World’s Finest 252 – Superman and Batman vs the Whisperer, Count Vertigo returns, the Creeper gets blackmailed, and Wonder Woman ends

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Haney, Tuska and Colletta bring back Doc Willard in World’s Finest 252 (Aug/Sept 78), but only as a minor villain, not the major one.

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The Whisperer is a blackmailer and kidnapper who forces his way onto the Daily Planet. Morgan Edge insists that his column be run, even though Perry White has to fire Dave Stevens to do so.  Dave Stevens was the first black reporter on the Daily Planet.  His character only appeared sporadically through the 70s, and I think this was his final appearance.

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The Whisperer usually threatens to expose wealthy or famous people.  After leaving hints in his column, he accepts blackmail payoffs to keep his mouth shut.  Batman and Superman are both surprised at the degree of knowledge he has, when he tries to blackmail Commissioner Gordon about killing an alien when he was a young policeman, a story recently told in Brave and the Bold.

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Eventually, Morgan Edge puts the Whisperer on live television.  Superman is incensed, and breaks into the booth.  He discovers only a dummy and a microphone, the Whisperer was too smart to be caught in public.

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The story weaves away a bit, dealing with an injured man who has to testify, and a device to transfer his brainwaves onto a screen.  Superman sees the man is about to reveal Batman’s identity, and messes with the device.  But both he and Batman realize the doctor involved must have been Doc Willard.

Not that this has anything to do with the Whisperer, who turns out to be a young copy boy at the paper, who learned all the secrets by digging into the Planet’s files.

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Count Vertigo returns, having his first match against Green Arrow, in this story by Conway, Von Eeden and Colletta.

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Black Canary has another new villain to deal with, the Stinger.  Despite his flashy outfit (which he wears to rob designers, leading me to think he is a frustrated one), this guy is a one-shot villain, and teaming up with him did nothing to enhance the Count.

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Still, Vertigo once again allows Von Eeden to do some great visuals as Oliver Queen finds himself unable to fight back.

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The two heroes are captured, and put into a nice, old-fashioned shark tank with a retracting floor.  Green Arrow shorts out the lights and electrifies the sharks.  They escape, and while Black Canary has little trouble against the Stinger, Green Arrow has to prep to take on Vertigo.  Fortunately, all this requires at the moment is ear plugs to neutralize his effect.

Count Vertigo returns in these pages a couple of years down the road.

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Steve Ditko brings back a minor supporting character from the Creeper’s three issue run in Adventure Comics, Dr. Joanne Russell.  Jack Ryder is thrown for a loop when she announces that she knows the Creeper’s identity.

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Investigating, the Creeper stumbles on a more complex tale, of murder and blackmail.  Sadly, Dr. Russell is not really in this story, as she was dead and being impersonated from the get-go, with the killer disguising herself as Russell, to avoid repercussions from her blackmail.  Doesn’t work out to well once she has to face the Creeper.

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Wonder Woman’s series in World’s Finest comes to an end as the origin of Poison Ivy is revealed for the first time, by Conway, Abel and Colletta.

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Holding Wonder Woman captive, Pamela Isley tells her story.  A young university student, lead into crime by an older man, a scientist named LeGrand.  Although she was in love, he was just using her, and tried to poison her when he had no further use for her.  But the poison did not kill her, instead it changed her, making her immune to all poisons.

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Wonder Woman figures out that the tree-man is really LeGrand, and goads his memory to return.  It does, and he turns against Ivy, sending them both over a waterfall.

Ivy is fine, as she returns in a couple of weeks with the Injustice Gang, to face the Justice League in their own book.

When Neil Gaiman wrote Poison Ivy’s post-Crisis origin, he kept this story largely intact, replacing LeGrand with Jason Woodrue.

Wonder Woman’s series moves over to Adventure Comics, which has become a large, anthology book at this point.

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