Posts tagged ‘Mera’

Adventure 478 – Aquaman, Starman and Plastic Man end

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Aquaman gets the cover for his final, really final, story in Adventure 478 (Dec 80), by Jean-Marc DeMatteis and Dick Giordano.

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Black Manta has gathered an army of homeless and disaffected people, and told them lies to make the Atlanteans seem like evil monsters.  Aquaman and Cal manage to escape, and Aquaman swims right by Manta and his men, who probably could have at least tried to stop him, but don’t.  They just…don’t.

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Pretty dumb move, as Aquaman convinces Vulko and the Atlanean troops to open the gates.  Must have done some really fast convincing, as it happens almost immediately.  But it works, and Manta’s men desert him.

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Mera captures Manta in a hard water bubble, and Cal Durham shows up as well, just as everything goes boom.

The story continues in Action Comics, as Aquaman’s series moves over there.

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Starman’s tale concludes a bit more than the Aquaman one does, but not by much.  Paul Levitz and Steve Ditko do bring Mn’torr’s story to an end though.  He is sentenced to death for saving Prince Gavyn, and as Starman showed up to try to save him, he faces the same sentence.

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Not content to die, Starman fights back against the monsters that are meant to kill them, saving Mn’torr once again.

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Meanwhile, Jediah Rikane and Lady Merria return to Throneworld, only to learn that Empress Clryssa is on her death bed.

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Mn’torr insists that, no matter how much Starman wants him to survive, his time is at an end, and dissolves in a really cool, very Ditko way, bequeathing Starman his staff of power.

As promised, the story does get resolved in an issue of DC Comics Presents, though not exactly “soon.”  More like eight months.

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Plastic Man’s story really does end.  And begin for that matter, as it’s complete in this issue, by Marty Pasko, with Joe Staton art.

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Plas and Woozy Winks deal with thieves who resemble Groucho Marx and Harpo, and I do like the layout of this page, integrating the building into the panel lay-out.

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Plastic Man’s series continues as a back-up in Super Friends, which it would fit in with pretty well.

Adventure 477 – Aquaman faces Black Manta, and Starman learns the origin of Mn’torr

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Another split cover on Adventure 477 (Nov 80), and the final one to really feature Starman and Plastic Man.

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Aquaman leaves New Venice by mutual agreement as this story, by J.M. DeMatteis and Dick Giordano, begins.  The mayor is furious with him for abandoning so many of this plot lines from World’s Finest Comics.

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But another long-abandoned character shows up, Cal Durham, formerly one of Black Manta’s men, now forced to live underwater.  His young sister goes to Aquaman for help.  Cal had last appeared in Aquaman’s brief 70’s revival, along with Manta.

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And it’s Black Manta that is the trouble once again, capturing the two after Cal stumbles across Manta’s new base, from which he plans to attack and conquer Atlantis.

On the last page, Mera re-appears.  She had not be taken, so much as phased away, and now back, still all feverish and comatose.

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Starman goes in search of Mn’torr in this chapter, by Paul Levitz, Steve Ditko and Romeo Tanghal.

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He heads to a trippy temple Mn’torr was connected with, which speaks to him and allows him to essentially teleport to Mn’torr’s homeworld.

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We discover that he broke sacred vows about the balance of the universe when he rescued Prince Gavyn, and that he was not defeated by Oswin, but by his own people, who gave Oswin the staff to balance the power.

 

 

Adventure 475 – Aquaman begins, again, for the fifth time, and Starman battles to restore the Empress

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Aquaman returns to the pages of Adventure with issue 475 (Sept 80), joining Starman and Plastic Man. All the regular sized comics in the DC line gain 8 extra pages, most often corresponding to the addition of a back-up series.  This marks the fifth separate run of Aquaman in the pages of Adventure, his series moving back from World’s Finest Comics.

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Jean-Marc DeMatteis and Dick Giordano take the reigns of Aquaman as his series moves here.  Part of the plot of this story continues from the pages of World’s Finest Comics, his pursuit of some ancient Atlantean machinery.

Mera wakes with a feverish illness, and Aquaman heads out to get help, but is distracted by Topo, who leads him to the machines.

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There he winds up in battle with an old foe, the Scavenger, who had not been seen since the brief revival of Aquaman’s book in the 70s.  Although Aquaman bests the Scavenger, the machines are destroyed by the villain, so no one can have them.

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Meanwhile, Mera’s illness gets worse, and she has a really touching sequence in which she hallucinates about her dead son.  She collapses, and by the time Aquaman returns, she has disappeared.

This is the final appearance of the Scavenger pre-Crisis, as well as Topo, who had not been seen since the issue of Adventure in which Arthur Jr died.

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It’s all-out war in this chapter of the Starman saga, by Paul Levitz, Steve Ditko and Romeo Tanghal.  Clryssa pardons two of the prisoners from Asryx, who join with Jediah Rikane as they lead one attack against Lord Protector Oswin and his men, while Starman transports the Empress and Lady Merria to the throne room.

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Still unaware that Starman is really her brother Gavyn, Clryssa promises to share the throne with him.  A nicely ironic touch.

Despite the ending of the last issue, in which Mn’torr confronted Oswin, there is no sign of the man in this tale, although Oswin makes brief reference it.  Only on the last page do we get a confirmation that things did not go well for Mn’torr.

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Oswin now has Mn’torr staff, a powerful weapon in and of itself, and has no fear of Starman or the returned Empress.

 

Adventure 466 – Flash, Deadman, Justice Society of America and Aquaman end

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Adventure 466 (Dec 79) is the last issue of the book as a Dollar Comic, and with the next issue it shrinks back to regular size.  All four of the series conclude their runs in this issue, most with arguably their best stories.

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The Flash faces one of his regular enemies, the Weather Wizard, in this story by Cary Bates, with art by Mike Netzer and Vince Colletta.

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Mark Mardon claims to have turned over a new leaf, and intends to use his powers for good, although the Flash doesn’t believe or trust him for a second.  Nonetheless, it seems to be true, although his behaviour seems irrational, if benevolent.

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But even his good intentions prove disastrous, as his drought relief turns into a raging flood.  Flash realizes his change in behaviour is likely connected to increased sunspot activity, and his mental bond with his weather controlling wand has allowed his emotions to become affected.

And though he commits no crimes during this time, he still winds up in prison at the end of the story, after attacking people who called him a hero, enraged that they would insult him so.

A fun little tale, and by far the best art of any of the Flash’s stories in Adventure.

The Flash’s series ends, but he continues in his own comic.

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Len Wein and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez go out on a high note with the final Deadman story, by far the best of his run.  It begins quite simply, as Deadman watches an old man in a park, feeding the birds, and envies him his life.

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When the man pulls out a gun and tries to kill himself, Deadman is horrified, but acts quickly, inhabiting a bird and using that to knock the gun out of his hand.  He follows the old man home, and discovers that he lives with his abusive adult son, a drug dealer, and his innocent grand-daughter.

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Deadman follows the son when he storms out after a fight, pretty much intending to see that he gets arrested.  But when the man heads to the docks and ponders his life, deciding to change, Deadman’s faith is restored, and he tags along to make sure he lives up to his intent.

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The grandfather also heads out, and both wind up at the big boss’s place, where things go horribly wrong, despite the best intentions of the hero and the two men.  Deadman possesses the grandfather, which causes him to freeze, and he winds up getting shot, and dying, as a result.  Th boss kills himself rather than wind up in prison, but at least the son and his daughter survive.

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Even still, this is a dark and powerful story, fully worthy of the last panel of Deadman screaming in frustration.  That happens a lot in Deadman stories, but rarely with as much meaning.

Deadman’s next appearance, in DC Comics Presents, follows up on this tale.  Deadman’s next continuing series comes in the late 80s, in the pages of Action Comics Weekly.

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The entire Justice Society of America appear in this final story, leaving the funeral of Mr Terrific following the latest JLA/JSA crossover, in a story by Paul Levitz and Joe Staton.

After their departure, Power Girl asks Huntress about something she overheard, about the Justice Society disbanding in the early 1950s, and for the rest of the tale, Huntress relates the story to her.  Much of it is a fairly standard super-hero tale, as the team is offered a satellite headquarters, which turns out to be a deathtrap.  They escape, and capture the man behind it, but the last few pages take a surprising twist.

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The man was a Soviet agent, and the Justice Society are summoned before the House Un-American Activities Committee to testify about their relationship with him, a session that quickly degenerates into a witch hunt.

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In order to clear their names, they are told they must unmask and reveal their identities to the Committee.  As a group, they refuse, and disappear from the chamber.

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A powerful story, with long-lasting effects throughout the DC Universe.  The story gives a solid explanation of why the team abruptly vanished in the early 1950s, a reason rooted in the issues of the time, even moreso than it appears.

In reality, the publication of the book Seduction of the Innocent, which blamed all manner of mental and social problems with youth on the influence of comic books, had swept the US in the early 1950s, and virtually all super-herores ceased to appear.  So there are really two levels to this tale.

The JSA continue to appear regularly in Justice League of America, and Huntress was soon to get her own series in Wonder Woman.  The next time they had their own book was in the America vs the Justice Society mini-series in the mid-80s.

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After three strong stories it would be nice to say that Aquaman goes out on a high note as well.  I can’t say that, but at least the story, by Bob Rozakis and Don Newton, doesn’t suck.

The underwater Nazis return, as we discover that Helga’s death was simply a hologram, and they have subtly invaded Atlantis.  Vulko turns out to be a hologram as well.

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Mera accompanies Aquaman as he invades their base.  As a kid I found her behaviour on this page suspicious, and noted the subtle clue in the lower left corner of the bottom panel.

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Aquaman also figures out that Mera is a hologram, finds and frees her and Vulko, and brings the Nazi base crashing down around them.  He even gains a new pet, the telepathic mutated Nazi seahorse, Siggy.

Aquaman’s series continues in the pages of World’s Finest Comics a few months down the road.

Adventure 465 – Flash hears mysterious warnings, Deadman deals with slum gangs, the Justice Society hunt for a stolen poison and Aquaman faces underwater Nazis

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Cary Bates, Don Heck and Joe Giella tell an entertaining little tale in Adventure 465 (Oct 79), and at least make a slight reference to the events happening in the Flash’s own comic, although Iris’ murder is never specifically mentioned.

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After stopping a missile, Flash discovers his hearing has become messed up, and begins overhearing an unusual warning about invaders from above.

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After much puzzlement and research, Barry determines that he has temporarily developed the ability to understand dolphins, who were chatting about thieves diving in and hiding their loot in the dolphin tank at the aquarium.  And while in his own book Barry Allen is close to a complete breakdown, here he is content to play ball with the creatures.

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Some beautiful Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez art on this Len Wein story, with Dick Giordano providing the inks.  Deadman does not return to Hill’s Circus after his visit to the lab in the last issue.  Instead he finds himself “strolling” through the slums.

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He comes across a young chopkeeper and his wife, being harassed by a protection scam, and follows (and occasionally possesses) the man as he tries to rally the neighbourhood to stand up to the gang.  When this fails, he tries to find evidence on his own that will bring them down.

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Boston Brand helps all he can, and for a change this story does come to a happy ending, a rarity in a Deadman tale.

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The Justice Society get their only typical super-team adventure in their run in this book.  Paul Levitz and Joe Staton provide a tale in which the team split up in a desperate search for a stolen poison capsule that threatens to wipe out an entire city.

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Levitz does a good job giving the various heroes their moments of glory.  Huntress and Power Girl find vital clues as to who stole the poison – the cleaning lady, trying to help her addict son, unaware of what it truly was.

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Hawkman barges in on Dr Fate, insisting that he help the team, and Inza Nelson gets her only appearance during the JSA’s run in this book.

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Green Lantern and the Flash get to be the ones to actually find the capsule, stuck to a dog’s fur, and destroy it.

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The Dr Fate scene pays off in the epilogue, although only by implication at this point, as Mr Terrific shows up, in a rare appearance, to join the team for the annual JLA/JSA team-up, at which he gets murdered.

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Aquaman encounters some robot-building underwater Nazis in this story, by Bob Rozakis, with art by Don Newton.

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After encountering a hologram of a sea monster, Aquaman finds a hidden city in Antarctica of Nazis, descendants of ones who fled there at the end of World War 2.  Helga serves as his guide, and appears to be fairly open and pleasant, but that is simply a ruse to get him off his guard, at which point they attack and imprison him, replacing him with a hologram.

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The Nazi Aquaman hologram brings Helga to Atlantis, introducing her to Vulko, who just merrily accepts everything in the incompetent fashion he has been consistently showing, but Mera is suspicious.

The climax has Aquaman defeat his double, while Mera gets captured by Helga, but manages to free herself.  Helga appears to die, but this story is far from over.

Funny, in memory these people were connected to the Universal Food Products crew from a few issues ago – the odd uniform on the sailor being a hint at their Nazi background.  But there is no actual connection in this story.  My teenage brain simply found a link where none was intended.

Adventure 463 – Flash battles an Image-Eater, Deadman gains a body, the JSA bury Batman, Aquaman defeats the evil farmers and Wonder Woman takes on Queen Bee

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Adventure 463 (June 1979) opens with a Flash story that is only remarkable in the way it ignores the major events taking place in his own book at this time.

Cary Bates, Don Heck and Joe Giella tell a story that has the Flash returning from a visit with Jay Garrick on Earth-2, and stumbling across an ancient spirit, the Urtumi, that feeds on the after-images he leaves behind while running.

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I never understood how Don Heck got so much work in comics.  I don’t believe there was ever a single panel he drew that I liked.

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Conversely, I don’t think there was ever a single panel Jose Luis Gacia-Lopez drew that I didn’t love.  With Frank Chiaramonte on inks, and Len Wein in the driver’s seat, the Deadman storyline that opened his run in Adventure comes to a powerful conclusion.

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Despite Kronsky’s unstable nature, Deadman still holds out hope that his helmet will create a new body for him, and he tries a variety of ways to access it.

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Finally, he inhabits Inga, and almost succeeds at his goal, but the body explodes.  The helmet will only work for Kronsky, and only almost worked for Inga because of their genetic similarity.

Ultimately, Kronsky sacrifices the helmet, which is driving him insane, to be able to stay with his family.

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Paul Levitz and Joe Staton bring the death of Batman storyline to a conclusion, as Dr Fate leads the team in hunting down the man responsible, Frederic Vaux, a patsy of darker forces.

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Vaux used the powers he was given to convince Jensen that Wayne had framed him, and gave him the power to destroy him.  Why did the mysterious dark forces choose to operate in such a roundabout way?  That’s never addressed, and this final chapter is not really very fulfilling in terms of the villains.

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Vuax casts a spell to remove the memories of everyone on Earth, part of the larger plan to enslave him.  After his defeat by Dr Fate, as the spell begins to wear off, Fate makes sure that the exact circumstances of Bruce Wayne’s death are not remembered, restoring his secret identity, as well as those of Helena and Dick Grayson.

All in all, the death of Batman storyline is far better in terms of what it achieved, than in how it achieved it.

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Aquaman’s battle with United Food Products over their farming of the sea beds near Atlantis concludes this issue, by Paul Kupperberg, Don Heck and Joe Giella.

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Aquaman is opposed by the Atlanteans, Vulko, Mera and even Aqualad, whom he gets into a fight with, but he pursues the UFP anyway, with Aqualad in hot pursuit.

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The leader proudly proclaims that the true plans were to destroy Atlantis, and please note the unusual garb of the sailor standing next to him in the first panel.  As I said, there is more to this storyline than it seems at first.

Aqualad overhears, and joins Aquaman as they destroy the UFP base.  Back in Atlantis, even Vulko finally concedes that the UFP were dangerous.  But their plans are far from over…

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Wonder Woman is seen at work for the only time during her run in Adventure, as astronaut in training Diana Prince, in this story by Gerry Conway, with art by Joe Staton and Frank McLauglin.

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She is sealed in a sensory deprivation test, which saves her when a swarm of deadly bees attack NASA.  She uses her lasso to round up the bees, saving her co-workers, and then follows them back to their giant lair.

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She discovers JLA villain Zazzala, the Queen Bee, an alien conqueror.  Though she bests Queen Bee in combat, she is forced to release her when Zazzala reveals that the scientists stung by the bees had their minds drained as the result, and the honetcomb contains their combined mental faculties, which only Zazzala can return to them.

Queen Bee last appeared facing the Justice League three years earlier in their own book.  The story concludes next issue.

Adventure 460 – Barry Allen lives Jay Garrick’s nightmare, Deadman deals with a circus fire, Wonder Woman battles for Steve Trevor’s soul, Green Lantern and New Gods end, and Aquaman begins for the fourth time

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The line-up changes almost immediately with the second Dollar Comic issue of Adventure, 460 (Dec 78), partly as a result of the infamous “DC Implosion.”  Having lost his own comic, Aquaman moves back into Adventure, which causes the abrupt end to Green Lantern’s run.  Other victims of the Implosion would also find homes in this book in the coming months.

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Cary Bates, Irv Novick and Frank McLaughlin craft an enjoyable variation on the long-running team-ups of the Earth-1 and Earth-2 Flashes.  After hanging out for the first couple pages, Barry Allen tries to head home, but instead gets pulled into a weird alternate reality.

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He encounters The Shade, and though he tries to fight him, the Shade appears confused by this, and insists they are friends – as well as insisting that Barry is really Jay Garrick.

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Jay’s wife Joan has the same view of Barry’s identity, though in this world she has become the wife of the Fiddler, another of Garrick’s old foes.

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Finally the Wizard shows up, bragging about his plan to drive Jay Garrick insane.  Barry simply fell into the magical trap by accident, but as it was not designed for him, he also escapes with ease.

The Shade and the Fiddler, both last seen in JLA/JSA team-ups, do not really appear in this tale, they are simply magical constructs.  The Wizard appears between the final story in Secret Society of Super-Villains, and its follow-up in the pages of Justice League of America.  But again he is not really there, hia appearance is part of the spell he had set-up before the events at the conclusion of SSoSV.

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Len Wein and Jim Aparo continue the Deadman saga begun in the previous issue, as Lorna finds herself pestered by agents of a mysterious businessman trying to take over the circus.

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Once again Inga is certain that she is the cause of the problems, even though this appears unlikely to the other characters.  The bad guys start a fire in the circus, and Deadman inhabits his brother’s body once again to help save people.

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Meanwhile, a second mysterious man, being tortured at orders of the first, escapes from his captors.  The story continues next issue.

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The New Gods saga by Gerry Conway and Don Newton comes to a somewhat unsatisfying conclusion in this issue.

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Darkseid beats up Highfather, in a sequence that is not particularly impressive for either character.

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On Earth, the humans assembled by Darkseid join together and emit the Anti-Life Equation, which simply wipes out the Antagonist.  Lightray, Forager, Metron and Jezebel just sort of stand around looking impressed.

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Darkseid attempts to pierce the Source Wall, but his approach causes him to increase in size, like the Promethean Giants.  DeSaad mistakes this as an attack, and fires a cannon at him, blasting Darkseid to pieces, and the story comes to an end, without even the long forecast battle between Darkseid and Orion.

Most of the major players return a couple years down the road in the JLA/JSA crossover in which the Apocalyptians try to bring Darkseid back to life.  Others have to wait until Kirby’s next work on the series, in the mid-80s.

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His own book having fallen prey to the DC Implosion, Aquaman returns to the pages of Adventure, Mera in tow, as he deals with Landau, an arrogant hunter of whales.

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The story, by Paul Kupperberg, is pretty basic, and Don Newton is far from my favourite artist on Aquaman.

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Green Lantern’s last story in this book, by Cary Burkett, with art by Joe Staton, sees him deal with one of his rarer foes, a magical being called Myrwhydden.

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Their last encounter had been back in the mid-60s, in Green Lantern’s own book, and concluded with Myrwhydden imprisoned inside Hal’s ring.  He reveals that the energy leeches from the previous issue had drawn him out of the ring, and so once again he pursues his goal of stealing Green Lantern’s battery and ring to use to power his own magic.

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And once again Green Lantern whups him.  But this time, rather than putting him back in the ring, he delivers Myrwhydden to the Guardians of the Universe to imprison.  Myrwhydden returns in the early 80s, in Green Lantern’s own book.

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The final story in the issue, a Wonder Woman tale by Jack C Harris and Jack Abel, is the best in the book.  It’s an epilogue of sorts to the death of Steve Trevor that occurred the previous month in her own book.

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Distraught, Diana pleads with Aphrodite to bring Steve Trevor back to life, as she had done once before, in the early 70s.  Aphrodite refuses, and Diana decides to head to the afterworld to take on Pluto himself in order to save Steve.

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They battle, but it becomes apparent to Wonder Woman that Pluto does not have Steve Trevor, that he has passed on to a different plane.  Pluto was merely delaying Diana in his realm, waiting until her separation from her physical form brought about her own death.  Steve’s ghost leads Diana back to her body, and she has no choice but to accept his death.

In fact, Steve’s absence from the realm of Pluto was due to more of Aphrodite’s manipulations, but that will not be made clear, or even hinted at, until the 80s.

 

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