Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Dancing In Superhero Comics: Outlawed!

It's the summer of 1980. Paul McCartney and Wings, followed by Billy Joel, top the charts in the States; Sister Sledge and the Eurythmics do the same in the UK; the punk era has exploded some years before and has largely been replaced by the upcoming New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, at least in the UK, though there are the beginnings of the New Romantics starting to swan around as well.

Firestorm has just joined the Justice League of America, sponsored for membership by none other than Superman himself and the League's satellite era was fast approaching its height.

With all this in mind, how does the two-part story that introduces Firestorm - which ran in Justice League Of America #179 and #180 - to the League begin?

By taking us to the disco, baby!

That's right - the nightmarish dance craze of the 1970's lives on in "New York city's hottest new disco." A new disco in 1980? Had no-one told Gerry Conway that disco was dead on its arse by 1980?

Apparently not as we're introduced to Rosco Remington in his high collar, purple suit, shirt open to the navel and - of course - medallions, in full foot swinging, butt shaking glory.

The late 70's and early 80's were a different time, obviously. Can you imagine Geoff Johns, Bill Willingham or Grant Morrison starting a story in a disco?

Actually, Grant Morrison's a maybe on that one . . .

Anyhow, the disco setting is merely laying the groundwork for what may be one of the League's strangest foes, a woman who prowls the discos of New York looking for young men to bewitch and steal away for her own nefarious purposes.

Trouble is, this time she's picked on Rosco, the brother of a friend of Ronnie Raymond (who is, of course, one half of Firestorm) I know what you're thinking - I mean what are the odds that she's going to pick someone who vaguely knows someone who happens to be a superhero?

When Ronnie hears about Rosco going missing, he's understandably concerned unlike his friend, Cliff Carmichael who seems convinced that Rosco's packed in the disco dancing and taking up fox hunting.

Rosco's brother - who is inexplicably wearing a bow tie - knows he's wrong though as "dancin' is Rosco's life!"

It might be worth mentioning that Carmichael, the boorish foil of Ronnie's college years, would later go on to be The Thinker, a full blown supervillain who would battle Firestorm time and again.

If only he'd been as interested in disco as Rosco was, things might have been very different . . .

The gang head down to the disco and find someone who saw Rosco leave with the villain of the piece - the beautiful model Sabrina Sultress, also known as . . . the Satin Satan! They decide to visit her at her penthouse in Charon Building (get the reference, folks?) and see if they can find Rosco. After all, his brother's convinced that something's wrong: "Rosco - - stopped dancing - - for a girl? Uh-uh, no way, not Rosco!"

Yeah, like any teenage boy would stop dancing for a model who wanted to take them back to her penthouse . . .

Within moments, Firestorm's appeared and got himself snared by the Satin Satan but manages to hit the emergency League communicator which is how the League get involved with a disco dancing sorceress/model in the second part of the tale.

Following the emergency signal, the League crash into the Satin Satan's penthouse and, after trashing the place while battling a magical demon left to protect it, Green Arrow stumbles across a portfolio and recognises the penthouse's owner.

No sooner has Green Arrow realised who they're up against than Batman remembers her nickname: "They call her the Satin Satan."

There follows another trip to a disco but this one is a roller-disco called Hell On Wheels which seems appropriate on more than one level.

As a side note, I was tempted to scan that picture in but it seems there's only so much disco my PC can handle.

Within this hell, the League battles the Satin Satan's minions - disco dancers that she had turned into animated mannequins. Realising that the model is a sorceress, it's largely up to Zatanna to battle her, freeing the captured Firestorm who, in turn, transforms the mannequins back into the mustachioed, flared collar and cuffs wearing dancers that they are.

The final showdown between Zatanna and the Satin Satan reveals that the model has apparently been possessed by Sataroth, daughter of Satanni and once Zatanna removes this evil spirit, Sabrina Sultress returns, explaining that it was the demon who drove her to commit the crimes.

So everything wraps up fairly neatly and Firestorm's first case with the League is a success.

But wait - Gerry Conway obviously likes his villain and thinks the Satin Satan is too good to waste as the last panel shows:
Has the story truly ended after all . . . ?

Yes, thankfully - the Satin Satan is never heard from again.

1 comment:

  1. I loved this story back in the day. I was thrilled to see Firestorm on the team and, well, 10-year-old Rob found the Satin Satan to be profoundly memorable. :)


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