this issue, which turns out to be an ominous sign. This is the penultimate issue of Weird War Tales as I discovered in (of all places) the letter column of this week's Arion. The cover story by Mishkin/Cohn and Buckler/Giacoia is an homage to the Captain Video tv show (1949-1955) and perhaps to fandom in general. It ends with a thanks to Frank Hodge who played Captain Video from 1950-55 and who passed away in 1979. In the story, Earth is defenseless before an alien invasion, its secret protector who was more than a TV actor having passed away. It's up to the now adult fans of the show with their secret away equipment to rise up and save the day.

Next up, there's a one-pager about dolphins inheriting the Earth after doomsday. Kanigher/Estrada daring present a tale of the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs that seems to question just whose "Savage Gods Remain." Finally, a star Hitler youth kid grows up to a SS officer adult and gets what he deserves when a statue of Moses holding all the commandments the young sociopath has broken, falls and traps him, leading to his death. 

Green Arrow #1: Barr and von Eeden/Giordano get Ollie out of the backups and into his own, admittedly limited, series. Oliver Queen inherits a fortune from a deceased friend, and elderly woman he had developed an unlikely friendship with in his younger days, but her other would-be heirs aren't happy. Someone is unhappy enough to target him for murder. Much of this issue is given to retelling Green Arrow's origin, which I haven't reviewed for consistence with the standard take, but I wouldn't be surprised if there is at least some streamlining from what was presented before. The next tweaking, I'd guess, would be post-Crisis. Von Eeden pencils under Giordano's inks look nice here and seem a good fit for the character.

Action Comics #543: Wolfman and Swan continue the Vandal Savage storyline, but with Savage being the manipulator of events. Neutron is released from prison, over the objections of the Man of Steel who sounds more like the Dark Knight with his skepticism about Neutron's reform. Then, Savage has set up frankly a really contrived context that manipulates Superman into fighting him when Neutron is not actually committing a crime, making Superman look bad in front of the people of Metropolis. I feel like this is the sort of arc that would be handled better today, but here it's a bit silly.

Arion Lord of Atlantis #7: Moench and Duursema/Mandrake pick up where last issue left off. After a battle with a demon, Arion and Chian have been transported to the Darkworld to the citadel of Caculha. Arion uses his magic to free Grondar from the demon's control. The three adventurers then enter the stronghold to take on the demon that controls it and find a mystic key.

Meanwhile, Wyynde discovers that Mara is a shapeshifter. When she turns into a winged dragon, the two enter the portal to the Darkworld to help Arion.

Ultimately, our heroes are victorious, and Arion then turns the citadel into a giant ship to sail back to Atlantis.  They may have found the weapon they need to defeat Garn.

All-Star Squadron #21: Thomas and Ordway/Machlan bring in the Earth-2 Superman who has the Powerstone with him he has recently taken from Alexei Luthor. He suggests the team makes the Perisphere their new headquarters. Not long after the team votes in Wonder Woman as their newest full member (redressing some Golden Age sexism), they are attacked by two new super-villains, Deathbolt and Cyclotron, and Superman's old foe the Ultra-Humanite (now in a woman's body).

Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew #15: The JLA and Zoo Crew team up continues, we the teams trapped in limbo. Alley-Kat-Abra gets them out, but theen they have to do the "split into smaller teams" thing to take on villains gathered by Feline Faust and Doctor Hoot who are currently striking in different parts of the world. Captain Carrot, Wonder Wabbit and Rubber Duck travel to Sowdi Arabia where Digger O'Doom is draining all the oil into diversion tunnels. Yankee Poodle, Fastback and Aquaduck go to the Palomino Canal to stop Armordillo. Batmouse, Green Lambkin and Alley-Kat-Abra head to Cape Carnivore to tangle with Amazoo. Crash, Super-Squirrel and Pig-Iron travel to Mosscow where the Shaggy Dawg is rampaging through the Gremlin.

I felt like whole list was necessary so you could all share in the puns. Anyway, the heroes are victorious, and everybody gets back to their own Earth.

Detective Comics #526: This is an anniversary issue (the 500th appearance of Batman in this magazine) with 56 pages, and Conway, Newton, and Alcala craft a story worthy of the expanded length. Joker has carried together a number of Batman's rogue gallery (including a number of now fairly obscure characters including Captain Stingaree, Signalman, and the Spook). with a plan to kill Batman and check the growing threat of Killer Croc. Catwoman, uninvited, eavesdrops on the proceedings and plans to stop them, while Talia (who was invited) wants no part of killing Batman and fights her way out.

After taking Jason Todd to Wayne Manor, Batgirl and Robin are trying to find the missing Todds. The GCPD bit them to it, discovering their gruesome remains in the reptile area of the Gotham Zoo where Croc had apparently been hiding out.

The Joker contacts Croc, offering a deal to help Croc kill Batman. Is he just double-crossing Croc or Croc and the villains he's supposedly teamed up with?

Anyway, the Bat Family, with the help of Catwoman and Talia, split up and take out the assembled villain before going after Croc and his men and the Joker. After a fight, Croc seems about to beat Batman again, but Robin jumps in at the last second and Croc is knocked unconscious. Jason Todd, who had hidden in the batmobile's trunk, emerges and stars beating the unconscious Croc, but he's restrained by the Bats.

Back at Wayne Manor, Dick takes responsibility for the death of the Todds and wants to adopt Jason.  Bruce doesn't like the idea. Instead, he decides to look after the young orphan, like he did years ago with another kid acrobat whose parents were killed by criminals.

Jonah Hex #72: At the end of last issue, things looked pretty bad for Jonah who had been forced to commit a crime dressed as Papagayo in order to get Emmy Lou back and wound up under the guns of the federales. He gets shot to hell before he can escape--or does he? Obviously, he does not. When Papagayo's thugs go to exhume Jonah's body and get the necklace, the very much alive Jonah ambushes them. It seems he and Col. Sanchez cooked up a little sting operation. Still, Papagayo's got Emmy Lou, so things don't go smooth. Our hero and his girl get tossed into a pit with a basket of tarantulas. 

Still, in the end, Jonah and Emmy Lou and reunited and Papagayo is breaking the fourth wall promising his return from a prison cell.

New Adventures of Superboy #41: Kupperberg and Schaffenberger continue the story from last issue and it's a really convoluted plot with Superboy quitting, Ma Kent blabbing his secret, and an alien invasion that in the end doesn't add up to much, and I honestly can't remember how it all fits together a week after I read it. It turns out the aliens are trying to transform Superboy into a living robot to control him (so none of that other stuff was even in their plan), but naturally Superboy is one step ahead. Aliens are defeated, status quo is restored.

In the Dial H backup by Bridwell and Bender/McLaughlin, the Silhouette takes control of billionaire Hubert Hess’s fortune and incriminates Chris' dad, but Chris and Vicki dial up justice as Glassman and Ms. Muscle.

World's Finest Comics #291: Simonson provides the cover this issue. Superman and Batman are at the mercy of Stalagron, who reveals his secret origin to them (he's a mutated spelunker) and tells them about his plan to revitalize his source of power: a hunk of green kryptonite, responsible for creating him and all his minions. His plan is to create a volcano, which will spew the kryptonite radiation all over, turning a lot more people into creatures like him and his goons. 

They plan to make Yumiko the first female of their kind, but she escapes and helps Batman and Superman to break free before she is recaptured. Stalagron and his crew succeed in creating the volcano and are placing the kryptonite in it, when the heroes arrive for another round. While Batman uses explosives to divert the lava, Superman fight Stalagron. The combatants fall into the lava, but Superman's strength carries the day.

With the kryptonite destroyed, the rest of the stalagmen are destroyed and the volcano collapses. Back at Wayne Manor, Batman and Superman play the switch identities thing once again to throw off Yumiko's suspicions about Bruce being Batman.


Dale Houston said...

That issue of Detective is where I started reading Batman steadily for a few years. It was OK, but never great. Don Newton draws a good Batman. I htink Doug Moench starts writing soon after this.

That Green Arrow mini-series is hella fun, but the pacing suffers from one or two flashback pages an issue explaining where the plot is. Von Eeden is pretty great and it's too bad he didn't do a lot of comics. Thriller was great for something like 6 issues before he and Robert Loren Fleming left.

I know I bought that issue of Captain Carrot. All I remember is puns, which were less plentiful when Scott Shaw! started writing the series.

bombasticus said...

"pick up where last issue left off" kind of does a lot of work this week. Thanks as always for your persistence and insight on these.

Trey said...

@Dale - Yeah, not too much longer until Moench is onboard. I've read a bit of his run before and like Conway I feel like it was generally solid but seldom exceptional. We'll see if I still feel that way.

@bombasticus - i've come too far to turn back now.

Dick McGee said...

Wow, busy busy. Random thoughts:

Weird War Tales #123: The title may be almost over but at least they gave it's penultimate issue a pretty snazzy Kubert cover. According to one source I looked at the Captain Spaceman story was originally intended for Mystery In Space, which would be another sign that the book was winding down soon. Have to wonder what else might have been slush pile material.

Green Arrow #1: A really classic GA image there, and one that's been more-or-less copied by other artists over the years. Always get a kick out of Ollie planting and arrow right in a firearm's muzzle like that.

Action Comics #543: Neutron, what are you doing, dude? Did you consider just surrendering peacefully? Or just throwing the fight? Even if you're innocent as a lamb here, Metropolis has been thoroughly wrecked and you're gloating over the home-town champion's unconscious body. This is a terrible look, and they're going to blame you for the collateral damage, Mister Man With The Nuclear Punch. This not how you go straight, mate.

Arion Lord of Atlantis #7: I remember this issue being pretty good story-wise, having an awesome cover (although the title makes it a bit busy) and getting thrown out by my grandmother because my mother decided said awesome cover was porn somehow. Sigh. That happened to a lot of my books over the years but this was one of the last before I was out on my own.

All-Star Squadron #21: "...and Superman's old foe the Ultra-Humanite (now in a woman's body)." Surely that's not the movie-starlet he moved into in his first body-swap after he ditched the polio-victim mad scientist look, is it? Didn't think he stayed in that one all that long - but I guess All-Star is set far enough in the past it's possible.

Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew #15: "I felt like whole list was necessary so you could all share in the puns." And don't think we don't appreciate it. Best part of the book, really. :)

That cover makes me seriously nostalgic for the old "floating heads" days. Somebody really ought to bring that back again.

Jonah Hex #71: The mere idea of making a basket of tarantulas some kind of dire threat is just so...quaint. "Hey, could you throw down a basket of crickets for these things while you're at it?"

World's Finest Comics #291: "Stalagron, who reveals his secret origin to them (he's a mutated spelunker)" Oh come on, you're joking, right? What happened, did he get bitten by a radioactive stalagmite? When your origin makes a Red K story seem plausible you need a better agent.

Trey said...

The Captain Spaceman story coming from another book makes a lot of since. One, Mystery of Space would have made its Hodge homage more timely, and two, it isn't really "on theme" for Weird World Tales, which is mostly about the horror of war.

Dick McGee said...

IIRC "Captain Spaceman" was supposedly slated for Mystery In Space #118, while the book was cancelled (again) on issue 117. So it was relatively "fresh" work from about two years back when it showed up in Weird Wars #123. Definitely would have been more at home over in that later Mystery 7-issue run.

I mostly remember Mystery from the earlier 110-issue run where you mostly got Adam Strange, Captain Comet, Space Ranger and Space Cabby stories. Campy faux-nostalgia gold for me that I most got as hand-me-downs and out of discount bins, most being older than I am. The brief 80s revival felt more disjointed and leaned into irony/horror more than the innocent older days.

Trey said...

Right, and closer to Al Hodge's death in March 1979 if it had been published in January of 1981 (which is when that issue of MiS would have come).