Sunday, June 15, 2008

Blue Devil #4 (9/84)

Martian Manhunter: Had not yet returned to Earth, as this story took place prior to Justice League of America #228-230, which was being published at around the same time. This is basically the next-to-last Satellite Era story.

Elongated Man: Was hanging out on the Justice League Satellite in orbit 22,300 miles above the Earth. Superman brought Blue Devil up for a visit after the new but reluctant hero defeated Metallo, the man with the Kryptonite heart, while at S.T.A.R. Labs in Metropolis. Ralph Dibney shook hands with Dan Cassidy, then defended Superman when he proved less cavalier about his secret identity. "Buddy boy, you've got a lot to learn about this business! Most super-heroes never reveal their names!" Blue Devil thought Superman just sounded paranoid, then wanted to test his strength against the Man of Steel in an arm-wrestling match. Ralph had to convince him: "Oh, come on, don't be so serious all the time... it'll be lots of fun!" Dan couldn't budge an inch with both arms and legs leveraged against the table, then was taken way over the top with a wrist flick! "I like that guy! He's a barrel of laughs! ...That's lesson number one, pal o' mine: You don't want to mess with the Big Red S!" Trailed off with Superman after Cassidy moved on to investigate magical means of removing the Blue Devil costume he'd been bonded with.

Zatanna: The reason Blue Devil had been taken up to the Satellite in the first place, though he seemed to forget his problems while flirting with the receptive enchantress! "Y'know, there aren't many women who could get away with wearing a bug on their head... but on you it looks terrific." Zee tried to get Dan out of his suit (*ahem*) but he had been permanently merged with it, its circuits having become inextricable and organic.

Zee cast a spell to retrieve a book called "The Demonography" in order to reference the monster that cast the binding spell on Dan, Nebiros. Zee believed Dan should try to request Nebiros remove the spell, so the pair teleported to Île du Diable. Zee reconstituted a mystical key in order to access Nebiros' dimension through an Earthly temple. With a peck on the cheek, Zatanna sent Blue Devil through the portal, while she remained to prevent any demons from escaping to Earth.

Nebiros was too presumptuous and Blue Devil too intemperate to come to an agreement, as the elder demon seized Dan and carried him back to the portal. Zee mistook Dan's presence as her cue to open the portal, releasing both devils. Zatanna was anxious to make amends by thwarting Nebiros, but Blue Devil felt it was more than they could handle. He grabbed Zee under his arm and carried her out of the temple with his enhanced agility. Zee continued to argue, but was finally convinced to request help from the Justice League. Zatanna knew from the Demonography that Nebiros' weakness was water, and hoped to contain him on the island. However, the demon used a jet-propelled trident "given" to him by Dan to escape to the Mexican coast. Zee cast a teleportation spell to transport herself and Blue Devil ahead of Nebiros.

The Creators: Ralph called it earlier-- this book was a fun break from too much seriousness. Gary Cohn and Dan Mishkin were clearly having a ball with the characters and premise, which were dynamically depicted by Paris Cullins and Gary Martin. This was the first Zatanna story I ever read, and I was struck by how nice she was. To my mind, that's still her best feature. I like when she's shown to be powerful and capable, but if she doesn't have that girl-next-door sweetness that shone through the thigh high boots and Necronomicon, it just isn't Zee to me!

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