3.12.2019

The Dark Tower Reread Pt. 4: Wizard and Glass


The first time I read this I really loved it. As is becoming something of a pattern * though, this time around I was conflicted. There's around a 70/30 split on loved-it-to-indifferent on Goodreads. The ones who love it really love it. I counted myself among those until this reread. ** I didn't read anything in the negative-to-indifferent reviews that really resonated with me, though, so away we go. ***



I refer here to my last post, but I write these words after having finished Wolves of the Calla and spoiler alert, same deal there. Hopefully by the time I get to that post, I'll come up with new opening remarks.



** Ray Benson was among the indifferent, with a 2-star rating. Not to call him out for it or anything, just I'd love to hear his take on it, wish he'd left a review.


*** Well, I was going to away-we-go either way, wasn't I? Even had I found one that I agreed with 100%, can't just link to a review and say "ditto." Not on a King's Highway Todash Tunnel Big Dig Reread.

EVERYTHING PRE-MEJIS

The novel picks up where it left off, with the ka-tet screaming along in Blaine the Mono on a suicide run to Kansas, winner of the riddling take all. And... Eddie Star Treks it? Blaine would really be vulnerable to this? I get that his circuits have deteriorated and all but sheesh. He mentions some 60s TV, even - there's not one running file in all his dipolar-gazillion-load of circuits that grokked the not especially complex lessons of "I, Mudd"? (You can't tell me whomever programmed him wasn't a TOS fan. And Blaine's exceeded his original programming, to boot; you telling me a psychotic eternal train isn't going to watch TOS start to finish to wile away its time? No way, little pard.

I wish King had developed the getting-some-details-wrong path, such as when Blaine scrambles some details about his 60s shows and gets miffed at Jake innocently correcting him. But hell, even that's "The Changeling." I'd have preferred it had he opted for "Return of the Archons," if TOS was really the only option.

"HATE... FORRRRRR...."

Beyond that, though, it just didn't land with me. Eddie tells some lame jokes, and Blaine goes "AAAAAAAA!!" And before that he was just laughing and laughing (ahem, "Wolf in the Fold") which grew irritating. It was a real let-down from the Blaine we see at the end of The Waste Lands.

I'm leaving out the resonance of Charlie the Choo Choo in the above, it's true. The twinning/ka/vague-multidimensional-clues thing is very much part of the Dark Tower experience. On that score, I'd have preferred it had Blaine and Jake discussed Beryl Evans instead of Bewitched or whatever it was. I'm reading these sentences over and wishing I'd taken better notes because (a) do Jake and Blaine discuss Beryl Evans? Am I totally blanking on that? and (b) what the hell was it that Blaine gets wrong, was it the Mike Hammer/ Bewitched connection? If my copy of this wasn't way the hell over there, I'd check.

Before Blaine's improbable breakdown, Jake wonders why the monorail felt "such despair, such bitterness, such anger? Because he's a pain, that's why. Blaine is a really BIG pain." FFS Jake. This little mantra keeps getting offered as if it's some kind of profound thing to say. I fixed it.

"Because he's a pain, that's why." Silence filled the car, except for the very light hum of Blaine's air circulations. "Blaine is a really BIG -"
Roland's gun flashed from its holster so fast that even Blaine's internal sensors had trouble tracking it. The sound of the hand cannon was deafening in the Barony couch. Jake's chest exploded against the translucent windows, and a disinfectant/ brain-and-bone-matter-splatter program automatically kicked in. The rest of his body fell to the floor, and his leg kicked out the god-drums of "Velcro Fly." Roland holstered his weapon.
"WELL-PLAYED, GUNSLINGER OF GILEAD," came Blaine's booming voice. "YOU AND YOUR FRIENDS CAN LIVE." 
 "I mean, really, he just should have stopped saying it," said Eddie. He shook his head. Susannah reached over to squeeze his hand.
"You said it, sug," said Susanna.
"Tim-may!" said Oy. 
"FOR DOING THIS FAVOR, I AM SWITCHING TRACKS IN TOPEKA. WHAT WAS ONCE MY TERMINUS POINT HAS BEEN MODIFIED TO BRING YOU ALL THE WAY TO THE DARK TOWER ITSELF."
"TIM-MAY!" said them all.

As for the Captain Trips sideways-level of The Stand part of things, and the introduction of the thinny, I liked all of that. I chuckled when I saw the Kansas City Monarchs part. I'm developing a theory about this whole Dark Tower series and King's metafiction in general. It's still in the oven, but it's coming along and I'll share it in good time, say true. But these little author's-surname/allusions he makes throughout his career (most notably, I guess, in Castle Rock, but also here in this series with the big screaming red baddie waiting for Roland at the Tower) are fun. Here, of course, there actually was a Kansas City Monarchs team, and it's a perfectly legit and non-metafictional way of distinguishing this level of the Tower from the one we saw in The Stand. But: all things serve the Beam. 




AIN'T NO REAPING LIKE A MEJIS REAPING
'CAUSE A MEJIS REAPING DON'T STOP
(UNTIL SOMEONE IS BURNED AT THE STAKE)

The bulk of the book is Roland's telling his ka-tet of when he was a young gunslinger and sent to Hambry, the Barony seat of Mejis, and of the intrigue he found there: the town's leaders in cahoots with John Farson, the Good Man, that insurgent promising justice and an end to Gilead's oppression, etc. but who is really stacking heads on pikes and rolling up oil tankers from the still-active pumps at "Citgo," just outside town) and his tragic love affair with Susan Delgado, a comely young lass set to be the Mayor's side-wife come Reaping, the big barn dance of the Mejis social calendar.

I still found this part of the novel to be quite strong. It's more than Roland's story - it's also Susan's, and she's a good and well-sketched out character in King's catalog. And not just her but her aunt and - especially - Rhea, the old crone witch who plays a pivotal role in Roland's mother's sorrowful end. Wizard and Glass was written in the midst of King's feminist phase (so-called, i.e. compact-for-women's-flesh, ownership-vs-appropriation-of-vaginas, snake-dildoes, you name it), and he clearly took pains to sketch out the inner worlds of all the female characters of the tale. He succeeds well - you even sympathize with Rhea and Susan's aunt, for thy father's sake, and they're awful people who do awful things. Well done.

Does the series need a Peyton Place smack dab in the middle of it? Maybe not. Or maybe not as much of one as what we get. The story - not just Wizard and Glass but the Dark Tower series - might have been better served by excising just some of it (100 pages of cuts, maybe, though don't ask me which.) This is a very mild objection; I still quite like all the Mejis stuff. (Is there a bit too much about lady bits? Especially Rhea's? OMG yes. Animal abuse added to her crimes! )

These images are all by Dave McKean. Pretty weird stuff.

King gives himself the storytelling 'out' of Roland's time in the glass, which I'll get to momentarily, but that allows King-the-writer to ditch the Roland's POV restraint and spend several hundred pages on things Roland never saw or in the minds of characters Roland could not ordinarily peek.

While this invention (Roland's time in the Pink Glass as they escape Mejis) is both perfectly Dark-Tower-y and also pretty cool, it does metaphorically serve as a drug binge. Which is an ever so slightly off note for me, for Roland. King sometimes has trouble resisting inserting himself into his stories. This is ironic considering what's coming in the series; King's story is inextricably linked with Roland's, and not just metaphorically. The writer's experiences are reciprocal to Roland's and vice versa.

"Those in the grip of a strong drug - heroin, devil grass, true love - often find themselves trying to maintain a precarious balance between secrecy and ecstasy as they walk the tightrope of their lives. Keeping one's balance on a tightrope is difficult under the soberest of circumstances; doing so while in a state of delirium is all but impossible. Cuthbert and Alain watched Roland's descent into addiction first with disbelief, envy, and uneasy amusement, then with a species of silent horror."


Jonas, DePape, Reynolds, aka "The Big Coffins Hunters," are all fine. You've seen all of these villains before in King's work, as well as Rimer (another 'impossibly tall' man in King's Rogue's Gallery) but they're all effective. Jonas, the failed gunslinger, is that shadowy reflection of the protagonist that every good adventure story needs. (Roland makes pretty quick work of him, all told.)

I know that developments in the next book kind of negate this a little, but is it a little too much to have both Sauron's Eye (the CK's sigil) AND the "my precioussssss'ness" of the glass? It's just interesting to me that he set out to deliberately distance himself from Tolkien but so specifically evoke these two things here.


As with the Guardians it would be cool if there were other tales of the Glass. "Some colors of the Wizard's Rainbow are reputed to look into the future. Others look into the other worlds - those where the demons live, those where the Old People are supposed to have gone when they left our world. These may also show the location of the secret doors which pass between the worlds. Other colors, they say, can look far in our own world, and see things people would as soon keep secret. They never see the good: only the ill." 


EVERYTHING POST-MEJIS

I'm afraid I was pretty negative on all the post-Mejis stuff. Not the stuff in Gilead, with the tragic end of Roland's mother. I didn't quite care for Roland's flying "in the gale" stuff inside the glass, but the Gilead stuff was the twist that deepened Roland's story and justified its place here in the series.

The same cannot be said of the Wizard of Oz stuff, though. It works for a minute, when they point out the similarities or Roland's tale/ their surroundings to Oz. And then, starting with the shoes and getting worse once Oy has to don them - and sinking ever tediously further once the Tick Tock Man is playing the part of the wizard, apparently indulging that inner theater nerd he never got to indulge underneath Lud - it doesn't work at all. For me anyway. The novel takes such a committed and in my eyes improbable turn into this Wizard of Oz stuff and then comments on itself doing it, for far too many pages.

The MIB mentions - after the Tick Tock Man's acting the part of the Wizard and after the ka-tet shoots him - that he probably made a mistake to rescue him for Lud. Truth. It made no sense at the end of The Waste Lands and goes nowhere here. Nor does it make sense - what the hell is Wizard of Oz to the Tick Tock Man? Or to the MIB for that matter? If he's creating tangible emerald castles that straddle both worlds (for the people of the Calla see it too, in the next book), he can't create something more formidable to stop Roland's quest? 

And why drop them back down on the Path of the Beam on their way to Thunderclap, with a picnic basket no less? FFS he could've just left them in Stand-variant Kansas, likely to die of Captain's Trips. Was he worried they'd make their way to Mother Abigail's? I could use the hey-that’s-what-they-tried-this-time excuse i.e. maybe Walter and the CK have tried to strand them all a thousand times and they thought hey, this time, how about a nice gift basket and a polite note? But like challenge flags or timeouts (or a reader's patience) there's only so many times one can draw from that well. 

All told, the MIB is conveniently stupid (or helpful) when he needs to be.

And what the hell happens to the glass? Why didn't they just destroy it and that's how they get back to Mid-World (somehow)? King keeps its fate ambiguous, but it never shows up again. And neither does Rhea. Seems like there's some tale, there, King was keeping for a rainy day but as of this writing, we haven't gotten it.

IN CLOSING 

A solid sci-fi western fantasy coming of age story, with many characters masterfully blended, bookended by stuff I didn't much care for. 


Let's take some quick stock of things. Reading-wise, I've finished Wolves of the Calla, "The Little Sisters of Eluria," "Everything's Eventual," "Low Men in Yellow Coats," "Heavenly Shades of Night Are Falling," and I'm about halfway through The Wind Through the Keyhole. I'm procrastinating starting the last two books, as they're long-ass books, my memory of them was negative, and I'm just dragging my feet. I'm also circling Insomnia. That one's long, too, though. But very rewarding if memory serves.

Anyway it'll all materialize sooner or later. Of the books we've looked at so far, my first attempt at ranking the Dark Tower books had Wizard and Glass at number one, The Waste Lands at five, Drawing of the Three at six, and The Gunslinger at three. This time around it looks like this: (4) The Waste Lands, (3) Wizard and Glass, (2) The Drawing of the Three, and (1) The Gunslinger. 

Who knows what re-rankings await on when I read these books for a third time? Tune in come 2025 to find out!

2.19.2019

The Dark Tower Reread, pt. 3: The Waste Lands


"It was all of a piece he realized now; all part of some awful, decaying whole, an incomprehensible stone spider. All of Mid World had become one vast haunted mansion in these strange latter days, Mid-World had become the Drawers, all of Mid-world had become a waste land, haunting and haunted."

First time around, I really loved this book. This time, I was surprised to discover I was much more conflicted on it. An awful lot happens, so there's excellent momentum, and we begin to get some answers (plus many more question) about Roland's world. But is it a good stand-alone book? And is it a good book 3 of a 7 part saga, given how certain things end up happening in later books? Most people think so. I'm unsure. 

If you're new round these parts, this is a spoilers-laden/ no-plot-summary re-read of the Dark Tower. And away we go with:

THINGS THAT
 I MOSTLY LOVED

(1) Blaine, obviously, and the ALL CAPS super-city "Velcro Fly" apocalyptic-Lud Buck-Rogers-pilot fury that goes with him. Here's a spoiler alert for next time: I kind of hate the way King ended this confrontation with Blaine in Wizard and Glass. (Another thing that surprised me.) So I'll get to the disappointments with Blaine next time, but here, he is foreshadowed well throughout, and the payoff is well-earned. Fantastic cliffhanger, and the whole Cradle of Blaine the Mono is appropriately epic.

(2) King answers my 'why would his enemies guide Roland to the doors' question from my Gunslinger reread handsomely enough with the paradox, i.e. by saving Jake in The Drawing of the Three, Roland created a causal loop where he is experiencing both realities simultaneously, the effects of which are driving him insane. So, it stands to reason that the Man in Black and Crimson King hedged their bets on this one - either Jake dies, or he lives with a good chance Roland goes too crazy to do anything with him. 

And knowing how the series ends, it made me wonder: how many variations of this Tower Chase have played out? This time around, the plan was to try and drive Roland insane. Not that I think it was an absolutely intentional thing, or that the MIB and CK are any more cognizant of the differences between their many times around this rodeo than Roland is. But: they don't have to be; each time the pieces are re-arranged. 

Could the right combinations, the right variations, of this endless journey repair the universe? It'd be lovely to think so, if an eternal and eternally heartbreaking quest for Roland himself.

 

It does raise a problem with me, though regarding the role Patrick Danville is to play later on. But I guess we can hold off on that for now.

THINGS I DIDN'T LOVE
BUT DID NOT DISLIKE

"The Beams saved it; other say they are the seeds of the world's destruction."

The first time I read this, the whole beginning with the Bear and the Beams was a steady succession of "Holy shit!" moments. Absolutely loved it. Some of the murkier aspects of the series came into focus, plus there was this big fuck-off bear infested with parasites sneezing on Eddie and all the rest. Far be it from me to discount such readerly delights as those. And I still mostly love the whole opening - it's only in context of the rest of the series that this time, I had some issues.


"When everything was new, the Great Old Ones - they weren't gods, but people who had almost the knowledge of gods - created 12 Guardians to stand watch at the 12 portals which lead in and out of this world. The Great Old Ones didn't make the world, but they did re-make it. Some tale-tellers say the Beam saved it; others say they are seeds of the world's destruction. (They) created the Beams... lines which bind and hold... not just magnetism, but... gravity and the proper alignment of space, size and dimension."

Okay, so I get that it's all a big mystery and there are no answers. But does not North Central Positronics grow from an earth very much like our own? One with "Velcro Fly" and "Hey Jude" and Citgo? It's hard to square such a world with one where there's a mystical tower at its center, vampires, and magic. Has it always been there, or did it start to appear the way thinnies did, and as a result only of the NCP machinations? Somewhere after our own recognizable time, this tech super-consortium built all the machines of Roland's world, then poisoned it so comprehensively they had to... well, here the story gets murky. Roland relays some possibilities above and then characteristically changes the subject.

As any sci-fi fan knows, a technologically advanced civilization would have things that would resemble magic to those from less technically-advanced civilizations. This part of me is fine with the Bear and the Beams, even if it makes certain other things to come a little... odd. But what about the demon speaking rings and the magic jawbones and ka and all the rest? I think ka and the Tower exist independently of NCP, but if the Beams and these Portal Guardians are the work of NCP, something seems off with that.


I want to stress - there's so much about Roland's world we don't know - and neither does he. I'm not demanding all the answers, just trying to work out why the same NCP that built Blaine the Mono also built a big fuck-off bear that occasionally terrorized the villagers, or where the magic jawbones and door portals come from. If there's this logical-NCP throughline, what's the magical throughline? 


The Portal Guardian and speaking ring seem not built by NCP. But they could have been. Again, I don't see it as impossible, just kind of a rough fit.

I think the answer lies in whatever plans King had for Maerlyn. There are strong hints King is laying in these books that Maerlyn was meant to be the MIB. But we know from The Wind Through the Keyhole that this is not the case, unless that was meant to imply that the MIB imprisoned Maerlyn and then impersonated him. Which could very well be the case. Aaaaarg. I wish there was a prequel trilogy to shake some of this out, but you and I both know if there was one, there'd just be more questions.

When asked about what these Beam terminus portals are, Roland gives some metaphysical mumbo-jumbo about how they don't go to a "where or a when we would recognize." And then he distinguishes them from the doors on the beach, which directly relate to the MIB/ka-tet's doings. So... who's making the doors and writing THE BOY, THE LADY OF SHADOWS, THE PRISONER, and THE PUSHER on them? Another gift from the Old Ones, peeking into their glass and seeing Roland with the lobstrosities (at least) two millennia in the future? (Actually, maybe it was - Maerlyn himself, peering into one of his rainbows, knowing he'd not be there to see it because he's read bk 7, and sending muddled clues and other assistance over the centuries.)


Two last things about the Bear: okay, so let's assume it was built to just keep people the Old Ones knew were lapsing into pre-NCP society (and how) from wandering into these Portals, whatever they are. Done deal. Who, then, is the "Sub-nuclear cells must not be replaced" warning for?

And two: we only see the Turtle and the Bear in King's cosmology. Is the Turtle in It a creation of North Central Positronics?

What King should do is commission a bunch of other writers to write tales of the other Portal Guardians. He can edit the book and write intros to the selections and even contribute one if he's so inclined. I know it'll never happen, but sheesh.

Before leaving this section behind: I can only imagine how contemporaneous readers of this must have thrilled at not just the sudden appearance of Randall Flagg at the end of The Waste Lands but also the revelation that he was the Man in Black from The Gunslinger. That had to be kind of cool to experience "live." (Bryant Burnette describes just such an experience here, and it's worth reading.) On the other, I can't help but wonder why the MIB would even bother with rescuing The Tick Tock Man. Looking back from the end of Wizard and Glass, what was the point? What was gained from this besides inserting Flagg into The Waste Lands


THINGS THAT ACTUALLY
GROUND MY GEARS

In no particular order but since I picked Gasher and Jake for the header for this section, we'll start with that.

(1) To hell with Gasher and the 50-ish pages of unbelievably repetitive abuse he heaps on Jake. The payoff ("Gasher looked up. "You?" "Me," Roland agreed. He fired once and the left side of Gasher's head disintegrated. The man went flying backward, bloodstained yellow scarf unraveling. His feet drummed spastically on the iron grillework for a moment and then fell still.") is almost worth it but not enough. It's just overdone. And exceedingly unpleasant.

(2) The Tick Tock Man. Might as well stay in this part of the book. What is it with King and extraordinarily large characters? Particularly ones who throw other characters - comic book style - into walls? Someone needs to make a comprehensive list of traits King gives his villains too many times. Excessive height is one of them. At any rate, this whole thing is just odd. So, he's the great-grandson of a Luftwaffe pilot - who may be Lord Perth? I walked away from the book with this impression, but I think I was mistaken - and filled with impotent range, dubious lord of the computer bowels of a super-city he cannot begin to fathom or utilize in any way. He's in a cool setting, but in a way that makes it worse. He's just yet another brute in King's rogue's gallery. I get that this fits with King's personal conception of good and evil/ heroes and villains. But the saga could have used someone way more interesting here, and King does not deliver. (That Gasher is the warm-up act doesn't help.)

(3) I don't buy Roland's teaching Eddie and Susannah to be gunslingers.

With only the 3 boxes of ammo he got in NYC? No way. Am I wrong? He makes a point of buying only 3 in NYC at the end of DOT3. 3 boxes, 50 bullets apiece? Even if it was 500 bullets, though, I still don't buy it.

Like Eddie's and Susannah's love and marriage, I can shrug it off. This sort of thing adds up, though: if I don't quite buy them as soul mates, lovers, and gunslingers, some of the ka-tet dialogue is not going to land with me, and as the story goes on and things hinge upon these things, I'm going to be removed where I should be engaged. King decided he needed his questing band to have this dynamic, so be it. Mainly, it's a logistics problem. With 150 bullets (and let's keep in mind Roland still has plenty, so it's more like 100 bullets) and one brief tongue-lashing he achieves what took Cort years and years of abusive instruction?

(4) I don't like the rose. I like the idea of the Tower and this field of roses surrounding it existing in every level of the universe but only visible in some, and the roses are temporal-radioactive or something, but this idea of one of them poking up through the ground in NYC bugs me. It adds a layer - protect the one rose in NYC! - that is just kind of silly. I get that I'm just supposed to trust King and give him his back-and-forth-to-NYC set-up, but I just think all the New Age Rosicrucian stuff is unconvincing.

But it's all crystal clear compared to the key.

Roland throws the magical jawbone (NCP must have been one WEIRD company) into the fire and Eddie sees within a vision of the key he suddenly has to whittle. Oh yeah and he suddenly remembers how he used to whittle. Like the ka-tet's accelerated desires for marriage and ability for gunslinging and devotion to the quest, this whittling thing doesn't arise all that organically. The author is whispering to his characters that they will need this or that magic item later in the plot. These are things King does perhaps a tad too often. Knowing that we see a literalization of the author himself down the road, telling the characters things murkily (or they to him), compounds my unease.

(5) Detta: "Prime numbahs!"


"Any demon want to fuck wit' mme he goan find out he's fuckin' wit' the finest. I th'ow him a fuck he ain't necer goan f'git."


OMFG. This dialogue - all King's dialogue of this nature - is just terrible. I want to stress like last time: my objection is not from some "who is this white guy writing this" angle; I object because it is dumb. Just a bad idea, executed badly. Do not pass Go, Sai King; pay the fine to the center of the board and go to jail. 

(6) Jake's goddamn "Blaine is the truth" mantra. It's nothing compared to Jake's "Blaine is a pain" stuff from next time. These are just dumb mantras. They keep popping up like King/ Jake finds them profound or cool to say over and over. They are not. Okay so he's a scared kid. But hey: I'm not blaming Jake.

(7) Sudden telepathy is always dumb, and I don't care how much khef you invent to justify it. The fact is, when the gang comes to an obstacle, Sai King gives them telepathy. I don't look the other way on this; I deduct the appropriate points-penalty. It's like King plays a game with himself when writing how long he can hold off bringing telepathy into it. Once surrendered, it seeps into everything else (as we see in each subsequent book of the saga.)


(8) Oy. Does it make me an asshole to not care for Oy so much? Perhaps all the above had combined by this point to annoy me rather than allow me to shrug it off. It just seems like King turned to the TV playing in the background and saw a children's cartoon and said "Hey! Snarf snarf!" ("The sudden appearance of a billy bumbler who remembers people doesn't seem completely coincidental to me," Roland says. Yeah. Me neither, Roland.)

IN CONCLUSION

Hey now! I mean, I didn't hate it. I'm just invested in the re-read now, and my brain is abuzz. I leave you with the evocative line with which I almost started this post, but I thought the haunted Mid-World one worked better as an opener. Perhaps this'll do similarly for an ender. Until next time.

"They left the bees to their aimless, shattered life in the grove of the ancient trees, and there was no honey that night."

2.05.2019

The Heck Ya Mean? pt. 3

DON HECK
THE DC YEARS

Let's spend some time with Don Heck for one last go-round, wrapping up his years at DC.

1.
JLA

Don joined Gerry Conway at JLA in 1981 and stayed until 1983. Here's another near-miss for Heck in my early comics-reading life. I had a handful of Conway-penned JLA issues from this era but they were all from just prior to Don joining the team. Until I started reading JLI later in the decade, this handful (mainly this one) of issues (as well as the Super Friends cartoon) formed 100% of my formative Justice League knowledge. 

Of course we're not here to discuss plot content so much - although we will, and coming up momentarily - but just to admire Don's pencil-work. As he did on Avengers with the Scarlet Witch, on Tales To Astonish with the Wasp, and on X-Men with Marvel Girl, his Hot-Babe-Showcase for his time on JLA was Zatanna.


"Ridiculous, she called it!" - Barry's diary, later. (JLA 187.)

Never liked Zatanna much. Magic characters in comics tend to have way too vague limits on their powers; they expand or retract to suit the needs of whatever story they're in. Plus, Zatanna's whole schtick was she just spoke her spells backwards ("emal yllatot!") followed by a caption from the editor reminding readers that her spells worked by speaking backwards, and that got old after once, and painful ever thereafter. But! Don loved drawing her like a Playmate, so there it is.

Some panels from the Old West / Westworld two-parter, JLA 198-199.
I know nothing about Aquaman or Hawkman. One of these days. I keep circling the earliest Hawkman stories, actually, so maybe sooner than later. Hawman and Hawkgirl seem pretty cool.
(JLA 188, 203. 208, and 214, above and below.)

COSMIC
(aka "BLAAAOW!")

JLA 202 and 213.

Heck never excelled at the cosmic stuff. His renderings are perfectly functional but not iconic for my money.

The JLA/JSA crossovers were really bloated affairs by this point (JLA 207).

ROYAL FLUSH GANG

Let's have a closer look at some panels and concepts from the Royal Flush Gang's return in JLA 203 - 205. This concept is kind of crazy to begin with but gets crazier the more you turn over these details in your mind. Witness the escalation.


"As low card..."
But, you just said... Meh. I fold.
The plot thickens!
Absolutely nothing to suspect here.
World's greatest detective indeed!

Just thought that was wacky enough to warrant a little looksee. Moving on.

2.

ROSE and THORN

I really know nothing about this concept. There are some pre-Crisis things that are still totally new to me. For example, I picked up a Strange Adventures in the bargain bin the other week and discovered there was a DC Character called the Enchantress, "the switcheroo-witcheroo." That - and Rose and Thorn - totally needs to make a comeback, especially in this Age of All-Girl Reboots. 

This was a feature in Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane. (Something tells me that won't ever get a reboot.) The concept can probably be gleamed from this selection of panels from SGLL 123 - 130, but the blonde girl (Rose) and the brunette (Thorn) share the same body but don't suspect the other one exists. I kind of just put these panels all together, so there's linear continuity between a few here and there but not all of them. Apologies as always if this approach is just confusing; I'm just trying to showcase art, here, not necessarily plot.


Ah, I'm beginning to see why Heck was put on this one,
Too late, Thorn. The future is all these things in one.
Again, seeing why they put Heck on this one.
I love how they faithfully always switch clothes before the amnesia starts.

3.
WONDER WOMAN

Heck had the bad luck of getting on a title either after or before a more well-known run. This holds true on almost every book he had a memorable run, but perhaps most particularly Wonder Woman. While arguably his best DC work, this was all pre-Crisis, which means it was completely wiped from the record, both in fans minds (once George Perez started his run) and continuity-wise.

So fell Lord Perth.

Heck wasn't the inside-artist on that cover above, but that was one of the first covers he did for DC after jumping over from Marvel. It was also the return of Wonder Woman's classic costume after the "New Wonder Woman" hi-jinks of the late 60s/ early 70s.


His run (and all these screencaps) ran from WW v1 307 to 329. More or less. (Full list here.)
I can only assume he was chosen for the title because of his facility for drawing beautiful women. But his good work on the title is certainly not limited to that.
As with all the above, these screencaps are not presented in a linear fashion.
(Ed MacMahon voice: Heeeey-ohhhhh!)

MYTH... MARRIAGE...  
MUSTACHE.


And in that order.
And not just Greek myth!
Marriage. (Honeymoon cut short by continuity-wipe. Tough luck, lovebirds.)
And finally:
 

WAGNER/ GOTTERDAMMERUNG



It certainly seems Gerry Conway was channeling the last of Wagner's Ring Cycle operas in this series wrap-up. And why not? If you're writing about gods and valykries and Amazons and the end of all existence, it only makes sense.

I wonder if "Ho-yoh-to!" was under copyright. Probably. Or maybe Amazons are more Spanish than German, who knows.
All in all, Diana fared better than Brünnhilde.
Similarly, no direct analog for Wotan and the gang. (Which is probably a good thing.)

4.
THAT'S ALL FOLKS




Thanks for checking these out; hope you enjoyed. R.I.P., Don.
~
1929 - 1995