Tag Archives: Black Canary

Superman 236 – Superman among the angels, and the singing flowers of Krypton

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Looks like something supernatural is going on on the cover of Superman 236 (April 1971).

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O’Neil, Swan and Anderson give Batman a cameo at the top of this story, as he and Superman finish rounding up a criminal gang.  Batman is heading home for some sleep, but Superman does not sleep.  He has invented a brainwave machine, and tries it out, but it seems to short out, and Superman finds himself among angels, helping them fend off devils at the gates of Hell.  The angels tell him he has died, and order him to go battle the demons.

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Superman goes along with things for a while, but the demons don’t seem very demonic, and in talking to them, they break through the hypnotic effect that the ‘angels” have subjected him to.  Superman is really in the middle of a war between two alien groups.

The angels try to force him to stay on their side, threatening Batman, Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen, but once Superman knows what is really going on, he helps the good aliens beat the bad ones.

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Green Arrow and Black Canary guest in this issue World of Krypton story, by O’Neil and Giordano.  They are fuming about the pollution destroying the environment, and so Superman shares with them a tale from Krypton.

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A couple of decades before the explosion of the planet, another scientist had figured out what was coming.  But when he tried to warn people, no one would listen.  They were all really into just chilling and listening to singing flowers.  Because the scientist kept ruining their groove, they sealed him up in the middle of a garden, until all he wanted to do was listen to singing flowers as well.  Twenty years later, Krypton blew up.

It’s kind of a dumb story, really.

World’s Finest 283 – the Composite Superman returns, the Atom guests, and Green Arrow shoots for the mouth

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The Composite Superman returns, decades after the death of Joe Meach, in World’s Finest 283 (Sept. 82), by Burkett, Tuska and McLaughlin.

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After a preliminary scene with a mysterious character escaping a prison in outer space, the story shifts to Earth.  Batman runs into Superman, who tries to kill him, and then Superman faces a Batman armed with kryptonite.

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Angry and confused, the two heroes confront each other.  But any overall plan to turn them against each other is cut short when the Composite Superman phases through the walls to attack them.  They are aware that Meach died, and puzzled as to how the Composite Superman can still be alive.

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Burkett really utilizes the various powers of the Legion of Super-Heroes members that the Composite Superman has – much moreso than in either of the character’s original stories.  A very good first chapter, weakened only by Tuska’s art.  At the end, Superman thinks of running back to his Fortress in fear, knowing that the Composite Superman is reading his mind.  In fact, he heads off to the future to see the Legion.

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This issue also has a short, but fun, Atom tale by Rozakis, Novick and McLaughlin.  It’s kind of a shame that this two pager is on facing pages.  A mugger approaches a man walking down the street, and the kicker is that this is really the Atom, walking around as Ray Palmer.  The wrong man to mug.

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Barr and Kane conclude the devious revenge plot by the mother of a boy Green Arrow killed.  Although it appears that Green Arrow killed Slingshot in the previous issue, in fact he noticed the difference in weight with the arrows, and shot Slingshot in the shoulder.

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Slingshot realizes he was set up by the woman.  Green Arrow follows him as he heads back and takes both her and Black Canary hostage, demanding a one on one fight with Green Arrow.  Arrow agrees, as long as he will let both women go no matter what the outcome.

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But rather than fight Slingshot directly, and take the chance that he will go back on his word, Green Arrow fires his shot at Black Canary, ripping her gag.  She wastes no time in using her cry, taking out Slingshot. The woman who had planned all this winds up feeling very guilty, even moreso as Green Arrow risked his life for hers.

While Green Arrow returns in the next issue, Black Canary ends her tenure in World’s Finest with this issue. Slingshot is done, no more appearances for him.

World’s Finest 282 – Superman and Batman in happier times, Slingshot returns, and Hawkman and Shazam end

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Superman and Batman continue to deal with leftover devices of the Weapons Master in World’s Finest 282 (Aug. 82), by Burkett, Novick and McLaughlin.

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Hoodlums get ahold of one, and shoot Batman with it, sending him back in time.  Superman follows, finding him on Earth long before the evolution of humans.

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They encounter an alien race, whose magic creates harmony and good feelings.  Superman and Batman are both surprised at how happy they feel in this era, but when Superman gets asked to go deal with a volcano, Batman still gets suspicious.

And he is right to, as the volcano is magically induced.  One of the aliens is worried that their people will never head back to their home planet, and is trying to cause problems, so that they will leave.  Although his direct attempt fails, his actions do serve as a wake-up call, and the aliens leave.  Superman and Batman return to the present, and Batman wonders if he will ever be that happy again.  Aw.

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Black Canary gets knocked out and kidnapped as this month’s story opens, by Barr and Gil Kane, who also did the cover for this issue.

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Green Arrow is unaware of the complexity of the plot going on.  He thinks he is just after Slingshot, and a normal street gang, but in fact is dealing with the machinations of the mother of the boy he accidentally killed about ten years earlier, in the pages of the Flash.

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She brags to Black Canary of her plan.  She has had her gang steal a few of Green Arrow’s arrows, and figures out the notched coding he uses to determine which arrow is which.  Changing these, she sets him, and Slingshot, up, so that Green Arrow pulls the “wrong” arrow, and kills Slingshot.

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Hawkman’s story comes to an end, by Rozakis, Infantino and Rodriguez.  I have the feeling that this story was written and drawn before the decision was made to end the series, as it spends ten of its eleven pages having Hawkman fight with an alien.

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Only on the very last page does Hawkwoman show up, pretty much out of nowhere.  A brief mention is made of the fact that she found and saved the Thanagarian fleet, and now suddenly all is well between them.

The Hawks both continue to appear as members of the Justice League of America.

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Two of Kid Eternity’s enemies, Her Highness and Silk, make their only appearance in a DC book in this story, by Bridwell and Kane, teaming up with Captain Marvel villain Aunt Minerva.  Their evil scheme involves getting the Marvel Family to perform at a circus.

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They plan to rob the homes of those attending the circus.  Yup, that’s the big plan.  Kid Eternity, Captain Marvel, Captain Marvel Jr, Mary Marvel and even Uncle Marvel all get involved, which is overkill to the max.

The Shazam series ends here, but moves over to Adventure Comics Digest.

World’s Finest 275 – Gotham freezes and Metropolis fries, Dinah does the footwork, Zatanna vs the Shrieker, Hawkman vs Matter Master and Magificus as Captain Marvel

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Paul Kupperberg joins Buckler and McLaughlin for a bit of a mystery in World’s Finest 275 (Jan. 82).

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Gotham has started freezing, and Metropolis is boiling hot. It’s clearly not natural, but Superman and Batman are puzzled as to who is behind it.

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The solution is so obvious to any reader nowadays, but Mr. Freeze is not even one of those suspected in this tale.  He was a minor Batman villain at best during this time, and had last appeared about four years earlier.  It’s not a bad story, so much as a reminder that Freeze was not a big name for a very long time.

It would be over a year before Mr. Freeze would return, and then in a cameo along with many other Batman villains.

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Green Arrow sits in jail while Black Canary takes care of business in this story by Barr, Von Eeden and Mahlstedt.  One of Oliver Queen’s cellmates is a man that Green Arrow caught during a robbery.  Oliver now learns that the man was desperate for money, that his wife and child, all illegal immigrants, were in danger of being turned over to the police by a mob connected slumlord.

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Oliver explains all this to Dinah when she comes to visit, and she goes into action as Black Canary, setting up and taking down the slumlord, and also giving the wife a job in her flower shop, beginning her legal process to become a citizen.

Very nice that, rather than move on directly with the story of Oliver being in jail for not revealing his sources, a different tale plays out during the middle of it.

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Zatanna concludes her battle with the Shrieker in this story by Conway and Dan Spiegle.  The source of the critic’s new powers is never fully explained, but that’s not such a big problem.

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Zatanna finds her enemy more difficult to deal with then one would expect.  But this is the period when her powers had been significantly reduced, and she was only able to manipulate natural forces.  She succeeds, of course, but it’s a shame that her series is running when her powers are in decline.

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Rozakis, Saviuk and Rodriguez continue with Hawkman’s world of troubles in this story.  He tries to complain about his marital problems to the Flash, who points out that at least Hawkwoman is alive, unlike his wife.  Oops.

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The Matter Master thefts have been more clever and complex than it seemed at first.  He would use his matter transforming wand to alter objects, wait until they were removed to an easier location, for examination, and then steal and replace them with copies.  Hawkman does figure out the plan, and capture the thief, but things get worse when Matter Master implicates Shiera Hall as his partner in crime.

Matter Master is next seen in Crisis on Infinite Earths.

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The blackmailing of Billy Batson’s secretary continues in this Bridwell, Newton and Adkins story, as Billy gets kidnapped, and the kidnappers demand that Captain Marvel act as their agent, as ransom.

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The secretary, Joan Jameson, turns to Captain Marvel Jr for help.  He goes to Sivana’s son Magnificus, and with Beautia’s help, they make him resemble Captain Marvel.  Junior covers the powers, while Magnificus tries dealing with the kidnappers, but the hoax gets revealed.

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Fortunately, by that point, Freddy is able to break Billy out of his cage, and he becomes the real Captain Marvel, who the bad guys are none too happy to see at this point.

World’s Finest 274 – Batman gains super-powers, Green Arrow heads to jail, Zatanna begins, Hawkwoman leaves, and Captain Marvel in silence

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Burkett, Gonzales and Breeding conclude the Weapons Master storyline in World’s Finest 273 (Dec. 81).

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It’s not any better than the first two parts.  Batman gets all super-powered up, but also starts burning out, with only four hours to live.  He bursts into the Weapons Master’s ship and frees Superman.

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While they do not actually defeat the Weapons Master, they do succeed at driving him away.  With minutes to spare, Superman alters the chamber that gave Batman his powers, drawing them back to save his life.

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Mike W Barr takes over the scripting on the Green Arrow series, joining Von Eeden and Mahlstedt.  Much of the story is told in flashback, as Dinah listens to a tape Oliver left her, explaining why he has taken off.

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Through information gained by a stoolie, Green Arrow busts a drug ring, and writes about it as Oliver Queen.  The police want to know his source.  George Taylor tries to cover for him, but Queen gets arraigned anyway.  He runs off to Star Island to hide, but Black Canary tracks him pretty easily.  She knows him too well.

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Together, they decide that Oliver should stand up for his principles and accept the consequences, even if that means heading to jail.

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Zatanna begins a series in this issue, by Gerry Conway, Gene Colan and Robert Smith.  She is performing on a cruise ship, and has her manager/boyfriend Jeff Sloane along with her.  While Zatanna has been appearing regularly as a member of the Justice League, Jeff has not appeared since the end of her series in Adventure Comics, back in the mid-70s.

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There is a professional newspaper critic on board, a nasty, bitter man who gets empowered by some nebulous mystic force, which gives him a sonic cry, not unlike Black Canary’s.

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One of the nice touches in this story is that Zatanna differentiates between her stage garb, the classic fishnets costume, and her hero garb, his Justice League outfit, rationalizing that she does not want to capitalize on her crime fighting.

The story continues in the next issue.

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Hawkman wakes up to find that Shayera has left him in this story, by Rozakis, Saviuk and Rodriguez.  She has gone off to find and rescue the Thanagarian fleet that he trapped in hyperspace.

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Hawkman heads to the Justice League satellite, and asks Superman and Green Lantern to help him find her.  They have no idea where to even begin looking, and though it’s awkward, they also indicate that they aren’t sure that helping him is really the right thing to do.  Hawkwoman is their friend as well.

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Miserable, Katar returns to his job at the Midway City Museum.  A number of exhibits have been stolen and replaced by duplicates, and he begins to investigate.  Mavis Trent hears about his marital troubles, and immediately puts the moves on him.  The reader, but not Hawkman, sees that the Matter Master is the thief.  He had last appeared a year or so earlier in DC Comics Presents, and returns next issue as this story continues.

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There has been a subplot building over the last few Shazam stories, dealing with Billy Batson’s secretary getting blackmailed, and that begins to move to the foreground with this issue, by Bridwell, Newton and Mahlstedt.

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The main story pits Captain Marvel against a thief who has the ability to suppress sound, meaning that Billy cannot use his magic word when the man is around.  He has the secretary play a tape of him saying Shazam when the villain appears, which calls down the magic lightning, and allows him to triumph.

 

World’s Finest 267 – Superman and Batman aid the Challengers of the Unknown, Black Canary finds a new use for her cry, Red Tornado captured by T.O. Morrow, Hawkman captured by Lord Insectus, and the Marvel Family vs the Monster Society of Evil

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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DeMatteis, Delbo and DeMulder continue the Red Tornado’s story, as he falls into the hands of T.O. Morrow.

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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.

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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.

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Hawkman’s bug battles continue in this issue, thanks to Rozakis, Saviuk and Rodriguez.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

World’s Finest 262 – Superman and Batman vs the Pi-Meson Man, Black Canary is not a good hostage, Aquaman begins, Hawkman rescues Adam Strange, and Captain Marvel battles Evil

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Denny O’Neil, Joe Staton and Dick Giordano introduce a new villain for Superman and Batman, the Pi-Meson Man, as well as the one blind girl who is able to see him, in World’s Finest 262 (April/May 1980).

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The villain is a victim as well, a scientist working on a new energy source (the pi-meson thing).  It exploded and irradiated him, and now he has to live in an isolated cell.

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Though his body cannot leave the cell, he can emit another self, the Pi-Meson Man, who is invisible to most people, and capable of hugely destructive power.  But one blind girl is able to see the pi-meson energy of the second self, and helps the heroes merge and secure him.

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The character bears a distinct resemblance to the 60s Batman villain, Dr. Double-X, except for the invisibility aspect.  One very nice element of the story is that the climactic battle takes place in the Batcave, adding some interesting visuals.

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Conway, Tanghal and Colletta conclude the Aunty Gravity story in this issue.  Green Arrow continues to be out-classed by the telekinetic hillbilly, and she and her kin escape with the unconscious Black Canary, intending to hold her for ransom.

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But Black Canary is not the person to just sit around and wait to be rescued or ransomed.  She quickly takes out the hillbilly boys, even without breaking her bonds, and her sonic cry takes out Aunty Gravity.  She does make a return in the pages of Green Lantern, not too long down the road.

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Aquaman’s series moves over from Adventure Comics, bringing with him Aqualad and Mera, as well as Siggy, the mutated telepathic Nazi seahorse who has become his pet, in a story by Rozakis, Newton and Adkins.  Hawkman cameos, alerting Aquaman to a missing ship carrying a US senator.

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Investigating, Aquaman finds a whirlpool and a mysterious woman underwater.  But following them leads him into a extra-dimensional realm, from which people and ships cannot escape.

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The realm is run, more or less, by Atlena, an ancient Atlantean.  With the help of Mera and Aqualad, who are both still outside the warp, they send a chain through the whirlpool.  Aquaman tries to lead the others out, but only he escapes before the entrance seals up.

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Jean-Marc deMatteis and Ken Landgraf take over the Hawkman series with this issue.  Some excellent art on this story.

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While fighting some street criminals, Hawkman sees what appears to be the ghost of Adam Strange.  The two had last seen each other during Hawkman’s run in Showcase, as is noted in this story.  The story also cites a recent appearance by Adam Strange in Brave and the Bold.

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The psychic Trixie Magruder makes what might be her final appearance in this story.  She was most recently seen in the pages of Karate Kid.  The ever-helpful Trixie uses her powers to contact Adam Strange, who has been trapped by a problem with the zeta-beam.  Trixie is able to merge Adam’s spirit with Hawkman’s body.

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Hawkman and Hawkgirl then head to the Justice League satellite, and with the aid of Red Tornado they use the teleporter to split Hawkman and Adam, and allow Adam Strange to re-emerge in his own body.

The story continues, sort of, in the next issue.

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Captain Marvel meets an early predecessor in this story by Bridwell, Newton and Hunt.  He comes to the future (our present) to seek the aid of the current Captain Marvel to battle Evil.

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Vlarem takes Captain Marvel to meet the long forgotten gods who give him his powers, before they head out to deal with Evil and his many minions.  In the Shazam universe, there are a lot of “morality” villains – the Seven Deadly Sins being the best known, and they are in this story, as well as Sin, Terror, and Wickedness.

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Captain Marvel and Vlarem defeat the various evils, and seal them beneath a huge mountainous spire – which will become the Rock of Eternity.  At the end, Captain Marvel discovers that Vlarem eventually became the wizard Shazam.

This story is based on an original version from the 1940s Captain Marvel series.