Friday, January 6, 2012

Comic Reader Résumé: Spring-Summer, 1982

ré·su·mé [rez-oo-mey, rez-oo-mey]
1. a summing up; summary.
2. a brief written account of personal, educational, and professional qualifications and experience, as that prepared by an applicant for a job.

March, 1982 was a decidedly off month for me. My copy of Conan the Barbarian #135 by Steven Grant, Mark Silvestri & Josef Rubinstein came out of a grocery store three pack purchased by my father four or five years after publication. I probably bought The Saga of Swamp Thing #2, but only because I was a sucker for photo covers, and that might have just come out of a cheapie bin as late as 1989. I have no recollection of either story.

I definitely picked The Warlord #58-61, because I was really into Mike Grell's riff on The Man in the Iron Mask. I'm just as confident I bought them a year or two after the fact at the flea market, and that I could never force myself to read the Arion back-ups.

By comparison, April of 1982 was boffo. DC Comics Presents #47 came home with me because it was the first Masters of the Universe comic book tie-in, and I was totally into He-Man at the time. Paul Kupperberg's story was okay, I guess, but I totally hated the art by Curt Swan and Mike DeCarlo. I could have sworn Skeletor was killed when He-Man threw his sword into the villain's chest, so I was confused when he turned back up again in another comic. When Conan stabbed somebody, they tended to stay dead. I always found super-heroes mingling with licensed properties weird, and I was somehow savvy enough even then to recognize instances like this where it occurred. I have absolutely no memory of the back-up, "Whatever Happened to Sandy the Golden Boy?"

The Rose and the Thorn had an origin recap in The Brave and the Bold #188, and the multiple personality disorder feminist angle tripped out my unsophisticated brain. The cover and interiors by Jim Aparo were striking, and writer Robert Kanigher had me hooked with the title, "A Grave as Wide as the World." The Nemesis back-up by Cary Burkett and Dan Spiegle was less impressive, as I found the art ugly and a disservice to the reservedly cool look of Nemesis, sort of a Steve McQueen type.

I recall looking through a buddy's copy of Marvel Fanfare #3 with the sweet Michael Golden art, which was likely my introduction to Ka-Zar and the Savage Land. I also really dug my pal's Avengers #221 because of the novel voting ballot cover to select two new team members. I distinctly recall reading Avengers #222 at the beauty salon where my grandmother got her hair done. The team of Jim Shooter, Steven Grant, Greg LaRocque & Brett Breeding did a fine job by my standards, as I retained a soft spot for Masters of Evil Moonstone and Tiger Shark for years. I especially thought Whirlwind was cool, aside from the dippy helmet, because he could deal so much damage while protected by his tornado. Egghead was the odd man out, a wimpy scientist amongst scary villains.

I guess I was a bimonthly reader. I don't believe I bought anything in May, except perhaps the second part of the Rose & Thorn team-up in The Brave and the Bold #189. Just as likely, I fished it out of a back issue box years later. It had nazis, who were pretty ubiquitous thanks to Raiders of the Lost Ark, but it didn't not stick to my brain like the first part.

You would think a kid set loose for the summer would be all over comic books, but these were pretty much dead months to me. In June, I only picked up Weird War Tales #115, around the time the Creature Commandos feature merged with G.I. Robot. Robert Kanigher and Fred Carrillo crafted the affecting tale "You Can't Pin a Medal on a Robot," which impressed me with its stoicism and depressed me with its pathos. Those poor disabled soldiers, fighting for countries that dubbed them freaks and sent them off on suicide missions.

My one new comic for July was Batman Annual #8, which I pulled off a spinner rack at Gemco. I was fascinated by "The Messiah of the Crimson Sun" by Mike W. Barr and Trevor Von Eeden. I had never seen art or coloring like that before, the latter provided by Lynn Varley of eventual The Dark Knight Returns fame. It was beautiful, striking, and had scope of apocalyptic magnitude, up to and including the appearance of a Christlike figure. It was my first Rā's al Ghūl story, who remains one of my favorite villains, Batman or otherwise. Of course, any time I read a Rā's story of less grandeur or with art inferior to the high standards set here, I feel the creators are just plain doing it wrong. I still have my original copy, sans cover and some early pages, plus a complete reading copy. This was the first "graphic novel" I ever read in terms of feel and quality, despite it simply being an annual. Has DC ever collected all the '80s Barr Ra's stories in a trade paperback? I'd much prefer to see something like this in a hardcover than the umpteenth repackaging of Alan Moore stories. I guess that I was so bowled over, I skipped August entirely.

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