World’s Finest 168 – The Return of the Composite Superman

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Great cover for World’s Finest 168 (Aug. 1967), even if the action depicted does not occur as shown.

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Cary Bates joins Swan and Klein in an excellent follow-up for this villain.

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The real enemy in this tale is an alien named Xan.  Hating Superman and Batman, he reviews the various enemies that they have faced. Only the Composite Superman was never defeated by them.  Xan decides to turn Meach back into the villain.

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Xan causes another lightning blast to hit the statues of the Legion of Super-Heroes, restoring the Composite Superman’s powers. Meach has no idea that he is being manipulated.

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Aunt Harriet makes her first appearance in this book, as the Composite Superman sends a warning to the heroes that he has returned.

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Once again the heroes find themselves sorely pressed to handle this extremely powerful foe.  The scene that corresponds to the cover does see him use Triplicate Girl’s power, splitting into three in order to fight Superman, Batman and Robin simultaneously.

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At one point he impersonates Robin, but his failure to use a seatbelt in the Batmobile gives his duplicity away.

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Superman heads to the future, learning more about how Brainiac 5 created the statues, confirming that they are the source of the Composite Superman’s powers.

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Superman and Batman destroy the statues, so the Composite Superman can never use them to charge up again.  He reverts to Joe Meach, and Xan reveals himself, to kill off the heroes once and for all.  Meach sacrifices himself to save Superman and Batman, who build him a statue in memorial.

Xan, and the Composite Superman (but not Meach) return in the early 80s.

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