Posts tagged ‘Tony de Zuniga’

Detective 523 – Batman vs Solomon Grundy, and Machiavelli comes to Star City

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Detective 523 (Feb. 83) sees Batman pitted against Solomon Grundy, in a story by Gerry Conway, with art by Gene Colan and Tony deZuniga.

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The story is part of the rise of Croc, who makes a shadowy debut in this tale.  We see his green hand in one panel, above, but otherwise he is in a trenchcoat and large hat.  His gang has adopted Grundy, but Croc feels that this will not bode well for them, and takes off.

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The story makes a point of tying this Grundy to the ones created in DC Comics Presents, and it shows him as childlike to the extreme, when not angered.

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That doesn’t make this Grundy any less deadly when angered.  As Croc thought, his destructive nature brings Batman down on the entire gang.

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Irv Novick and Ron Randall take over the art on Joey Cavalieri’s Green Arrow story in this issue. It opens with Arrow and Hi Tek (we learn that his first name is really Rich), as the boy becomes Oliver’s computer brain.

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Green Arrow goes into action when a demonstration turns violent, but follows the troublemakers, and finds them working with the big wigs, supposedly on the other side.

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And indeed, the riot was part of a plan by the elites of Star City to extend their control, both legal and illegal. Machiavelli is introduced.  I do like the idea for this character, a brilliant and ruthless manipulator, but its a shame they had him dress Renaissance.

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Certainly Machiavelli has no trouble with hiring people who are not in historical garb, as his muscle is a lycra-clad Executrix.

Detective 517 – Batman as vampire, and Lady Viper suffers a set back

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The story in Detective 517 (Aug. 82) is the middle part of a tale, which began in the previous issue of Batman, and ends in the succeeding one.  As such, Gerry Conway, Paul Levitz, Gene Colan and Tony de Zuniga have a bit of filler time.

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Batman spends the duration of this issue fighting crime as best as he can.  His vampiric powers are a help, but he has to fight within himself to suppress the blood lust.

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Boss Thorne ordered Vicki Vale’s editor to steal her photographic proof of Batman’s identity, and in this issue he peruses her shots and calculations, and decides that she is right, and Batman is Bruce Wayne.

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The issue also finds time to give backstory on the vampire that turned Batman, which makes the best use of Colan, whose long history of horror comics shows in the flashback.

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The Burkett/Delbp/Giella creative team that has helmed much of Batgirl’s latest run has their last story in this issue, concluding the Lady Viper storyline.

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Batgirl heads to a hospital, and it proves surprisingly quick and easy to cure her of Lady Viper’s body-changing attack.  Back on her own two feet, she goes after the murderer again.

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The fates are on Batgirl’s side, as Lady Viper discovers that her own transformation was not yet complete, and she changes fully into the body of a snake.

Batgirl’s series runs for one more 2-parter, with a different creative team, but both Jeff and Jim are nowhere to be seen.  Jeff has not appeared since flirting with Supergirl.  Did Batgirl never forgive him for that?  And Jim’s interest seemed to wane following the trial.

Adventure 430 – Black Orchid and Adventurer’s Club end

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The final Black Orchid story in Adventure is probably the best of its short run.  The tale is issue 430 (Dec 73) was retold, from Black Orchid’s point of view, in Black Orchid Annual 1 in the early 90s.

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Nick Scrumm, a nightclub owner and loan shark, in the central character in Sheldon Mayer and Tony de Zuniga’s tale.  Once again, Black Orchid drops a note warning him to stop his activities and compensate his victims.

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Mademoiselle Magique is the red herring that draws Scrumm’s attention, as he tries to figure out who Black Orchid is.  In fact, it’s the photographer Susan, in the first panel, that is really the heroine.  The re-telling of the story would make much of that panel, and her blurting out her true name.

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Ultimately, Black Orchid threatens Scrumm’s life, flying him into the air and dropping him.  When he screams out that he will sign a confession she catches him.

The series ends here, but moves to be the back-up feature in Phantom Stranger in a few months.

 

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The final story of the Adventurer’s Club, by Arnold Drake, has Nelson Strong listening to the tale of a man who discovered a pendulum that is the “heart” of the world.

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The tribe who guard it insist he must stay with them forever, to keep the secret from being known.  Not too keen on this, the man grabs the pendulum, which results in earthquakes and eruptions – but the disaster does allow him to flee.

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Th entire village, and presumably all the tribesmen, get wiped out as the man escapes.  At least he has the decency to keep the location a secret from Nelson Strong.

While Adventurer’s Club would never return as a series, Nelson Strong would come back in Swamp Thing in the 90s, as a villain.

Adventure 429 – Black Orchid takes on pirates, and Captain Fear returns home

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Black Orchid’s story in Adventure 429 (Oct 73) opens with her dropping a warning note to modern day pirate Barry La Motte, but even knowing she is on his trail, he continues his evil plans.  Well, I mean, of course he does, or this wouldn’t be much of a story.

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We then get some of the backstory, how La Motte takes over a ship, loots it and sinks it, leaving the captain and crew to blame.  Black Orchid usually seems to be helping someone in distress, though how she knows of these people is part of her mystery.

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Knowing Black Orchid is after him, La Motte invites all the women he knows, who he suspects might be her, about a cruise.  He decides that his assistant Mala must be Orchid, and she confirms this.  She demands he prove his worth to her by taking over a freighter single-handed.

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Could this guy be any dumber?  He walks right into her trap.  And Black Orchid was not really Mala, just impersonating her.

I don’t feel I really did this story by Sheldon Mayer and Tony de Zuniga justice.  It’s an entertaining read, with lovely art.

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Seems like everyone wants to enslave Captain Fear in this chapter of his saga, by Steve Skeates and Alex Nino.

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Denise pursues and captures Fero, selling him to a slave ship.  He leads a  revolt aboard the ship, but fails to beat the armed crew.  Nature seems to be on his side, as the ship gets wrecked in a storm, and he washes up back in Haiti, his island home.

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It’s not much of a homecoming though, as he discovers his people have been completely wiped out by white invaders, who promptly enslave him as well.

Good thing the art on this strip is so beautiful, because the story is dark and ugly.

Adventure 428 – Black Orchid debuts, and a Dr. 13 story

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Black Orchid debuts, beginning her short-lived cover feature with Adventure 428 (Aug 73).  Created by Sheldon Mayer and Tony de Zuniga, Black Orchid was a hero whose identity remained completely unknown during her run.  Her powers were also a bit of a mystery.  Certainly she was capable of flying, but whether this was innate or something endowed by her costume was never explained.  She was also never the main character in any of her stories.  In each tale the villain was, essentially, the star.  There would be a number of female characters in the tale, and the bad guy would try to figure out which of them was really Black Orchid in disguise.

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The story in this issue deals with a district attorney trying to get information on an organized crime ring.  He attempts to infiltrate them in disguise, but gets caught and almost killed, Black Orchid swooping in to rescue him.

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The mobsters then try to set up the DA and frame him for murder, but once again its Black Orchid to the rescue, and this time she makes sure the gang gets caught.

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Tony de Zuniga does some of his best work on this series.

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Dr. 13, the Ghost Breaker, had a back-up series in Phantom Stranger, but that had recently been replaced by Spawn of Frankenstein. This story, by Steve Skeates and de Zuniga, had likely been intended for that run, but moved here.

A woman is distraught over the unusual death of her husband, who apparently died of fright.  The reader sees that this happened right after he put on a pair of glasses.

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A cleaning lady finds the glasses and tries them on, allowing de Zuniga a full page of horrific visions, which he does to the max.

Examining the glasses, Dr. 13 notices a tiny needle in the frame, and has the needle tested.

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Dr. 13 then proudly explains to the woman that her husband had plotted to kill her with the glasses, but messed up and took them instead, accidentally killing himself.  As the poor widow breaks down completely, Dr. 13 strolls merrily away.  Jerk.

Dr. 13 would continue as a supporting character in Phantom Stranger, and his next solo outing would be a Vertigo Visions special in the 90s.

Adventure 424 – Supergirl ends

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Supergirl’s run in Adventure Comics comes to a close with issue 424 (Oct 72), in a story that actually winds things up and sets the stage for her own comic.  Steve Skeates handles the writing, while Tony de Zuniga and Bob Oskner take the art.

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Linda has been successful at getting information from a mob informant, and looks to be in line for a promotion, which irritates Nasty.  Linda finds herself falling for the guy, but is less than happy when he does not act to try to protect her when the mob tries to kill him.

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When he flees after a grenade is thrown at him, Linda covers it with her body, and fakes her own death to teach him a lesson.  This is really less than admirable behaviour on Supergirl’s part, as she shows no sympathy for a person who simply doesn’t want to die, and resents the fact that he does not sacrifice himself to save her, even though she is in no danger.

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Figuring she will teach him a lesson, she pretends to be her own ghost to haunt him, but merely winds up a witness to his murder.

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Her guilt over the situation changes to rage when Linda discovers Nasty gave the mob the information on who the informer was.

The ending involves a teleportation machine, which gave the assassin the illusion of being a ghost, and a mob graveyard in space, just to work in the cover image.  After rounding up the gangsters, Linda returns to her news office.

 

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A strong conclusion to her run, as she quits her job and leaves San Francisco.  Hew own comic starts the following month.

Nasty does not appear again for a very long time.  Later writers do not even acknowledge her existence, when writing about Lex Luthor and his family.  It was Grant Morrison who finally brought her back, in All-Star Superman.

Adventure 419 – Supergirl’s bad boyfriend returns, Black Canary ends, and Zatanna faces Gorgonus

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Mike Merrick returns in Adventure 419 (May 1972), with a new girlfriend in an unusual, and surprisingly sad, story by John Albano, with art by Tony de Zuniga and Bob Oskner.

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Supergirl battles magical threats, and the reader discovers that these have been created by Lorelei, Mike Merrick’s new girlfriend, to divert Supergirl and keep her from tracking him down.

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It’s a bit of overkill, really, as Supergirl has shown no inclination to find Mike over the last 6 months since he appeared, but he calls her and informs her of what has been going on.  This phone call is the only contact Supergirl and Merrick have in the entire story, never even sharing a scene together, but the story works extremely well despite this.

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Remorseful and self-loathing, Mike kills himself and Lorelei in a car accident.  Supergirl is informed of his death, and comments that he “escaped from a world in which he never quite belonged.”  There is an absence of sappiness in this tale that makes it genuinely touching.

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Black Canary’s 2-parter by Denny O”Neil and Alex Toth concludes in this issue, as she wakes to find herself bound and at the mercy of the gang she helped train.

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While I kind of hate the fact that she only finds the strength to fight back from this situation by remembering advice from Green Arrow, I can’t fault the beauty of Toth’s art on the flashback.

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And fight back she does, defeating the gang, and at the end discovering that it was all a plot to free Catwoman, in a surprising cameo.  It’s a nice touch, but does make one wish that there had been some bigger scene between the Cat and the Canary.

Black Canary’s next solo series is in World’s Finest Comics in the late 70s.

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Zatanna returns in this issue, in a story that is sort of an epilogue to her earlier adventure, written by Len Wein with great art by Dick Giordano.

While rehearsing for a new act, Gorgonus suddenly appears, having been expelled from his dimension as an unwitting side effect of the spell Zatanna used to help her and Jeff escape.

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She defeats the monster  by subterfuge rather than magic, tricking him into staring into a mirror, which turns him into stone.

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