Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Wednesday Comics: DC, August 1983 (week 2)

I'm reading DC Comics' output from January 1980 (cover date) to Crisis! Today, I've got the comics released the week of May 12, 1983. 

Justice League of America Annual #1: This Levitz/Wein story with art by Hoberg/Giordano is notable mainly for having appearances by Dr. Destiny and the Bronze Age Sandman, both of whom will appear in the early issues of Neil Gaiman's Sandman in 1989. Beyond that, it's a classic JLA story of the team splitting up to deal with dream-related menaces before entering the Dream Dimension where Destiny has imprisoned Sandman and stolen his supply of sleep sand. Mention is made of the crisis in Markovia and Batman being on the outs with the League which will occur in Batman and the Outsiders #1.

Batman #362:  Moench and Newton bring back the Riddler who was last since seen in Detective #526, but outside of that cameo, hasn't had a story since '81. He's up to his same old schtick, but Moench throws in some decent wordplay for the Dark Knight to unravel. Meanwhile, Bullock decides to abandon his false charges against Gordon after...well, I'm not really sure how we're supposed to read what happens, unless it's a veiled threat by the Batman against Bullock made by giving him an egg with his name on it similar to ones the Riddler had employed in his caper.

Flash #324: Bates and Infantino/Jensen officially kick off the "Trial of the Flash" saga (or I guess you could say last issue did sorta), though that name is not, of course, used in the issue since there isn't any trial yet. With Fiona waiting at the altar and his family and friends gathered expectantly, The Flash engages in a round-the-world chase to stop Professor Zoom killing Barry's bride to be. He succeeds--just barely--but apparently the Reverse Flash loses his life in the process.

G.I. Combat #256: The first Haunted Tank story is mostly from the ghostly Stuart's point of view, as we see how he came to be watching over a "yankee" tank crew (Alexander the Great's orders!) and how he is unable to warn the crew of an ambush coming. Naturally the Haunted Tank makes it through. The second story is told from the perspectives of the Sherman and a German Tiger II tank. It's better than the first though not improved by Kanigher's "equipment's perspective" gimmick.

There's a "Silent Service" submarine story about the crew of the U.S. sub, Barracuda, willing to do whatever it takes to sink a Japanese sub-hunting destroyer, and another story of the Pacific Theater where a G.I. hides a gun in his bandages to get the drop on a Japanese ambush. 

The Mercenaries are back, and Kanigher and Catan have them in a mythical African micronation, Zamora, where their plan to get work with the king is sunk when his son kills him in the name of American petroleum interests. In a surprise turn, the king names Prince his successor, but once they've thwarted the coup planners, he turns over leadership to a teacher and political revolutionary--whose first act as president is (wisely) to tell the Mercenaries politely to leave the country.

New Teen Titans #34: Wolfman and Perez deliver something better than the last couple of issues, though mostly for set-up. Terra is grumbling that the Titans don't seem to trust her as they haven't shared their identities or anything. The Titans have reasons for not doing so, but all those are forgotten after the Terminator attacks and Terra plans a big part in defeating him. A staged part, it turns out, as the reveal at the end shows she is infiltrating the Titans on Slade's orders. Meanwhile, Adrian Chase's vigilante tactics (which he dragged Robin into) has consequences as a bomb comes off in his apartment. Also in this issue, Donna says yes to Terry's proposal, but wants to wait to marry him until she finds her parents, and it turns out Sarah (the woman Cyborg was into) isn't engaged after all.

Superman #386: Bates and Swan/Hunt continue Luthor's quest for revenge against Superman as he (wrongly) blames him for the destruction of Lexor. Despite the overall more serious approach to Luthor in this arc, this issue shows hints of characterization inspired by Hackman's Luthor in Superman: The Movie. Luthor discusses his plans with minions as one of them shaves and buffs his head. When he comes to believe killing Lois won't have the same impact on Superman since the two have broken up, he muses on working to get them back together then killing her. For right now, he settles for tricking Superman with a sham device similar in appearance to the one that destroyed Lexor and taunting the hero. He promises to strike for real when Superman least expects it.

Saga of the Swamp Thing #16: Pasko is back and joined by Bissette and Totleben on interior art, an artist team destined to make their mark on this character. After finding Linda Holland's grave empty, Swamp Thing and friends are on their way to Washington, D.C. to uncover the roots of the Sunderland Corporation conspiracy against them. On the way, Swamp Thing finds himself in an eerie small town where a form costume shop operator gives him a mask that appears to transform him back into Holland. He romances a local girl but doesn't feel right about his deception. In the end, it's revealed that everyone in the town is wearing a mask to hide some mutation or deformity. They invite Swamp Thing to stay with them, but he declines, feeling he can't abandon his mission.


bombasticus said...

So weird to think now that "Trial of the Flash" with all its gothic twists is Peak Bates in some ways . . . the epic his career was building toward. Thanks as always for doing these. Swamp Thing is only a few months from changing the world of comics forever!

Dale Houston said...

That JLA Annual was really fun.

I also bought Batman and Titans out of this bunch. Titans was great. Is there where the Riddler uses a submachine gun to 'riddle' something?

Dollar Comics are now a $1.25. A buck and a quarter quarterstaff, indeed.

Dick McGee said...

Batman #362: I remember this one being pretty good story-wise, with a well-written Riddler making a solid comeback (even though I don't think I realized he'd been gone back then). Bought it for the strong cover though, and I'd give it the gold medal for this week's crop even today. Perez is great but that particular TT is a little busy, while the Batbook is nice and clean - word balloons and all. :)

Flash #324: Between this and Teen Titans there's some pretty major story arcs getting in motion this week. Trial of the Flash has maybe held up a bit better - the whole thing with Terra and Slade being lovers has not aged well given their ages, even if the rest of the story is strong.

Superman #386: "When he comes to believe killing Lois won't have the same impact on Superman since the two have broken up, he muses on working to get them back together then killing her."

Honestly, what is wrong with you Lex? Aside from the fact that "matchmaker" is way outside of your skill set, you married her yourself at least three times in the Silver Age, and I'm not even certain they were all imaginary stories. I usually prefer goofy-mad-scientist Lex to sinister-businessman Lex but this is just beyond the pale.