Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Wednesday Comics: DC, August 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 May 19, 1983.

Batman and the Outsiders #1: Barr and Aparo introduce a new team in an action-packed debut. When Lucius Fox is captured by freedom fighters in the nation of Markovia, Batman seeks the aid of the Justice League to rescue him, but Superman has already promised world leaders the League would stay out of that diplomatic tangle, and the others back him, so Batman resigns. There isn't, however, a scene like the one on the cover in the story.

In Markovia, the king dies leaving his sons Gregor and Brion in charge of the country. Batman and Black Lightning have infiltrated the war-torn land and soon (improbably) encounter other supers: Metamorpho who has come seeking Dr. Jace and a cure for his condition Katana, who's out for revenge, and an amnesiac young woman Batman nicknames Halo. Brion is given powers by Dr. Jace, and becomes Geo-Force, but he's betrayed by his soldiers and shot in cold blood. All the other heroes except Halo are captured. Batman wakes up in a dungeon to find that he and the other heroes and Fox are the captives of Baron Bedlam.

House of Mystery #319: Another intriguing Kaluta cover, depicting Bennett from "I...Vampire." Mishkin and Sutton bring that strip to a close with this issue, leaving G.I. Combat as the only anthology book with a regular lead feature, and perhaps suggesting that this whole title isn't long for this world--which turns out to be correct. Bennett is helpless, trapped in a decaying body because he rashly took the Russian formula, and Mary Queen of Blood seems to have triumphed. She drains Deborah of blood and plans to keep Bennett around long enough to watch the woman rise as her vampiric thrall. Bennett longs for death but can do nothing but watch. Deborah does rise, but she proves too strong for Mary to command. She defeats the Vampire Queen and drags her into the sunlight. It seems Deborah took the serum as well and her freshly dead body rather than one with centuries-decayed organs, it works as intended. She sits with Bennett, professing her love, as he too crumbles to dust as the sun rises.

The second story by Mishkin and Ordway sees an underhanded Hollywood agent get his comeuppance when he orders a sandwich named for a form client of his he drove to his death and then dies from rat poison, courtesy of his ghostly chef.

Daring New Adventures of Supergirl #10: Kupperberg and Infantino/Oksner pick up where last issue left off with Supergirl is still seriously ill thanks to the radiation she absorbed from Reactron. On top of that, she has made an enemy in the vigilante-hating police Lieutenant Peters after her battle with Reactron. Oh, and she's got a date that she refuses to cancel despite the fact she's sick. After her date ends early, she tangles with Matrix-Prime again and is taken captive. She's turned over to Professor Drake, one of the Council members, who has developed a cloning process. He immerses Supergirl in a bath of chemicals that causes foot tall clones of Supergirl to form, all of them under his command. Unfortunately, as the mad scientist informs Supergirl, she will not survive the cloning process.

Green Lantern #167: Cavalieri and Tuska/McLaughlin continue the story from last issue. Hal manages to rally after his defeat by Gallius Zed wielding one of the power rings supposedly without the weakness to yellow. Hal is able to turn the tables in the rematch noting ironically that Zed's greatest fear (not being strong enough to wield the ring) seemed to manifest. As Hal tracks down Eddore to the planet Tront and defeats him too, a pattern emerges: Eddore's greatest fear becomes manifest and sews the seeds of his loss. Hal recalls how this all started with a group of striped outfit loving space pirates called the Free Lancers who had clued Kaylark on to the existence of these rings. Hal heads to Kaylark's planet, D'xe, where she has crowned herself Empress Surrenda.

In the Tales of the Green Lantern Corps backup by Klein and Gibbons equoid Lantern Brin returns home to his family and retirement from the Corps. He relates that his failure to repulse an invasion by the Spider Guild (their first appearance) is what led the Guardians to let him go. But the Guardians honor him by selecting a replacement from his own household. Both his sons hope it will be them, but instead the Guardians select Brin's family's robotic nanny, Teacher.

Sgt. Rock #379: The main story by Kanigher and Redondo is certainly a departure from the usual. It involves a new private so ambitious he's willing to murder superiors to create the context for his promotion. He makes the mistakes of gunning for Rock and loses his life instead. 

The second story by Harris and Lindsey is less good with a French father moved to spare a Nazi officer who had previously threatened to kill his daughter if he didn't give up a hidden U.S. paratrooper due to the revelation that this Nazi had a daughter too.

Warlord #72:   I reviewed this first, non-Grell penned issue main story here. In the Barren Earth backup by Cohn and Randall, Jinal and friends infiltrate the Mulge guardian to get back their captured friends, encountering dangerous plants and fungi, and breaking up a creepy Mulge ritual to cause fungi to grow threw the bodies of sacrificed humans. This is probably the most interesting installment of this series so far.

Legion of Super-Heroes #302: I didn't comment on it last issue, but Levitz and Giffen are now credited as co-plotters. Lightning Lord shows up at Legion HQ, ostensibly out to find his sister, Light Lass, and puts a beating on a number of Legionnaires. Eventually, Lightning Lad steps in to fight his brother, and he and Saturn Girl decisively defeat him. Meanwhile, Ontiir of the Science Police lures Supergirl, Brainiac 5, and several other Legionnaires into trap on Webber's World, where they are blasted unconscious by the Emerald Empress's Eye. Meanwhile, Element Lad and Erin Schvaughn head to Imsk to investigate...well, something.

This is a good issue, but it bugs me a little bit with a conceit common to team books wherein a villain that usual fights the heroes with a team (in this case, Lightning Lord) is powerful enough to be a threat to the whole team of heroes, until that one hero shows up to best them one-on-one. 

Night Force #13: Katina and her son Gowon (who we learn is also Baron Winters' son) agree to help him save Vanessa after he tells them Vanessa is his daughter. His later comments to Merlin suggest this was a lie to get their help. Katina uses her very real inner demons to banish the ghosts, saving Vanessa and Jack. Those two leave the series never to return. Meanwhile, the vengeful ghosts burn Jack Carter with psychic energy in retaliation. Winters is ready to admit defeat and give up his position (whatever than is), but Katina forces him to accompany her through a portal to some mystic ziggurat where they are to journey into memory through some pool. Winters sees them as young mystic students of some sort whose romance was forbidden, so they were separated. Seeing them together again, the forces that wished them separated now declare that they are willing to kill them to do it.

The letter column announces that the next issue will be the last of the series but promises Night Force will return as a series of 4 issue limited series. The first half of that is right, but the limited series won't come to be. It will be 13 years before there is a Night Force volume 2.


Dick McGee said...

House of Mystery #319: I wasn't the biggest fan of "I, Vampire" as a whole, but it did get a pretty decent (and decisive) ending - and one last snazzy Kaluta cover, as you noted.

Daring New Adventures of Supergirl #10: Speaking of snazzy covers, I quite like this one. Very intriguing, and it reminds me of the Project Cadmus micro-clones that first showed up in Kirby's Olsen run.

Green Lantern #167: "Hal heads to Kaylark's planet, D'xe, where she has crowned herself Empress Surrenda."

Surrenda, seriously? What is she, French? :)

"But the Guardians honor him by selecting a replacement from his own household. Both his sons hope it will be them, but instead the Guardians select Brin's family's robotic nanny, Teacher."

So they effectively fired Brin for incompetence and then "honored" the guy by replacing him with his equivalent to the Jetson's Rosie? Way to go, Guardians. Maintaining that track record of being the worst people in the DC universe to work for.

Night Force #13: "It will be 13 years before there is a Night Force volume 2."

And when it did, it was lumped into the Weirdoverse line and barely made it to 12 issues the second time around. Of course by then direct sales to comic shops was the vast majority of the market and there weren't enough newsstands left to see if Wolfman's original argument about it needing to reach beyond specialist shops were validated.

Pity, really. I have a soft spot for most of the Weirdoverse books (and their near-peer Major Bummer) and they probably deserved to do better than they did. Challengers was an interesting take on the concept and arguably the most serious ever with a strong X-Files vibe, and Scare Tactics was just good stupid fun, bit like the Creature Commandos re-imagined as a punk band.

PT Dilloway said...

I remember seeing Halo and Geo-Force the last couple of seasons of Young Justice, but I guess that comic is where they got their start.

Dale Houston said...

Batman and the Outsiders #1: A fun debut to a fun series. I like Jim Aparo's art a lot, but think he might have been a better fit on Batman and Detective than on a superhero team book. I hope he made lots of money from this.

Warlord #72: The Warlord should only be written by people with the last name Grell. I stuck around for a while after this but it gets a lot sillier. Dan Adkins inks don't help here. The previous ink er, I think it was Mike DeCarlo, put a nice sheen on Dan Jurgens' pencils. I have an LoC in one of these issues complaining about Adkins inks, and got a nice letter from Dan Jurgens in return.

Legion #302: I recall this was a pretty good issue. I'd like a comprehensive reprint of the LEvitz/Giffen/Lightle Legion some time.

Night Force #13: I know I bought and read the second Night Force series but couldn't remember what happened from issue to issue. Maybe I missed Gene Colan.

Trey said...

I'm going to disagree on Warlord. I liked both the build up to the New Atlantis War (if not it's ending) and Burkett's USS Eldridge stuff

Dale Houston said...

I'm glad you enjoyed it.

My enjoyment might have been marred by my extreme Mike Grell fanboyism.

Trey said...

It was also my entry point to Warlord, so that may color my perceptions!

Dick McGee said...

Wow, you didn't get into Warlord until then and still went back and grabbed everything? That must have been a pretty penny. I did pretty much the opposite, starting with #1 and then letting my long-time sub drop in late 1984 (freshman year for me). Finally went back and filled in everything I'd missed after finishing my undergrad work but I can say I was all that happy with the back half of the series. For me it was always more about Grell than the book itself, and I was much happier following him over to Starslayer, Sable, and Green Arrow.

Come to think of it, I didn't really start reading LoSH regularly until Grell's run, and the later stuff always feels off to me. I'm one of those few people who wasn't all gaga over the Great Darkness story because of that, and Giffen's whole run rubbed me the wrong way. Maybe it was purely on the strength of Grell, but mostly I think it was the "this is my Doctor Who" first exposure effect.

Trey said...

Well, I was only 3 years-old when the series started so that made it hard to get in on the ground floor. I didn't complete the run into I was in residency, I don't think, so it took a while, but luckily Warlord back issues don't command high prices. I don't know where they are now, but in the late 80s and early 90s it was really only First Issue Special #1, issue 1 and (particularly, because it was a low print run) issue 3, I believe. And those were under $20 if you didn't mind them in NM or something.

I think what you mention is a trait of a lot of genre fans (and maybe comic book fans more than others) where the version they got exposed to sets their expectations of what the series/character is "supposed" to be like and other versions may just be different but feel "wrong."

Dale Houston said...

I startd reading Warlord after it was briefly cancelled and came back - maybe with issue 5. I was there for Mike Grell and for the ersatz Burroughs. I'd dropped out of comics around issue 13 but then stumbled on a bunch of back issues of The Warlord at the local used book store. Was hooked from then until the post-Grell era. I haven't had any interest in picking up issues after he (and his then-wife) were gone, and sold the issues I did have.

I discovered Grell through LoSH (#205) and a Green Arrow backup in Action and followed him through hell and high water until some time in the Shaman's Tears era when I had trouble finding things.