World’s Finest 268 – Dr. Zodiac returns, Green Arrow in Chinatown, Red Tornado out of body, Hawkman vs Lord Insectus, and the origin of Captain Marvel Jr

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A little over a hundred issues after his first appearance, Dr. Zodiac makes an impressive return in World’s Finest 268 (April/May 1981).

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Burkett, Tanghal and Smith weave an interesting story, dealing with an ancient Atlantean relic, a Zodiac wheel with twelve coins, each representing a different sign.  The coins give appropriate powers to anyone who controls them, and the wheel.  Lori Lemaris, last seen a couple of years earlier in DC Comics Presents, makes a rare appearance, explaining the coins and their origins to Superman.

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While we see the thefts of the coins being committed by someone, taking the forms of the various zodiacal signs, the identity of this person it not clear.

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Batman is certain that Dr. Zodiac is the one behind it, even though he has alibis for every single theft.  The key to the mystery is the Gemini coin, which creates a double, which Zodiac used to create his alibis.  Dr. Zodiac attempts to charge himself with the powers of all the coins, but Superman replaced one with a fake before it was stolen.  This has the effect, when placed in the wheel, of nullifying all his powers.

Dr. Zodiac does return down the road.

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Bid Simons, Trevor Von Eeden and Brett Breeding craft a gritty and enjoyable Green Arrow story, which takes him into Chinatown gang wars.

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An aging samurai is forced into battle with Green Arrow by one of the gangs, creating an interesting situation, as we neither want the old man to triumph or be defeated.  The story does have a happy ending, and a good role for his daughter.

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T.O. Moorw puts the moves on Kathy Sutton while in the Red Tornado’s body in this chapter, by deMatteis, Conway, Delbo and Giella.  Although he looks like the Red Tornado, his behaviour makes Kathy suspicious almost from the start.

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They pick up Traya from the orphanage.  I guess they sent her back there, as Tornado had already adopted her once.  Traya also figures out that something is wrong, right from the get-go.  When the real Red Tornado shows up in Morrow’s deformed body, he has no trouble convincing the women of who he is, but it is not until Traya is in danger that he regains control of his body, forcing Morrow out by sheer force of will.

T.O. Morrow returns in a couple of months in Justice League of America, in a story that resolves the apparent contradictions between this story and his appearance in Super-Team Family.

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Hawkman goes to the bugs in this chapter, by Rozakis, Saviuk and Rodriguez.  Hawkman always seems to look “right” when fighting other animal based enemies, and Lord Insectus does a good job leading his insect hordes against him and Hawkgirl.

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Between them they develop a device that reverses the mutation of the insects, returning them to their normal size, where they are simply pests.  To their surprise, this works on Insectus as well, indicating that someone else transformed him.  But before they can ponder that, Hawkman collapses from the excess venom he had been stung with during the story, and Shayera has no choice but to take Katar back to Thanagar, exile or no.

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Bridwell, Newton and Mitchell begin a story arc that centres on Captain Marvel Jr, and opens by recapping his origin, which he has been having nightmares about.

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Freddy Freeman was out fishing with his grandfather, when Captain Nazi, in the middle of a fight with Captain Marvel, smashed right into their rowboat.  Nazi killed the grandfather, and tried to kill Freddy, leaving him crippled.  Captain Marvel brought Freddy to Shazam, who allowed Marvel to share his powers with Freddy, when Freddy spoke Captain Marvel’s name.

Although not much else happens during this first chapter, the importance of this recap will become clear later on.

 

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