O’Neil continues his string of Superman/Batman team-ups with no true villains in World’s Finest 259 (Oct/Nov 79). Not to say that this is a bad story. Quite the contrary, with Buckler and Giordano’s wonderful art, I find this an enjoyable puzzler.
The reader gets to know what is going on long before the heroes do, as we see aliens planting glowing stones, long before the arrival of human civilization. The action begins when those stones get activated, and the population of Gotham City begin leaving, all heading for Metropolis. Unwittingly, they are moving from one stone to another. But Superman and Batman have no idea what is going on. When Alfred tenders his resignation, and announces his forthcoming move to Metropolis, Batman knows something is affecting people’s minds. But why not his?
It’s not until Batman catches an insomniac thief who is plundering the near-vacant Gotham that the heroes figure out that the “mind control” happens when Gothamites are sleeping – the reason Batman remains unaffected. Pin-pointing the sources of repulsion and attraction, Superman finds the stones buried deep in the Earth and disposes of them.
Conway, Newton, Hunt and Colletta combine as Green Arrow and Hawkman join forces to deal with some troublesome aliens.
Both emerge, but separately, after manifesting as electrical energy. One is pursuing the other, and has been for a very long time, traversing worlds and dimensions. Green Arrow and Black Canary try to stop the arrogant destruction of the pursuer, which gets Canary injured.
Hawkman takes over at this point, as Green Arrow brings Black Canary to the JLA satellite to tend her wounds. Though Hawkman is a bit more on the side of the “cop,” and Green Arrow more in defense of the “felon,” there is surprisingly little conflict between the two heroes – even though Green Arrow and Hawkman have a long-standing rivalry.
Perhaps it’s because the alien “cop” is such a powerful jerk that Hawkman does not feel the need to stand up for him against Green Arrow.
At any rate, the heroes set up the aliens to short each other out. This will not kill them, simply destroy these bodies, and send their energies elsewhere, where they can continue their chase.
The ending makes this all a Les Miserables sort of situation, as we learn that the crime that started this all was stealing a loaf of bread.
O’Neil, Mike Netzer and Vince Colletta put together a very nice Black Lightining story in this issue.
It opens in a maximum security prison, as a dying con refers to a long-missing jewel thief. The news passes through the grapevine, and it is believed that the one mentioned, Bart Toomey, has hidden the loot from his last robbery, and been hiding out ever since.
This leads a gang to take over the flophouse hotel mentioned, searching for Toomey and the loot, and gunning down anyone who gets in their way. Black Lightning steps in, saving the residents and taking down the bad guys.
He also finds Bart Toomey, who has indeed been in the hotel all this time. Though not in the way people imagined.
Mr. Tawky Tawny gets the focus of the Shazam story in this issue, by Bridwell, Newton and Schaffenberger.
The talking tiger gets a flashback to his origin, the mysterious potion he was given that accelerated his evolution. He explains this all to a doctor examining him. But the doctor thinks Tawny is the key to advancing human evolution as well.
He distills a serum derived from Tawny’s blood, and takes it. It does, indeed, evolve him into a monstrous future man. Captain Marvel gets involved at this point, but finds the future man too much of a match for him.
Apparently the evolutionary process does not make one less gullible, as Captain Marvel tricks the future man into taking an antidote, by convincing him that Tawny has regressed. Considering that one dose of the formula was enough to evolve Tawny and keep him that way for decades, the future man really had no need of an urgent dose to maintain himself.
Tagged: Alfred, Batman, Black Canary, Black Lightning, Captain Marvel, Dave Hunt, DC Comics, Denny O'Neil, Dick Giordano, Don Newton, E Nelson Bridwell, Gerry Conway, Green Arrow, Hawkman, Kurt Schaffenberger, Mike Netzer, Mr Tawky Tawny, Rich Buckler, Superman, Vince Colletta, World's Finest Comics