O’Neil, Buckler and Giordano resolve the Super-Sons stories in a brilliant and powerful way in World’s Finest 263 (June/July 1980).
The story begins as the sons of Batman and Superman defeat Dr. Sivana – and we see that this is a simulation, being run on Superman’s computer in the Fortress of Solitude, for the amusement of the two heroes. Without it being stated, it is obvious that all the Super-Sons stories were simulations as well. The heroes get distracted by more pressing concerns, and leave the Fortress with the computer still running.
Within the simulation, Superman Jr and Batman Jr discover that neither they nor Dr. Sivana existed before this morning. But as the Super-Sons believe that they are real, they assume they are in some form of exotic trap, and search for a way out.
Apparently everything in the Fortress is highly connected, as the two boys wind up emerging from the disintegration pit, and head out into the real world. They almost immediately encounter other people, a group travelling through the arctic, who seem to have been on the road too long as one goes nuts and shoots another, a man named Hagen.
Superman Jr rushes Hagen to a hospital, where he meets Lois Lane. When she confronts him on not being Superman, he casually explains that he is Superman’s son. This is not news Lois can take casually.
The boys are puzzled, but continue to fight the good fight, eventually running into Batman, who is shocked to meet his “son.” Batman tries to figure out who the boys really are, while Superman is busy dealing with all manner of earthquakes and natural disasters that have started erupting.
The two things turn out to be directly connected. The Super-Sons are damaging the very essence of reality with their presence. But the boys find it impossible to accept that they are not real, or that they formed themselves out of sludge from the disintegration pit.
Batman confronts them with the question they cannot answer – the identities of their mothers. These were never programmed into the simulation, and the boys have no idea. A convincing proof, which sends the two voluntarily back into the pit. But this is no victory. It is, however, a great story.
Hard to follow up on the lead story, but the Green Arrow tale is not bad. Bob Haney joins Trevor Von Eeden and Armando Gil as Oliver Queen discovers the power that his column has. He busts a second-generation hoodlum from Hell’s Acre, the slum area of Star City, and writes a column about the necessity of fixing it up.
A prominent businessman jumps on this, proposing a new project, but insisting it be done his way, on his schedule. Oliver is suspicious, even moreso when he finds that the street gangs seem connected to this project.
And, indeed, the businessman has huge mob connections. Crusading in the paper by day, and on the streets by night, Green Arrow exposes him and gets a proper housing development started.
Adam Strange gets a solo story, his first in over a decade, subbing for Hawkman in this issue. Jack C Harris, James Sherman and Steve Mitchell relate this tale, which follows up on Adam Strange’s role in Hawkman’s Showcase run.
While Adam, Alanna and Sardath find a new Zeta-beam machine, they also try to get the zeta flares they have lost from a group of Adam’s old enemies, lead by Kaskor.
As Kaskor and his people use Adam’s main “weapon” against him, he arms himself with weaponry used by other foes from way back during his Mystery in Space run. It’s not a really great story, but a decent one, at least. And it ends by returning Adam Strange to his status quo, reliant on the Zeta beam, which wears off whenever it wants to, usually at the climax of the story.
Aquaman returns to New Venice, a submerged city that debuted years earlier in Adventure Comics, in this story by Rozakis, Delbo and Chiaramonte.
The bulk of the tale has Aquaman escorted around a museum they have built to him. So we get to see exhibits about his origin, the son of a lighthouse keeper and an Atlantean woman. His adoption of Aqualad and marriage to Mera are covered, as well as his rivalry with his half brother Orm, the Ocean Master. The birth and death of his son are also shown, though at least they do not have a display of Black Manta killing the child.
The story ends with Aquaman deciding to set up home in New Venice. Oh, I should have mentioned that the reason he comes here in the first place is to bring news to the brother of the senator lost in the whirlpool in the previous issue. I also noticed that Siggy, the mutated telepathic Nazi seahorse, is not in this story, and will not be seen again. I think he is still stuck in the whirlpool realm, along with the senator.
Captain Marvel Jr gets to star in this issue’s Shazam tale, by Bridwell, Newton and Hunt. It pits him against one of his old foes (literally), Greybeard. Greybeard sees Freddy Freeman, and is convinced that he has some secret for staying young. Freddy mentions the Suspendium, but of course he does not appear in any pictures of the people trapped there, as he was in his Captain Marvel Jr identity.
Greybeard thinks the Suspendium was a hoax anyway, and that the Marvel Family all possess some secret for staying young. Which is sort of true. Freddy allows himself to be captured by Greybeard, but is already in his Captain Marvel Jr body, just dressed as Freddy.
Not the best story of this run.
Tagged: Adam Strange, Alanna, Aqualad, Aquaman, Armando Gil, Batman, Black Manta, Bob Haney, Bob Rozakis, Captain Marvel Jr, Dave Hunt, DC Comics, Denny O'Neil, Dick Giordano, Don Newton, E Nelson Bridwell, Frank Chiaramonte, Freddy Freeman, Green Arrow, Greybeard, Jack C Harris, James Sherman, Jose Delbo, Kaskor, Lois Lane, Matt Hagen, Mera, New Venice, Ocean Master, Oliver Queen, Rich Buckler, Sardath, Sivana, Steve Mitchell, Super-Sons, Superman, Trevor Von Eeden, World's Finest Comics