Blue Devil #4 (September, 1984)

Well, I can’t lie. That cover’s a bit of a surprise–I didn’t expect to see Nebiros again, at least not so soon. This is also one of my first real reads of Zatanna, considering I saw her briefly whilst reading <i>Hellblazer</i> if memory serves (it would have been a Mike Carey issue, most likely), and that’s all¹. Certainly, I’ve never seen anything pre-Crisis–though that’s a fair assessment of the great majority of my D.C. reading, after my intended “Green Lantern from the beginning” reading project hit something like #2 and I realized I’d probably be forced to lobotomize myself to continue to successfully.

Anyway!

Dan’s gone off with Superman, who has alleged that he has someone who might be able to help with the occult-ish bonding of his costume (I guess the cover spoiled that one for us. Thanks, cover.) First, he introduces him to Ralph Dibny, though–because who else would you want to meet from the Justice League but The Elongated Man? (Please, don’t answer) Ralph does not wiggle his nose (I don’t know, was that a Giffen/DeMatteis-exclusive? Write in and tell!), but we also, interestingly, never see his legs. Apparently he just stretches his torso until his arms and head are where he wants to be and never moves them at all. C’mon, Ralph. Your legs are going to atrophy!

Dan, though, wants to first test his power in-costume, so he challenges Superman to arm-wrestling with…predictable results.

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After making a fool of himself, in walks Zatanna (in a pose that is undeniably intended to show off her physique–naughty, naughty, Paris! Even if it was successful!) so that he can make a fool of himself all over again. And, honestly, a bit of a creep. I’m not prone to explicitly making that judgment, but dear lord…the look on his face as he’s looking down at her–while they both perhaps get their entire field of vision covered in red and black Dibny-body.

Of course, Dan’s witty compliment (though he’s not wrong, and I have no idea why she has a millipede hugging her head) turns to Zatanna actually looking kind of badass, and Dan looking the fool as she attempts to un-bond his suit from him without success (sweet Dr. Strange hand signs, Paris!²)blue devil 04-07

The solution? Go and see Nebiros, and ask him politely to undo what he did. Yes, Zatanna, you definitely sound like an expert at dealing with demons. I’d say you’re better off asking the not-quite-existent Constantine, but you’d probably just end up stuck with Nebiros on similarly bad advice. It just would have been knowingly bad.

They learn this from a book that is clearly still writing itself (slash being written by…Them. So that’s what Van Morrison was doing between Inarticulate Speech of the Heart and A Sense of Wonder.) I’ve got to call out inker Gary Martins and colorist Michele Wolfman here–this book looks really great. Martins darkens and strengthens those outers and Wolfman lightens the palette to match so we end up with a neat-looking book of Shrinky Dinks.

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Once they’ve returned to the island (Île du Diable, of course!) and entered the portal to Nebiros’s realm, Paris gets to flex some unexpected Jim Starlin-mindscape imagery–though it’s a little bit different in its weirdness–as Dan this time goes to Nebiros’s territory.

Naturally, this all turns out wonderfully, as Dan politely says, “Mr. Nebiros, sir, Dark Lord of All That Is, would you kindly return me to my human self?” Kind of a short issue, honestly.

No, I’m lying, of course. Dan does make an attempt, but his anger over Nebiros’s use of his Trident (despite the cover of #2, he actually hasn’t had or used it since #1) causes him to lose his cool and brilliantly start a fight with an incredibly powerful demon, who also now has a demonically-powered version of his trident. Nebiros, thankfully, is pretty dense, and takes a very long time to realize that his “little brother” is not on his side at all. He finally takes off amidst this to attack actual populations by flying off with his Trident of Evil.

Great job, Blue Devil and Zatanna!

Meanwhile, Sharon is angry at Marla for giving Dan that C&D over wearing the costume in public, but she finds out he flew off with Superman only after she gives Norm some awesome news:

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Lucky Norm (who’s flown to the island by Asyetunnamed Pilot, Esq.) not only manages to reach the island that of course won’t still have demons rampaging across it (because who would let the demons back out like a moron?!) but misses a ride out of there when Dan and Zatanna appear and teleport away to stop Nebiros before Norm and Pilot are even seen. Poor Norm.

In other news: where the hell is Wayne?!

¹Okay, I also read Identity Crisis, but, around here, we like to pretend that garbage doesn’t exist.

²I don’t actually know if Strange did it first, or someone else entirely. I’m not attempting to assign credit anyway, I just don’t think I saw–in my brief little experience–Zatanna use hand signs for spells before, and forever associate them with Strange.

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