Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Wednesday Comics: DC, July 1983 (week 3)

My mission: read DC Comics' output from January 1980 (cover date) to Crisis! This week, I'm looking at the comics at newsstands around April 21, 1983.

Brave and the Bold #200: This is the final issue of Brave and the Bold, ending a 28-year run. It also happens to be a comic I bought off the stands (one of three this month, it turns out! The first time that's happened in this review.) so I have a lot of nostalgia for it. It perhaps doesn't read as well to be today as it did at 10, but I still think its a good Bronze Age comic, starting with a great Aparo cover. 

The main story by Barr and Gibbons/Martin is billed as a team-up between Earth-One and Two Batmen, but is really a sort of team-up between parallel world counterparts of a new villain, Brimstone. On Earth-Two (rendered in Jerry Robinson-esque style by Gibbons), Nicholas Lucien is a B-grade villain with a devil gimmick who is defeated by Batman and Robin and accidentally put in a long coma by a head injury. He is revived 28 years later in Arkham to find himself an old man, and Batman dead and thus beyond his vengeance.  Unwilling to accept this, he mentally reaches out to that other him he always sensed existed who is a respectable businessman on Earth-One. He essentially possesses that version of himself to execute a terroristic plan to lure Earth-One Batman into a trap and kill him. The Earth-One portions of the story are, of course, rendered in more gritty, modern style. It's a nice gimmick that leads to a good story, if not necessarily a memorable one beyond its high concept. Gibbons changing art styles are a large part of its success.

This issue also as a preview of the comic that is to replace Brave and the BoldBatman and the Outsiders. In the continuity of that title, I am told, this story comes after the third issue. Anyway, it's a nice introduction by Barr and Aparo and left me wondering as a kid who these characters were. A group cultish terrorists seek to liberate their leader Miklos from the hospital where he is being held in police custody. When they attack the hospital, they run up against Batman and the Outsiders.

Legion of Super-Heroes #301: This is another issue why brother and I had as a kid. Despite it's very Silver Age-y cover by Giffen and Mahlstedt it's a very modern comic for the era. In fact, this title is one of the ones really closing the book on the Bronze Age 70s style, I think. Anyway, Chameleon Boy and his father, RJ Brande, are on Durla trying to regain Chameleon Boys powers which involve trials, including a fight with the Durlan elders. Meanwhile, there's a lot of character drama stuff, including Proty II making space for himself as a newly recognized sophont being, and the announcement of Karate Kid's and Princess Projectra's wedding. 

Night Force #11: In the 1930s, Winters and Vanessa get more than they bargain for when they meet with the cabal financially supporting Hitler whose members are all malign ghosts in 1983. Turns out the group is able to summon (or maybe form Voltron-style, it's unclear) the Beast of Revelations. After Fleeing back to the present, Winters blunders again by sending Jack and Vanessa to the house, where for some reason he didn't think the ghosts would attack them (but they do). He's forced to call in allies: Katina, with which he has personal history.

Daring New Adventures of Supergirl #9: Kupperberg and Infantino/Oksner continue the team-up with the Doom Patrol. We get the origin of Reactor, who Tempest knew in Vietnam as Krullen. Tempest first manifested his mutant powers to stop Krullen from massacring a village of civilians. Krullen had been irradiated during atom bomb tests in the 1950's and was later turned into Reactron by the Council. Reactron attempts to absorb all the radiation from an experimental reactor and blasts Supergirl. She manages to create a wind-funnel that draws him into the upper atmosphere, where he explodes from radiation overload. Unfortunately, in the aftermath, Robotman tells his teammates that his sensors detect an unknown radiation Supergirl has absorbed from Reactron--which is killing her.

Halloween (1978) must be really in the Zeitgeist in 1983, because it is referenced in two comics this week. In this Cavalieri and Oksner/Hunt Lois Lane backup, Lois spends the day with film scream queen Jenny Lind Keaton, but then she is mistaken for a disguised Keaton by a nutty gunman who thinks she's really a witch.

Green Lantern #166: The story that's been building in the background comes to the fore, as we get a new creative team with Cavalieri and Tuska/McLaughlin, and a promising start. Krista, the newest member of the Green Lantern Corps, gets stranded in the yellow desert planet of Sikarra, where a ring can't protector. She is rescued by Jordan, but she is badly injured.

On Oa, Lanterns Eddore, Kaylark, and Galius-Zed accuse the Guardians of betraying them by hiding an advanced model of the Power Ring that is effective against the color yellow, and thus endangering the lives of the Corps members. When Jordan arrives with Krista, who then dies of her injuries, the situation turns violent. Jordan fights on the side of the Guardians, but the rogue Lanterns find the advanced rings inside the Central Power Battery. Two of them escape from Oa, leaving Galius Zed to fight Hal Jordan with the advantage of the improved ring. Jordan is overpowered and Galius vows never to be dictated by the Guardians again.

House of Mystery #318: We're at the penultimate installment of the "I...Vampire" saga. Bennett and Deborah track Mary to Paris. Bennett decides to take the untested Rashnikov Formula, that's supposed to remove vampire weaknesses. It seems to work, leaving him with vampire powers but removing the weaknesses and need for blood. He is able to start a romantic relationship with Deborah. He's keep hunting the Blood Red Moon, and under cover, follows several vampires back to their hideout where he hides in a coffin. When day comes, he's unable to move. When Mary wakes him from the coffin the next night. She tells him rigor mortis has set in. The experimental formula apparently wasn't meant to be taken by existing vampires, but by people who would be turned into vampires. Looks like it's the end for Bennett, but we'll find out next issue.

There are two additional stories this issue. The first is a post-apocalyptic yarn by Kashdan and Matucenio where a couple repairs a robot to be a servant, but instead gets a killing machine. The last story, by Kelly and Trinidad has a serial killer who uses various weapons with occult significance. Only one reporter realizes what's going on, but when the killings stop, he's ridiculed so he commits a murder himself to keep interest up. That of course brings him to the attention of the serial killer.  

Sgt. Rock #379: The main story has Easy getting their mail months overdue, and then deciding to play Santa Claus to the German kids in an orphanage, complete with Jackie going down the chimney dressed as Santa. Since nothing is ever easy in Easy, there's the Wehrmacht to fight, too.

There's a story credited to "the Kubert School" about a G.I. eager for a war souvenir, a French kid playing with a German helmet he found, and a tragic accident. Finally, Harris and DeMulder deliver a schmaltzy story of a soldier who keeps talking about his gal back home, who we discover (after his death) was his mother.

Warlord #71:   I reviewed the main story in this issue here. No Barren Earth backup this month.


Dale Houston said...

A good week. I bought 4 of these (BatB, Legion, Night Force and The Warlord).

Pour one out for the last real issue of the Warlord for many years. It's a mess after this, or was for as long as I stuck around.

I really liked this final issue of Brave & The Bold - probably the first thing I had seen drawn by Gibbons for DC. I think he had drawn some Dr. Who at Marvel that I liked. Mike W Barr is underrated as a Batman writer.

This is the worst of the 3 Night Force serials. I read it recently and I still don't remember it.

Legion was cooking with gas at this time. A nearly perfect serialized comic.

Dick McGee said...

Daring New Adventures of Supergirl #9: Weird that the Halloween films should be cropping up 1983 of all things. The year before saw the disastrous flop that was Halloween III, which effectively put the franchise on hiatus for the next six years, and in '83 smart money was that the franchise was done for good.

House of Mystery #317: Lovely Kaluta cover there.

Green Lantern #166: And a well-done Gil Kane cover there - although I think that falls into the "generic cover" category Wonder Woman's been going through for the last four issues of her book. Very strange.

Trey said...

@Dale - Barr did some really good stuff and was unfairly ignored for a long time because O'Neil wasn't fond of some of it. Morrison's Batman run seems to borrow from Barr some.

@Dick - Kane has done a couple that were nice in these reviews recently.

Dale Houston said...

I think Mike W Barr also made some comments abut DC's proposed rating system that got him ousted from DC. I might be remembering that wrong.

I like the generic covers over all. I greatly prefer them to the awkward word balloon laden covers of not long before. Maybe it's a conscious decision to make their covers more 'adult'? Maybe they are repurposing merchandising art? Maybe it's just Dick Giordano's influence.

Dick McGee said...

@Dale Houston Warlord without Grell quickly ceased to be Warlord at all, agreed. I stuck longer than I probably should have - especially after having clung to Kamandi after Kirby left it for far too long in earlier years. Some creators really make or break a book, and both Kirby and Grell are among them IMO.

I'd rather have a cover that at least hints at the book's contents, but I'd also rather have one that's simply generic than the outright deceptive covers that were so commonplace in earlier years.