Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Wednesday Comics: May, 1983 (week 2)

I'm reading DC Comics' output from January 1980 (cover date) to Crisis! Today, I've got the comics at newsstands the week of February 10, 1983. 

Batman #359:  Conway and Jurgens continue Croc's rise in the Underworld as he murders Boss Falco in prison and proclaims himself "King Croc" in this issue. (Interestingly, Batman and Gordon call him "Killer Croc" but that's not a name Croc himself ever uses.) The cover is misleading as no costumed villains show up. It's all part of Conway building the pre-fab menace.

We get Croc's origin this issue (he's from Tampa FL and apparently born in 1948), some digs at the criminal justice system in the South, and a view of a more reactionary asshole Batman emerging after years of the nice that will take inner city kids out to clean up a park. He's dismissive of Croc's trauma-filled childhood (or at least Gordon's mild empathy over it), and chews Robin out when he suggests maybe having the Todds investigate these murderous criminals isn't a good idea. He says he's tired of "citizens" waiting for someone else to save them, and that the Todds made a commitment, and they should stick to it. Some of this may be Conway signaling Bruce is stinging from getting beaten (again) in this issue by Croc, but it's still a shift--and will have in-story consequences.

Against Robin's instructions, Joe and Trina Todd follow Croc's minion extorting money from the circus. At the Gotham Zoo, they walk into a trap.

Flash #321: Infantino's art comes off different this issue, likely due to the mysterious inker credited as "Taurus S." Anyway, Sabre Tooth, the assassin from previous issues, escapes from jail and is going to kill Barry Allen. He almost does so as Barry and Fiona visit Creed's grave. Barry's Flash abilities save him, but Sabre Tooth gets away. Meanwhile, Tomar Re has pancakes with a family, and the Reverse Flash makes a last page escape from whatever extradimensional realm he was stuck in. Even beyond, the new inker, Infantino seems to stretch himself on the depiction of that place.

The Creeper backup trudges along with Gafford joined by a new art team: Patton and DeCarlo. Patton took over last issue, but I think I forgot to comment. Anyway, the Creeper traces the source of the tainted cocaine that seems to be turning users into monsters.

G.I. Combat #253: After D-Day, the Haunted Tank and crew are on their way to Paris. When their captain is killed before they reach the city and Notre Dame, which he had dreamed of seeing, Jeb vows to take his body there, despite orders from Eisenhower that they are to hang back and give General Leclerc and his French 1st Armored Division the honor of retaking the capital. Racing ahead, Jeb and his win find the city still very much in German hands and have to evade death until help arrives.

The second Haunted Tank story is one of those with a mildly humorous premise Kanigher does from time to time. Rick sees a little French girl eyeing a doll in a shop window and vows to buy it for her, but he and the rest of the crew are pulled out of the pay line to be sent on a mission to recover a fortune in stolen gold. Their way back is made more difficult by country folk constantly demanding payment from the "rich Americans" to help them, but the crew has no money except the gold they are carrying and can't spend. In the end, the girl gets her doll, but only after the crew has a shoot out with Germans on a bridge with stacks of gold bars as cover.

Kanigher and Catan have the Mercenaries in the Middle East tangling with an Arab leader whose men executed some Western missionaries.  
The other tales are by Boltinoff/Trinidad and Kashdan with Talaoc and Ayers and are (mostly more serious). A kid dreams of firing a machine gun, and gets put on a crew, but dies in the bitter cold on a frozen river before ever firing a shot. His lifeless fingers, frozen to the trigger, manage to kill some Germans, though. A French dog saves a G.I. from a German soldier, and a G.I. is saved from the Japanese by Truk Islanders and tries to return the favor by rushing to warn them so they can escape a U.S. bombing. 

Omega Men #2: Slifer, Giffen, and DeCarlo pick up from last issue with the team in trouble. After the nuclear attack, Primus is badly injured, and their "bio-systems" are nearly depleted. Tigorr disobeys Primus to go get supplies and barely makes it back. We get more of Broot's tragic backstory and discover that while most Changralynians blame him for the destruction, there is a cultish group that idolize his resistance.

Meanwhile on the Omega Men's ship, Kalista forces a captured Citadelian to send false reports to his commander. Treacherous Demonia begins sowing seeds of mistrust within rank and file, scaring some with a tale of Primus' apparent mind-control capabilities.

Saga of the Swamp Thing #13: This storyline comes to an end, and I am sorry to say, Pasko and Yeates do not stick the landing, which honestly is a result telegraphed for a few issues now. I lot of things happen at the last minute and the ending seems sort of arbitrary. In the Fortress of the Beast, Swamp Thing, Liz, Dennis, and Dr. Kripptmann are each tricked by hallucinations of their most painful memories that disguise death traps. Once they make it through, it is revealed that Grasp has been the Anti-Christ all along. Or maybe he's just the Herald of the Beast? Is there a difference? Anyway, the Golem's back, and there's stuff with the locket, and then Swampie gets powered up enough to defeat Karen and Grasp.

Swamp Thing with the help of Liz, Dennis and Kripptmann, returns to his home swamp in Louisiana to restore and heal himself from his infection. General Sunderland still has plans to get Swamp Thing, though.

In the Cuti/Carrillo Phantom Stranger backup, Yehudi Jones has the knack for never being seen and makes a living pilfering from people. The Phantom Stranger forces him start living in the world and be somebody to save a beautiful girl from corruption by the hands of the drug pusher, Dan D. Candy.

New Teen Titans #31: After their defeat last issue, the Titans aren't in a good place when they get back to the Tower. Kid Flash is still convinced Raven is evil and frustrated the other Titans aren't listening to him. Cyborg is still ruminating over finding out the girl he is into has a fiancé, and Robin is still being distant from Starfire for reasons. Oh, and Raven's been kidnapped. But hey, Donna show's up and tells them Terry proposed. None of this goes anywhere, but it's simmering in the background as they head to Zandia to get Raven back.

In Zandia, we learn the Brotherhood is after Brother Blood's secrets. The Brain has deduced that Raven likely discovered these unconsciously. When all of his teammates attempt at coercion and torture fail, Brain tries a gentler approach, and Raven agrees to help. Trailing the bad guys to the site of Brother Blood's secret "Regeneration Chamber," the Titans come on strong, but the Brain is able to turn the tide against them. Believing her teammates have been killed, Raven goes berserk and almost kills the Brotherhood before Wonder Girl manages to bring her to her senses.

Superman #383: Bates and Swan/Hunt give us another one of those "puzzle stories" so common to Superman comics of the Bronze Age. First off, Bates lays out a lot of character business in the Daily Planet, presumably to pay off in later issues, including the big one of Lois questioning her relationship with Superman given that he won't commit--and perhaps realistically can't. 

In the main storyline, an ancient robot is unearthed, and it immediately attacks Superman. All is not as it seems, however! It turns out that Robrox, the ancient alien robot, is here to prevent some catastrophe foreseen by his makers that would destroy life on Earth. They catastrophe will be triggered by Superman's heat vision thanks to the machinations of the Superman Revenge Squad. Robrox prevents Superman from unleashing his heat-vision on Earth, then explains everything to him once Superman has safely deployed it on the lifeless Moon.


Dick McGee said...

"Infantino's art comes off different this issue, likely due to the mysterious inker credited as 'Taurus S.'"

I'm sorry, what? The inker is credited as literal BS here? Because I can't see another reason to use that cryptic pseudonym.

G.I. Combat #253:

Okay, having the crew do a Kelly's Heroes ripoff plot is kind of cool to start with, and a shootout where you're using gold for cover is just great. That one's getting stolen for an RPG sometime.

"The Phantom Stranger forces him start living in the world and be somebody to save a beautiful girl from corruption by the hands of the drug pusher, Dan D. Candy."

Dan D. Candy is almost as good as impromptu gold-ingot fortifications. That's getting stolen too. :)

Trey said...

And the "Taurus S." is clearly lettered in a different style than the other credits suggesting it was some last-minute substitution.

It is indeed a very gameable week, I think.