Axel-In-Charge: Navigating the "Civil War II" Landscape, Bringing DMC to Marvel
Here’s the final chapter at my look at DC Super-Stars. We’ve transitioned from a reprint title to one full of new material, albeit new material of varying quality.
Fans of Sergio Aragones will want to check out DC Super-Stars #13. I imagine this is an attempt to make up for the Plop! Super-Stars issue that never came to fruition. It’s all-new, and I’m not certain if any of these have been reprinted elsewhere. I tend to run pretty hot and cold on DC’s comedy mags, but this one is quite solid. The real highlight is nice little Steve Skeates story involving an oil pipeline and some rather angry forest animals. It’s comes across as a Mad Magazine/Tales From the Crypt mash up; funny and slightly sinister.
DC Super-Stars #14 is a fairly odd collection of Super-Villains Secret Origins stories. What we have here are a bunch of retconned origin stories that don’t really seem to exist for any reason other to frustrate continuity buffs. Why not write a story about GL defeating Gorilla Grodd long before the Flash encountered him – it all works so long as we explain that we mind wiped GL so that he forgot the whole thing. Did you know that Dr. Light (who looks a bit too much like Uncle Sam here) traveled to Thanagar before Hawkman ever left for Earth? It’s true! How about the fact that Harvey Dent wasn’t actually the intended target of that courtroom acid? Not a hoax! None of this is really necessary, and the Bob Rozakis story is the silliest of them all (isn’t that always the way?). I don’t know much about Ed Davis, the penciller on the Two Face story – but I really like his work.
DC Super-Stars #15 is a really change of pace, as it give the reader a full-length story. I’m a huuuuuge Unknown Soldier fan, so I pick up anything bearing his name. This is a very interesting story of an attempt to sabotage a German ICBM launching pad. The only real wrinkles to the Allied plans are that it’s heavily fortified, Sgt. Rock is wounded and Mlle. Marie has sworn to kill the Unknown Solider. Kanigher is really on his game here, and Lee Elias, not someone with whom you typically associate DC war books, shows that he is a master storyteller. Heck, even the Romeo Tanghal inks ain’t half bad. There are also one-page “DC Who’s Who” style bios of the three leads. If you’re wondering what Bronze Age DC war books were all about; this is a great place to start.
I’m not sure why I don’t love DC Super-Stars #16. David Michelinie is one of my all-time favourite writers and Don Newton can do no wrong. There’s just something about the Star Hunters that never really appealed to me. That’s not to say that you may not enjoy it quite a bit, as I know that this short-lived series, which made it debut with this issue, has a lot of fans. Worth checking out if you are a Don Newton fan. If you’re not one, you should be.
DC Super-Stars #17 is another ‘Secret Origins’ installment, this time it’s the good guys. We start off with a Denny O’Neil/Mike Grell retelling of Green Arrow’s origin. It’s quite decent, but the framing sequences around the flashback are a bit lame and Grell’s artwork is at its ‘stiff and angular’ worst in some panels. Next up is a completely unnecessary Legion story about one of their first cases, which was undocumented. For some reason, Superboy seems really upset that was unaware of this particular a Legion mission. There’s not much too it, except for another notch in the belt for the founding members. Does anyone else find that the ‘Original 3’ can seem quite smug at times? We end off with one of the real highlights of this entire series. It’s the introduction of the Huntress, as well as the first time we learn of the nuptials of Earth-2 Batman and Catwoman. Paul Levits, Joe Staton and Bob Layton were up to great things here and it’s a shame that all of this got wiped by Crisis. A very strong story, with touching moments and great action.
It all came to an end with DC Super-Stars #18, and what a rather strange ending it was. For the finale, we get a team-up of some of the DCU’s best known magical/mystical heroes. Deadman, Phantom Stranger and Dr. Thirteen get together to stop a plot ‘hatched’ by Earth last two remaining Gargoyles. In addition, the annual Rutland Halloween parade serves as the backdrop. The problem is, the synopsis sounds more interesting that the final product. It’s a pretty wordy script and all three main characters have been better used elsewhere. Still, it’s fairly interesting and worth checking out for Rutland completists. I believe this one was reprinted in the second volume of Showcase Presents: Phantom Stranger.
So that’s my look at another one of DC’s rather odd series from the 70s. None of these are terribly pricey (I picked up a copy of #17 in nice shape for $5 at a half-price sale at my LCS) and there’s probably something for everyone somewhere in these 18 issues. For more comic gibberish, check out my blog Seduction of the Indifferent
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