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Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Super Friends 40 - the Super Friends fall prey to illusions, and Jack O'Lantern and the Blarney Stone

Bridwell and Fradon are joined by Kim DeMulder for the lead story in Super Friends 40 (Jan 81), while Jack O'Lantern returns in the back-up spot.

Stories based around illusions can make for some very entertaining visuals, and that's exactly what this one does. At the top of the tale both Superman and Aquaman are trying to save an ocean liner in trouble, but both wind up causing trouble, as the ship simply does not exist, despite what the heroes think they are seeing.

The villain of the tale has developed a monocle which can create these illusions, and in his first test of it wound up accidentally killing his father. Not that he liked the guy anyway. He gets called the Cyclops in this tale, but to me he looks so much more like an Earth-1 version of the Monocle.

So most of the story consists of Superman, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, the Wonder Twins, Batman and Robin thinking they are fighting against villains and disasters, but really causing havoc on their own. Of them all, my favourite scene has Batman fighting a skyscraper, thinking it is a giant.

As usual it is the Wonder Twins who save the day. Jayna adopts the form of a sightless creature with telepathic powers, directing Zan as a waterspout to take down the Cyclops.

Jack O'Lantern returns in the Global Guardians tale by Bridwell, Tanghal and DeMulder, which deals with the belief that the Blarney Stone has the power to give people persuasive powers. A friend of Daniel Cormac wants to marry a woman he likes, but is too afraid to ask her. He gets conned into buying what he believes is a piece of the actual stone, and that the real one has been robbed.

Daniel switches to Jack O'Lantern to exact revenge on the con men, bringing them to Blarney Castle an scaring the crap out of them. And in the end, the friend works up the courage to ask the girl, and she says yes.

Super Friends 39 - the son of Overlord, and the Wonder Twins hit the disco

Bridwell, Fradon and Colletta bring back the Overlord in the lead story from Super Friends 39 (Dec 80).

The story heavily implies that Overlord had once been a member of the DNA Project, and he sets out to create a clone of himself, rapidly aging it to adulthood and advancing it along the evolutionary line to have futuristic abilities, including a degree a mental powers.

The son of Overlord is a giant, super strong and fast, and his mental powers allow him to foresee the attacks the Super Friends will try on him. He almost completely overpowers Superman, Batman, Robin, Aquaman, Wonder Woman and the Wonder Twins in his first outing against them, but then suddenly ails from some weakness.

The Super Friends theorize it must be something in the atmosphere that is his weakness, and try all sorts of things against him. In a nice touch, it turns out to be the trace elements of the gas krypton that brings the son of Overlord down. The story ends as we discover that Overlord has created two more clones of himself.  Will we see those down the road?

The Wonder Twins are back and out to party in the Bridwell, Tanghal and Colletta back-up story. The disco they head to gets attacked by mobsters, as the owner will not pay their protection money. As well, the mob controls a rival disco. There is also a small element of Jayna falling for a human boy, who dislikes aliens, so she has to conceal her true nature.

The Wonder Twins go into action to trash the rival disco. They do bring in the bad guys, but not before doing a lot of damage first.

Super Friends 38 - Grax makes the Super Friends intangible, and the Seraph loses his powers

Grax returns for his final appearance in the Bridwell, Fradon and Colletta tale in Super Friends 38 (Nov 80), which also gives a solo story to Seraph, of the still not yet named Global Guardians.

Grax has been hanging out on Earth since his last appearance in this book, studying his enemies. Now, he brings together some criminals to help him with his latest scheme.

Grax makes Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Robin and even the Wonder Twins intangible, so they cannot fight against and of the villains that Grax has running wild. Out of all the heroes, Aquaman is the least affected by this, as he is still able to use his mental control of sea creatures to fight crime.

The heroes learn about Grax's involvement and track him down, only to discover that the machine he used against them he is now planning to use to destroy the entire planet.

By freezing the hands of the Wonder Twins and coating them with ice, Superman is able to let the Wonder Twins activate their powers. Jayna becomes a bird, grabs Wonder Woman's lasso, and captures Grax, and then tosses the machine into the river that Zan has become, short circuiting it.

We never see Grax again. Do you miss him? I don't.

Bridwell is joined by Bob Oskner and Kim DeMulder for the Seraph story, which I have some issues with. We learn that Seraph's real name is Chaim Lavon, and that he is a teacher. He heads to one of the settlements to work at a school there.

The Palestinians attack the settlement, and for fighting against invaders on their land are, of course, labelled terrorists. Now, this is a Seraph story, so I guess it is more or less required to take the view that the hero would have, but it's much along the lines of westerns, in which the natives are treated as evil for fighting the invading whites. The story even acknowledges that the lands they are arguing over are disputed, but still portrays the settlers as good and noble, and the Palestinians as evil.

In the battle, the Seraph kills a man, and his god gets all mad at him and strips him of his powers. This doesn't make a lot of sense, as his powers mostly come from artifacts, like Solomon's ring and the staff of Moses. But then all Seraph has to do is prey for two panels and he gets them all back.

Seraph returns a few months down the road.

Super Friends 37 - Supergirl teams with the Super Friends, and the Global Guardians begin

Supergirl works with the Super Friends in issue 37 (Oct 80), which also sees the first tale of the not-yet named Global Guardians, featuring Jack O'Lantern.

Bridwell, Fradon and Colletta have Linda Danvers bring students from her New Athens school to a big collectors convention in Gotham City. The Weather Wizard, last seen the previous year in the Flash's strip in Adventure Comics, also shows up to rob the event. While Supergirl works far better in tandem with the members of the Super Friends, she still winds up feeling on the outs.

The reason is that her students are are thrilled about seeing Wonder Woman in action, but blase about seeing Supergirl, who they see all the time back in Florida.

The same thing happens as Linda watches the students go nuts about meeting the Wonder Twins, who are active autograph collectors. Among their autographs is one of Jack O'Lantern, sort of teasing his back-up tale.

Weather Wizard keeps the action going, as he battles Superman, Batman, Aquaman, Robin and the others, but the real resolution is not his capture, but Supergirl's delight at how the Gotham papers give her all the coverage.

Kind of makes Supergirl look really shallow and needy. The Weather Wizard is next seen a couple of years down the road in Hawkman's series in World's Finest Comics.

Bridwell, Tanghal and Colletta share the Jack O'Lantern tale, which reveals that the Irish hero's true name is Daniel Cormac, and relates how, as a child, he caught a leprechaun. He became friends with the fairy folk, and upon reaching adulthood was given his magic lantern by the Fairy Queen.

He has a leprechaun sidekick in this story, who alerts Daniel to a legendary giant, one of the Formorians, who has emerged and is running rampant.

Daniel switches to Jack O'Lantern and goes out to confront the giant, who tries to kill him. Jack O'Lantern uses his namesake weapon to shrink the giant down and capture him in the lantern. Aside from the Irish touches, it reads very much like a simple Green Lantern tale.

Jack O'Lantern returns a few months down the road.

Super Friends 36 - Plastic Man teams with the Super Friends, and the Wonder Twins fight dinosaurs

Plastic Man, who at this time has an ongoing series in Adventure Comics, shows up in Super Friends 36 (Sept 80), along with his sidekick Woozy Winks, in a story that brings him to Gotham City, thanks to Bridwell, Fradon and Colletta.

This tale is largely told from Plastic Man's perspective, and feels very much like one of his tales. Even the way that the villain, Warhead, looks, with his pointy bullet head, evokes Plastic Man's recent series. The NBI has information that Warhead will be attacking a bunch of sites in Gotham, so they send Plastic Man there to stop him. Plas feels that Woozy has been causing more problems than help in his recent cases, so he makes his friend stay behind.

This, however, does not make things go easier for the stretching hero, and Robin's interference messes up Plastic Man's first attempt to capture Warhead.

As the story goes on, Robin calls in the rest of the Super Friends, but Aquaman, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman have a hard time matching their fighting styles with Plastic Man.

In the end, of course, Warhead gets caught, but Plastic Man winds up feeling he would have had an easier time of it with Woozy by his side, rather than the Super Friends. It's actually pretty funny.

Plastic Man returns a couple months down the road in a back-up story.

Romeo Tanghal joins Bridwell and Colletta for the Wonder Twins back-up. The book has expanded in page count, and almost every issue from this point on will have a back-up tale.

The Wonder Twins are on a school trip to a museum when a dinosaur skeleton comes to life. They change into their super powered identities and battle it, but a mist emerges from the skeleton and moves into the form of a different dinosaur, bringing it to life.

Some very good visuals in this, possibly because I enjoy looking at fighting dinosaurs. In the end, the "villain" is actually an alien life form, an advanced version of a dinosaur, trying to communicate.

Super Friends 34 - a strange alien animal, and the Wonder Twins help a teacher

The Wonder Twins get a back-up story in Super Friends 34 (July 1980), loosely connected to the main tale, by Bridwell, Fradon and Colletta.

The lead story begins with Batman on monitor duty on the Justice League satellite, spotting an incoming ship. He contacts Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman and Robin, and they intercept the craft, which is carrying a strange alien beast, which seems to be part animal and part vegetable. Superman brings it to the Interplanetary Zoo in his Fortress of Solitude.

But it turns out the creature can teleport, and keeps escaping. Each time it teleports it sets off a destructive concussive blast, so this is a problem.

The heroes call on the Wonder Twins, and have Jayna take the form of another creature, figuring that it is looking for company. Superman then constructs a cell with mirrored walls to keep it happy.

The same creative team provide the back-up story, which picks up immediately afterwards. Superman shows the Wonder Twins around the Zoo, and they see the Metal-Eater, which looks more like a hippo than the creature used to look back in the 60s, when it would pop up occasionally in Superman family stories. 

Then Zan and Jayna head to school, where they find out the boyfriend of one of their teachers is about to go to work for a criminal.

They figure the best way to stop this is to have the bad guy get caught first, so Jayna takes on the form of the Metal-Eater and gets evidence to send him away. Then they contact Batman, so the guy gets hired by Wayne Enterprises instead.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Super Friends 33 - Hawkman and the Super Friends vs Menagerie Man

Bridwell, Fradon and Colletta bring back Menagerie Man for another outing against the Super Friends in issue 33 (June 1980).

At the top of the story we see the Wonder Twins each turn into a "solitaire," though different kinds. Jayna becomes an extinct bird, and Zan becomes a diamond, which really stretches the concept that he can turn into forms of water, playing off the slang for diamonds as "ice." The Super Friends received a tip that Menagerie Man was going to rob a person of a solitaire, but aren't sure which kind it referred to, so had the Wonder Twins impersonate both. Menagerie Man grabs Jayna, which means that Zan gets stuck in his diamond form.

Caged by the villain, Jayna winds up next to Big Red, Hawkman's trained hawk, last seen back in 1975 in Hawkman's back-up story in Detective Comics. Big Red complains that Menagerie Man has been trying to train him to commit crimes. Jayna helps the bird escape.

Big Red alerts Hawkman, who joins forces with Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Robin and Aquaman. Then it is just a matter of fighting off some more animals and taking Menagerie Man down again.

This is the final appearance of Big Red, who probably resented being caged so much that he abandoned Hawkman.