Wednesday, April 5, 2023

DC Comics in the 80s: July 1981

Over on my blog, I'm reading DC Comics' output from January 1980 (cover date) to Crisis! I figured it might appeal to Jim's audience as well.  In this installment, I looked at some of the comics at newsstands on the week of April 9, 1981. 

Batman #337: Conway/Thomas and Garcia-Lopez/Mitchell present a new version of that classic tale: A scientist exploring the Himalayans is rescued by a gallant, if hirsute Yeti. Himalayan nights are cold, well, nine months, later, a sort of abominable snowman is born. That's really the villain's origin in this issue. He's is a thief with ice and cold powers, stealing to support his need to travel to really cold climes much of the year to support his weird biology. Did I say Conway was better on Batman? Perhaps I spoke too soon! I will say this story reads better than it thumbnails due to the great art by Garcia-Lopez. 

The backup is a Robin solo story where he visits the clown he last saw in the DC Comics Presents story a few months back (continuity!). Deadman's brother Cleveland Brand also works here (more continuity!). Anyway, Robin gets a job in the circus, and it appears his clown friend has committed a murder.

DC Comics Presents #35: Pasko and Swan deliver the unlikely team-up of Superman and Man-Bat. This one sort of follows up the Brave and Bold story from months back, as Man-Bat is still looking for a cure for his daughter's insomnia. He goes to STAR Labs and stumbles upon a theft of sonic wave device by Atomic Skull and his Skull cronies. Superman's powers get hobbled for much of this issue to give Man-Bat more to do. It turns out Atomic Skull wants to make his love interest permanently human because she's an evolved panther! Anyway, Man-Bat's daughter gets the sonic therapy she needs.

The backup by Teffenbacher and Kane is a charming "Whatever Happened to.." staring Rex the Wonder Dog. Rex teams up with his biggest fan, Detective Chimp, and the two beat some bad guys and accidentally discover the fountain of youth in Florida, so they get stay eternally young.

Flash #290: This picks up from last issue, with the Flash in possession of Shade's cane (which is hiding Shade) and on the case of the weird color leaching effect occurring in Central City. His "dad," meanwhile is still acting creepy and thinking ominously about Flash's death. The Rainbow Raider executes his plan before Flash can stop him, and now is able to shoot color beams from his eyes with various powers, but the with the Shade as his temporary ally, Flash prevails. At the end of the issue, we see a guy wrapped in bandages like a mummy in a hospital who the captions tell us is named "Barry Allen."

The Firestorm backup has Firestorm taking the time to interact with the little guy. In this case, some two-bit criminals that wind up stealing some toxic waste accidentally. The strong placement of this story in New York City through various details seems like Conway was trying to emphasize the realness of this locale versus DC's fictional cities.

Ghosts #102: Gill and DeZuniga present the story of a serial wife murder whose former victims' ghosts get their revenge by causing him to be burned alive in the crematorium with his last victim. O'Flynn and Estrada present ghostly revenge by sports car, as a father-in-law brings a reckoning to his murderous son-in-law. 

The Dr. 13 story by Kupperberg and Bender/Rodriquez has Thirteen's team (which now includes Mad Dog from last issue) busting a ghost in Chicago's Stillman Museum of art. The ghost isn't a ghost of course, but a thief using a fancy alarm to cause pain through high frequency sound.

G.I. Combat #231: Kanigher's first Haunted Tank story here is mildly amusing, which is something I guess. The Tank is supposed to secure a cache of Nazi loot to fund the Maquis so they will take out a Luftwaffe radar tower that endangers an allied attack, but a fight with a German tank ensures most of the money goes up in flames. Stuart manages to save a $10,000 bill, which they proceed to use to try to pay various French townsfolk they encounter. None of them can change it, so Stuart gives them an IOU assuring them the U.S. government is worth it, which none of the townsfolk believe. In the end, the radar tower goes down, and the crew has to burn that 10K bill to warm out their sluggish oil and get the tank moving again. The second story has the crew doing a Trojan Horse gambit when their tank is "salvaged" by some bandits in North Africa. 

The other stories include the typical gritty O.S.S. tale with a brainwashed agent sent to kill Control--only he isn't as brainwashed as he appears. Then there's a story set in Malaysia in WW2 by Newman and Henson where a native charm helps a British agent complete a mission. What stands out about this story to me is how its point should have been that the agent never would have gotten anywhere without the aid of various native peoples he comes across. The last story by Haney and Landgraf/Simmons is about a young soldier who goes soft on a captured German and doesn't execute him, only to have the guy come back with a squad and try to kill him and his friends. A luger he stashed away saves the day.

Jonah Hex #50: Fleisher and Ayers/DeZuniga set this one October (because Jonah's birthday on November 1st) is a plot point, as Jonah plans to go out on a hunting expedition to get his growing family meat for the winter. Things don't go as easy as he planned. He accidentally rescues a young woman who has been captive of an Indian tribe (and who is dressed slightly better than some sort of "sexy Native American costume" but not enough better.) and has to fight a bear while taking her to safety. All that done, he makes it home with bear steaks to celebrate his birthday with his wife.

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