Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Super Powers Collection 25th Anniversary Mini-Comic Review 17-23

Super Powers Collection: Mantis (DC/Kenner, 1984, Free With Purchase)
It's the night the lights went out in Georgia-- and Tokyo-- and pretty much the rest of the world. All that electricity had been drained away to the remote castle that hosted the Power Pod of the energy vampire Mantis, a disciple of Darkseid. Aquaman, Red Tornado and Martian Manhunter gave chase and won out. This was probably the stiffest, most generic SP comic of them all. The writer couldn't even work in a "Sovereign of the Seven Seas" or an "Alien Atlas" to signify the characters, sticking us with dull copy. The characterization seemed to come off the back of the toy packaging, so no wonder it was cardboard. The art was also bland in this one, but what I found interesting was repeated hints of a young Norm Breyfogle (though there's no credits to be sure.) The art was drowning in heavy inks and potentially redrawn faces, though.

Super Powers Collection 18: Green Arrow (DC/Kenner, 1984, Free With Purchase)
An action-packed episode, though most of the conflict is between two vehicles from the toy line. The resolution is also ridiculous, but it involves Green Arrow battling New Gods, so how could it not be? I strongly suspect the art was by Alex Saviuk, with inks by Frank McLaughlin or possibly Dick Giordano. They rarely get Martian Manhunter's head right, looking like a malformed embryo's, and those green eyeballs of his are disturbing. GA and Flash look much nicer, thankfully.

Super Powers Collection 19: Darkseid (DC/Kenner, 1984, Free With Purchase)
Kenner really wants to sell you a damned Delta Probe One, as Batman test pilots its latest improvements with Firestorm and Red Tornado riding alongside. Reddy blankly asserts, "Yes, with it, all heroes can fly." Good Lord, when your delivery is more wooden and dialogue more redundant than your average Super Powers character, you must be the friggin' Red Tornado, mustn't you? Regardless, the DP-1 is so awesome, even the Lord of Apokolips wants one! To catch it, he'll use his own Tie-Fighter, the Darkseid Destroyer, which is so much cooler you'll wonder why he bothered. There's a screwy aircraft battle across two dimensions whose sole purpose is to show off the accessory vehicles and offer a pat ending.

Super Powers Collection 20: Kalibak (DC/Kenner, 1984, Free With Purchase)
The cruel one mounts an assault on Dr. Fate's magical tower in his Boulder Bomber Yours for just $34.99 on!
, though its his Beta Club that does the most damage. Fate signals Superman and Red Tornado, who were arguing over who gets the pleasure of monitor duty (more on that later.) Though positioned as rescuers, Dr. Fate ends the adventure with himself well on top.

The dialogue is mostly expository, and the art is weak late Kirby pastiche (Greg Theakson?) Kalibak ceases to be a credible threat for the last four pages out of thirteen, leaving you to wonder why you're left waiting for an anticlimactic resolution to this nonsense.

Super Powers Collection 21: DeSaad (DC/Kenner, 1984, Free With Purchase)
Wow, Dr. Fate got a lot of play in these booklets! I wonder if DC Comics had allowed kids reading these mini-comics a chance to experience the Kent Nelson Fate in their main line, we might have been spared a new, radically different bearer of the mantle every few years?

This book has strong art, and I can't believe the rampant BDSM imagery on display. There's even an explicitly defined "torture chamber!" Robin shows up and is remotely useful, while Green Arrow is clever in the protagonist's role. The only flaws I can find are in DeSaad's stated objective (the unstated is obvious,) and that a toy company executive ever thought a kid wanted to play with an "old pervert in a robe" action figure.

Super Powers Collection: Parademons (DC/Kenner, 1984, Free With Purchase)
Just to be clear, the 22nd SP booklet is unnumbered, and the "Parademon" cover logo doesn't match the "Parademons" in the indicia. Anyway, this was a random and intentionally goofy edition, as a wild hair leads the parademons on an unsanctioned excursion to Earth. Firestorm and Green Lantern flounder, while Dr. Fate saves the day. Definitely distinct from the usual books, but like Kalibak's solo outing, the focus on the villain leads the writer to embarrass and diminish the subject at length rather than showcasing their menace.

Super Powers Collection 23: Red Tornado (DC/Kenner, 1984, Free With Purchase)
This no good android managed to star in the last mini-comic out of Saigon. Coincidence? Was his mind-numbing dullness alone enough to deprive the third wave of Super Powers toys their own little retarded adventures? Let's just see how this one reads...

Well for starters, Hawkman wonders aloud about how tedious monitor duty is, yet RT loves it. RT emphatically enjoys it. "As an android, I find something comforting about being alone with the Hall of Justice computers." Okay, I'll admit to finding unforeeable allusions to 100% legitimate cybernetic intimacy in the pre-internet era amusing... especially accompanied by a "BZZZZZZ" sound effect!

Green Arrow calls in to alert the team about a parademon invasion of Star City, with some genuinely droll dialogue. The three heroes mount a resistance involving some surprisingly effective violence for a kid's giveaway comic. There's fire, destruction, mob scenes-- even Darkseid forcing the heroes to grovel before him. This is the only time an SP booklet had this sense of magnitude, let me assure you! While the turnabout is ridiculous (the Lord of Apokolips versus a smoke arrow?!?) the dialogue remains strong, and the art doesn't get in the way. Aside from its featuring Red Tornado (along with his unimaginative nicknames "Red" and "Reddy,") this is one of the best of the mini-comics, and a fine final edition of the series.

Still, damned emo robot!

Critical reviews of every Super Powers Collection mini-comic:

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