Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Super Powers Collection 25th Anniversary Mini-Comic Review 9-16

Super Powers Collection 9: Robin (DC/Kenner, 1983, Free With Purchase)
Here's another quickie, with the Penguin stealing a lunar vessel called the Moonbird until Robin arrives to interfere. The Teen Wonder sadly hasn't been very useful in the series so far, and even his own edition has him calling in Hawkman and Green Lantern to save his hide. A flock of birds commanded by Hawkman do the most damage, though Robin at least got to lay a glove on Penguin, unlike Aquaman in the Sea King's book. The art on the heroes is okay, but everyone else suffers, and the script is strictly for the birds

Super Powers Collection 10: Lex Luthor (DC/Kenner, 1983, Free With Purchase)
I suppose Wonder Woman still felt a bit burned about missing half her book, so she took over half of Luthor’s. The criminal scientist kidnaps the president during a parade, so the Amazing Amazon lassos his Lex-Soar Seven (figures sold separately.) Poor Diana gets smashed against one building after another, determined not to lose the president, but unable to right her circumstances. An emergency signal alerted Superman, but as soon as he arrived, he was snared by the kryptonite claw action feature on the Lex-Soar Seven vehicle. His limp body dumped into the ocean, the Man of Squeal signals his Supermobile (Parents: it’s the perfect gift for boys aged 4 and up this holiday season!) Bad enough Superman is leaning on his crutch accessory all the time, but the guy couldn’t even retain consciousness long enough to hop into it. Good thing there’s a shadowy figure swimming toward him…

Meanwhile, Wonder Woman has managed to control herself and “water ski” while Luthor demands the president abdicate his office or “My Lex-Soar 7 will destroy Washington, D.C…” The Princess of Paradise Island nearly drug herself up her lasso when Luthor appeared to shoot her with a laser pistol. Some days, you just can’t win for losing! At least she provided distraction enough so that a whale could leap out of the ocean and crash into Luthor’s aircraft. In the confusion, Superman flew under his own power to catch the president, while Wonder Woman made sure to get her hands on Lex. “I want him in good shape to serve his prison sentence!” As for the whale, Superman made it even more obvious, “there’s the hero of the day- - Aquaman, king of the seven seas!”

Lex Luthor let out a “bah,” something like his third line in the book carrying his name. At least his ship acquitted itself, and the heroes were well handled. Aquaman seems to fare best as a surprise guest, even if it's kinda lame, especially when his only power appears to be supervising marine life. A good story overall, but hey, how about that useless Supermobile, eh?

Super Powers Collection 11: Green Lantern (DC/Kenner, 1983, Free With Purchase)
The Joker-Mobile burst into the Coast City Civic Center to kidnap an ace pilot, and while Hal Jordan could do nothing, Green Lantern was on the case! Literally. Hal used deductive reasoning and considered seriously the motivations of a psychotic mind. Yeah, didn’t read like Hal to me either, but he made a darned fine Batman with a power ring. Might also explain why this was a second adventure teaming, of all people, the Emerald Gladiator with Robin the Boy Wonder. I say boy because the Joker of course gets the drop on him, sticking GL with a hostage situation. I guess that’s one way to deal with a massive mismatch between hero and villain.

Really distinct art on this one, with some fantastic inking (Paris Cullins and Terry Austin?) The story was surprisingly strong, with the “y” word never coming up.

Super Powers Collection 12: Hawkman (DC/Kenner, 1983, Free With Purchase)
Birds make off with antiques from Carter Hall’s museum, scratching up and ignoring Hawkman as he asked “*Wheet wheet* My friends, stop your attack.” It's okay-- I snickered too. Suddenly, Aquaman’s appearances don’t seem remotely as lame. Rather than the Penguin, it's Lex Luthor behind the attack, and his Lex-Soar 7 disables the Winged Wonder’s anti-gravity belt. Good lord, leave the guy with some dignity! Next you’ll castrate poor Carter with his friggin’ mace!

A giant green trampoline saves Hawkman, and there’s the familiar simpleton Hal Jordan we all tolerate again! Green Lantern and the Flash were both in Midway City pursuing Luthor, though the Scarlet Speedster was soon snared in an energy net. To fend off the attack birds, the Emerald Gladiator creates dozens of individual though identical cages. God, what a waste of a perfectly good power ring.

Anyway, Hawkman gets fixed up and blows Lex... out of the sky. The Lex-Soar 7 hits the drink, and somehow, Aquaman doesn’t show up. Lex said “Bah!” Someone buy Lex a slang dictionary. We could use a “drat” or a “shnickey” for variety’s sake. The story doesn’t make much sense, but the art was quality, and reminded me of work from the ‘70s Philippino invasion.

Super Powers Collection 13: Steppenwolf (DC/Kenner, 1984, Free With Purchase)
Woo-hoo! We're now in the second wave of Super Powers figures, offering a much greater variety of characters, especially villains! Here, the story opens with Red Tornado, Dr. Fate and Wonder Woman as guests of the Pentagon to observe war games. Steppenwolf and his dog cavalry turned the games real, as these Apokolipsian raiders could conceivably take over the nation. "Bah! What need does the great Darkseid have for your puny country-- when he can rule your entire planet!" Clearly, Steppenwolf has been hanging with that bahsturd, Lex Luthor.

The typically useless Red Tornado helped explain that Steppenwolf's Electro-Axe could hack the Pentagon's computers in every sense of the word, then got choked out like the wimpbot he is. Dr. Fate really steps up to mystically avert a nuclear winter, Wonder Woman holds her own, and Steppenwolf plays as a major badass. I guess Boom Tubes were replaced by the Star Gate here, allowing for a Darkseid cameo.

I'm really curious if the potent art was heavy with swipes or featured round robin inking. There are panels that recall Sal Buscema, Joe Kubert, and Carmine Infantino, which makes for an exceptional mini-comic.

Super Powers Collection 14: Martian Manhunter (DC/Kenner, 1984, Free With Purchase)
DeSaad runs around with a fear machine because he's a creepy sadist, but covers his kink by proclaiming his undying devotion to Darkseid. Martian Manhunter and Wonder Woman take offense, but are put on defense, so they call on Firestorm for help. The Nuclear Man said something that I assume through context clues was supposed to be a funny, but this booklet must have been scripted by a Vulcan.

The heroic trio battle Darkseid, the book's star is given a chance to shine and show off (some) of his main powers, the art is solid, and there's even a subtle-ish product placement for the Delta Probe One with detachable Criminal Capture Pod.

Super Powers Collection #15: Doctor Fate (1984) (DC/Kenner, 1984, Free With Purchase)
This story opens with Kent Nelson in pompous mystic meditative mode, so we know the lead's in character. Superman and Martian Manhunter show up at his place for a surprise visit, turning Dr. Fate into a total geek. 'Ooooo, check out my 3,000 year old Egyptian artifact... Don't you think I'm cool enough to rate a Post-Crisis relaunch with a name creator?" Nope, you get José Antonio Muñoz-influenced Giffen and later, Shawn McManus. I don't mean to be hard on Fate, who has a great costume and lots of potential, but he's in typical stuffed shirt mode here. On the plus side, the booklet's art also takes cues from Keith Giffen's early '80s pre-Muñoz period, and the Kirby/Ditko hybrid suits him well.

Anyway, the Kryptonian and Martian are mentally possessed by Darkseid and DeSaad, giving the Doctor a chance to show how big league his powers are. Say, does Dr. Fate have any nicknames? Seriously-- stupid, alliterative nicknames are an important part of iconic super-heroes. No wonder the Master of the Mystic Arts, that Sorcerer Supreme Dr. Strange has always gotten more face time.

The two aliens attack the mystic, but Fate works his mojo on them, and ends up on top. The Doctor didn't do all the heroic work, but enough to come off well. The dialogue is pretty lousy in this one, and the art only serviceable for what amounts to an extended, Marvel-style misunderstanding fight.

Super Powers Collection 16: Firestorm (DC/Kenner, 1984, Free With Purchase)
Firestorm and Green Arrow test the Delta Probe over New York. Shag will have to help me on this, but it seems like the writer had only a very loose idea of what the Nuclear Man's powers were. He creates rings of fire like the Human Torch here, then turns radio transmission "residue" into a trail of breadcrumbs to be followed over a long distance in midair. Forget super-powers, I'm now questioning the writer's command of grade school science.

The Statue of Liberty is treated to yet another disfiguration, courtesy of Mantis. The Kirby villain is a lot more impressive looking as redesigned for this line, but I'd have to break out my Who's Who to see if his powers were handled correctly. There's a cameo by Superman, and Green Arrow has a brief moment to shine. This is mostly Firestorm's show, and okay at that.

Critical reviews of every Super Powers Collection mini-comic:


The Irredeemable Shag said...

First, you are THE MAN for covering all the mini-comics. Wow! Great job! I like your synopsis and commentary format. Great job.

Second, I gotta agree with you about the Firestorm comic. It barely scratched the surface of his abilities, and the rings of fire were pretty much out of character. However, I like the wisecracks and transmutation stuff.

Third, I still think the Doctor Fate comic was odd. He was way too chatty and the Superman/Martian Manhunter possession thing was weak. However, Doctor Fate's actions in the Kalibak comic are the freakiest of all (illusions of monster Superman????).

The Irredeemable Shag

Diabolu Frank said...

Indeed-- those Super Powers Fate appearances were wacky (Fighting street thugs? Really?) However, his prominence and maneuverability here make me think a real opportunity was missed in managing Fate as a more commercially viable character.


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