Well, that’s another year gone by. DC’s comics in 1980 were a bit of a mixed bag. Stuff like Batman, Legion, and JLA had some cool storylines and great art, foreshadowing even better stuff to come. Other comics (Superman especially) seem stuck in the Silver Age, giving us goofy aliens and imaginary stories that don’t mean anything for the characters. Now that Marv Wolfman is writing Action and Green Lantern, and Gerry Conway looks like he’s getting a bit more serious on Wonder Woman and JLA, maybe those titles will get better. The following is my preview for the comics I’ll be reviewing from 1981. As usual, I’ll divide them into the groups they’ll appear in during my reviews, some of which I’ve re-arranged from the 1980 pattern.
Batman, Detective, Brave & the Bold: Batman will have some interesting storylines in 1981. Catwoman makes quite a few appearances, and so do Talia and Ra’s Al Ghul. Man-Bat returns and we finally get to see the original Batcave again. Alfred gets a shock from his past and in B&B, Batman teams up with such luminaries as Swamp Thing, Creeper, Lois Lane, and the Legion.
Superman, Action, DC Comics Presents, Warlord: Supes runs into some old foes (Luthor, Vartox) and a few new adversaries as well (Vandal Savage, Neutron); we also see the debut of Vixen, who was supposed to get her own title a couple of years before, but the Implosion squelched that idea. In DC Presents, Superman teams up with Wonder Woman, Man-Bat, Flash, Metamorpho, and the Big Red Cheese (plus the lesser Cheeses). Warlord finally reunites with Tara, but she’s betrothed to another man. Knowing Travis Morgan, blood will be spilled.
JLA, Legion of Super-Heroes, New Teen Titans: The JLA fight some heavy hitters, including Shaggy Man, Starro, T.O. Morrow, and the Secret Society of Super-Villains (in what’s probably my favourite JLA/JSA crossover of all time). The Legion fights the Dark Man, Ultra Boy becomes a pirate, Brainiac 5 is cleared of those unresolved murder charges, and Superboy returns. (Why’d they get rid of him in the first place if they were bringing him back so soon?) The Titans face the Fearsome Five and Trigon for the first time, and square off against the Brotherhood of Evil for what may be the last time … at least for some of the characters.
Flash, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Jonah Hex: Flash faces some classic Rogues, including Grodd, Captain Cold, Shade, Rainbow Raider, and Golden Glider. The Top also shows up again, even though he’s dead, and you’ll never believe whose body he borrows. Wonder Woman has some extended arcs against Kobra and Red Dragon, and teams up with Etrigan the Demon. Green Lantern spends some time in space and fights foes like Goldface, Eclipso, and Tattooed Man. He also meets the Omega Men, who seem to be favourites of Wolfman’s since he’ll end up using them in his Action and New Teen Titans stories later on. Jonah Hex actually tries to settle down with Mei Ling and leave his violent life behind, but things like that rarely work out.
And in the last four months of 1981, I’ll be adding a new title to my reviews: All-Star Squadron. It’s another comic I read back in the day and it’s one of my favourites. I love the way Roy Thomas writes the Golden Age characters and how he fits stories into original continuity, updating and expanding it without trampling all over the old stories. I’ll be placing the All-Star Squadron reviews in with the JLA/LSH/NTT bloc … might as well keep all the team books together. I hope you’ll join me as I work my way through 1981; DC had some great stuff coming out that year (some of which I haven’t read yet), so it should be a fun ride. As always, don’t be shy about leaving comments. See you next week!