Back Issue Review: DC Comics Presents #56 - Maaldor
The Supergirl television show returns from its winter hiatus this evening with a much anticipated episode directed by Kevin Smith. The episode titled "Supergirl Lives" has Kara sent off world to a red sun planet where she apparently engages in combat. Knowing how big fan of comic books Kevin Smith is, I have been looking for to this episode for some time. But a little nugget was released last week which made me knowingly smile. Apparently there is a new aliens species on this episode called Maaldorians. here is a link to that small new site:http://www.cbr.com/kevin-smith-teases-new-alien-species-in-supergirl/
There is only one reason to name the species Maaldorians. It has to be arrest on the character Maaldor, a villain from the late 80s and first seen in DC Comics Presents #56. has this issue also includes Supergirl analogue Power Girl as well as including the heroes participating in combat, I thought this would be a fun issue to review here.
I also find it slightly interesting that this cover from 1983, closely resembles the iconic cover of Crisis On Infinite Earths #7. It is a powerful image by comic legend Gil Kane.
"Death in a Dark Dimension" was written by Supergirl scribe Paul Kupperberg and drawn by Superman legend Curt Swan with inks by Dave Hunt.
I always looked forward to these two characters interacting and so bought this book when it was first on the spinner rack. I didn't collect All-Star Comics and so only read about Power Girl in the annual JLA/JSA team-ups. Given that the premise of this story is Maaldor looking for a challenge, I wish this book was a true free-for-all with both Supermen, Power Girl, and Supergirl all thrown into the mix. But I guess space limitations would make that impossible.
The issue opens up with this nice splash of Superman using his body as a shield to block a plasma beam from space targeted for the Daily Planet. It is unclear where the beam originates from but given the trajectory, someone with great power or technology must have sent it on so precise a trajectory.
Superman heads into space where a bunch of meteors seems to target him, changing course and enveloping him before some rift makes him disappear.
Meanwhile on Earth 2, Power Girl has to shut down an electrical plant which seems to have been the origin of the plasma beam. She knows that makes no sense but she deals with it. She then has to rescue a plane whose engine simply shuts down. After the rescue, she also disappears.
During all these challenges, there has been a sense that someone has been watching the Kryptonians.
We cut to another dimension where a seemingly omnipotent warrior Maaldor has finally conquered his entire universe. He is a fickle and impatient lord, killing his followers and enemies alike with a mere thought. But he finally admits that he is simply bored.
Superman and Power Girl arrive together and before they can figure out what is happening, Maaldor tells of his plight.
He needs amusement and he hopes the Kryptonians can give it to him. He is angry and insane because nothing can stop him or even give him a moment's pause.
This reminds me of the famous Twilight Zone episode 'A Nice Place to Visit' where a crook dies and goes to a place where he always wins at everything but never has a challenge. In the end, the place turns out to be Hell.
When Kal and Kara refuse to fight Maaldor so he can 'get his jollies', he reminds them that he has an entire universe under his thumb. With but a thought he could commit murder, genocide on a massive scale. If they are heroes, they will fight him.
It is the right threat to hold over Superman and Power Girl. They could never let millions die because of their inaction.
And it is a nice ploy by Maaldor. He knows they wouldn't stand down.
Suddenly, Kal and Kara find themselves in an old fashioned arena, armored and armed with melee weapons while Maaldor and a crowd watch on.
The two quickly ditch the gladiator garb. They won't need that. And as an opening round, Maaldor sets monsters against Superman and Power Girl, beasts they quickly dispatch.
I don't always know if Swan was great at fight sequences, but this splash page with different angles, gives it a nice feel of a wild brawl. No structure.
With the monsters defeated, it is time for the main throwdown, Kryptonians vs. Maaldor.
What I like is that Power Girl is the one who takes the initiative. She isn't going to wait. She wades in, saying she has faced bigger threats with the JSA, and really hammers him in the gut. Incredibly, Maaldor shrugs it off.
And then, using just his mind, he seems to kill Kara with a thought.
She really appears dead. And that incenses Superman. Superman really seems to fly off the handle, vowing the beat down Maaldor.
There are several pages of straight up combat between the two. And again, Swan gives us a non-paneled splash page, filled with energy. And I really like that we see Superman using all his powers to try to get an upper hand. This has a frenetic feel as arena fights should feel.
But you understand just how powerful Maaldor is. He defeats Superman, almost too easily.
Really nice art here.
But before Maaldor can land the killing blow, Power Girl re-enters the fray. It turns out that the Kryptonian physiology is a little different than Maaldor is used to. His death stare stunned her. For the first time in a while, Maaldor is down.
And this panel is very well conceived. The angle, looking up at Superman, gives our hero the 'high ground'. And Superman breaking out of the panel border accentuates that as well.
But how do you beat Maaldor? He might be down but he isn't out. And knowing the death stare isn't enough, my guess is he could still defeat these two.
Ahh ... but Superman gives Maaldor the ultimate challenge. Can he face himself? Looking into his own soul??
It seems a little bit of a deus ex machina. I think Maaldor would look inside himself and be pretty pleased.
But instead, when he looks inside, and sees his black soul, he implodes.
Maaldor defeats himself.
Seems a little bit of a cop out. But when you set up an omnipotent being, you need something omnipotent to beat them. And that isn't easy.
Nice page again, the overlapping faces and eyes add that layer of insanity.
I especially love the ending.
The evil and insanity of Maaldor was so great that he has created a new plane of pure madness. It is so vile that Superman cauterizes the rift so none can spill out. So even if Maaldor is gone, his evil is not. I very much like that something as omnipotent as this villain wouldn't simply wink out of existence. He would persist in some way.
This isn't the last we see of Maaldor. He appears briefly in Crisis on Infinite Earths. And there is another DCCP issue where Superman enters that mad zone.
Hmmm ... maybe Maaldor is the madness zone between Earth and Meta in Shade the Changing Man?
Will the Maaldorians on the Supergirl show be as evil? Will we see an arena? Maaldor himself? I can only hope.
As for this issue, it is a nice look at the dimensional super-cousins. And certainly worth the $1 you would spend when you see it in the bargain bin!