Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Wednesday Comics: DC, September 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 June 16, 1983.

Warlord #72: This was the first issue of Warlord I ever bought, at the age of 10. I reviewed the main story here. In the Barren Earth backup by Cohn/Randall, Jinal and her allies make an assault on the Mulge ritual site to get their friends back. The mushrooms have already gone through the chest of one of the men, so they kill him out of mercy, but Skinner they are able to save after painfully removing the fungi.

Omega Men #6: Courtesy of Silfer and Giffen/DeCarlo, Tigorr and his forces continue their assault on the Citadel, and it all goes pretty well despite the concerns of Primus, which has the effect of making his conservative leadership look bad. Silfer tries to ameliorate this by hinting multiple times that something bad will come of all this. The reveal of the first Citadelian as kind of a serpent in the Eden of the Vega system, a source of aggression that will continue after the defeat of his forces, is deployed in the service of this idea, but all in all it looks like a victory for Tigorr and the forces of freedom, despite some dialogue to the contrary.

Arak Son of Thunder #25: This issue feels like it culminates in a bit of a new direction for the series, though whether that goes at a natural turning point in the storyline or as an attempt to attract new interest is hard to say. Not long after leaving White Cathay, Arak and crew are attacked by Tartars led by Xadox, son of Xadox who is understandably upset Arak killed his dad in Hell. A spell from Malagigi drives off the tartar horde, and Xadox is captured. The group takes refuge in a cave for the night and Arak and Valda get some private time in a hot spring.

Xadox escapes and releases a dragonish salamander from a cocoon, which immediately attacks. Malagigi is able to turn the creature back on Xadox, and Arak kills it with a stalactite.

The next morning the company splits up, with Arak and Satyricus setting out the journey back to North America and find the surviving members of his tribe, and Malagigi and Valda heading back to Frankland.

Batman and the Outsiders #2: Barr and Aparo pick up where last issue left off with Batman, Black Lightning, and Metamorpho prisoners. Baron Bedlam gets to tell his side of things, and it reveals him to come from a family of Nazi collaborators and to be an abuser of women, just in case there was any doubt he's bad.  

When left alone, the heroes combine their powers and break free. They meet up with Katana, Halo and Geo-Force and together they thwart Baron Bedlam's army, and Metamorpho rescues Dr. Jace. Geo-Force goes one on one with Bedlam and tosses him to the peasants of Markovia for suitable punishment. Batman approves.

With the battle over, Batman suggests the group to return to Gotham City with him to find new purpose and work together as a team, and the Outsiders are born. All and all, a serviceable origin story.

Camelot 3000 #8: Barr and Bolland/Austin finally have Arthur betrayed as they have been teasing. Merlin is the removed, thanks to a magic item, but who did the it? Arthur devotes his attentions toward finding the traitor. Of course, the story leads you to believe it was Tristan as he even agreed to help Morgan in exchange for being returned to his male body, but through psychological trickery Arthur discovers the traitor is Kay. Kay misguidedly was trying to lift Arthur from his funk and rouse his to action but misunderstood the gravity of his actions. Arthur sentences Kay to death, but before he can carry out the sentence, aliens attack. Naturally, Kay dies in battle, but Tom Prentice is also wounded. Arthur elevates him to knighthood.

Daring New Adventures of Supergirl #11: Kupperberg and Infantino/Oksner pick up where last issue left off with Supergirl presumed dead by the Prof. Drake, the scientist working for the nefarious Council. Of course she isn't, and she breaks out of the cloning chamber just in time. Despite her weakened state, she manages to battle her way out of the laboratory and head for the Fortress of Solitude. Drake, at the Chairman's command, sends the six mini-Supergirl clones after her. In her current state, the clones defeat her, and begin dragging her toward a disintegration pit!

Green Lantern #168: Cavalieri and Tuska/McLaughlin continue the saga of the improved power rings. Jordan heads to D'xe to confront Kaylark who has taken over her homeworld and declared herself Empress Surrenda. The Free Lancers who started this whole mess show up to make Kaylark fulfill her bargain by giving them the improved power ring to copy, but she reneges as is the privilege of Empresses. She throws them in a dungeon. They get out later to fight Jordan but get defeated. These guys are weird; they're distinct enough and important enough to the story it feels like Cavalieri is trying to make them a thing.

Anyway. Jordan makes Kaylark see her past and feel the fear of being unloved and unrecognized, which similarly to the others, was powering the ring. With her defeated, he retrieves the ring and destroys her fortress. He heads back to the Guardians with the recovered rings and Dorine fretting over the fact Hal thinks of everyone but her.

In the Tales of the Green Lantern Corps backup by Harris and Moore/Trappani we begin the story of Lysandra. She is bequeathed the ring by a dying lantern but her people on the planet Zinthia have a religious taboo against even looking at the stars, much less traveling in them. The Guardians are surprisingly cool, though, and let her be the lantern of her single world, but then she discovers her world's star is going to go nova. If her people won't leave, she'll have to move the planet!

House of Mystery #320: The Kaluta cover on this issue has nothing to do with this issue's contents. In the first story by Kashdan/Catan, a murderous, would-be thief finds himself condemned to work as a slave on a Chinese junk where even death provides no escape. Barr and Harris present a tale of a Nazi agent in London working as a DJ, who gets her comeuppance when the ghost of the woman she murdered calls down a German airstrike on her.

The last story by Jones and Morrow is interesting in that it is unpredictable. An underground, post-nuclear war society is still plagued by racism. However, the sole black member of an expedition to the surface gets to shed his second-class citizen status when rain reveals the white members of the group are actually unaccountably ease to corrode robots and he is the only actual human among them.

Sgt. Rock #380: In main story by Kanigher and Redondo, Easy gets 3 new troops. Two are seasoned fighters, the third is the untried, nervous sort. Easy tries to make the kid feel at home, but ultimately when his two friends are injured, he steps up to save the day. The issue is filled out with a short about a WWII aviator that goes from the frying pan to the fire has he encounters a dinosaur after a crash, a sci-fi piece about robot gladiators in an alien arena, and features on WWII era pin-up girls and atomic war.

Legion of Super-Heroes #303: The Emerald Empress has taken command of Weber's World and sets the artificial planet on a collision course with the United Planets' fleet. The Legionnaires she captured manage to break free, though, and Brainiac 5 comes up with a plan for Supergirl to knock the planet off course. In defeating Emerald Empress, Shrinking Violet demonstrates she has knowledge of a Durlan special move. Could be important later. Brainiac 5 tells Supergirl why his thinking has been so muddy lately: she's too distracting for him. Also: Jecky and Karate Kid get ready for their wedding. 

Night Force #14: This is the final issue, and it feels a bit rushed. Katina plans to take on the Beast in the present, while the Baron and Gowron go for a little father-son bonding to confront his minions in the past. I don't feel like we're given a clear indication of who the nefarious players are here and how they got the power they have. I suspect it's because Wolfman was perhaps forced to shorten it. Anyway, despite it beating them before and them talking about its power, they manage to beat it with a point stick in the 1930s. The good guys are victorious, and the house is free of malign spirits. A new status quo is established with Katina and Gowron moving into Baron's house, as well as an accidentally time displaced young woman from the '30s. So long Night Force. It feels like your potential was unrealized. 

Monday, June 17, 2024

Weird Revisited: Untrue North

My recent trip to Alaska brought to mind this old post from 2011...

An arctic of only (melting) ice is sort of boring, don’t you think? At least in comparison to the flights of Age of Exploration fancy. Why settle for mere ice when you could have a magnetic Black Rock, a swirling whirlpool, and islands of pygmies? Check out this 1595 map:

Gerard Mercator based his maps and his descriptions (in a letter to John Dee in 1577) off older works. He describes a landmass divided into four lands by channels through which water rushed into the whirlpool surrounding the Pole, and "descends into the earth just as if one were pouring it through a filter funnel.” This unusual geography supposedly led to the deaths of 4,000 men from the expedition King Arthur sent to the island, according to Mercator's report. The ultimate source of this version of pole is believed to be the account in the Inventio Fortunata, a 14th Century work which is unfortunately lost.

At the pole itself, in the center of the maelstrom, was a giant, black mountain, Rupes Nigra--the Black Rock or Black Precipice. Mercator writes: “Its circumference is almost 33 French miles, and it is all of magnetic stone. And is as high as the clouds...” Its magnetism was said draw ships made with iron nails to their doom.

A really interesting adventuring site, I think.

Thursday, June 13, 2024

Seven Blades in Black

Seven Blades in Black
is the first volume of The Grave of Empires series by Sam Sykes. A scarred, gunslinging bounty hunter with a magical sentient gun seeks the vengeance on the seven mages that betrayed her in the war-torn landscape of a country caught between two powers. 

The plot and some aspects of the setting certainly have a classic Western feel to them (and perhaps a bit of Kill Bill), and the guns and devices (including tanks) employed by the Republic have a Steampunk feel to them. For me, what it has the feeling of more than any Steampunk novel, however, is anime. This is mostly in certain aesthetic details. The gun employed by the heroine, Sal the Cacophony, shoots shells of various magical effects like the caster Gene has in Outlaw Star. The mages are classed by the type of magic they employ, and these tend to work like super-powers or special abilities rather than spells. Then there are little aesthetic things: Sal has a signature long scarf. The wind mage has tall spikey hair when "powered up."

Another thing that might be borrowed from anime is the very cinematic approach to action, which there is a lot of, and I think, very well done. This is the heavy worldbuilding sort of fantasy with a glossary in the back, but the setting is well realized, and a lot of interesting details are dropped. Despite my pointing out references or inspirations above, the setting has a number of unique elements. For instance, mages can hear "the Lady's song" when other mages employ magic--the mysterious voice of the goddess magic is derived from. When a mage dies and the Lady takes them, only ashes are left, which are harvested to make magic items like powerful healing spells.

There is a touch of the, well, Whedonesque to the proceedings. Sal's snarky, first-person narration might grate on some readers, and the telling the story to an interrogator frame could feel a bit precious. Both were deficits to me, but more than made up for by the book's strengths. I intend to continue with the series and perhaps seek out other books by Sykes.

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 #256: 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.

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Wednesday Comics: DC, September 1983 (week 1)

My ongoing mission: read DC Comics' output from January 1980 (cover date) to Crisis! Today, I'm looking at the comics at newsstands on the week of June 2, 1983. 

The Meanwhile... column in this issue mentions a number of projects in the works. The ones that won't ever see publication are Teen Titans/X-Men volume 2, JLA/Avengers (not this version, at least), and a Firestorm graphic novel.  The ones that will come out include Thriller, Nathaniel Dusk, Infinity, Inc., New Talent Showcase, Star Trek, and Atari Force, as well as the Star Raiders and Warlords graphic novels. Joe Kubert's The Redeemer is an in-between case as it will see print but not until 2013!

Wonder Woman #306: The Kane cover here differs from the previous sort of iconic covers in that it looks like it might have something to do with the issues contents...but doesn't! Mishkin and Heck/Giacola pick up where last issue left off with Trevor down under the onslaught of Aegeus and Wonder Woman jumping to his defense. Aegeus is out for revenge and has gotten special daggers from Vulcan to do the deed. These daggers are strong enough to destroy one of Wonder Woman's Bracelets of Submission, which according to this story puts her in danger of losing her mind in some unspecified way. She still beats Aegeus though by spinning him around, so his dagger slashes dig a whole into the ground, then leaving him there. There's some more stuff about Abernathy's crimes, and it turns out that it was a hawk in the government looking to use his past to turn public opinion against a new treaty with the Soviets. Wonder Woman thwarts another attack on Trevor (whose already in the hospital with a dagger lodged internally) by Aegeus, but she has to let him go because somehow, he's involved with the U.S. government and this mess with Abernathy...I don't know, the explanation given made no sense to me. Anyway, Trevor pulls through, and Aegeus slinks off.

The Cavalieri and Bair (credited as Hernandez)/Gaicola Huntress backup is let down by its art. It's all a hallucinatory sequence (presumably caused by an injection in a previous issue) where the Huntress confronts her fears: the insurmountable legacy of her father and the dark side of her mother. Dr. Strange makes a cameo in one trippy panel. 

Amethyst: Princess of Gemworld #5: Granch manages to get ahold of the amethyst again, and he and his monstrous siblings tumble through a warp into Amy Winston’s classroom, outing her to her parents at least if not the school and the cops. Meanwhile, Dark Opal is delivered his tribute, Princess Emerald and the implication is that he kills her, though this happens off-screen. Prince Topaz is unwilling preparing for his wedding, as he doesn't want to marry Princess Sapphire, but is instead smitten with Amethyst. Mishkin/Cohn and especially Colon continue to turn out solid work on this series.

Blackhawk #261: Evanier and Spiegle send the Blackhawks off to protect world leaders from being assassinated by Hitler lookalikes after der Führer's nutty scheme to enhance his rep after being seen to personally kill his adversaries is revealed. Andre and Chuck meet with the French underground and protect De Gaulle. Stanislaus and Chop Chop head to the Soviet Union to protect Stalin. Olaf and Hendrickson go to protect Roosevelt who is secretly visiting London. Blackhawk also heads to London to protect Churchill, but he is captured by the one remaining assassin. Still, Blackhawk and Churchill together prove capable of the defeating the killer. With the mission done, the Blackhawks learn that Domino has escaped from British custody. The team is tasked with finding her while Hitler commands her to kill Blackhawk.

DC Comics Presents #61: Wein and Perez/Marcos and Hoberg team Superman with OMAC, his first appearance since the end of the Warlord backups in '81. I would say the plot seems derived from Terminator, but that film is over a year away, so it can't be. Intercorp sends its robot assassin, Murdermek, back in time to kill Buddy Blank's ancestor, Nathan Blank, so that OMAC will be wiped from history. OMAC follows through time and both arrive in 20th Century Metropolis. Murdermek acquires a gang armed with future tech, while OMAC meets Superman and in typical comics fashion they have to fight. Eventually, they team up and Superman takes on the very powerful Murdermek while OMAC deals with his thugs. Nathan Blank is saved, but his identity remains a mystery to the characters (if not the reader) at the end of the story. Brother Eye helpful figures out a way to transport OMAC back to the future.

Given the usual approach to team books, I expected some retcons or at least some tying up of dangling plot threads from OMAC's story, but no, it's just a team-up.

Fury of Firestorm #16: Ronnie and Stein both are in the featureless, black nether reaches of their (I guess) combined mind as Firestorm. They can't remember how they got there. Stein calms Ronnie and gets him to slowly relate what he remembers. He calls they discovered Lorraine Riley had been kidnapped, and they had another tangle with Multiplex. Then he remembers he tried to visit his father at work and discovered he was acting strangely and making comments as if someone was after him. Eventually, they are able to discover what he is that that caused their state, what they can't remember--what Ronnie is blocking. Firestorm tried but was unable to save his father from an explosion at their home. The effect of the delayed reveal is marred by it being given away on the issues cover, but if you ignore that and just go with the interiors, Conway and Broderick do a good job with the structure.

Justice League #218: Burkett jumps into the writer's chair with Patton/Tanghal still on art. This story is fine, I guess, but it seems as throwaway as last months. It's like filler. Super-powered androids appear and kidnap various top athletes, including Black Canary. The robots prove too tough for individual Leaguers, so the whole team goes into action. While Superman, Elongated Man, Green Arrow, and Red Tornado try to stop the androids from further abductions, Aquaman, Hawkman, and Wonder Woman attempt to trace them to their base. It turns out Professor Ivo is behind all this. He's been monstrously disfigured as a side-effect of the immortality serum he drank (back in The Brave and the Bold #30), and he plans to use a machine powered by the life-energies of people with the needed genetic makeup to restore himself.  Aquaman, disguised as one of the androids, sneaks into the base destroys their power source, allowing the Justice League to abruptly triumph.

Friday, May 31, 2024

The Spider God in the Other Hemisphere

Our Land of Azurth 5e campaign continued last weekend with the party exploring the left hemisphere of a level of the mind of Gob. Strange encounters were once again the theme of their explorations.

They ran into some snooty mermen who they nevertheless were able to convince to trade one of the pieces of the armor suit the party is seeking for an ever-full jug of waters. Then, they rescued one of the bird-like guardians of the level and a particular sagacious giant slug from torture by a group of sadistic Phanfasms.

Lastly, they came up a run with a hanging, diabolic looking, giant spider statue with a gleaming rod of some sort clutched in its fangs. They debated what to do, but before consensus was reached Waylon, the frogling thief just snatched it. The spider instantly started moving and attack. And it was fearsome.

Without the healing of Dagmar the Cleric, it's likely the whole party would have died, and in fact, Erekose was briefly hovering on deaths door. In the end though, their numbers wore the spider down. For their troubles, they won (ironically) a Rod of Resurrection.

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.