Monday, August 24, 2009

Super Powers Collection 25th Anniversary Mini-Comic Review 1-8

It's time once again for another blog crossover masterminded by The Irredeemable Shag! The subject this time is the 25th anniversary of the release of Kenner's line of DC Comics action figures, the Super Powers Collection. This multi-blog event will be different from those past, however, as the manner in which the topic is addressed has been left up to each individual blogger. Further, several bloggers have decided to stretch their coverage over a string of posts/days, so just keep your eyes peeled for updated links at this page's bottom.

As for this blog, ...nurgh... will offer a critical review of every mini-comic packaged with action figures of the day, in much the same manner as our Wednesday Is Any Day For All I Care column...

Super Powers Collection 1: Superman (DC/Kenner, 1983, Free With Purchase)
In this one, Luthor amps up his battle suit by taking over a nuclear power station. There's a nice meta moment in the first panel, when a security guard asks "Ed, ever have the feeling something is going to go wrong?" This was also back when Lois wore her hair in those hot little braids, although that bolo-tied top's gotta go. Superman shows up to confront Luthor, and when kryptonite rays overwhelm him, he signals the arrive of his Super-Mobile via belt buckle.

There's clumsy transitional dialogue between the last two pages that repeats " safe again..." and Lex keeps calling Superman his friend, but otherwise this one is pretty fair. For once, the Super-Mobile finally makes sense to have around, and the art is quite nicely on model.

Super Powers Collection 2: Batman (DC/Kenner, 1983, Free With Purchase)
The Dynamic Duo exchange fay dialogue with Alfred before encountering Jokerized Gotham citizens. All by the numbers until Wonder Woman shows up in her invisible plane to help out against the Clown Prince of Crime. Aside from that bit of randomness, everything remained numbingly standard. The art on this one drove me nuts, with elements of Carmine Infantino, Gil Kane, and Joe Staton, but of course nowhere near as good as any of them.

Super Powers Collection 3: Wonder Woman (DC/Kenner, 1983, Free With Purchase)
When Superman foiled Brainiac's plans to destroy Metropolis with a meteor, the evil robot got even by turning the Man of Steel nasty with his mind ray. While the destruction of Earth's great monuments by Superman is fun, I can't help but be peeved the titular heroine doesn't show until halfway into the booklet. On the other hand, Wonder Woman drops Supes like a sack of potatoes as soon as she lassos him in magically delicious fashion. Another nice thing is that Diana Prince figures out Superman was being mind-controlled and who was responsible almost immediately with her keen intellect. Of course, you could argue her swiftness in flying her invisible jet up to Brainiac's ship whilst avoiding being manipulated herself was due to half her book going to set-up with another hero, but I'll happily whitewash in her favor. While it might be a drag the Amazing Amazon proves herself with another guy's foe, the resolution is fantastic (imagine the skeletal Ed Hannigan Brainiac grinning like a sentient marital aide!) Finally, Wonder Woman is always upbeat and in control of the situation.

Kudos to the unidentified writer! My best guess on art would be Eduardo Barreto (who was doing the real book around that time,) perhaps with a heavy-handed inker (Colletta?)

Super Powers Collection 4: The Flash (DC/Kenner, 1983, Free With Purchase)
Apparently, Brainiac didn't stay straight for long, as he turned his ship right around and started nabbing heroes (including the DC Trinity and Hawkman) with the intention of stealing their powers. "I have captured half of the Justice League of America... soon the rest shall be mine as well." The Flash was in that latter half, and fared best of the lot mentioned. His story was solid, with the nicest art so far. The pencils vaguely resemble early Sal Velluto, but the stellar inks are where the real action is at, possibly from Mike DeCarlo.

Super Powers Collection 5: Brainiac (DC/Kenner, 1983, Free With Purchase)
Despite the collectible numbering, this third outing by the living computer in a row convinces me these booklets were not meant to be read in the assigned sequence. Brainiac takes over Earth's computers and starts wrecking stuff. Batman is the first to notice, probably because he hadn't gotten around to fighting Briainiac yet. Surprisingly upfront about not being wholly up to the task, the Cowled Crusader calls up Superman to avert disasters. Then the Dark Knight goes it alone against Brainiac's rather silly looking Power Action Computer Kick, and proves "I possess the greatest super-power of them all! My power is my brain! I can outthink even you!"

Decent story, nice art, but please no more Brainiac!

Super Powers Collection 6: The Penguin (DC/Kenner, 1983, Free With Purchase)
Bruce Wayne and the surprisingly chipper Carter Hall attend a Wayne Foundation charity benefit that's assaulted by trained birds. Hawkman uses his ability to communicated with all things feathered to calm the birds, then captures most of Penguin's men in a net. Batman nabs his fowlest foe himself.

Seeing Batman and Hawkman in good spirits, cracking jokes and such, reminds me how long ago 1983 was. Besides that though, run of the mill.

Super Powers Collection 7: The Joker (DC/Kenner, 1983, Free With Purchase)
Most of this one is a chase scene involving Batman, and so far this booklet has featured more of the title character than any of the rest. It goes by quick, with a surprise guest appearance to wrap things up.

Super Powers Collection 8: Aquaman (DC/Kenner, 1983, Free With Purchase)
So Wonder Woman isn't the only star late to their own story, but I'd feel better about it if Aquaman weren't also a disrespect magnet. The Penguin starts a ruckus at the new seaside aquarium, and when the Flash fails to stop him, the Scarlet Speedster calls on Aquaman to save the day. The Sea King then commands the creatures of the ocean to do all the work for him. A pun-laden script and middling art do no one any favors.

Critical reviews of every Super Powers Collection mini-comic:

1 comment:

Paul said...

These couldn't have been read in sequence. It's obviously been a long time since these came out, but as a kid I remember that the figures were released in waves where the comic book story groupings made more sense. Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, and Joker were the first ones I remember seeing in the store. Then Flash, Robin, Lex Luthor, and Aquaman. As a kid I was most looking forward to Wonder Woman, and remember finally finding her and the Penguin at the same time, and finding Brainiac and Hawkman last. The vehicles were released like that too, with the Supermobile available first, followed by the Lex-Soar 7, then the Batmobile. The Hall of Justice was available just before Christmas that year.


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