Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Wednesday Comics: DC, August 1983 (week 4)

I'm reading DC Comics' output from January 1980 (cover date) to Crisis! This week, I'm looking at the comics on the newsstand on May 26, 1983.

Arion Lord of Atlantis #10: Moench and Duursema/Mandrake continue the story from last issue with Arion ensorcelled by Icestarr, the very 80s ice sorceress. He goes with her home "at the top of the world," but they are followed by Chian. Arion hears Icestarr's tragic backstory about being tricked into becoming the jailer for a frost giant, but how that job has given her immortality via a gem. Unfortunately, the gem draws energy from the sun and weakens it, causing the world's impending Ice Age.

Chian discovers Arion's just playing Icestarr. He and Chian confront the ice queen and convince her to give up her immortality allow the sun to be restored. In her doing so, the frost giant is released, and Arion's own magic is diminished in defeating it. Still, with the curse broken the ice which threatened Atlantis is pushed back. Not a bad story, but it feels like an easy resolution of what seemed like a major conceit of the series.

World's Finest Comics #294: This one is by Kellogg and Moore/Giacola. What's interesting about it is that it directly deals with the events of Batman and the Outsiders #1 (which means it must take place after BatO #1-3 and a couple of other things). Both heroes are regretting the breach in their friendship, but Batman is still too angry (or too stubborn) to let it go--he's even using Alfred to dodge Superman's calls! It's a nice bit of continuity though to see this team-up book just not being a bubble where events elsewhere don't matter.

The story involves a cult centered around Tonatiuh, an alien trapped on Earth for centuries whose spent his time masquerading as an Aztec sun god. He and is followers tend to dress in ridiculous pan-Native American stereotyped style of a level of flamboyance that would have let them fit in with the 70s rock band Redbone70s rock band Redbone. Well, Tonatiuh is probably more flamboyant with his fringed jacket, one finger mittens, and helmet like a tv set. Anyway, he captures Superman with the intent of draining his power. Batman intervenes (though not after pitching a fit when the media pans him for his first failed attempted to stop the villain in Metropolis) and Tonatiuh chooses to blow himself up.

Action Comics #546: Wolfman and Kane conclude their new Brainiac arc, and it's an action-filled finale. Superman recruits the Justice League and the Teen Titans to help him take on his new old foe. It's taking all of their power to fight his forces to a standstill, but Superman gets the idea to use a sunspot to disrupt Brainiac's computer systems. Since there isn't one suitable, Superman lures Brianiac closer to the sun and creates one himself. Brainiac doesn't see it coming; He's defeated, but he gets away.

One thing I enjoyed about this one was how "in continuity" it is, at least for the Titans. We open on Kid Flash talking to his mentor about whether to stay in the Titans or finish college, and we get Wonder Girl telling Wonder Woman about her engagement. Also, Terra's thoughts hint at her duplicitous nature. It seems like you wouldn't really get these sorts of small details today.

All-Star Squadron #24: Thomas and Ordway/Machlan are 3 issues into their Ultra-Humanite arc, and it feels a bit padded. The Ultra Humanite has his "sub-men" capture Dr. Chuck Grayson, who transplanted a human brain into Robotman's body, in hopes of having him transfer Ultra's brain into Robotman's form. This gets Batman and Robin involved as Robin had been visiting his "cousin several times removed" Chuck at the time. Ultra then almost the carrier Normandie to demonstrate his power, but Green Lantern manages to at least keep it from sinking. Tarantula gets a new costume then meets an angry guy who claims to be from 1983 and says he has come back in time to warn the All-Stars. He calls himself Brainwave, Jr.

Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew #18: This is another "solo adventures" issue with several writers and artists. Thomas writes the prologue and epilogue with art by Hoberg and Trapani and also a Rubberduck story with Houston inks and a ice cream themed gorilla villain. Cuti and Goldberg/Houston do an Alley Kat-Abra story where she fights a gnu genie. Engel and Chan pit Fastback against a solar-powered bear.  Letter column promises the next issue will be a full-length story with the return of Frogzilla, but the last issue for Scott Shaw. It also explains that Shaw "abruptly" deciding he "could not handle a regular monthly title," suggesting without specifically saying so that this issue and the previous one are perhaps a result of that.

Detective Comics #529: Moench and Colon/Giordano introduce a new villain in the form of an all-black clad burglar called the Thief of Night who is stealing high end items for a mysterious, unseen woman he's in love with, and managing to thwart Batman with his agility and his ability to head in shadows.

Meanwhile, Lucius Fox gets word from the board of Wayne Enterprises, that one of their employees, a Ms. N. Knight, has suffered an accident with a laser while working at the Observatory and her medical bills for dermatology treatment of her completely depigmented skin are very high. Fox considers the situation and realizes that Wayne Enterprises might have to give the lady additional compensations. I don't think you have to have read this issue before (though I have) to get suspicious Ms. Knight and the Thief of Night might somehow be related concerns.

Also, Jason pals around with a clown form his old circus and decides to go back to that life.

In the backup by Cavalieri and Cullins/Giacola, Green Arrow Rick helps free Ollie and the rest of the people Ozone glued to the floor and reveals that the man who is after Ozone is his father, a former bioweapons scientist with mental health issues. He warns GA about the botulin toxin cannister. Arrow manages to track down Ozone. Lucky for both of them, the botulin is inactivated by the heat of a nearby furnace, and Ozone is captured.

Green Arrow #4: Barr and von Eeden/Giordano bring the limited to a conclusion. Arrow, Black Canary, and the CIA agent "Jones" head to get the formula from Abby's ship, but they find it has already been commandeered by a flamboyant pirate called Captain Lash, because he swings a mean whip. Our heroes prevail and Lash gives up to mastermind. Green Arrow goes to confront Gerrold Sinclair only to find him near death from a gunshot and the real mastermind--Ollie's old flame Cindy--waiting to kill him and pin her husband's murder on him. She plans to shoot before he can loose an arrow, but Gerrold's last act is to shoot her. Ollie leaves that mess for the cops. Later, he hands over the reins of the company (and Abby's fortune) to the lawyer, Stein, after drinking one last toast in Abby's honor.

The fight with Cap'n Lash here seems an odd Bronze Age flourish to pad the page count, but otherwise this is a satisfying conclusion to an underrated series.  

Jonah Hex #75: Nice Ross Andru cover. We pick up where last issue left off with Hex in an uneasy alliance with Railroad Bill Clinton, the man he was hired to bring in until Graphus, and a heavy handed Pinkerston, got indiscriminate with his shooting. They escape an ambush by the Pinkertons, but some of Bill's gang and some relatives are killed. Hex and Bill part ways because Bill knows Hex isn't going to give up and it's only a matter of time before they are at odds again. The very next scene, Hex is spoiling a train robbery the gang is trying to commit. Bill becomes convinced he has to kill the bounty hunter and sneaks up on his camp at night. Before he can kill Hex, Graphus shows up. Bill shoots Graphus first, and warning Hex who then gets Bill when the bandit won't surrender.

Omega Men #5: From a plot perspective, this is an interesting turn for the series. Primus who has been the leader throughout their other appearances and the voice of reason against the hot-headed and presumably reckless Tigorr is sidelined with injuries following the fight last issue, so Tigorr is in charge now. Things go a lot better than one would expect from that setup. Tigorr's aggressive daring flummoxes the Citadelians. His successes rally those opposed to Citadel rule on numerous worlds. Hundreds of rebels stand up to follow Tigorr's lead. Back on Slagg, Primus and Doc are still convinced it can't last, and perhaps they are right, but it certainly argues that a bit more of Tigorr's approach, tempered by Primus maybe, would certainly have done a lot of good.

Lobo and his weird sidekick appear again briefly, but they take off before we can get a Lobo/Tigorr fight.

New Adventures of Superboy #44: Another cool cover by Kane. Kupperberg and Schaffenberger/Giella aren't as done with Dyna-Mind/Johnny Webber as last issue made it seem. With directions given him by Webber, Superboy is flying around to remote locations trying to recover the loot Dyna-Mind hid. The villain whipped up some powerful guardians including the simulacra (presumably) of Neptune seen on the cover. But Webber's tricking Superboy into thinking he was mentally effected by the red kryptonite. Superboy battling the guardians is just storing up energy that will deliver the loot to Webber. Superboy realizes the setup is suspicious, however, and springs his own trap. Webber's continued criminal nature is revealed and the stolen property recovered.

In the Dial H backup by Bridwell/Rozakis and Bender/Giella, Chris and Vicki have to overcome dialing up the not particularly powerful identities Fuzzball (a Pac-Man ripoff) and Raggedy Doll (pretty much a rag doll) to overcome the minions of the mysterious Master and rescue Nick Stevens. Luckily, one of those minions is Power Pirate who copies their lackluster powers, making him easy to defeat. Nick discovers their secret identities, too.


Dick McGee said...

Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew #18: That's interesting about Shaw's sudden departure. The series will be axed in two issues - so just one more released after he was gone - and you have to wonder if him leaving contributed to that cancellation.

There were six more issues in the works that eventually got released in 1986 as three double-sized issues of the Oz-Wonderland Wars, which wasn't half bad, especially the artwork which emulated the illustrations in the children's books. If that had already been planned without Shaw's involvement or approval it might explain him leaving so precipitously. The Zoo Crew was very much his baby and constitutes the bulk of his work at DC. Of course, he might also have heard the axe was coming through the grapevine and got out while the getting was good.

Or he might just have had other work commitments. The bulk of his career was in the animation industry, both cartoons and advertising, and that might have crowded out Captain Carrot if he had a time crunch.

Trey said...

Based on Wikipedia, it seems like Shaw had left, and then Cavalieri was made the writer and wrote the issues that would become the Oz-Wonderland War.

Dale Houston said...

I bought Omega Men, Green Arrow, Detective, Captain Carrot and Action out of this batch. Green Arrow was the keeper. Would have bought a Barr/Von Eeden GA series for as long as they produced it.

JB said...

Man, I owned (and probably STILL own...somewhere), both that World's Finest and that issue of A.S.S. I always loved me some Aztec/Alien mash-up fiction.

The Tarantula's new costume was awesome.