Tuesday, August 30, 2016

1st Issue Special #12 (1976)

1st Issue Special #12 (March, 1976)
Writer/Editor - Gerry Conway
Artists - Mike Vosburg & Mike Royer
Cover Price: $0.30

Got a bit of a late start on this one.  Found myself pretty ill over the past couple of days, and somehow wound up sleeping entirely through yesterday.  Guess the body knows what it needs, right?

Today we're going to discuss the first appearance of a character I think most think is from the 1990's.  Mikaal Tomas was a part of the post-Zero Hour James Robinson penned Starman series... and it was the first time I'd ever seen (or heard) of him.  It was interesting to learn that he had actually been around almost two full decades before that!

So lets find out just where the blue Starman came from, shall we?


We open with a ship crashing in the Bronx late one night.  It is mistakenly thought to be a meteor.  The lone inhabitant of the vessel is a blue-skinned man with a very timely mid-70's haircut and low cut top... too bad he doesn't have a tuft of chest hair peeking out the top!  He hops away from the wreckage and into a wonderfully seedy Bronx neighborhood... where he gets jumped by some jamokes.  Here we learn that our visitor is quite adept at fighting, may have some enhanced senses, and might not bleed when he's cut.

In the moments following the crash, emergency personnel swarm the wreckage... including a pair of officers and one Air-Force Colonel.  Col. MacGruder calls off the inspection, and claims that he's "got it from here".  I'm guessing Conway was trying to make the military man look uptight during this scene, but unfortunately he didn't do enough to ingratiate either side of this to the reader/me.  Either way, it's all a moot point.  The ship explodes... killing Inspector Dave Clarson.

We shift to Clay's Grocery Store, where our gibberish-speaking visitor wanders in.  Shop owner, Frank Clay aims his rifle at our man who, as a defensive measure lets forth some sort of sonar beam from the amulet he wears around his neck.  This causes the rifle to disappear... and our man to slump down unconscious.  Frank decides against calling the police, and instead gives him a bed for the night.

We shift to a domed city on the Moon where Billy Batson is reporting on the world-wide cupcake disappearance epidemic er, Master Komak is going on a rampage because someone he calls Mikaal Tomas has gotten away.  He kills the poor schlub who failed to capture/execute him... and then we meet Lady Cormell.  She's drawn to look far too nice to be a baddie... but, she be bad.

She asks what Komak's plans are for the Tomas situation.  He points to a Mind-Slaver called Turran Kha who has the power to crush a chair... which I suppose is quite impressive on the Moon.  He will surely bring Mikaal to justice!

We rejoin Mikaal as he is having a nightmare.  He is dreaming about his last conversation with his lover Lyysa... hmm... well, to be fair, it is never said outright that they were lovers... just what I took from the scene.  Anyhoo... here we learn that their Mind Council has picked Earth for enslavement.  Lyysa cannot abide by such juju, and has decided to become a revolutionary.  Sadly, her revolution last about... 30 seconds... she gets shot dead just a few feet outside the front door.

Now, Mikaal loses it!  He starts pounding the trigger-man into hamburger.  Just as he's choking the baddie out. he gets *bunnt*ed on the back of his head by another member of the Council.  He is than taken to stand before the big-wigs for sentencing.  They are giving him the same sentence they would have given Lyysa... had she lived.  Mikaal shockingly tells them to "burn in hell"... which ya don't see often in Code-Approved books... it's usually "go to blazes" or something or the like.

He is shackled and led to his final fate... when he is able to escape.  Truly the Mind Council has some of the most incompetent and inept guards.  I mean, this dude's got his arms shackled, and he takes them out without a problem.  He uses one of their dropped ray guns to free himself of his bindings.

Around now the Clay's wake Mikaal up.  They've got a big bowl of something for him to eat.  From here, we find out that Mikaal speaks English and can communicate with his new pals.  He explains that all of his kind were required to learn English to prepare for the invasion of Earth.  He continues by spilling the beans on what brought him here.

Ruth Clay excuses herself to... er, make a cake... yeah, that's it... gotta make that cake... and Mikaal's starman-sense starts tingling.  He figures she's going to call the cops, so he (after thanking Frank for his hospitality) takes his leave.  In the moments that follow, we find that Ruth wasn't calling the police... she was calling a hospital to get Mikaal some treatment.

We shift scenes to Clarson's funeral (man, that was quick!), where his partner Sgt. O'Donnell has another run-in with jerkface MacGruder.  The Colonel takes the Sarge to the Harlem River where another of those creepy exploding space planes has been located.  Conway has MacGruder check off another box in the cliche list by having him suggest that the man on board may be... dun dun dun... a spy!  If only it was that easy, Kernel.

We wrap up our tale with Mikaal observing his new environment.  He notes that it is quite similar to his own... the differences are so small, they may as well be non-existent.  While his mind wanders... he is jumped by Turran Kha, who helpfully introduces himself as he begins pounding away on him.  The issue closes with the pair getting ready to face off... if you're interested in seeing how this one winds up... you're going to need a time machine, and some stamps!


A decent enough origin story... if not a bit contrived.  It feels as though we've read this before.  Like, this is some well-trodden ground... very much been there, done that.  Perhaps that's unfair, being as though this is a forty (!) year-old comic at this point.  Maybe the peaceful rebel of a warring planet wasn't as tropey back then.

What really struck me about this was the art.  It's really quite wonderful.  The character designs, and even the work on the civilians looks great.  Looking at Lady Cormell, she's almost too "pretty" to be evil.  I thought for sure she's come around by the end.

This, like many/most/nearly all of the 1st Issue Special books really makes me wonder if DC really thought this concept could actually maintain an ongoing (or even limited) series.  I mean, I like the character... but all I know of him is from almost twenty-years after this issue came out... and even then, I doubt he could carry a series.

Overall, worth a look for the novelty.  A decent first-half of a first chapter... I'll have to reread my Robinson run to see if Master Komak, Turran Kha, Lady Cormell and this first adventure get a shout in there.


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