Tag Archives: Joe Giella

World’s Finest 272 – Superman tries to give Batman a break, Green Arrow heads to Vlatava, Hawkgirl becomes Hawkwoman, Red Tornado ends and Chain Lightning debuts

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Horrible cover for World’s Finest 272 (Oct. 81), and the Superman/Batman story inside, by Burkett, Buckler and Giella, is not the best either.

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Superman gets worried because Batman is all intense and gritty.  As weird as that sounds, it shows how neutered the character had become in this book.  He pretty much kidnaps him and brings him to the Fortress of Solitude to hang out, have fun and relax.

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That doesn’t work too well.  When Superman heads out to help some explorers in trouble, robots invade the Fortress, and Batman has to hold them off.  They are equipped with kryptonite, so even when Superman gets back, it’s still up to Batman to take them out.  He does, but the two are left wondering who was behind this.  They will find out in the next issue.

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Haney, Von Eeden and Breeding have a pretty shocking opening to the Green Arrow story, as the hero finds the dead body of Count Vertigo.  He claims to have been poisoned by gas from the crown, and blames the US government.  His dying request is to be brought back to Vlatava for burial, and asks Green Arrow to do so.

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Arrow does accompany the body back to the Eastern European nation, under Soviet occupation.  This is the first time we see Vlatava, and it look relatively poor, and also fairly dangerous.  Once there, Vertigo revives.  He had never actually died, and there was no gas in the crown, instead it amplified his powers to an even greater degree.  He and Green Arrow start to fight, which draws the attention of the Soviet troops.

The story continues in the next issue.

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Hawkman has problems with the Thanagarians, and with his wife, in this story by Rozakis, Saviuk and Rodriguez.  The Hawks engage in aerial battle with the Thanagarian fleet, but though they are skilled, the numbers are simply against them.  The fleet is not really after them, they are leading an invasion of Earth.  Hawkman manages to divert them into hyperspace and trap them there.

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Shayera is less than pleased.  In her eyes, she has just condemned them to a living death, for simply following the orders of Hyathis.  Hyathis may be a warmonger and maniac, but most of the fleet is peopled by average Thanagarians. It is also in this story that she decides she no longer wants to be called Hawkgirl, and insists upon Hawkwoman.

The story continues in the next issue.

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Red Tornado’s series comes to an end with this Conway, Delbo and Breeding story that concludes his fight with the Robot Killer.

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The Statue of Liberty does get nicely used as a battleground, but there is little else commendable here.  The Robot Killer injures Tornado, but then gets trapped, and needs to repair the android so that they can both be saved.

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On the whole, the Red Tornado series was nothing to crow about.  Sad.  Reddy continues to appear in Justice League of America.

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Bridwell, Newton and Mitchell introduce Chain Lightning, the only new villain added to the Shazam series that would continue to appear in years to come.

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Chain Lightning has the ability to both draw lightning to her, and also emit it.  The magic lightning that Mary Marvel calls down simply gets absorbed by Chain Lightning, powering her up.  Chain Lightning is also the very first Mary Marvel villain who is able to notice that Mary’s secret identity looks exactly like her, only the clothing changes.  It stuns me that no other characters are able to spot this.

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We even get an origin for her, albeit a brief one.  A sorceress, she studied alchemy and magic until she learned to control magic lightning.  What Chain Lightning does not realize is that a second Shazam bolt will not double her power, but remove it.  Mary Marvel counts on this, and takes her out.

 

 

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World’s Finest 270 – Superman and Batman vs Metallo, Count Vertigo wants his crown, Hawkgirl vs the Shadow Thief, Red Tornado vs the Robot Killer, and Captain Marvel vs alien concepts of beauty

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Metallo takes on Superman and Batman in World’s Finest 270 (Aug. 81), in a story by Conway, Buckler and Tanghal.

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Metallo had appeared only a couple of months earlier in the Brave and the Bold, and escapes from prison at the start of this story.  He has had his minions create an artificial black hole, at his command, which he uses to power his body, along with the good ole kryptonite.  Kryptonite is actually the power source for the black hole.

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Nevertheless, he proves pretty easy to handle.  Even his own men warn him about exposing the black hole, that it could consume him.  Which it does. Superman and Batman just had to wait it out.

Metallo takes a few years to escape from this, it seems, as he does not return until three years down the road, in the pages of Blue Devil.

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Count Vertigo makes a much more impressive return, in a story by Haney, Von Eeden and Smith.  He demands the return of the crown of Vlatava, and holds an office building as hostage.

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Green Arrow finds it much harder to deal with Vertigo this time, who has improved his reality warping device.  And Arrow also seems somewhat convinced by Vertigo’s arguments that the crown, currently in the possession of the US government, for some reason, is rightfully his.

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Green Arrow delivers the crown to Count Vertigo, who promptly destroys it.  An unusual ending, which begs a continuation, although it takes a couple of issues to come, as the next issue is a full length Superman/Batman tale.

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Hawkman gets solo billing on this Rozakis, Saviuk and Rodriguez story, even though Hawkgirl gets most of the action.  Hawkman is still recovering from the poisoning, and Hawkgirl tries to navigate the ship away from the oncoming Thanagarian fleet.

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Matters get complicated by the Shadow Thief, now working for Hyathis, out to help her capture the Hawks in return for being made the ruler of Earth after the Thanagarians conquer it.  The Shadow Thief had last appeared in the Hawkman run in Showcase.

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Hawkman is more useful than in the previous tale, as he constructs the prism trap that the Shadow Thief gets stuck in.

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The Red Tornado begins a two-part story in this issue, by Conway, Delbo and Giella.

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Most of this issue deals with the villain, the Robot Killer. He hates automation, and spends the story attacking and destroying the kind of robots that function in factories.  The kind that don’t fight back.  Only at the climax of the tale does he come face to face with Red Tornado.

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I was going to skip over the Captain Marvel story in this issue.  Bridwell, Newton and Larry Mahlstedt weave a decent little tale, but hardly a notable one.

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Captain Marvel encounters a boy kidnapped and transformed by aliens.  He finds the alien race, and discovers that they thought they were improving the boy, making him attractive like them.  At Marvel’s request, they change him back.

World’s Finest 269 – Batman buried alive, Green Arrow on vacation, Hawkgirl returns to Thanagar, Red Tornado needs repairs and Captain Marvel Jr vs Sabbac

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Conway, Buckler and McLaughlin bring Robin back to share an adventure as Batman get buried alive in World’s Finest 269 (June/July 1981).

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The story opens as Batman wakes up in a coffin, already under the ground and running out of air.  Superman is on the case, as Batman has already missed an appointment with him.

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Robin joins the hunt, and though he and Superman track down the man who captured Batman fairly easily – he’s not shy about admitting to his crime – the man blows himself up before revealing where Batman is, injuring Robin in process.

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Superman is left to try to find Batman on his own.  And though he does figure out where Batman is buried, and digs to free him, he finds that Batman has already managed to escape.  We get an explanation of how this was done, even though it’s not really needed.  This is Batman, after all.

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Haney, Von Eeden and Breeding send Green Arrow down to the Caribbean on holiday, where he winds up in the old Spanish Prisoner scam, getting looped into helping a woman bribe a relative to freedom, although none of what she says is true.

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It doesn’t take Green Arrow too long to spot the holes in her story, and turn the tables on her, and the rest of the drug smuggling gang she is a part of.  But the art is very good, and the story remains a fun read.

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Hawgirl shares the title billing with Hawkman on this story, by Rozakis, Saviuk, and Rodriguez, even though she is really getting a solo tale.  Hawkman just lies around, poisoned and dying.

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It’s Hawkgirl who heads back down to her home planet, despite the order of exile.  She finds herself betrayed by friends and hunted down like a criminal, but does manage to get the serum that will cure her husband.

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Even so, it’s a case of out of the frying pan and into the fire, as they find the Thanagarian fleet heading out after them.

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I was always a big fan of the Red Tornado, and with each issue I hoped for a story I could really enjoy.  And while Conway, Delbo and Giella have a decent enough tale, it was never quite was I was hoping for.

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This issue sees Red Tornado needing some repairs for his body.  Presumably Morrow did not treat it well when he was controlling it.  The man he turns to for help is busy being held up by communist terrorists, who clearly chose the wrong man on the wrong day.  Even with his body malfunctioning, the Tornado is able to take them down.

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Bridwell, Newton and Adkins continue with the focus on Captain Marvel Jr as Freddy Freeman faces an enemy not seen since the 1940s, Sabbac.  As the splash page makes clear, he is essentially an evil version of the Marvels, deriving his powers from various demons and devils.

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Captain Marvel Jr makes quick work of him.  He really ought to be a bit more of a challenge.  And though the story appears resolved as the issue ends, there is more to come with Freddy.

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.

 

World’s Finest 266 – Superman and Batman face Lady Lunar, Green Arrow on a flagpole, Red Tornado saves the kid, Hawkman in the sewer, and Sivana’s spaceship

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Burkett, Buckler and Smith create a sequel to the classic Moon Man story in World’s Finest 266 (Dec/Jan 80/81), as they introduce Lady Lunar.

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Lady Lunar first appears at a STAR Labs exhibition on space travel, demonstrating the magnetic powers as the Moon Man.

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Superman and Batman visit Brice Rogers, and determine that he has no connection to this new manifestation.  From here on, the story becomes primarily a mystery, as the heroes try to figure out who Lady Lunar really is.

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The clues appear to point to Jenet Klyburn, the head of STAR Labs, a regular supporting character in the Superman books.  Batman heads to her place, only to find that Klyburn is a captive of Lady Lunar.  The real identity of Lady Lunar is Stacy Macklin, a NASA astronaut who was a supporting character in Wonder Woman for a while, last seen about a year earlier.  As with Moon Man, the split personality and the powers eventually wear off.

But unlike Moon Man, Stacy is not permanently cured. She returns as Lady Lunar, though only in a cameo, in Crisis on Infinite Earths.

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Haney, Von Eeden and Rodin Rodriguez pull an interesting variation on the secret identity storyline, as Green Arrow proves to editor George Taylor that he is not really Oliver Queen.  As Green Arrow he is breaking a record for flagpole sitting for charity, while still submitting his columns as Oliver Queen.  Taylor keeps watch on him 24 hours a day.

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Oliver and Dinah have a very complex plan in store, where she gives him information about current events, and he cues her on what to write for his column, all done in plain view.

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It’s a lot more fun than most versions of this kind of story, and shows some real cleverness.

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And though Taylor gets all the evidence he needs that Oliver and Green Arrow are not the same person, he still won’t believe it.

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Red Tornado moves into a slum neighbourhood in this chapter of his series, by deMatteis, Delbo and DeMulder.  Kathy Sutton, his sometime girlfriend from Justice League is in this story, although Traya is oddly absent.

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Red Tornado finds himself dealing with a teenager on some heavy drugs, and her negligent mother, who is presumably a prostitute.

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Even when I was young, I thought this a very odd world to put the Red Tornado into, although I could guess that the point was to emphasize his humanity, despite being an android.  TO Morrow only cameos, but attacks him at the end of the story.

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Rozakis, Landgraf and Rodriguez begin a Hawkman story arc that will finally bring him back to events and characters from his Showcase run.  It’s funny, when I think of his run in World’s Finest, the upcoming stuff is all I remember.  Yet his series ran for quite a few issues before really taking flight.

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Hawkman and Hawkgirl wind up in the sewer system, investigating and battling a giant bug.

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As the story ends, the heroes are really not sure if the bug monster they defeated was an aberration, or part of a larger mutation.  But the reader sees another huge insect as the story closes, letting us know there is more to come.

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Bridwell, Newton and Joe Giella bring the Monster Society of Evil storyline to its penultimate chapter.  Captain Marvel faces Sivana and Ibac, although as has become typical in this storyline, only Sivana really does anything.  Ibac is just along for the ride.

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Sivana has built a number of spaceships, all resembling his own head.  He intends to overpower Captain Marvel simply by sheer force of numbers, but he outdoes Sivana with a well placed pool shot that takes out all the ships.

 

World’s Finest 214 – Vigilante and the western werewolf (and Superman, too)

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Although World’s Finest 214 (Nov. 72) opens with Clark Kent heading out west for a story, Skeates, O’Neil, Dillin and Giella serve up what is basically a Vigilante story, with Superman and Batman on the edges.  Vigilante was having a bit of a revival at the time, and was appearing in Adventure Comics.

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Clark interviews the Vigilante, but the focus gets taken by a young werewolf boy and his girlfriend, as well as those hunting him.

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Vigilante spends the story immersed with these people.  The werewolf boy is played as a tragic figure, and it’s a solid story.

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Superman flies away with a reel of film and goes to see Batman, who confirms the werewolf element.  Which Superman would have known if he’d just stuck around.

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Superman returns as werewolf boy goes out of control, but it’s the Vigilante who defeats the monster, shooting him with a silver bullet.

This is the last of the alternating Superman team-ups.  Few stories from this run were really notable, but the concept would return for a more successful run beginning in the late 70s, under the title DC Comics Presents.

World’s Finest 213 – Superman and the Atom and the world inside the telephone

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The Atom and Superman head on a science fiction adventure on a microscopic world in the story by Maggin, Dillin and Giella in World’s Finest 213 (Sept. 72).

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Ray Palmer wants to consult with Superman on an experiment that he is working on.  He calls Clark Kent, travelling through the telephone line, as the Atom likes to do.  But this time he gets sucked into an energy blob.

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Superman uses a Kandorian shrinking ray to enter the telephone and hunt for the Atom.

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They get into an adventure on a very tiny world that is being threatened by a genesis molecule.  The people who live on the world are simply trying to survive, and though Superman and the Atom help them, this is a relatively bleak story.

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The end of the tale makes Ray Palmer come off as a cold and emotionless scientist, which really isn’t his character at all, but let’s Superman appear more compassionate.