Wednesday, April 19, 2023

DC Comics in the 80s: July 1981 (part 2)

Over on my blog, I've been reading DC Comics' output from January 1980 (cover date) to Crisis! In this installment, I looked at some of the comics at newsstands around April 23, 1981. 

Detective Comics #504: Conway and Newton present "The Joker's Rumpus Room Revenge." The Joker has escaped from prison and has gotten a number of deadly toys from a toymaker to set a trap for Batman. The Dark Knight predictably, overcomes the Joker's machinations. 

The backup is a Tales of Gotham City story by Kupperberg and Delbo/Giella where Gordon finds out the son of an old friend is actually a dirty cop. I like that this story goes against the mold, because a stern talking to by Gordon doesn't turn the kid around, instead he tries to run out on Gordon and dies of his own incompetence.

New Adventures of Superboy #19: Bates and Schaffenberger reveal that, before adopting Kal-El, the Kents took in a juvenile delinquent, Cory Renwald, and attempted to reformed him into a model citizen. They never knew if they succeeded, but years later, Renwald and 2 Soviet agents cross paths with Clark and Jonathan on a camping trip--and Renwald shoots them both with a poison dart. All is not as it seems, of course, as Cory is revealed to be a U.S. agent in deep cover pretending to work for the Russians. He switched out the darts so Jonathan was only sleeping. Superboy nabs the spies. The Kents find out they did right with the kid in the end. The Rozakis/Calnan Superbaby backup is Easter themed and features young Clark naively thwarting jewel thieves at a Easter egg hunt.

Sgt. Rock #354: Kanigher and Redondo give the first Sgt. Rock story I've read with a hint of the supernatural. Something is stalking both U.S. and German troops as both sides try to get to a noble in an isolated castle. Was he a werewolf? We never find out. The next story is a grotty, post-apocalyptic yarn by Tim Truman where the last human is killed by a mutant sniper leaving the earth to the robot soldiers and the mutants. 

There's an uncredited short about the introduction of the flamethrower, then Kanigher and Mandrake serve up a short about the merciless tick of the watch and death in the trenches of World War I. In another uncredited story, a G.I. in Vietnam loses his life and his Stones tape to the VC as he writes a letter to his mother. The "Men of Easy" feature has Tag-A-Long Thomas learning the value of sticking close to Rock.

Super Friends #46: The team the Justice League up with the Global Guardians to free villains captured by the mysterious Conqueror continues. When that's done they confront the Conqueror himself and defeat him with the help of Dr. Mist.

The Seraph backup by Oksner has the Israeli hero taking on the ghost of a Roman soldier at the site of Masada.

Superman Family #208: Harris gives the title a shake-up by having Linda quit the New Athens Experimental School after getting insulted by her boss and head of to New York City to become a soap opera actress. Supergirl precedes her to New York to establish her presence so as not to have them both arriving at the same time. She foils an Middle Eastern coded terrorist. Bridwell and Schaffenberger have Clark and Lois on a plane to Europe that gets hijacked to Zrfff by the Mr. Mxyztplk of Earth-Two. The imp lets it slip he can't stand anything that reminds him of Superman, so Supes causes images of himself to appear everywhere and drive Mxyztplk crazy until he sends everyone home.

In the Private Life of Clark Kent story, we find out Edge is a big fan of a 50s sci-fi show and was a collector of memorabilia as a kid (and also that he anglicized his name and is probably Jewish). Edge tries to by a branded clock he never got in his childhood, but an old childhood friend (and rival) tries to steal it. In a another somewhat humorous Lois Lane story by Conway and Oksner, Lois stumbles upon what she thinks is "another Abscam" but it turns out to be an FBI sting against some Middle Eastern types, that Lois almost spoils. Conway and Tuska have Jimmy stumbling unto an actual story when he tries to impress Edge's niece and her college friends after she denigrates his skills as a reporter.

Unexpected #211: Barr and von Eedon/Breeding start a new Johnny Peril storyline where Johnny returns to his office and finds a mysterious woman going through his mail, who pretty much disappears before his eyes. He's hired to guard a necklace called The Angel's Smile--and he sees a painting of a 19th century actress that's the spitting image of the woman he saw earlier. That night thieves with a knockout gas try to steal the necklace, but Johnny is ready. What he isn't ready for his the reappearance of the woman, who steals the necklace and his gun, shoots the guy who hired him, then disappears.

The other stories this issue are less interesting. Wessler and Sparling/Colletta have a Southern fried crime boss failing to keep a promise to Death to not kill anyone. Drake and Mortimer/DeMulder have a son run afoul of a real stickler of a funeral home owner who refuses to bury the man's parents side by side because his mother committed suicide, so the father rises from the grave to get revenge. Finally, Kashdan and Nicholas/Colletta give us the well worn trope of a spaceship crew being used as lab rats by advanced aliens.

Green Lantern #142: Wolfman's and Staton's Omega Men introduction continues. Jordan and Ferris are captured by the Omega Men, which gives Kalista time to provide the secret origin of the Omega Men. Their escape from the Citadel was secured by the sacrifice of Lambien, a god-like energy being. They made it to Earth with the Citadel on their heels. Jordan convinces them to let him help, just as the Citadel attacks.

In the Adam Strange backup by Sutton and Rodriquez, Strange escapes his ice cage in the city of Kryys and saves Alanna. When he once again refuses to unite with Alva Xar, the dictator from the past turns Alanna into crystal and shatters her, then sends and enraged Strange back to Earth with an Anti-Zeta-Beam. It's a shame these backups have never been collected, so as I know.

Warlord #47:  Read more about it here. The OMAC backup has our hero saving the city of Marseille from a runaway giant protozoa. I'm not even completely sure why that's happening to be honest, and I think this arc his finished, so I have no desire to refresh myself on earlier installments.

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