World’s Finest 251 – Superman and Batman vs a living brain, Count Vertigo debuts, Green Arrow and Speedy reunite, the Creeper vs the Disruptor, and Wonder Woman vs Poison Ivy

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Haney, Tuska and Colletta bring back an obscure Batman villain, and his doctor, in World’s Finest 251 (June/July 1978).

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Bob Haney also stops to inform us that his birthday is April 15th, and that Batman usually sends him a card.  Aside from that, there is a big explosion that the heroes have to deal with at the disintegration pit in the Fortress of Solitude.

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Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent both begin to notice that, in whichever identity they are in, the green begins to vanish from objects that they are in contact with.  Batman also notices that the jar containing the brain of Boss Dyke, the Gorilla Boss of Gotham City, has turned green.  Boss Dyke, when dying, had Doctor Willard transfer his brain into that of a gorilla, and here we see that Batman kept the brain in his trophy room.  It is still alive, and Batman sees that it was communicating with someone, or something, just before the colour change.

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Batman brings the brain to the disintegration pit to destroy it, but all that does is turn Boss Dyke into a flying manta-ray type monster, still consuming all the green (chlorophyll) from anything it passes over.

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As Superman deals with the monster, Batman pursues Doc Willard.  He finds him, but lets his guard down and gets knocked out and operated on, with Boss Dyke’s brain being placed into Batman’s body.

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A quick twist ending undoes this.  Aliens, who were working with Boss Dyke, choose to let Superman know that Batman had his brain replaced.  He finds and restores Batman’s brain in a couple of panels, and uses white kryptonite to destroy the monster.

Dr. Willard remains at large, but will return.

As for the Gorilla Boss, this story gets wiped from continuity by Crisis, and he is shown, still with his brain in the gorilla’s body, in a Swamp Thing annual in the late 80s.

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Count Vertigo, usually thought of as a Green Arrow villain, makes his debut appearance in this Black Canary story by Conway, Von Eeden and Colletta.

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Dinah Lance is having her first showing as a designer, when Count Vertigo interrupts, sending everyone there into a mind bending tizzy.  Thanks to Von Eeden, this all looks great.

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We get most of the Count’s background in this story.  Descended from inbred royalty of a small, Eastern European nation that got swallowed by the Soviet Union, the Count was born with an inner ear defect.  He has designed an implement that restores his balance, but can affect everyone else’s.  In this story, he is also credited with having developed magnetic shoes that allow him to walk on walls.  His goal is to retrieve the family jewels, sold off after their flight into exile.

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It’s a pretty stunning debut, art wise, and the villain is more interestingly developed, even in his first story, than most.  Black Canary does take him out at the end, but he will be back in a few issues.

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Green Arrow and Speedy work together for the first time in years in this story, by Conway, Jerry Bingham and Bob Layton.

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It doesn’t go very smoothly.  Speedy thinks that he is helping out during a drug bust, but in fact he nabbed the dealer who was supposed to get away, so they could follow him.  He sets up a prison break to compensate, and they do roust the big dealer.

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Oliver hopes that this is a chance for a new beginning between them, and even brushes of Dinah for the evening.  But Roy remains distant from his former guardian, and the two split at story’s end.

Not as powerful as the last time they met up, in the pages of Action Comics a few years earlier, but still appropriately sad.

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The Creeper has fun, and so does the reader, in this Steve Ditko outing, as he goes after the Disruptor, who has been creating chaos at the studio.

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In fact, everyone gets involved in the big fight with the Disruptor.  Jack Ryder changes back and forth between himself and the Creeper, though the madness of the battle prevents anyone from noticing.  Jack realizes the Disruptor must be a member of the staff, from their familiarity with the building and what is going on.

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He figures out who the Disruptor is, simply by acting like a complete idiot, waving his ruler around and re-enacting the fight, to see which staff members are actually nursing the injuries that the Disruptor received.  Then he simply changes to the Creeper and confronts the terrified villain.

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Wonder Woman is pitted against Poison Ivy as her series begins to chart the adventures of the Earth-1 Wonder Woman, by Conway, Ric Estrada and Jack Abel.

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We briefly get introduced to the current status of Diana Prince, working for the United Nations Security Council, alongside Steve Trevor, who has been brought back to life.  To cover his identity, Steve has dyed his hair black, and adopted the last name Howard.  She gets on the case after a number of diplomats have been poisoned.

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Ivy is the one behind that, working as a paid assassin.  This follows right after her appearance in Batman Family.

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Wonder Woman gets in Ivy’s trail, but winds up caught by her “bodyguard,” one of her former lovers, changed into a tree-man.  This is the first, but not the last, time we see Poison Ivy turn her beaux into botany.

The story concludes in the next issue.

 

 

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