Jun 16, 2017

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 842: DC Comics Presents #77, January 1985


The Forgotten Heroes return, having held a press conference to announce their presence as a superhero team to the world. Sadly it seems the name they choose becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, as this adventure, spanning this comic and the next, is the team's last appearance. There's a brief Crisis cameo by a few members, and then that's it.

It seems to me that the reason this kind of team fails ultimately, and why the characters themselves are not particularly memorable, is because they're very limited. Rick Flag is a typical Army special forces character. Cave Carson explores...well...caves (though I haven't read his current series, which sounds very weird). Dane Dorrance, the Sea Devil is even more water-bound than Aquaman, and lacks the powers. Congo Bill is kind of geographically limited. And Immortal Man can be killed. Remember Mr. I from the Great Lakes Avengers? This is an attempt at a serious take on him. Or Mr. I is a parodic take on Immortal Man. Anyway, the only two characters that have enough breadth of conception to carry a story are Dolphin and Animal Man. I'm pretty sure Dolphin becomes part of Aquaman's supporting cast, and we all know what happens with Animal Man. This breadth of conception is key for a superhero. Yes, Spider-Man has a limited set of powers based on his origin, but it doesn't limit the kinds of adventures he can get into. With a team like the Sea Devils, though, the audience is going to expect a particular kind of adventure, and then tire of it very quickly, I would think.

Once a character has this potential, it's simply a matter of exhausting all of the easy stories (i.e., stories to do with animals, or animal-based characters for Animal Man), and then take the character out of their comfort zone and start doing interesting things with them. The Animal Man series vacillates on this front, but for the most part steers away from telling easy stories.

Today's comic is good, and an interesting preceding piece for Morrison's final story in Animal Man, wherein he reunites Animal Man with some actually forgotten heroes in the realm of Limbo. This comic also features one of the many times Superman is transformed by a villain, this time becoming a fire-breathing dragon that is ultimately defeated by everyone's favourite orange-clad character with animal powers.

We'll finish up this story tomorrow, and then see where things go. To be continued.


Peter said...

You can see Dolphin in J.L TASK FORCE, with Wonder Woman, a wonderful story written by Peter David

Tom Miller said...

Thanks for the recommendation. According to my database, I have no (!) issues of that series in my collection. I'll add to the list (always-growing) of comics to keep an eye out for.