Wednesday, September 19, 2018

017. It's a mad, mad, mad, mad promethean galaxy! (Super-Team Family 15)

This and all images owned by DC Comics.
As 1977 gave way to 1978, it seemed clear that the revival of the New Gods was already wheezing towards an end. Return of the New Gods seemed to publish less and less issues, even as Gerry Conway's regular writing assignments seemed to increase. Super-Team Family was a team up title at DC, and once again the New Gods arrive just in time to end a series. I surmise this arrival was designed to try to ignite interest as sales dwindled and the DC Implosion loomed, but that's just my conjecture. Let's get to the book itself.

It starts off amazingly well with a wonderful Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez (praise be his name) cover. The interiors open with Flash and Lightray speeding around a planet, but as we move to the two page splash we find out this isn't a planet at all: it's the ever expanding body of Orion! We also get our creator credits with Gerry Conway on the story, Arvell Jones on pencils and the great Romeo Tanghal inking.

Metron arrives, but neither the New Gods or the human they've recruited for his scientific knowledge understand the sudden change in the catatonic Orion. Flash uses his speed powers to attune to the frequency of the Mother Box providing an atmosphere around Orion and himself as he seeks to find answers. With it, he finds an entry point into the giant Orion, but stumbles onto "a world of wires, circuitry, and crystals!" He seeks to use his speed powers to follow the processes in the giant circuit, in search of answers. Why Flash doesn't question why the giant god seems to be made of machinery can only be explained by "it's comics."

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

016. A new meaning to the never-ending battle! (Mister Miracle 22)

Behind a Marshall Rogers cover, this issue starts with a dramatic statement by Scott Free: "I must kill Darkseid, Oberon! ...And the sooner, the better!"

"Midnight of the Gods" is brought to us once again by the Englehart / Rogers team, together in this book for the final time. Englehart uses his John Harkness alias here, a name he's turned to a few times when he's unhappy with the direction he's forced to take on a book he's leaving. This doesn't appear to be an editorial issue though as often was the case later when he used the Harkness name. Englehart explains on his website: "Because I didn't think it measured up to my previous issues, I put my pseudonym, John Harkness, on it... Here, it meant only that I didn't think I met my own standard."

He also explains that he dashed this issue out in one day as he prepared to leave the country. The rush nature also might be apparent from the presence of two inkers over Rogers: Rick Bryant and John Fuller. 

Moving back to our story, Oberon meets Free's declaration with humor. He jokes that he must mean they need some rest, as they're the only two men on all of Apokolips fighting the good fight. But before their conversation can finish, they're attacked by soldiers dressed somewhere between Imperial Stormtroopers and 80s era Brainiac cosplayers. He slips free of their grasps though and grabs one of their guns. By the time they realize he escaped, he's blasting them with one of their own weapons!

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

015. Lonar versus the misdrawn demons of Apokolips! (Return of the New Gods 15)

Cover art by Rich Buckler, who finds his ways into the interior this time as well!
After a month long digression into the world of Mister Miracle we finally continue the Return of the New Gods with issue 15. Gerry Conway is back on writing duties, while Don Newton takes a break to allow regular cover artist Rich Buckler to take the interiors with the always impressive Bob McLeod on inks.

Buckler doesn't have quite the same chops as Newton, but his work features an interesting mix of Kirby and Neal Adams that works quite well for the gods of New Genesis. His art shines as we open the story with a New God we rarely saw in Kirby's own work: Lonar.

If you remember from way back in issue 12 (Newer Gods 008), Lonar was the chosen protector for Nomak, the Eskimo that held a part of the Anti-Life Equation locked in his mind.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

014. Scott Free of Apokolips, or The Day Darkseid created the Terminators (Mister Miracle 21)

All images copyright DC Comics. 
This issue of Mister Miracle kicks off with an interesting credits box, as it declares the Englehart / Rogers team as direct from Detective Comics. It seems even during this low selling era of Batman books, that title still sold better than our faithful New God hero. Vince Colletta returns for inks, immediately making me wonder how much better this might have looked with a better inker. Few could match Terry Austin on that Detective run, but Vinnie isn't exactly the best guy to embellish a detail-oriented artist like Rogers.

Our new tale kicks off on New Genesis. As you might recall before the insane digression into the Brave and the Bold alternate universe, Big Barda fell back under Granny's control. Now she apparently is dying, her mind damaged by the meddling inside her brain.

Scott storms off, adamant he must find a way to save her. This leaves Oberon and Highfather to have a fascinating conversation about the nature of their relationships with Mister Miracle. Oberon's weird father / sidekick role has always made him fascinating and it's used to great effect here.

Meanwhile, Scott confronts Himon about the secrets kept about the true nature of his powers. Himon reveals it was all pre-ordained. Orion needed New Genesis to tame his dark soul, while Scott would go to Apokolips to harden his soul before his powers came to flourish. It's an interesting take on the characters, although the scene is marred at the end, where Scott refers to Barda as his mortal wife. Sounds like no prize territory to me.