World’s Finest 261 – the Penguin/Terra-Man team, Green Arrow and Black Canary vs Auntie Gravity, Black Lightning ends, and Mary Marvel becomes a statue

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Penguin and Terra-Man mark the first Superman/Batman villain team-up in these pages in close to a decade, in World’s Finest 261 (Feb/March 1980).

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Although the two villains have nothing obviously in common, O’Neil, Buckler and Giordano craft a remarkably good tale for the two of them.  The Penguin is on a tv interview show, promoting a man who claims to be Butch Cassidy, still alive and young in the present day.  Batman busts into the broadcast, sure that the Penguin is perpetrating a fraud, but Terra-Man comes in as well, believing that the man is Cassidy.

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He isn’t, of course, and the Penguin explains his plans to Terra-Man.  He hired an actor to learn all there is to learn about Cassidy, and then hypnotized him into believing he really was the outlaw.  Aside from that, he simply intends to profit as the man’s agent.  But now that Batman has insisted, on television, that the man is a fraud, Penguin does not expect his plan to work.

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Terra-Man suggests turning it into a revenge plot.  Using some kryptonite that he has, added to the Penguin’s hypnotic device, they attack Superman, and brainwash him into believing that he is the Sundance Kid, plotting to have him gun down Batman.

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It’s the Butch Cassidy impersonator who messes this up, as he knows Superman is not Sundance.  Hypnotizing Superman to kill someone is a risky proposition anyway, as it does so much against his nature that Butch is able to break the spell.

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Green Arrow and Black Canary face a new enemy in this story, Aunty Gravity, an old hillbilly who mental powers of telekinesis suddenly manifest, thanks to Conway, Saviuk and Chiaramonte.  While the story itself is not bad, the art leaves something to be desired.

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Green Arrow’s skills are easily disrupted by Aunty Gravity, but Black Canary’s cry proves effective.  At least until Aunty aims the Arrow’s arrow at Dinah, knocking her out.

The story concludes in the next issue.

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After the excellent Black Lightning story last issue, this little tale, by O’Neil, Tanghal and Colletta, is a bit of a let-down, but only a bit.  A school outing on a cruise ship goes awry when a submarine crew board the ship.  Most of the guests are involved in a costume party and too distracted, but Black Lightning sees what is going on.

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He goes from ship to sub and back again before the story is out, discovering a plot to smuggle a mob boss back into the country.

After this story, Black Lightning’s series moves to the pages of Detective Comics.

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The Hawkman story in this issue is not a story as such, and even bills itself as a dossier on the character.  Bob Rozakis, Eduardo Barretto and Dave Simons give the basic background to the character before launching into the rest of his run.  It’s not a bad idea.  The Hawkman stories in this book so far have not, except for the very first, followed up on the Showcase stories, but will from this point on.  We briefly get the origin of Katar Hol, his fight with the Manhawks and theft of their hoods, from which the Hawk-helmets were created.

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He and Shayera come to Earth, join the Justice League, fight against the Matter Master and Gentleman Ghost. The final pages covers the events from Showcase, with Hyathis curing Thanagar of the Equalizer plague, becoming the planet’s leader and sending Hawkman and Hawkgirl into exile.

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Mary Marvel gets a solo story in this issue’s Shazam story, by Bridwell, Newton and Hunt.

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A series of thefts occur, at houses where some exceptionally realistic statues have recently been purchased.  Mary Marvel goes to check on the sculptor, Nivan.  She does not figure out that “he” is really Georgia Sivana in disguise.  Not even the name Nivan clues her in.

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You almost wind up rooting for Georgia, especially as she is not fooled into thinking Mary Batson and Mary Marvel are different people.  I am always dismayed at anyone who cannot figure this out, when the only thing about her that changes is her dress.  Georgia uses her statue ray on Mary – she turns her goons into statues, places them in wealthy homes, then brings them back to life to rob the places.  Mary almost ges smashed to bits, but manages to say Shazam, and turning to Mary Marvel restores her to normal.

 

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