This will be a re-reading project for the series and character of Blue Devil. Included issues will be Fury of Firestorm #24, Blue Devil #1-31, Blue Devil Annual #1, Fury of Firestorm #46-47 and DC Comics Presents #96.
Blue Devil #13 - "Hooray For Hollywood!"
Cover Date: June 1985
Writer: Gary Cohn & Dan Mishkin
Artist: Alan Kupperberg
The Blue Devil has proclaimed himself ruler of this dimension. A couple of police officers approach him trying to pacify him, but he attacks them with his trident and destroys their car, stating that it's not real, as nothing bad ever happens in Hollywood.
A reporter on the scene attempts to interview Wayne, who tells her that Cassidy has gone off the deep end, but Marla interrupts telling her it's not Dan Cassidy.
Smithers and Rojek attempt to sneak away, leaving Shockwave there. They take off in their ship, but the Blue Devil spots them and shoots it out of the sky.
Meanwhile, Etrigan is on his way to Hollywood. He stops at a roadside diner for a quick bite before continuing his journey.
Sharon tells Norm that it's the trident that's making Danny act this way. The Blue Devil gets some popcorn and eats it, causing Shockwave to declare that he hates popcorn.
At this point, Green Lantern John Stewart shows up on the scene. He attacks the Blue Devil. The Blue Devil fights back, then sets the block on fire with yellow flames, Green Lantern's weakness. However, Stewart figures out a way to put the flames out. Norm notices that the Blue Devil seems to be fighting with his trident.
After the fires are out, John Stewart attacks again, but the Blue Devil sends his trident spinning around Green Lantern, disorienting him and causing him to fly out of control.
The reporter wants to interview Green Lantern, but another reporter shows up and wants to take over. Green Lantern has to save them both while they argue.
As the Blue Devil continues on his rampage, Norm gets an idea. He finds Danny's address book in his ruined tuxedo and calls up Zatanna. He's hoping it's actually the Justice League's number, and it is, only Vibe is the one who answers. Luckily, Zatanna is present, and when she hears the name Blue Devil she grabs the phone. Norm attempts to explain what's going on, but the Blue Devil destroys the pay phone he's using. However, Zatanna could sense the mystic energies over the phone and is on her way.
Sharon admonishes the Blue Devil for nearly killing Norm, and the Blue Devil seizes her as spoils of war. Wayne attempts to intervene, but the Blue Devil drives him away. Sharon tells the Blue Devil that there's nothing left of Danny at this point, and mentions the name Nebiros, causing the Blue Devil to briefly lose control of Danny's body. Fighting for control, he flings Sharon away, but Wayne catches her.
Marla realizes that Danny is fighting for control and tries to help him by reminding him of who he is, but the trident gains control again.
Meanwhile, Etrigan is still on his way, but he gets lost on the freeways.
Zatanna arrives on the scene, and she tells Green Lantern that she's responsible for the Blue Devil's current rampage, as she allowed him to keep the trident after they banished Nebiros to his demonic realm, not realizing the trident was a conduit for mystical energy from that realm. Danny is still fighting the Blue Devil, and he attacks Zatanna, but she's able to parry the attack.
Zatanna tells Danny to keep fighting, as that's the only thing that's allowing her fight on a level playing field with the Blue Devil. He attempts to throw the trident away, but it returns to him right away.
The trident appears to be on a collision course with Danny, and Sharon thinks he's committing suicide. It passes through his body, but Danny survives. However, although he's broken the trident's control, it's still a threat. It attacks the assembled superheroes, but they're able to dodge.
Zatanna suggests to Danny that since the trident is from Nebiros' realm, perhaps it shares his weaknesses as well, particularly to water. Norm mentions that when Green Lantern was putting out the fires earlier that the trident seemed fearful.
Danny doesn't know where he can find any water (um, superhero with magic ring who extracted water from the city's water supply earlier, anyone?) but Norm reminds him that he had put some water gimmicks in the trident once upon a time.
Danny realizes that the demonic entity is using the trident as a host body now. He activates a device that causes the trident to light up and he sees it within the entity. He grabs the trident and takes the entity for a ride. He's unable to find any water, but he manages to find some soda, which also seems to work.
The entity leaves the trident, and Zatanna tells the assembled crowd to be quiet, as making a sound could give it another place to find a host. Of course, Jock Verner is unable to keep his mouth shut, and the entity possesses his body.
Danny is actually looking forward to pummeling the entity at this point, but Zatanna tells him that Verner's body will prove to be too frail to work as a host. True to her words,the entity dissipates and leaves Verner alone. Zatanna tells Danny that now that the entity is gone, the link between it and the trident is gone as well.
Verner is thinking about the publicity he can get from this whole debacle, but Marla reminds him that people will likely not take a favorable opinion of the public destruction.
Sharon and Zatanna get a little catty with one another over Danny, and Etrigan finally shows up. He attacks Danny, thinking the entity still possesses him. Zatanna intervenes, but only manages to annoy Etrigan. However, Danny is able to fight him off and let him know that the entity is gone. Etrigan leaves.
My rating: 7/10
This is a decent wrap-up to this particular story line. However, it loses something in that as soon as Danny recovers, the other superheroes leave everything to him, as if you could almost hear the characters think, "okay, it's his title, let's let him wrap things up." Turning Zatanna and Green Lantern into bystanders for seemingly no other reason just doesn't work here. Also, the cattiness between Zatanna and Sharon seemed out of place, as there seemed to be zero indication that Zatanna was flirting with or making a play for Danny at all.
I do appreciate most of the other humor in the story however, and there were some nice touches, such as the speech balloons coming from the trident rather than Danny.
Blue Devil #14 - "Too Many Devils!"
Cover Date: July 1985
Writer: Gary Cohn & Dan Mishkin
Artist: Alan Kupperberg
A figure in a devil costume is hopping around Hollywood while having an internal monologue about his brand. The figure enters Dan's workshop to find...Dan, working on something. The figure is Gopher, and he has some explaining to do. When Dan asks him what's going on, Gopher runs away. Dan pursues him, and we find out that Gopher has used Dan's shop to create a Kid Devil costume, including Dan's tech. Gopher activates his trident and flies away.
Dan contacts Marla and Sharon to tell them the news. Marla explains that she invited Gopher out to Hollywood for stimulation, as life with his parents was stifling and dull. After they split up, it seemed to make more sense for Gopher to stay. However, apparently they've reconciled and are due to arrive at the airport today. Dan and Sharon head back to the studio to look for Gopher while Marla goes to meet his parents at the airport.
Dan searches the studio for Gopher but can't find him. He spots a door he's never seen before and plans to go in, but is stopped by Jock Verner's chauffeur Van. Dan tells Van that Gopher is missing, and Van makes a remark about how a good looking lady like Marla shouldn't have these problems. Dan tries to enter the room again but Van tries to stop him. Things get physical as Van uses force to try to keep Dan out.
At the airport, Gopher's parents' airplane is being hijacked. The thieves have used one of the old stairways to access the airplane's interior.
Dan and Van fight, and Van surprisingly holds his own. The chauffeur also keeps shouting "Errol Flynn" every so often as well. However, Dan eventually gets the upper hand. Sharon enters the scene and tells Dan that Gopher's parents' plane has been hijacked, and that Dan needs to save the day. Dan reluctantly agrees.
Dan flies away on his trident, and Van explains to Sharon that the two of them fighting was a misunderstanding. Van then goes through the locked door, and we see what's behind--a lab where scientists )the same ones who wanted to study Dan a few issues prior) are working to create a superhero just for Jock Verner--none other than Van.
Dan arrives at the airport to see the TWIT (Tactical Weapons Intervention Team) team has already arrived. He offers his assistance but is shut down by the leader of the TWIT team, who is unimpressed by costumed heroes and particularly unimpressed with Dan's recent activities in Hollywood. Their argument is ended, however, when the hijackers open one of the doors and show that they have the passengers at gunpoint--particularly Gopher's mom. The hijackers demand two million dollars within an hour or they will start killing passengers.
We see a report from the airport summing up the situation--the hijackers demands, the inaction of the police, and the refusal of Blue Devil's assistance. The airplane begins to suddenly taxi down the runway, preparing to take off.
The airplane is about to take off when Gopher shows up. He attempts to board the airplane before it takes off. Marla and Dan see him, and Dan goes to try to stop him. Both of them manage to land on opposite wings of the airplane. Gopher suddenly realizes how high the airplane has gotten and realizes he's in over his head. He calls for help.
Dan hears him and manages to climb over the fuselage to help him out. Meanwhile, inside the plane, Gopher's mother is reunited with his father, and they're both scared they'll never see Gopher again.
In the cockpit,t he hijackers are giving the pilots instructions, including to warn away any approaching aircraft. A couple of jets have been following, but they leave as Gopher calms down. Dan tells him that it's up to them to save the day.
Dan notices that the airplane is flying fairly slow and at a low altitude. He then sees the reason why--a helicopter is approaching, readying to make an in-flight rendezvous. Dan realizes the low altitude was to avoid pressurizing the cabin so they could make a mid-air getaway.
Dan asks Gopher how good he's gotten with the suit he's created. Gopher affirms that he's quite good. Dan tells him they have to stop the hijackers before they get away--if it were just the money, he wouldn't care, but they have to secure the passengers.
It turns out that Dan is right--the hijackers have planted explosives aboard the plane and plan to detonate them when they're safely away. Dan asks Gopher if he wants to back out, but Gopher says he's in there to help.
As Dan stops the helicopter from separating from the airplane, Gopher attacks the hijackers inside the airplane.
In the cockpit, one of the hijackers is suspicious about the time it's taking to transfer everything to the helicopter. He's ready to go investigate when Dan taps on the window in an attempt to scare him. It works as expected, as Kid Devil smashes through the door and takes out the hijacker. They safely return the jet to land.
Back at the airport, the TWIT leader is apologizing to Dan as the press interviews him about his foiling the hijacking. Dan tries to tell them that he had help, but Kid Devil is nowhere to be seen. Meanwhille, Marla unites with Gopher's parents, and Gopher shows up moments later. Dan joins them shortly afterwards, and whispers to Gopher that they need to talk. Then Gopher's father drops the bombshell--they've decided to take Gopher back home.
Back at the studio, in the hidden room, the scientists are putting Van through his final paces. He then puts on his costume, and Jock Verner reintroduces him as Verner's Vanquisher.
My rating: 7/10
On the one hand, this is a solid story and well-written. There's a good combination of humor and action, the plot is simple and solid, and the characterization more or less makes sense--more or less.
The thing I have a problem with--and that I think a lot of people might have a problem with--is the idea that Kid Devil would be allowed to do much of anything once he was discovered. He's still a fairly young child (I'd guess around 12), has no super powers, and doesn't have the training of any of his predecessors. I don't mind kid heroes--heck, I've always liked them--but this is a little much and seems more than a tad irresponsible.
Blue Devil #15 - "Verner's Vanquisher!"
Cover Date: August 1985
Writer: Gary Cohn & Dan Mishkin
Artist: Alan Kupperberg
Dan is awakened by his alarm clock and heads to the bathroom. However, he's unable to get in as Wayne beats him there first. We find out that Dan is staying at Marla's house for the moment, and that Wayne stayed the night, telling Marla his plumbing backed up. As Gopher and his parents are also there, Marla's place is pretty packed.
Dan and Gopher decide to wait for a while to use the bathroom and turn on the news. There they see Jock Verner introducing his new superhero sensation, Verner's Vanquisher--aka, his chauffeur Van. This annoys Marla, as she points out that Verner only created the Vanquisher to compete with the Blue Devil. Dan reminds her that he's not a superhero.
Back at the studio, Verner and Van meet with the scientists who gave Van his powers. Jock mentions that part of his motivation in creating the Vanquisher was to rankle Marla, and Van gets annoyed with him. However, the subject is quickly changed as the scientists suggest measuring Van's adrenal output. Van then gives a demonstration of his new powers. They come from the costume he wears, which he powers up by shouting "Errol Flynn".
After the demonstration, Marla and Dan enter the scene. An argument quickly starts up between the four based on mutual dislike. Verner thinks that now that he has his own superhero that he can boss Marla around, but as he throws his weight around Van isn't very happy.
Elsewhere in the studio, there's a tour going on inside a replica of the Empire State Building. One family gets behind the tour as they stop to take photos. As they take pictures, an animatronic King Kong climbs the building. As the mother is posing with a cutout of an actress, the Kong robot grabs her instead of the cutout and proceeds to do it's imitation of the famous scene, only with a live woman instead of a dummy.
Back at the argument, Verner gets a call from his security alerting him of the situation. Verner bets that Van can save the day before Dan and Marla takes him up on it. They both take off towards the scene, with Dan complaining that he's only doing this because there are people in danger.
Van attacks "Kong" first, while Dan attempts to warn him that he helped program the monkey and that it will attack flying objects. The Monkey slaps Van away. Dan attempts to exploit a weakness that he knew about, but that weakness has been fixed and the monkey swats him away as well.
On the ground, Dan and Van lick their wounds and prepare another attack. Dan tells Van about the automated biplanes that are about to attack and impresses on him the need to rescue the tourist. This time they attack again as a team.
Van smashes one of the biplanes but Dan tells him to be careful Dan tras the falling debirs could injure people on the ground, as well s the fact that the guns the planes are shooting are props. He then uses his knowledge of the monkey's programming to anticipate the mnnkey's paw opening, at which point he grabs the tourist. He's able to successfully get her down to the ground, although she attacks him the whole time thinking he's a monster.
As both Dan and Van return to the ground, Jock is unhappy that Dan was the one to save the tourist. He accuses Marla of using her sexual wiles to manipulate Dan. This pushes the wrong button with Van, who grabs Verner and threatens him.
Verner asks the scientists what's going on with Van and they tell him that his mind isn't keeping pace with the changes his body is going through. Verner isn't hearing it, and turns to Van for an explanation, but Van's had enough. He pushes Jock. Dan attempts to intervene on Jock's behalf, but Van hits him with a punch that sends him flying.
Elsewhere, two men are in line at the Unemployment office, and it turns out they know one another. They used to be musicians in the same band. Catching up, one tells the other that he's back with their old lead singer, Blackjack McCullough. However, the other man tells him that that's impossible, as Blackjack has been dead for twelve years.
Back at the studio, Gopher is giving his parents a tour of the studio and attempting to convince them to allow him to stay in Hollywood. They're worried that things get a little too crazy in the area. Gopher is going to argue with them, but then Dan flies by pursued by Van. Gopher excuses himself and chases after them in order to change into Kid Devil.
Dan and Van have stopped on the studio at a Western set for a face off. Dan attempts to defuse the situation and avoid a fight but Van wants to fight and so they do. Kid Devil enters the scene and tries to stop the fight, but Van just sees him as another devil his has to beat and knocks him down from his perch.
They continue fighting and Van seems to get the upper hand, then Kid Devil attacks and suddenly Van is as weak as a kitten. The scientists, Gopher's parents and Jock and Marla enter the scene as the scientists explain that Van probably ignored his physical fatigue which is why he's suddenly weak. Jock shoots off his mouth, however, and Van gets his second wind. He attacks Jock with Dan and Gopher attempting to stop him.
Van stops and declares that Jock is not going to steal his girl, referring to Marla. He then grabs Marla and flies away wit her
Before Dan is able to pursue, he's stopped by first Jock and then the scientists. By the time he's done talking to them, Van and Marla are out of sight. Gopher's parents then realize that Kid Devil is also their son, and there's a bit of a tense stand-off.
My rating: 6/10
On the one hand, I very much enjoy the saga of Verner's Vanquisher, as it's something that's been set up for several issues now and finally comes to fruition. The story line is good and has some nice, fun moments.
However, what hurts this story is that there's a lot of forced humor, as if someone told the creative team to "make it funny". I think much of the appeal of the previous issues in this run was that the humor was a little more natural and came out of the stiuations rather than just throwing in funny stuff wherever possible. It's still good, but it would have been better if those parts had been left out in my opinion.
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