Posts tagged ‘Marv Wolfman’

Detective 408 – The house of dead Robins

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Len Wein and Marv Wolfman script the Batman story from Detective 408 (Feb. 71), with Neal Adams and Dick Giordano providing the art.

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Batman is lured to a house in which  all manner of nightmarish things haunt him, most of which have to do with Robin.  So in a way this story, although there are actual villains, can be seen as separation anxiety Batman is feeling now that his child has grown up and headed off to college.

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The final hallucinatory scene has Robin and the Justice Leaguers at Batman’s funeral expressing their disdain for him, before all goes black.

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Then we get to see the real game.  Robin was kidnapped, and used to draw Batman to the house, and the hallucinations were to distract him while Dr. Tzin Tzin got him into a death-trap.  Of course, Batman escapes and frees Robin.

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In this story, Tzin Tzin is attempting to join the League of Assassins.  Killing Batman is his “initiation.”  That’s a big step down for a criminal mastermind, as he was portrayed in his first appearance.  This story also, at the end, implies that Dr. Tzin Tzin has some degree of illusion casting powers, explored more fully in his next appearance, against Supergirl, in the pages of Adventure Comics the following year.

 

 

 

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Adventure 485 – The Master goes after Dial “H” for Hero

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A full-length story, a George Perez cover, but there still isn’t that much to say about Adventure 485 (Sept 81).

Marv Wolfman and Cramine Infantino have the Master send out the “Evil Eight” to take down Chris King and Vickie Grant, but they fail pretty dismally.

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The Master is still not shown clearly, but we do learn that he is aware of the HERO Dials, the source of the kids’ powers, and has been hunting for them a while.  He also claims to have murdered the man who invented the Dials.

The Master returns in a year, in the DC Comics Presents that teams Superman with Chris and Vickie.

Adventure 484 – Dial “H” for Hero and the Master’s plan

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Chris and Vickie take on a couple of bounty hunters in Adventure 484 (Aug 81), a story by Marv Wolfman and Don Heck.

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The Bounty Hunter is a bounty hunter.  Bet you couldn’t have figured that one out.  His sidekick is the Pupil.  Which is a giant floating eyeball with a mortarboard hat, which I concede is kind of neat.  Wish it had been drawn by someone other than Don Heck, but even he can make a circle look right.

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Meanwhile, Chris and his family are still living in a completely empty house, as the notion of having readers create their furniture appears to have been a total dud.  But rather than just stick something in there, once again they plead to have the readers do the work for them

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They also now want the readers to design the clothes for Chris and Vickie and their friends!  Sadly, unlike the empty house, they don’t have all the townsfolk just walk around naked until the readers design clothing.

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The Bounty Hunter and the Pupil are both working for someone called The Master, who had appeared a couple of years earlier in the Jimmy Olsen series in Superman Family.  At the end of the story, Bounty Hunter is about to give away the identity of the Master to Chris and Vickie, but is killed by the Pupil.  The Master returns next issue.

Adventure 483 – Dial “H” for Hero meet King Faraday

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Adventure 483 (July 1981) is another less then impressive effort by Marv Wolfman and Carmine Infantino, but makes it into my blog because of the guest star in the second story.

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The villain in this issue is the Wildebeest, a hunter who intends to kill every animal on the endangered species list, because he’s a total dick.  Although there is no connection between this character and the one Wolfman will later create as a menace for the New Teen Titans, one cannot help but suspect that he really liked the name of the villain, and chose to use it himself later on.

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Chris and Vickie get involved when the Wildebeest comes to hunt an animal at the Fairfax Zoo on loan from Kenya, and wind up running into King Faraday.  Farady was introduced in the 1950s, DC’s version of James Bond.  He had most recently appeared in Batman, and was soon to become a semi-regular supporting character for a while in New Teen Titans.  But this is still a bit of a career low.

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And that is partially because the Wildebeest doesn’t even get captured in this story!  Together, the three of them save the animals in the zoo and drive off the bad guy, but that’s as far as they get.  King doesn’t even figure out that the variety of heroes he encounters at the zoo are really just the same two kids!

Adventure 482 – H-E-R-O vs H.I.V.E

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The H.I.V.E. make an appearance in Adventure 482 (June 1981), which is the only reason that this story by Marv Wolfman and Don Heck makes it into my blog.  The H.I.V.E. were the main enemies of the fledgling New Teen Titans in their own book at this time.

Chris’ father is assigned to guard a scientist whose new inventions the H.I.V.E.  want to steal, so they employ the Blade Master, who uses swords that can cut through anything.  When he attacks, Chris uses his HERO Dial to transform into  Teleman, with teleporting abilities.

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Figuring that he needs help, he teleports to the summer camp where Vickie is, and she transforms into Aniwoman, who has powers much like Life Lass from the Heroes of Lallor, to animate and control objects.

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She animates his blades and uses them to capture him, while Chris uses his teleportation powers to fool his suspicious father into thinking he is safe at home.

OK, so the H.I.V.E. is in a mere two panels.  Maybe this story wasn’t worth it.

 

Adventure 479 – Dial “H” for Hero begins

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Dial “H” for Hero begins its run in Adventure Comics with issue 479 (March 1981).  It retains the HERO dial from the earlier House of Mystery series from the 1960s, and the concept that the Dial temporarily transforms the dialer into a variety of different heroes, but not the characters from the original series.

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Chrisopher King and Victoria Gratnt have a pair of dials, which they acquired in a preview story published in Legion of Super-Heroes, so no origin story is given in this issue, despite the fact that there are three tales in this comic, all by Marv Wolfman and Carmine Infantino.

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The heroes the two kids change into are not Wolfman creations, though.  Instead, they are submitted by readers.  The two Dials are attuned, so when one of the kids uses theirs, the other is alerted.

Even at 15 years old, this struck me as a cheap way of luring readers.  Nor was I inclined to come up with a character, but have no control over the story it was in, or have it merely appear for a page or two before being consigned to oblivion.

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The one thing I did notice, reading this issue again as an adult, was that the villain of the third and final story in the issue, Silver Fog, was created by Harlan Ellison, although he is credited as if he were one of the readers who sent in ideas.  Cute.

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The destruction caused by the Silver Fog means the family has to re-furnish their house, and readers are invited to design the furniture as well!  Really?  Let’s get real.

This comic completely turned me off, and I did not read another issue of it, until now, for this blog.  Sacrifices must be made.  As well as disliking the concept, Infantino’s art looked like an ugly parody of his classic work in the 50s and 60s, though I found that true for all of Infantino’s stuff from the 80s.

Adventure 417 – Vigilante begins

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Greg Saunders, the singing cowboy performer who slipped a red bandana over his mouth to become the crime fighter Vigilante, begins a sporadic back-up series in Adventure, beginning with issue 417 (March 1972).

Vigilante had appeared a couple of years earlier, in Justice League of America, but had not had his own series since the end of his long run in Action Comics, in 1954.

Marv Wolfman and Steve Skeates penned this story, with Gray Morrow doing the art.

The story is set in San Francisco, as Vigilante hunts down a cop killer.

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Chinatown gets dragged into the story, and it seems to be going the old “inscrutable” route, but the story avoids the racism it hints at, using this as a bit of a red herring instead.

All in all a decent return for the character, a solid and intense little tale.

 

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