When I decided on this comic for review, I realized shortly thereafter that is was from the same year, and only a month away from the previous Reviews of Old Comics article. So what makes 1984 so ripe for memorable comics to review? Yes, I know that technically, this and the previous comics were actually from late 1983, but in the zeitgeist, if the cover is dated 1984, we tend to view it as being from 1984. This was the year that brought us the first Secret Wars and DC's Super Powers, which were some of the first big crossover comics with toy lines. Alan Moore's first issues of Saga of the Swamp Thing are from this year, a definite turning point in comic books for more mature readers. This year also saw the debut of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which vitalized an independent comics market with hope that a small book could become vastly popular with fans. It also saw DC Comics launch its prestige format Baxter line, available only through comic shops, which probably marked the beginning of comic book shops becoming a destination for fans of comics, eventually supplanting the newsstand as the preferred outlet for new comic books. 1984 was a benchmark year, as it saw significant change in the comic book market and industry.
This week I’m actually presenting a review especially for the holiday season. There was a time, in 1992, when I was really engrossed in the DC Heroes Role-Playing Game. I even subscribed to Mayfair Games’ newsletter that about this time (as I recall, it could have been a later year) that among the new character
Went through the comics I remember reading as a kid and thought of this old issue of Justice League of America that impressed me. The image of super-heroes with wacky starfish attached to their faces has stuck with me to this day, making Starro one of my favorite JLA villains. It's probably this issue's striking cover that caught my eye as a kid, .
Wow. It's been a while, hasn't it? Let's skip the apologies and continue like nothing happened to keep me from reviewing old comics and sharing a love of the Legion of Super-Heroes. I even love the Legion when they shared their title with Superboy. I'm taking a break from reviewing every single issue put out in order and instead jumping to one that I remember getting at a discount store in a Whitman 3-Pack.
Batman Adventures #12 is the first appearance in comics of Harley Quinn. She actually debuted on the Batman Adventures animated series. The episode was "Joker's Favor", first airing on September 11, 1992. It was about a year later she showed up in a comic book, and that issue now sells for hundreds of dollars. She didn't actually enter the DC Universe for another seven years, but we're not talking about that comic, because this all about holy grails, and that holy grail is the first time Harley Quinn showed up in print.
Let's talk about where New Teen Titans turned a corner. Here is where the subplot of Terra infiltrating the Titans started building to the head that was the Judas Contract, which became the first major tragedy for the New Teen Titans. It changed them and set the stage for new characters and a shift away from the "Teen" Titans.
I was thinking about really great super-hero toy lines and thought instantly of the Super Powers toy line. Being the comic book guy here at Needless Essentials, I opted to look at the mini-series that came out at the same time. These aren't the little mini-comics that were included with some of the action figures. In deciding which issue to cover, I wanted to go with the first one that was drawn by Jack Kirby.
In light of recent developments that take this story out of DC Continuity, I'm going to depart from my normal practice and actually review an old comic that is still in print. You can go down your local comic shop and probably find a copy at cover price.
Let's see if we can't get this tradition of reviewing old comics started again with an issue of the short-lived Legion spin-off, Valor. When DC editorial decrees necessitated the Legion of Super-Heroes writing Superboy out of their history, the inspiration for the Legion's founding shifted to Mon-El, but renamed him Valor. This series followed the crossover event Eclipso which ended with a young Lar Gand earning the name Valor from Superman.
THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #2 September 1984 Let's continue with reviewing the Legion of Super-Heroes comics that helped hook me on comics. Here we continue with the five issue Legion of Super-Villains story. The super-villains are now a full-fledged Legion each with a sworn oath to kill a Legionnaire. The threat is much more dire than the last time that they showed up running a school for super-villains. Now, they have some really powerful and dangerous super-villains, some just recruited in the previous issue. While they have some Legion rejects, they have the power of Lightning Lord, Sun Emperor and the mad Daxamite Ol-Vir. Dream Girl has even had a vision of a Legionnaire dying, making this threat really foreboding.
This week's review of an old comic is All Star Squadron #22, part two of a long storyline that featured almost every Golden Age hero that DC had the rights to. It also featured them facing off against the Ultra-Humanite, who would later in the series pull in the children of the Justice Society, Infinity, Inc., in their very first appearance.
THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #1 August 1984 My reviews of the Legion of Super-Heroes comics that helped hook me not only on the Legion, but on comics as a whole continues. Today, we have the first issue of their series that featured printing on better paper that was initially sold only to comics shops. Yes, back in 1984, this was a big deal. At Marvel, when a comic went direct sales only, it was usually the kiss of death, but DC bet that comic shops and the direct sales market was the future for the industry. We'll argue the ramifications of that another time, but in 1984, this was a big deal. Unfortunately for me at the time, I was only thirteen at the time and did not know of a comic shop that wasn't two hours away. It would be almost a year before I would read this issue, but I'm reviewing it roughly as it came out, so the narrative is preserved.