DC Universe has been making waves lately with their exclusive shows Titans and Young Justice: Outsiders, which have been critically well-received. However, a feature of the service often overlooked is the ability to read back issues of various DC Comics.
We're back to the Legion of Super-Heroes stories that hooked me in the 1980's. With the story of the Legion of Super-Villains pretty much finished, we're shifting our view over to the newsstand title, Tales of the Legion. To be honest, I wasn't reading the Baxter title at the time this issue was published. I didn't have easy access to a direct market comic shop. I bought all of my comics from the newsstand. It wouldn't be until about a year later that I managed to snag a few copies at a nearby comic show at a shopping mall. A couple of years later, I would discover a direct market shop in that same nearby town.
As part of the very delayed best of 2018, I'm grouping the honorifics into categories that sometimes don't get explored. The creation of efforts by fans to engage with their passions is a part of the history of comics. It goes back before the Internet with Amateur Press Associations and fanzines. In 2018 I discovered, completely by happenstance, a fan effort that has gone on since 2015, the DC Continuity Project.
At Wal-Marts all over the country, DC Comics makes stories available featuring their greatest heroes. The general purpose seems to be to get comics in the hands of new readers, perhaps even those that do not have easy access to a comic book shop. The general public will read this as "kids," and in some cases, they're not far off. That's why it's disturbing that the original content offered up in Superman Giant #7 is literally twelve pages of Lois Lane being repeatedly tortured and murdered.
It's amazing whenever you see Batman go into cosmic or science fiction stories. That's not to say that it's necessarily bad, because sometimes it's really good. It shows the strengths of the character. In the Justice League, we often see Batman in situations that he should not be suited for. Somehow, he manages to show himself to be very adaptable. With Batman and the Outsiders, Batman gave up the more fantastic adventures for those that were more grounded. There were still threats that should have been outside of his skill set. Writer Mike W. Barr proved how adaptable Batman is. Even in the more grounded 1980s, Batman could be taken into space and fight other-dimensional beings. With issue #22, we also saw an artist join that would excel at telling these stories, Alan Davis. It was in that issue we got to see more than the team facing a cosmic threat illustrated by a new artist. We saw the beginnings of the rift between Batman and the Outsiders.
I've had a rough couple of weeks. The thing is that comic book creators have given me some lessons that help me cope with rough times like this. A professional might take issue (no pun intended) with some of these lessons, but they're what gets me to the next stage of dealing with rough patches. Legion of Super-Heroes is one of those titles that has always been something that I come back to over and over. One run that I really enjoy is referred to as the Five Years Late Legion, specifically the first 38 issues, shaped primarily by Keith Giffen and Tom and Mary Bierbaum. It was extremely dark in that the Earth had been covertly conquered by the Dominators. The Legion had disbanded, In almost every issue, there was some level of death and destruction. It'sonly fitting that this story should end with the destruction of Earth, even after it had been liberated with the help of two Legions.
I can here you now, “You’re reviewing an eight page preview comic? You’re getting really lazy. You just hate writing synopses.” First, kudos to you for knowing that “synopses” is the correct plural of synopsis. Second, yes writing the synopsis for a Review of Old Comics is the hardest part of writing this column. That
When last we covered the Legion of Super-Heroes that hooked me in the 1980's, Karate Kid heroically sacrificed himself to try to stop the Legion of Super-Villains. In this issue, we finally see how that went. However, given that Orando, the home world of his wife, Projectra, has been taken to a limbo between universes by the Villains, it might have been in vain. Of course, I didn't read this until several months, maybe years afterwards. I lived in a little town in western North Carolina at the time that didn't have a direct market comic shop. All of my comics were bought from the newsstand, most often a little convenience store called The Colonel's Pantry because of its proximity to a Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Last time, I reviewed an early issue of New Teen Titans. In it, I remarked about some changes George Pérez made over the years. I decided that rather than letting those lie, I would go and see if I was remembering right. (SPOILER: not entirely) The biggest difference is in the Inker. Dick Giordano inks George Pérez in a much different manner than Romeo Tanghal. Giordano was one of the best inkers ever in the history of comics. Whether or not he's better on Pérez than Romeo Tanghal is a matter for debate. However, the heights in the early issues of New Teen Titans were a little different than here. There wasn't much of an extreme as I remembered, but a lot of the difference is in how tall George Pérez draws Starfire's hair. Changeling is definitely shorter, or Cyborg is taller, just based on this issue. Nevertheless, let's get started by reviewing another comic from 1984, an influential year for comic books. This issue marks the start of the conclusion to a subplot that started in the second issue of New Teen Titans, marking a standard for betrayal stories in super-hero comics. Let's look at part one of "The Judas Contract."
The big release this month, at least where comics are concerned, was the launch of DC Universe. DC Universe is a streaming service hyped for its inclusion of lots of television and movies. Also included is a fair library of DC comic books going back to Action Comics #1. I like this inclusion, and it's one reason that I will most likely keep the service. There are a lot of holes, such as a dearth of Legion of Super-Heroes comics, and there's no efficient way to browse the titles available on my TV. On my phone I can see all of the available titles. Given that it just launched, I'm not terribly concerned. I trust that they will improve it. There are some gems, like both Prez series, including the excellent 2015 series by Mark Russell and Ben Caldwell. Naturally, it looks very Batman heavy right now, but with the new Titans television series set to debut soon, there are a lot of issues of Teen Titans available, including the first year of the landmark New Teen Titans series by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez. I wanted to go into this early period for the series, as it was at a point in George Pérez's development as an artist that the hallmarks of his style were developing. It's also good to get a look at a team that wasn't yet familiar with each other in the manner that has come to define the team. I also decided to look at an issue I have never read., since it's usually priced out of my reach. It's the first appearance of Deathstroke, the Terminator.
As I’ve said before, I’ve tried to keep a pattern to Reviews of Old Comics, but the last attempt to write a DC review that wasn’t the Legion was so daunting that it delayed the schedule for three weeks. For me to write these regularly, and have something every week, especially for Patreon supporters, it
Before I settled on this story of Terra betraying the Teen Titans, I really struggled figuring out what DC Comic to review this time around. My first choice was the infamous Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane #106. My wife wanted me to review something from the Golden Age, perhaps even the very first DC Comic. Golden Age comics from before the explosion of super-heroes are a mish-mosh of genres and stories. Then I wanted to do an issue of Adventure Comics featuring work by Alex Toth. Unfortunately, that also featured three other stories that I didn't care for. Finally, I decided on New Teen Titans #34. This was truly the beginning of The Judas Contract. A case could be made that it began from the moment Terra first appeared, this was where the readers were let in that the Terminator had a spy inside the Teen Titans. At this moment, whatever other story was happening, readers were waiting for the moment when Terra would betray the Titans or turn on the Terminator. I also need to note that I'm referring to him as the Terminator in this review. At this time, Slade Wilson almost solely went by the Terminator. He wouldn't be referred to solely as Deathstroke until well after the Judas Contract was done. By then, it was obvious that the James Cameron franchise was stronger than the reputation of this character in the comics.