The Challengers of the Unknown get one of their few good stories in this period in World’s Finest 267 (Feb/March 1981), by Burkett, Buckler and Giordano.
The team gets a brief recap of their origin, as well as inset pictures of the four members of the team: Prof. Haley, Ace Morgan, Red Ryan and Rocky Davis. The last time the team appeared was in Showcase 100, a couple of years earlier.
The story utilizes the Challengers exceptionally well, considering that Superman and Batman are also involved in the story. A terrorist group has taken control of a satellite that control gravity, and threatens to use it. While Superman deals with the satellite itself, Batman works with each of the other four to deal with the terrorist bases.
Not, perhaps, the best story for Superman and Batman, but they are not the ones who are meant to shine in this tale.
The Challengers return in their own series in Adventure Comics Digest, a year down the road.
Black Canary gets her last solo story in this book in this issue, although she remains a supporting character in the Green Arrow series, much the way Oliver is in this story, by Haney, Von Eeden and Colletta.
The story deals with a policewoman accused of killing an unarmed man. The woman is very distraught, but Black Canary is convinced that there is more to the tale. She finds evidence of the victim’s involvement with drugs and gangs, and uses her sonic cry to find a bullet, embedded in a pole. It’s a neat use of the power, one that ought to be used again, but isn’t. Dinah puts the facts together and clears the policewoman, caught in the middle of a gang killing.
DeMatteis, Delbo and DeMulder continue the Red Tornado’s story, as he falls into the hands of T.O. Morrow.
I had forgotten that this story actually does address Morrow’s appearance in Super-Team Family. Tornado brings it up, only to have Morrow insist that his memory circuits are malfunctioning. An interesting hint that something more is going on.
Morrow hooks himself and Red Tornado up to a mind-transfer machine, and puts his awareness into the android’s body. The story ends with Kathy Sutton meeting Tornado, unaware that it is really Morrow.
Hawkman’s bug battles continue in this issue, thanks to Rozakis, Saviuk and Rodriguez.
In a refreshing change of pace, it is Hawkman who winds up the prisoner of Lord Insectus, the one behind the army of mutated insects, while Hawkgirl is busy battling the hordes of monsters.
The story continues in the next issue.
The Monster Society of Evil storyline comes to an end here, by Bridwell, Newton and Smith. Like the rest of this storyline, it really doesn’t use the small army of villains particularly well.
But as there are so many to deal with, Captain Marvel calls on not only Mary and Freddy, but also the Lieutenant Marvels, making their final appearance. Tall Billy Batson, Fat Billy Batson and Hillbilly Batson were never very interesting characters, but they do fill out the roster for the final battle.
Still, Black Adam, King Kull, Mr. Atom, Oggar, Ibac, and Sivana do take up a lot of space for all their fights, even if none get much of a chance to show off what makes them unique.
Mr. Mind is, of course, the last to be caught, and it is the best scene in the entire story arc, as Captain Marvel finds the worm hiding in Shazam’s beard.
Tagged: Ace Morgan, Alex Saviuk, Batman, Black Adam, Black Canary, Bob Haney, Bob Rozakis, Byth, Captain Marvel, Captain Marvel Jr, Cary Burkett, Challengers of the Unknown, DC Comics, Dick Giordano, Dinah Lance, Don Newton, E Nelson Bridwell, Green Arrow, Hawkgirl, Hawkman, Ibac, Jean-Marc deMatteis, Jose Delbo, Kathy Sutton, Kim DeMulder, King Kull, Lieutenant Marvels, Mary Marvel, Mr Atom, Mr Mind, Oggar, Professor Haley, Red Ryan, Red Tornado, Rich Buckler, Robert Smith, Rocky Davis, Rodin Rodriguez, Shazam, Sivana, Superman, TO Morrow, Trevor Von Eeden, Vince Colletta, World's Finest Comics