Blue Devil #5 (October, 1984)

So, Zatanna and Dan let Nebiros out of his demon dimension and he disappeared off to Mexico. That’s not great. From the Justice League station in orbit, we get our last glimpse of the now suspiciously legless Ralph Dibny (with also a pretty horror comic-looking shot of Ralph’s face–thanks Paris and Gary!)

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The cover wasn’t a lie, either (strange as its phrasing was), as the Mexican military does appear, with Thunderbolt Ross’s Mexican twin running it (which earns a nice look of complete incredulity from Dan). Nebiros’s approach to their air force is to use his mystic powers to disassemble their jets in mid-air (oh, great!), leading Dan and Zatanna to the conclusion (okay, technically they already arrived at it) that they’re the only hope for pushing back Nebiros.

Well, them and Norm, but more on that later.

We get a random interlude of the Monitor and Lyla (I have no idea who Lyla is) watching this battle take place, where the enraptured Lyla seems to really like the look of Dan.

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The Monitor, however, is praising the following actions–another one of Paris’s trademark follow-the-acrobatics panels:

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A lot of the point here seems to be some establishing of future Blue Devil stuff: Dan gets his trident back (Zatanna insists this is the tool that is making Nebiros most unstoppable), and we get a quick glimpse of something rather weird happening as a result, which is definitely not any kind of foreshadowing, even if Norm randomly explicitly reminds us of it later on in this issue. Clearly, some kind of one-off oddity that will never come up again.

Dig those eyebrows, though.

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Dan’s continued reluctance to be anything but a stuntman is met with a palpable eyeroll from Zatanna, who clearly thinks he should be a hero, and also probably a few other things she could think of, which gives us this great nod back to Lyla’s comment, as well as an inventive use of Dan’s horns:
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But all of this is secondary. Sure, we’ve got further developments with Jock Verner, as Marla both sticks it to him at his office (though still not face-to-face, probably just to preserve the Jock Verner Mystery™) and reveals to nephew Gopher (hey, it’s Gopher! But where’s Wayne?!) that her real name is Marlene Bloomberg and she’s from Syracuse. Well, okay then!

Still: secondary, at best.

The real star of this issue is first mistaken for the Mexican Air Force, when the plane carrying said hero drops them onto the battlefield:

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Yes! It’s Norm! Norm the fearless battle action hero!–Over his shock at Marla’s request that he return to the island, he’s here to kick ass and take names.

Hell, Dan is feeling a bit rough from the battle with Nebiros, enough to worry Zatanna just a bit about his state, but Norm doesn’t care. Norm, instead, poses for a cover action shot like a badass.

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Where’s the Norm Paxton spin-off?

Also, seriously, I almost included three or four more panels of Norm double-fisting camera and gun and caring nothing for the demons and superheroes warring around him in the interest of Marla’s wacky b-roll footage.

If I’m not mistaken, the next issue is the last with Paris Cullins (alas!), so we’ll have to see what happens after that. Unlike the blog that inspired me, I’ve not actually read these before. I thought about reading ahead, but fell asleep instead, so I guess I’ll just stick with things like this!

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