Hey, my birthday is this weekend!! This special occasion begs the question: what was going on in the DCU during your birthmonth? An ifanboy.com article alerted me to this website, which can answer that very question.
I was born on February 18th, 1980. Frustratingly, even though the 18th fell on a Wednesday that year, no comics seemed to be released on my birthday itself. Everything came out on either the 11th or the 25th! I don’t know if DC took a week off from publishing to celebrate my momentous birth, or if they just put out comics on a biweekly basis back then or what, but it’s sad to learn that Batman wasn’t doing jackshit on my birthday. Anyway, the point is that I’ll be concentrating on my birthmonth, instead of my birthday or even birthweek. So, what was going on during February, 1980? Well…
The first thing I noticed was that it must have been the 1950’s in 1980, because war comics, horror comics, and anthology titles of the “weird” variety all seemed to be huge!
Who knew?? Probably a lot of people, but I didn’t! And that’s without even counting Batman’s brave and bold team-up with Sgt. Rock:
But putting aside all those ghouls, gauchos and GI’s, what were the real heroes up to in February 1980? I illegally downloaded a couple of issues so I could find out! Let’s start with Wonder Woman #267:
Animal Man!! I totally fell in love with this character due to Grant Morrison’s revival title, as well as his role in 52, but I think this is the first pre-reimagining Animal Man story I’ve read. Anyway, I think I’m jumping into the middle of a story arc here, because we begin with Wonder Woman flying her invisible plane over a jungle. She must be in the African Veldt, right? GUESS AGAIN, ASSHOLE!
Suddenly a fighter plane appears and opens fire on Wonder Woman’s invisoplane! It turns out that this Veldt is heavily protected by The Cartel!! Not sure what The Cartel is? Neither was I, but luckily the DC Database wiki is very helpful and informative on this matter, as you can see. Anyway, whatever the fucking Cartel is, Wonder Woman shoots its plane to shit and lands so she can collect her prisoner. But wait…
If you’ve ever read a comic book with more than one superhero who aren’t already best friends, you can probably guess what happens next. Wonder Woman thinks Animal Man is working for The Cartel, and Animal Man thinks Wonder Woman is working for The Cartel, and they beat the shit out of each other for a little while. Animal Man channels the power of elephants and gazelles, but that’s not enough to match up to Wonder Woman’s brilliant and strategic counterattack:
The first law of motion is that for every Spakrakko, there is an equal and opposite Yunnnnn, so Animal Man goes down hard. As with every superhero team-up story, once these two stop rock-tossing and elephant-charging long enough to actually talk for two seconds, they realize they’re on the same side and introductions are exchanged. Animal Man explains and demonstrates his powers, and Wonder Woman laughs right in his face!
Animal Man recounts his origin story (exploding UFO, animal powers, failed superhero career, stuntman dayjob, bla bla bla), and then Wonder Woman asks the million dollar question:
I’d like to stop a moment here to talk about narration boxes in comic books, which seem phased out for the most part nowadays. In most current stories (particularly Batman titles) narration has been replaced with the “inner monologue” of the character the action is currently focused on, which to me seems way less awkward. So it’s always interesting for me to see how and when writers used this technique in older comic books. For instance, in this case, the narration box you see above is the first one to appear in the entire comic book! After 11 pages of non-narrated action, all of a sudden an omniscent voice descends from the heavens to let us know how jocular and boyish he thinks Animal Man is. It’s really fucking weird.
Anyway, Roger Denning is a dickhead screenwriter who coincidentally threatened to murder the director of the film he wrote, immediately before the guy actually got murdered. When Denning was accused of the crime, Animal Man set out to clear his douchebag friend’s name, and discovered that The Cartel were actually behind the murder. With motivating factors fully established, Animal Man and Wonder Woman begin searching for The Cartel‘s secret hideout, which the former quickly locates by using the amazing sniffing powers of hyenas.
Ugh, this is dull as fuck. To sum it all up, they go into the Cartel’s underground base, dodge some booby trap lasers, fight some thugs, find a big map, and then the story gets to be concluded.
Man, even the delightful Animal Man couldn’t save that boring story from putting me to sleep. Happy fucking birthday to me! Stay tuned for tomorrow, when we’ll find out if DC Comics Presents #21 (featuring Superman and the late Elongated Man) is a bit more stimulating!