Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Wednesday Comics: DC, September 1983 (week 2)

I'm reading DC Comics' output from January 1980 (cover date) to Crisis! Today, I've looking at the comics released the week of June 9, 1983. 

Superman Annual #9: The stories here seem like they may have been sitting around a few years waiting for the place to publish them. The first has a Silver Age-y (really perhaps more of a cinematic story of the era) by Elliott S. Maggin where Lex Luthor supposedly exposes Superman to Red Kryptonite, causing the hero to be changed into a duplicate of Luthor, so he gets arrested in Luthor's place. Batman guest stars, though, and the heroes are one step ahead of Luthor. The portrayal of Luthor here seems very Superman: The Movie informed. To the extent this story works, I think it all comes down to the great art by Toth. The Kane cover is great, but it's a shame Toth didn't do that as well to match.

The second story sees Earth-Prime Curt Swan visiting Earth-One and meeting the Superman he draws. It's pretty much for what you would expect for these sorts of stories.

Batman #363:  Moench and Newton/Alcala pick up where last issue left off, with the newspapers proclaiming Batman's continued failure to catch the Thief of Night. We're introduced to Nocturna, a beautiful woman as dramatic as she is pale, whose lifestyle the smitten Thief is supporting with his thefts. As Natasha Knight, Nocturna is invited to a Wayne corporate event where she meets and does a little flirting with Bruce, until the Thief of Night shows up and robs everybody there. Still, Bruce notices the connection between the two, and later, as Batman, confronts her. Nocturna reveals her origins as the adopted daughter of a criminal who taught her to value the high life. The Thief shows up and knocks Batman out, but Nocturna doesn't let him kill the Dark Knight. When Batman wakes up, Jason is there, having followed the Thief from Wayne Manor. Bruce scolds him and sends him home, so Jason calls up his friend Waldo the Clown.

Batman tracks Nocturna and the Thief of Night to the Gotham Observatory, where Nocturna is collecting her things preparing to leave her job. Batman confronts the Thief and flips on a light to keep his shadow-blending from giving the Thief an advantage. Batman captures his enemy, but Nocturna manages to escape during the fight in a hot-air balloon. I don't know that they ever had staying power, but Nocturna and Thief of Night seem a decent addition to Batman's Rogue's Gallery.

Flash #325: In the aftermath of the Reverse Flash's death, Barry Allen is still absent as the Flash goes into full heroic mode to distract himself from thinking about what he's done. Members of the Flash's Rogue's Gallery steal Professor Zoom's body from the morgue to hold their own memorial where they eulogize him then condemn his failure. Fiona is admitted to the hospital due to acute stress and spends most of the issue unconscious. As the media coverage continues, the Flash is summoned to the police station where he is placed under arrest. This was a pretty good story from Bates/Infantino/Jensen. I particularly liked the sequence with the Rogues.

Bates and Saviuk/McLaughlin also provide a Kid Flash backup. In Blue Valley, Kid Flash learns that his new girlfriend Jill Manners has psychic powers (what is it with Kid Flash and girls with psychic powers? He's really got a type) that warn of impending danger, which goes in handy with the day they have.

G.I. Combat #257: The first Haunted Tank story is a bit of a rarity for Kanigher as it contains fantastic elements beyond a ghostly Civil War general giving commentary. Attila the Hun is apparently the guiding spirit of a panzer, so he rushes the Haunted Tank and slashes it with his ghostly sword, somehow throwing them back in time rescue a warrior girl, Zeena, from a Hun onslaught. Finding their advanced tech doesn't work, they make common cause with Zeena and try to journey to safety. The story is continued next issue. The other Haunted Tank story involves prejudice toward Algerian immigrants in a French town and an Algerian boy they bravely rides along with the tank crew to help them navigate, when the bigoted French townsfolks approval.

There's an O.S.S. story by Kanigher and Cruz where Control is (again) haunted by all the agents he sends to their deaths, so he goes into the field himself and is only saved from a bomb strike by Allied forces thanks to an underground stream. Drake and Redondo have perhaps the best story of the issue about a bomb disposal squad reunited by a ceremony honoring them in the French town they saved. They must overcome their lingering irritations with each other, and the frailties time has brought to each to disable an uncovered bit of unexploded ordinance from the war.

New Teen Titans Annual #2: In TV terms, this would be called a "back door pilot." Following up on the events of issue 34, Adrian Chase is seriously wounded, his family is dead, and Robin his having to answer questions he'd rather not in front of the media and ultimately on a witness stand. He wants to bring down Scarapelli, but thanks to a restraining order, he can't get near the guy and has to convince the reluctant Titans to help him. Scarapelli is making unwise decisions too as it goes against the advice of his capo, the Godmother, and hires some quasi-super-powered mercenaries through the mysterious Monitor in a satellite above the Earth. This turns out bad for the Titans, but they have a mysterious helper, too, who only Robin ever meets: the Vigilante, Adrian Chase's new crime fighting identity. In the end, Scarapelli gets justice and there's a new crime fighter with more lethal methods in New York City.

As is not uncommon with introductions of new characters, the Titans are sort of made to look weak to give Vigilante some spotlight but given he's just a DA who I guess works out some, it seems forced. Much is made of his willingness to kill like it's something new when the Punisher is sitting right over there

Anyway, this issue has some other introductions. While the Monitor technically back in issue 21, he wasn't named in this issue, I don't think. Also, one of the mercenaries he calls in to fight the Titans is Cheshire, who will go on to play a significant role in Titans lore.

Superman #387: This issue has a groovy Kane cover, but the interior feels like a throwback to at least Superman stories of a couple of years ago, if not the 70s. So much so, I wonder if it was an old story they just dusted off to use here. Anyway, it's Rozakis plotting and Kupperberg scripting. In Egypt, eight heads of state are kidnapped and imprisoned in force filed cube by the Planeteer, who claims he's a reincarnation of Alexander the Great from the stars or something. His force fields are strong enough to give the Man of Steel a hard time, but as always, through ingenuity Superman prevails--only (in a plot twist we've seen before) maybe that's what the Planeteer wanted to he could use Superman's actions to generate energy. In an end of the issue development, a couple shows up at Global Broadcasting asking for help, claiming the Planeteer is their son.


Dick McGee said...

Batman #363: This version of Nocturna (and her thieving brother under another supranym) will only make a couple more minor appearances, but there's are newer Nocturna characters with a different last name (Mitternach), origin and powers in both New 52 and later continuities. They're broadly similar enough that I guess you could say the original had some staying power despite the changes.

Dale Houston said...

I bought Batman and Titans out of this bunch. The Titans probably was the better of the two, but Vigilante was an underwhelming superhero. I had a subscription to the Vigilante series at one point. The two Alan Moore issues are pretty good but I remember it as being pretty lifeless.