World’s Finest 249 – The Phantom Stranger and the vampire Superman, Green Arrow in a Batman costume, the Creeper begins, and Wonder Woman vs Sgt. Rock

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The Phantom Stranger joins Superman and Batman in their adventure in World’s Finest 249 (Feb/March 1978), in a story by Haney, Schaffenberger and Blaisdel.  And while it is not a bad story, one cannot help but notice that the Superman/Batman team-ups have been the least impressive element since the book went to Dollar Comic size.

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This story puts Superman and Batman at sea, as they deal with a nautical vampire.  Phantom Stranger makes an entertaining entrance, standing calmly on the sea bottom.

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There are some good twists to the story.  Superman appears to be the villain, having gone all vampiric, but in fact the ship’s captain in the true villain, with Superman’s vampirism actually working as a cure for the more evil demonic possession.

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Conway, Von Eeden and Colletta conclude Green Arrow and Black Canary’s battle with the Hellgrammite in this story, which takes on a very odd note, as Dellon forces Oliver Queen to wear the Batman costume throughout.

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Black Canary gets little to do in this half, largely just getting captured.

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But Green Arrow kind of deserves the extra time in this one.  It’s hilarious to see him in full Bat-gear, struggling with the utility belt weaponry as he faces Hellgrammite and his minions.

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And while the criminals wonder why Batman suddenly has a blond beard, that does not worry Dellon until the very end of the story.  At least the police recognize Green Arrow by the beard.

The Hellgrammite does not appear again until a cameo in Crisis on Infinite Earths.

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The Creeper begins in his own series, written and drawn by his creator, Steve Ditko.  The Creeper had last appeared a few months previously in Secret Society of Super-Villains.  This story brings back the hero’s alternate identity, tv newscaster Jack Ryder, as well as his supporting cast of work associates.

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The story deals with a new hit show on WHAM, Midnight Theatre with the Moon Lady, and an apparent monster out to kill her.

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It’s a fairly simple tale, but a nice introduction to the character.  Jack Ryder is as obnoxious as he ought to be, and the Creeper as bizarre as he needs to be.

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The Wonder Woman/Sgt. Rock team-up concludes in this issue, with Conway, Vosburg and Colletta opening the story with the heroes pitted against each other.

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Dr. Psycho uses his stolen powers to transform other members of Easy Co. to monstrous slaves, all to help out his alien friends.

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The Krell themselves get a bit more explanation, as well as an official citation of the Mystery in Space story they debuted in.

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With all the guest stars and villains crammed into these pages it is hardly a surprise that it comes to a fairly abrupt ending.  Wonder Woman takes out the medium that Dr. Psycho is drawing his power from.  With her unconscious, his powers fade, and Sgt. Rock and his men return to normal.  The aliens high tail it, and Dr. Psycho gets carted off to prison, to return (the Earth-1 version that is) in Wonder Woman’s own book in the 80s.

 

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