I took a long break from these babies to do the Wrestlecrap articles, but now I’m back with quite a collection of characters. Some are a bit topical, too.
Captain America #360 (1989)
The story of the issue is part of an arc called the Bloodstone Hunt. It involves Captain America and Diamondback taking on Baron Zemo, Batroc, Zaron and Machete over some gem. That part isn’t really important.
Though I will say that Diamondback’s appearance is sort of off-putting here. Her outfit is pink spandex with a series of black diamonds over her front and back. Considering she’s in the water for most of the comic, she hangs around some people in bathing suits, and the way the pink is colored here, it looks like she’s wearing a black thong that doesn’t cover her chest. That’s all well and good, but her costume is torn in places, so now it looks like she has some nasty-ass skin disease.
Anyhow, she and Cap get away with the prize. As they leave, we see that they’re being watched.
Crossbones is so cool.
Marvel Comics Presents #85 (1991)
Being that this is Marvel Comics Presents, the story here is very short. The opening scene shows Cyber on a boat to Madripoor, with a big coat and hat covering up his adamantium features. He’s playing cards with a guy named Ortiz, who keeps beating him with blatant cheats. Cyber removes a glove to show his metallic hand.
A card falls from Ortiz’s sleeve, causing Cyber to strangle him to death. There’s a couple scenes of Wolverine running around naked in the woods that aren’t important. By the end of the segment, a man representing General Coy meets Cyber on a pier. Cyber, still disguised by his clothing, shakes his hand. The other man is a bit alarmed, as Cyber didn’t clean the blood off his hands after dealing with Ortiz earlier.
DC Comics Presents #26 (1980)
Robin is in the middle of dealing with a terrorist/hostage situation, when he suddenly a wakes up from a daydream in front of Titan Tower with Donna Troy. Robin’s a bit confused here. More confused when he walks in and meets Changeling, Cyborg and Starfire.
Kid Flash and Raven join soon after. Everyone acts like they’ve been a team for a while now, but Robin doesn’t remember any of this. Raven has called them together because a scientist has accidentally let loose a giant, yellow pudding monster that will fill the atmosphere with methane. The Titans get going.
Cyborg is really the only one to have any success against the monster, though short-lived. Robin, meanwhile, keeps going back and forth between this reality and the reality where he’s fighting terrorists. Back in the Titans adventure, the scientist who accidentally unleashed the monster helps the Titans send it back to its home dimension. The monster mostly goes by its own volition, as it can’t survive in Earth’s atmosphere.
Cyborg then starts insulting the scientist for being a screw-up and we realize that not only did this guy turn Vic into Cyborg, but he is his father too. Robin returns back to the terrorist scenario, finding that he’s already saved the day somehow. Oddly enough, one of the hostages is Cyborg’s father. Robin has no idea what any of this means, but in the shadows, Raven mentions to herself that this will all make sense eventually.
Adventures of Superman #466 (1990)
Before he was an evil Superman, Hank Henshaw was a Reed Richards homage. He and the other three members of his fantastic crew open the story by crash landing on Earth. With the help of NASA and Lexcorp, they were trying to examine some new form of cosmic radiation, but some solar flares knocked them off course.
Steven has become a being of fiery blue radiation. Jim has become one with the rocks and metal around him. He can’t speak, but is crying due to the unspeakable pain he’s experiencing. The four try to get to Lexcorp ASAP, with Hank hiding the fact that the radiation is eating at him too.
The four get in an altercation with a Lexcorp guard, getting the attention of Superman. Steven, the Human Torch counterpart, accidentally blasts Superman. This, plus the radiation itself, causes Steven’s mind to break down. Superman fears what his radiation level may do to the population of Metropolis, so he tears away a Lexcorp guard’s containment suit and wraps Steven up with it.
Things calm down and Henshaw explains to Superman what’s going on. Henshaw’s flesh is melting away by the minute, gradually reducing him to a skeleton. Terri is beginning to fade away, as if vanishing into nothing. Hank is becoming irrational. Steven ends up escaping his prison and in a crazed act of glee, flies directly into the sun, killing himself.
Hank becomes a skeleton and dies. At least for now. His last words are a plea for Superman to save Terri. Superman gives Terri some radiation therapy that Hank prepared, which does indeed save her. While they were doing this, Jim used some kind of giant magnet to tear the metal from his body, thereby killing himself, as the pain was too great.
Superman admits that he may be at fault for the failed space flight. Earlier, he had tossed the Eradicator into the sun, which may have caused the solar flares. Terri tells him not to blame himself, though admits that she’ll have a hard time moving forward.
Uncanny X-Men #1 (1963)
Cyclops’ first major role in the very first X-Men comic is to smack around Beast and Iceman. The two have almost killed Xavier in their training and since Xavier’s kind of a dick, he mentally asks Cyclops to fight the two himself. It’s, uh, training.
Cyclops beats them both easily and Angel tries to join in on the fight. Xavier stops them before it goes too far. The two big plot points of this issue are Jean joining the team and the X-Men assembling to fight Magneto. Oddly enough, nothing important with Cyclops happens with the Jean intro.
I’ll go into more detail about Magneto’s plot when I get to Magneto’s entry. Cyclops does make himself more than useful during the adventure by breaking through Magneto’s force field with a full-force optic blast (so powerful that you can barely see his head) and later even nails Magneto with a clean shot prior to the villain escaping. Even back in his first appearance, Cyclops plays the leader role by dealing with the authorities and even getting some soldiers to give them the benefit of the doubt.
Daredevil #1 (1964)
At a gym, several muscle-bound hoodlums sit around and play cards while talking about their harsh mob boss the Fixer. All of the sudden, a guy in an ugly costume pops in.
Being that he is Daredevil and these guys aren’t, he easily takes down every one of them without so much as getting hit once. One guy tries to bring a gun into play, but Daredevil effortlessly knocks it out of his hand with his cane. Knowing they’ve lost, the hoods give up.
We then get to see the origin of Matt Murdock. Pretty widely-known stuff, though one or two details are new to me. By the time Jack Murdock gets into his fateful boxing match that he refuses to have fixed, Matt is a full-grown college student with Foggy watching the fight next to him. There is a nice panel of Jack moments before death, where he smiles at how it doesn’t matter what the Fixer does to him. Matt’s proud and that’s all he needs.
Foggy tries to get Matt over his grief and the two graduate college. They go into business together and get Karen Page as their secretary. Matt can’t concentrate on his work, knowing that his father’s killers have yet to be brought to justice. He promised his father that he wouldn’t become a fighter like him, but decides that maybe he can pull off a dual persona. He cuts up some clothes and stitches them into the original Daredevil costume. He puts together a trick cane to help him in his fighting. Now he’s ready to go after the Fixer.
Which brings us back to the beginning. Daredevil gets to meet the Fixer. Daredevil talks through Fixer’s lies, finding that he’s able to figure out what’s truth and what isn’t via his hearing. One of Fixer’s bodyguards does get the drop on Daredevil by shoving him out a window, but Daredevil hooks onto a flagpole and flips back in. Daredevil lies about having recorded their conversation as evidence, causing the Fixer to literally pull the rug out from under him and bolt. Fixer and Slade, the man who pulled the trigger on Jack Murdock, escape to the streets.
As Matt Murdock, our hero follows them to a subway, changes back to Daredevil and subdues both of them. When he’s about to grab the Fixer, the middle-aged and out-of-shape criminal has a heart attack and dies. Daredevil uses that to his advantage by telling Slade that Fixer confessed prior to death. Slade buys the bluff and admits his guilt in front of the police.
An hour or so later, Matt returns to Foggy and Karen. They said that some murderer named Slade wants them to represent him in court, but they decided against it. Matt seems all right about that.
Darkhawk #1 (1991)
The Hobgoblin has been dealing with a crime boss named Gazin. He wants Gazin to uncover some kind of artifact for him, though it seems Gazin is prepared to backstab the ugly Osborn knock-off.
We meet Chris Powell, the teenage son of a cop and a lawyer. His mother, the lawyer, is constantly threatened by Gazin’s men to leave him alone or face the consequences. This puts her in constant fear of her family’s wellbeing. Later that night, Chris is supposed to be watching his annoying little brothers, but spends some time with friends instead. The two little kids run off to a ratty amusement park, where Chris tracks them down thanks to the help of a mysterious old bum. The three then make a shocking discovery: their father taking a bribe from Gazin’s men!
Their father lays his hands on one of Gazin’s men, thereby giving him a death sentence. The Powell brothers jump out to stop them, only to get themselves in more trouble. They try to escape the criminals and eventually fall through a decrepit floor. Searching for a place to hide, they uncover a strange room. The criminals are on their way, so Chris hides his brothers in a closet. He starts tossing random objects at the bad guys and gets some distance from them. He discovers a strange amulet, which he means to use as a weapon. Instead, it transforms him.
Calling himself Edge-Man (based on his father’s claims that justice needs an edge against crime), he defeats the criminals. One of them picks up a cable with an exposed end and tries to wield it against Chris. All he ends up doing is missing and shoving it into a high voltage panel, killing himself and shorting out all the power. Chris is a bit taken aback, as he has never seen a dead body before. He returns to his normal self, but his attempt to confront his father ends with his crooked father walking out on him in shame.
Despite that, Chris decides to hold onto the amulet that gave him his powers. He could be that edge against crime after all. The bum from earlier tells him, “Power’s got to be used – not abused… by a Darkhawk,” then vanishes. Chris has no idea what that means, but decides to call himself Darkhawk.
Once the Hobgoblin gets word that his artifact has been taken by someone else, he is pretty pissed.
Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #134 (1970)
It amuses me to no end that the big bad of DC originally showed his face in Jimmy Olsen’s comic of all places. The story here isn’t worth discussing. It’s about Superman fighting some Road Warrior hippies in Kirby gear.
The villain of the story is a shady character by the name of Morgan Edge, who has more advanced technology than a guy like him should. But who could supply him with such tech?
Ed Asner, that’s who!
Uncanny X-Men #130 (1980)
There’s a surprise for you. Dazzler, the disco queen of mutantkind, didn’t even debut in the 70’s. Her origin shows her as debuting at a really crappy disco and Cyclops even jokes about how dead disco is around this time.
Cyclops, Jean and Nightcrawler are trying to track down the newest powerful mutant, to find that it’s this new disco singer. The Hellfire Club are also trying to get a hold of her. This leads to the X-Men fighting one of those Hellfire Club guys in the big red armor that look sort of like Juggernaut. You know who I’m talking about. They’re all over the place in the X-Men arcade game.
Dazzler helps out and they destroy the henchman’s armor. Cyclops tells her that she’s a mutant and that if she wants safety, to follow them.
Strange Adventures #205 (1967)
Meet Boston Brand. He’s the proprietor of a rundown circus and comes across as a big jerk to everyone. He shuns his love interest Lorna (whose dead father gave him the deed to the circus) and is surly to just about everyone. It’s shown that it’s really all a front for his sweeter side that he refuses to show anyone. He does refuse to abandon the circus despite the fact that Ringling Brothers have offered to pay him five times more than what he makes.
He puts on his mask and outfit, getting ready for the show. Lorna really despises the ghoulish look.
Tiny the strong man breaks down the door and gets in a verbal fight with Boston. Boston storms off while the simple-minded Tiny wonders why a nice guy like Boston has to resort to name-calling.
We meet various characters around the circus and most of them have some kind of vendetta against Boston. He punches out a lion tamer for drinking on the job and then fires him. He catches the ringmaster stealing money. He deals with a crooked cop.
A fortune teller, grateful for Boston getting the cop off his back, tells him about the mystical god Rama Kushna. Rama is watching over Boston and will make her presence known when he least expects it.
That night, Boston attempts some trapeze acts without a net. While swinging, he shot in the chest and falls to his death. The next day, they bury his body while most of the carnies laugh to themselves at Boston getting what they feel he deserves. When everyone’s gone, Tiny tearfully pays his respects.
“I couldn’t say dis in front of Miss Lorna – but I can now! You were a rat, Mr. Boston! You lived like one – and you died da same! If you wasn’t no rat – you’d never have left her like dis! What’s she gonna do now? Who’s she gonna turn to? An’—an’—dat goes for me, too! S-s-so long, rat!”
Upon dying, Boston becomes a ghost, trying to tell his friends that he’s all right. Rama Kushna appears to him as a mouse and tells him that he will walk among men as a lost spirit until he has found his killer. Boston has no idea how he can do that, when nobody can hear or feel him. When he sees Tiny mourning his grave, Boston tries to touch him. He discovers that he can possess human bodies.
With this power in hand, Boston starts looking for whoever did him in. The only thing witnesses could say about the killer was that he had a hook for a hand. First, he goes after the lion tamer from earlier. He discovers him selling cocaine to the crooked cop. Very rare to see actual drug dealing in a comic from this time. As Tiny, Deadman barges in an fights the two. When the two-on-one situation doesn’t work out for him, he just takes over the cop’s body and punches out the other guy.
The two are arrested and Deadman-Tiny talks to Lorna. Deadman makes the decision to watch over Lorna while continuing the search for his murderer.
That’s the end of the issue, even though we didn’t get the answer. In fact, we wouldn’t get the answer for many years. The murderer turned out not to be any of the circus folk, but a hopeful for the League of Assassins, trying to pass initiation.
New Mutants #98 (1991)
Cable’s minding his own business at the library when all of the sudden, an explosion knocks him over. We see Deadpool with massive shins thanks to Liefeld’s art. He’s been sent by Mr. Tolliver and has to kill Cable. Deadpool holds a gun to Cable, but gets hit from behind by Cannonball. Deadpool makes up for that by using some kind of bolos on the kid and making him drop.
Deadpool tosses a knife into Cable’s leg, again taking the advantage. The other New Mutants arrive and Deadpool begins taking them down. He beats Rictor and is ready to fight Sunspot. Instead, his eyes widen and he falls flat on his face with several knives in his back. Behind him is Domino.
Deadpool is tied up and suggests that they send him to a jail in the Bahamas so he can rehabilitate. Instead, Cable opts to send him back to Mr. Tolliver via Federal Express.
Batman #59 (1950)
Here we are with the entry that inspired this educational experience. Millionaire Floyd Lawton is very much the counterpart to Bruce Wayne. Not only does he have his own loyal butler, but he tends to use his skills to arrest criminals as a masked crime fighter. Not all that similar to the death wish-having anti-hero mercenary we know and love.
While Batman and Robin are out on vacation, Deadshot makes his debut and takes in various criminals with his perfect gun-shooting skills. He doesn’t actually murder anyone, but instead uses his guns to force obstacles. He’ll shoot someone’s tires or shoot a lamppost so that a bulb falls on a running criminal’s head. At first, Gordon isn’t so sure about this newcomer. Deadshot says that he would join the police force, but he has metal plates in his leg due to an accident and would never pass a physical. Gordon decides to give him the benefit of the doubt, since it’s not like they can do much to stop him.
Deadshot kicks a ton of ass against criminals and gets his name out there. Gordon thinks he’s awesome. He even gets his own bullseye signal to go with Batman’s bat signal. When Batman and Robin come back, they seem a bit jealous by Deadshot’s success. The Dynamic Duo team up with him a couple times and realize that something is definitely up when Deadshot moves through a metal detector and the plates he claims are in his leg don’t set it off. Using some ridiculous detective work I’m not going to even get into, they discover that Deadshot is Floyd Lawton, a loose acquaintance of Bruce, and that Floyd plans on both running Batman out of town and taking over Gotham as a crime boss.
Batman knows that the Commissioner would never believe him and would instead think he’s jealous. Batman tells Deadshot that he knows the truth about him, but Deadshot isn’t intimidated. In fact, he even tells Batman what he has planned. Even an expert marksman like him is allowed a miss here and there. That’s why he’s going to shoot and kill Batman and everyone will think it’s just an accident. Oh snap!
Batman makes a couple attempts to get Gordon to believe him, but Deadshot outsmarts him every time. Deadshot later tricks Batman into a confrontation at a pier. Batman goads Deadshot into shooting him, suggesting that he doesn’t have the nerve. He never shot to kill and he can’t start now. Suffice to say, it looks like he’s right. Deadshot can’t hit a single shot. It makes him more and more erratic until Batman disarms him and Deadshot gives up. Turns out that the night before, Batman had snuck into Floyd’s place, screwed with his guns’ aiming and left. Gordon apologizes to Batman and takes a crowbar to the bullseye signal.
Ms. Marvel #9 (1977)
While on a date, Carol Danvers senses that somebody is currently in her apartment. She excuses herself, turns into Ms. Marvel and goes to check up on it. In the air, she’s attacked by Deathbird, who claims to be working for MODOK.
The fight is your usual Claremont fare (“She shrugged off my powerful punch! What am I dealing with?”). Ms. Marvel gets a hold of one of Deathbird’s javelins and uses it to beat Deathbird senseless. She notices that her apartment building is on fire and some children are in danger. Rather than continue the fight, she goes to rescue the kids. Deathbird uses her javelins to zap Ms. Marvel, causing her to fall to the streets below. Thinking her job is finished, Deathbird leaves.
Ms. Marvel gets her bearings at the last possible second and flies back up to both save the children and put out the fire. Unfortunately, her possessions are destroyed. The next day, Carol stumbles upon an AIM base and gets captured. All of the sudden, MODOK with Deathbird at his side breaks through the wall, prepared to destroy the organization that shunned him. Thus, cliffhanger.
Astonishing Tales #25 (1974)
We join Deathlok in action, as he’s been hired to kill two men. Even though he can easily kill each one immediately, he takes his time. As a cyborg, he thrives on the fear these men feel during their final moments. Mentally, he’s in constant argument with a computer that talks down at him for showing emotion in his actions.
Throughout the issue, we get a few flashbacks to how Deathlok came to be. Col. Manning had died and his body was mutilated. An old friend of his and General Ross facsimile named General Ryker wants Manning turned into a cyborg to preserve his mind and skills. Through the dialogue, it’s shown that this is the future. Also, via the whisperings of the guys operating on Manning, there are rumors that he isn’t the first man mixed with machine out there. Ryker watches on with his girl Nina, excited that his obsession is finally seeing the light of day.
Deathlok ends up showing signs of rebellion. Ryker discovers that while the computer inside Deathlok’s body is working fine, Manning himself has taken over the body’s functions. He escapes and I guess goes into business as a soldier of fortune.
Back to the story at hand. Deathlok goes to get paid and has to deal with some bodyguards first. He gruesomely kills a couple and makes his way in to see his contact. Not only does the guy stiff him on his payment, but he turns out to be a robot. Deathlok hears Ryker taunting him. It was all a trick. The two guys Deathlok was hired to kill were the only guys opposing Ryker’s plan to create more cyborgs. Now nothing will stop him from badgering Deathlock with human-looking android assassins. Nina enters Ryker’s chamber to discover in horror that Ryker himself is a cyborg.
The story is followed up by a comedy bit where the writers come up with the ideas for Deathlok, then throw them out in the trash for being too stupid.
High Noon Tex (1988)
Funny story here. Death’s Head was well-known initially for being part of the Marvel Transformers comics. He was the guy that blew up Bumblebee, so yeah, he ruled. Marvel probably felt that someone like Death’s Head should be something to hold onto, so they didn’t fall into a trap and make him a Transformers property. After all, if he made his first appearance in the Transformers comic, that would create a crapload of red tape.
Instead, they did High Noon Tex. Various Marvel UK comics in 1988 had this one-page introduction to the character that featured zero Transformers references and therefore, made Death’s Head a true blue Marvel property. Not a bad idea, yes?
The short story shows Death’s Head on the second floor of a building, in his office, peering out the window. Tex, an angry cowboy, busts the door open, screaming for vengeance. According to Death’s Head’s narration, our robot protagonist had recently killed Tex’s brother, burned down his farm and slaughtered his livestock as part of a job. Surprisingly, Tex took that personally.
Tex stares at the back of Death’s Head and his eyes suddenly widen. Death’s Head’s back opens up to show a bunch of explosives and a speaker saying, “High noon, Tex!” The place goes up in flames.
DEATHSTROKE THE TERMINATOR
New Teen Titans #2 (1980)
Terminator grants an audience with some hooded representatives of HIVE. They want him to kill the Titans for them.
The HIVE guys try to have Deathstroke killed via guns in the walls, but he calls them a bunch of turkeys and dismantles them. Then he discovers that the figures are really just holograms. He doesn’t care. He just leaves. Elsewhere, the HIVE villains discuss how amazing Deathstroke’s skills are and how he could even dodge bullets. They had been using special cameras to film his movement, which they will use in a special experiment.
Enter Grant Wilson. He’s the boyfriend of some girl that’s friends with Donna Troy. They break up and Grant doesn’t take it too well. He tries to hurt his girl, but the Titans step in and send him packing. When HIVE offer him a chance at revenge, he jumps at it. It’s explained that the human mind only uses 10% of its capacity. Due to an experiment, Deathstroke uses 90%. The plan is to experiment on Grant so that he can use all 100%.
Deathstroke spies on the Titans and feels as if something’s wrong with how HIVE acted. He suddenly gets a suspicion of what’s going on and calls his sidekick Wintergreen to check on some contacts.
Under the mantle Ravager, Grant tries his luck against Cyborg. He’s beaten, but Deathstroke pops in to neutralize Cyborg and steal Ravager. Deathstroke tries to play mentor to the young would-be killer, but Ravager won’t hear it. When Deathstroke warns him of what could happen if he overuses his powers, Ravager just calls him jealous and goes on his way to Titans Tower. Though it is at least brought forward that Grant’s always wanted to be like Deathstroke, based on the stories he’s heard growing up.
When Ravager goes after the Titans, Deathstroke is on his side, watching his back. It’s kind of funny how the Deathstroke vs. Flash bit in Identity Crisis got so many people pissed off when in this first appearance, Deathstroke proceeds to make Wally his bitch.
Starfire goes a little overboard by trying to kill the mercs with her blasts. Ravager dodges them, but he’s overusing his reflexes and starts wigging out. Raven appears before them and declares that Grant is dying. As a way to give him some sense of peace, she gives him an illusion of the Teen Titans lying dead and scattered in the courtyard.
Deathstroke kneels over Grant’s dead body and shakes his fist in frustration.
“You did this to him. You Titans killed him!”
Raven steps forward and watches Deathstroke embrace Grant’s corpse. “No. We did nothing. The ones who gave him his powers are the true killers.”
Deathstroke picks up Grant and walks away. “That’s not the way it works in my racket, sister. The kid took a contract! And he died… because of you. Poor stupid kid. He never really had a chance.”
Unmasked, Deathstroke watches Grant’s ex-girlfriend mourn over the grave. As he talks it over with Wintergreen, it’s revealed that not only has Deathstroke taken Ravager’s contract on the Titans, but that it’s because he, Slade Wilson, is Grant’s father.
The Thing #28 (1985)
If I had come up with another title for this series of articles, I may have called it D-Man’s Mohawk. This is another one of those entries that’s extremely different from what we’re used to.
Thing quits his job as being part of a motorcycle stunt team and sees a commercial on TV for the Unlimited Class Wrestling Federation; the only wrestling fed that allows people with superpowers to compete. Thing figures this is right up his alley and goes to Las Vegas to join. At the try-outs, there’s a set of weights for each hopeful to lift and show how powerful they are. When it’s Thing’s turn, he goes for a tremendous stack of weights that causes several other wrestlers to leave in fear of how badly they’re going to get it. Especially because Thing acts like he could lift even more!
One guy decides to take him to task. His name is Demoltion Dunphy. Unlike Thing, he strains to lift the big stack of weights, but still succeeds. The two of them and some of the other wrestlers are put in a ring to test their skills. Thing decides to just stand still and let the others pound on his durable body. Dunphy looks to be the only one who can really take it to him.
Later, promoter Ed Garner pulls Demolition Dunphy aside and asks him to take the fall in his upcoming match with the Thing. The winner is going to be crowned champion and he thinks the Thing is better for business. Dunphy doesn’t agree with it, but is willing to go along with it for the money. Thing gets wind of it and makes a big stink. Glad that Thing agrees that this is wrong, Dunphy promises to give him a fair fight. Garner backpedals, telling Thing that he isn’t corrupt. He just wants this fed to succeed. Thing understands, but believes it will succeed because everything’s on the up-and-up.
Yeah, really. That’s D-Man. The one on the right. No Daredevil or Wolverine duds back then. Plus he was like a foot and a half taller than Thing.
The match is pretty even for the most part and neither side shows any sign of backing down. The end comes when the two come running at each other with fists blazing. They punch each other at the same time, fly back into the ropes, get propelled into each other and hit the mat upon collision. Thing is first to get to his feet and is declared the winner. Dunphy takes his loss like a man and hails the new champ.
Forever People #2 (1971)
Desaad’s role here isn’t very big, only getting him three panels. The gist is that Darkseid gets this guy Mantis to fight the Forever People. As Darkseid watches the battle unfold, he has Desaad at his side, doing sciency stuff.
When Mantis fails, Darkseid makes a speech about how much he loves himself.
“Mantis fights hard – and fails hard – He cannot learn to plan! But Darkseid waits like silent stone… Waits and plans to flush his prize from its cover, Desaad… And, if you would wrest the secret from him – give him – to me!”
I love Kirby and all, but sometimes his old DC stuff torques my brain like a Rubik’s Cube.
Justice League of America #1 (1960)
Barry Allen is driving around when a UFO lands. Its landing not only causes the car to stop, but it infects Barry with some temporary blue radiation. He changes into his Flash duds and meets the aliens. They’re two green-haired beings with Namor eyebrows from the planet Kalanor. The tyrant Despero has taken over their world and one of them, the scientist Jasonar, has been building an anti-weapon that could drain energy from things. They fled to Earth in order to finish building it without having to worry about Despero.
Flash calls the JLA to meet him at headquarters. Despero shows up in a spaceship and tries to teleport Flash and the Kalanorians. He only gets away with Jasonar’s daughter Saranna, as it seems Flash and Jasonar are still affected by the blue radiation and are therefore immune to Despero’s powers. Ah, 60’s plot devices.
Flash goes to JLA HQ, but finds everyone in a trance, forced that way by Despero’s mind powers. Since Flash is immune, Despero plays a little game with him. He has a chess board of sorts with JLA members as pieces. The idea is that Flash would pick a card with a number on it. Before seeing what number it is, he’d pick a numbered square for a JL member to land on. If the numbers matched up, the chosen hero would be teleported to another world, never to return. Any survivors will be freed from mind control. If they all lose, Flash has to give up. Got all that?
It doesn’t really matter. Even with the odds on his side on paper, Flash loses. Every Justice League member gets tossed off-world and Despero wins. He sends Flash away on a rocket, since he can’t send him away mentally. Snapper Carr sees all this and notes that Despero cheated in their game. He hides in the background, unknowingly getting infected with the blue radiation.
Long story short, each League member gets back to Earth safe and sound.
Before that, Despero discovers Jasonar completing his anti-weapon. Despero swears to use the energy-absorbing machine for his own purposes, such as enslaving Earth. Snapper shows up and yells, “You’re a real bad dad, Despero! I’m gonna queer your game!”
Despero tries to use his mind powers on Snapper. Even though they don’t work, Snapper plays along anyway. When Despero turns his back, Snapper uses the energy-absorbing machine to render Despero weak and powerless. The League comes back and everybody’s happy.
The Demon #1 (1972)
The days of Camelot are at an end. Morgaine Le Fey and her army of monsters are coming to burn the kingdom to ruins. Merlin knows that she’s after his book of magic. As a plan of final desperation, he summons the Demon Etrigan to assist him. Etrigan can indeed take care of Morgaine’s soldiers, but it’s too late for him to make a major difference in the battlefield. Etrigan seeks out Merlin and is given several choice pages of the book of magic for safekeeping. Etrigan leaves Camelot and begins to transform into the human form of Jason Blood.
Flash forward many years, into the present. Jason Blood’s still around, but he doesn’t really know all that much about who he is. He doesn’t know what Merlin’s pages are and doesn’t know Etrigan other than that demon haunting his dreams. He’s a demonologist and rather well-off in terms of money. He goes to see another demonologist named Warly, who once wrote a book with a similar language as Merlin’s notes.
Warly, as it turns out, is working for Morgaine. He makes Jason fight a living suit of armor, which ends in a double knockout. Morgaine comes out and I guess takes the pages. She also shows that after all these centuries, she’s aged to the point that she looks like a prune and she’s dying. She lets Jason live so that he may soon lead them to Merlin.
Jason wakes up outside the place where he and Warly had their confrontation. A cop tells him that the place is supposedly haunted, but it’s been in ruins for years. Jason is confused, but goes home to hang out with his friends Randu and Harry. Harry, by the way, deserves a punch in the face for his “hilarious” antics.
Jason throws a party at his place and Randu’s wife brings a date for Jason named Glenda. She is easily charmed by his collection of artifacts and paintings, though finds it alarming that all the paintings of Jason’s “ancestors” from throughout the centuries look exactly like Jason. The dinner party is interrupted when a giant rock man in a purple overcoat and sunglasses is at the door. Man, it never fails.
The guests leave and Jason figures that this mute rock dude is some kind of messenger and wants to take him to Merlin’s tomb. They go on horses, fight through some guards and Jason is guided by a voice towards a dungeon, where he has a completely uneventful confrontation with two gargoyles. I’m pretending to understand what’s going on here. There’s this big symbol on the ground. Jason kneels over and tries to read it, being drawn into one little poem enscribed onto it.
“Change! Change, o’ form of man!
Release the might from fleshy mire!
Boil the blood in heart of fire!
Gone! Gone! The form of man!
Rise, the Demon Etrigan!!”
Then we get a cliffhanger page of Etrigan totally tearing shit up.
Next time: What’s up, Docs?