Posts tagged ‘Paul Kupperberg’

Detective 519 – blimps blow up, and Batgirl ends

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Gerry Conway, Paul Kupperberg, Don Newton and John Calnan are the creative team on the concluding half of this story, loosely based on the Dirigible of Death from early issues, in Detective 519 (Oct. 82).

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The villain in this story is Colonel Blimp, but we see much more of his airships than of him in this story.

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But then, the airships do far more dramatic things – like explode in pure Hindenburg glory.

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Batman and Robin chase Col. Blimp to his base in the arctic.  Robin gets a pretty decent snow outfit. Keeps his colours, but looks practical.

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It’s not bad – but really, the best thing about this tale, and about the last year or so in general, is simply that Conway is re-telling some of the oldest, classic Batman stories.  It could, and would, be done better; but it’s an effort worth commending.

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Batgirl’s second run in Detective comes to a close with this issue, as Barbara Randall and Trevor Von Eeden conclude her story with the Velvet Tiger.

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Randall gives a fair amount of backstory to the rival siblings and the manipulations of their corporation.  Enough that it feels like she was intending this series to continue, and the Velvet Tiger to return.

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As it turned out, she would bring Velvet Tiger back, almost ten years down the road, in the pages of Hawk and Dove.

Batgirl gets demoted to being a supporting character, and more often appears as Barbara Gordon than as Batgirl.  Her next solo is the Batgirl special in the late 80s, which immediately precedes The Killing Joke.

 

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Detective 516 – Batman closes the Crime Academy, and Batgirl goes all serpentine

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Detective 516 (July 1982) has the second half of the Crime Academy story.  Paul Kupperberg joins Gerry Conway in scripting, while Don Newton and Frank Chiaramonte handle the art.

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As Batman penetrates the Crime Academy, the story checks up on some of the continuing plots.  Boss Thorne can’t even get through a game of billiards without Hugo Strange’s ghost showing up to taunt him.

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Jim Gordon joins Jason Bard’s detective agency, declaring his intent to bring down mayor Hamilton Hill.

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So Batman brings down the Crime Academy on his own.  I didn’t take any shots of this, but I should mention that Dick has continued to fall for the exotic Dala, but she turns out to be linked with evil people, and he is in peril (oh, no!)

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The third part of Burkett, Delbo and Giella’s Lady Viper story sees Batgirl wake up, feeling the worse for wear.  She cannot even make it back home before passing out.

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She believes she is having disturbing dreams about being turned into a snake lady like Lady Viper, but when she wakes, amidst a group of homeless people. she discovers the dream is reality.

The story continues next issue.

Detective 504 – The Joker’s rumpus room, and Gordon finds a crooked cop

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Jim Starlin’s cover is easily the best thing about Detective 504 (July 1981).

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Gerry Conway and Don Newton are the creative team on this story, which sees the Joker commit some crimes and send some clues, all to lead the Batman to a rumpus room of death.

Olivia Ortega, a reporter, makes her first appearance in Detective.  Usually she reports on the Hamilton Hill/Arthur Reeves mayoral race, but in this one she interrupts that to broadcast some clues the Joker sent to her.  Very obliging.

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The rumpus room does not live up to the way it appears on the cover, and it’s just not a big enough threat, not fun enough,to warrant being the payoff for the story.

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Batman buries the Joker in ice cream. Ha ha.  Sigh.

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Paul Kupperberg, Jose Delbo and Joe Giella give another starring role to Commissioner Gordon in this chapter of Tales of Gotham City.

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After a drug bust at a known location turns out nothing, Gordon realizes there must be a cop on the take, and the evidence points to one he has known all his life, the son of a cop Gordon used to work with.

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The boy tries to turn his back on the mob, but that just puts the two of them in deadly peril.  Gordon just keeps guilting him until he gets them out of it.

Commisioner Gordon, with the super-power of guilt.

Detective 489 – Batman fights a vampire, Commissioner Gordon in a prison riot, Robin and Batgirl team-up, the Atom meets the Dharlu, Alfred and the evil butlers, and Batman finds Bronze Tiger

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Batman has two stories, book-ending Detective 489 (April 1980).  The first, by Jean-Marc deMatteis, Irv Novick and Vince Colletta has a rash of murders, seemingly committed by a vampire.

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A vampire hunter has also come to town, informing Batman that he and his assistant have been chasing this creature from city to city.  Batman insists there must be some other explanation for the deaths.

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The story looks like it is going the obvious direction, that the vampire hunter is really the vampire, but it doesn’t quite go that way.

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In fact, the vampire hunter is the killer, but with a split personality that thinks he is a vampire.  His assistant explains it all – then turns into a bat and flies away.

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Commissioner Gordon stars in this chapter of Tales of Gotham City, by Paul Kupperberg, Irv Novick and Steve Mitchell.

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A riot breaks out at Gotham penitentiary, and they prisoners demand Gordon be the negotiator, but when he arrives, he discovers they simply intend to kill him.

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This is possibly the most bad-ass story Gordon gets, as he takes down the men about to kill him, fakes a deal with others to get the prisoners back in their cells, and then takes down the other leaders of the riot, all by himself.

This could be a kick-ass action movie.

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Robin and Batgirl, whose team-ups made Batman Family a success, have the last one for many years, and it’s awful.  In so very many ways.  Jack C Harris, Don Heck and Vince Colletta are all to blame.

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I never like Don Heck’s art, but in this issue it descends to new lows.

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Barbara Gordon goes missing, and then show uup with no memory. Commissioner Gordon calls on Robin, informing him that his daughter is Batgirl.  Robin already knows this, he and Batgirl discovered each others identities back in Batman Family, but Gordon doesn’t know this.

One has to wonder why he goes to Robin, though, instead of Batman.

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Anyway, Robin tracks her down, and convinces her to get into her Batgirl costume, although she still remembers nothing.  Conveniently, they promptly run into the guy who stole all her memories.

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So they beat him up, and discover the stolen memories are all on cassette tapes.  Robin plays them and restores Barbara’s memories, but then leaves the last tape, which apparently contains nothing but the secret identities of Batman and Robin, and gives her a bit of a guilt trip, asking her not to listen to it.

And she burns the tape!

The whole reason for this story was to make it so that she no longer knew their identities.  Why not?  Just stupid.  Poorly drawn, poorly written, and a bad idea for a story in the first place.

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Bob Rozakis, Alex Saviuk and Vince Colletta give the Atom an adventure on the JLA satellite.  The Atom’s last solo story was in Five Star Spectacular, but he was soon to get a rotating series in Action Comics.

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The story deals with the Dharlu, a comatose alien that resides in the JLA satellite computer, and has to be there in order for the computer to work.  I never understood that story.  Anyway, investigating some computer problems, the Atom discovers a while bunch of tiny Dharlu’s loose in the computer.  Her kids, one would guess.

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The Atom sends the little Dharlu’s shooting out into the vacuum of space, so they can “find their destinies,” unless they all just die out there.  And he doesn’t even try to take the original one out of the computer prison they keep it in.

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Ok, here’s a story I won’t attack.  Alfred sees a picture of himself in the paper, part of a phony Butler ring being broken up by Batman in this story by Bob Rozakis and Jose Delbo.

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Curious, he goes to investigate, and finds the bad butlers, who mistake him for part of their crew.  Alfred clues in that he was being impersonated to infiltrate the group.

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It’s all a bit convoluted, and Alfred only pretends to have figured it all out beforehand.  Robin cameos, having been the one who had impersonated him before.

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The second Batman story in the issue, by Denny O’Neil and Don Newton, picks up the League of Assassins storyline.  Both the League and Batman have tracked Bronze Tiger to the hospital where he is recovering.  How they did this is not explained, but its been a few months since the last part of this story, so they had time.

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Bronze Tiger defends himself from the League killers, although Batman was there to step in if needed.  Tiger does not recall his time with the League completely, but does remember enough to send Batman to an amusement park they were using.

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There he fights a bunch of the League, but does not find any of the big players – but does find a seismologist being held captive.

And with that unusual detail, the story is set up for its big finale next issue.

 

 

Adventure 463 – Flash battles an Image-Eater, Deadman gains a body, the JSA bury Batman, Aquaman defeats the evil farmers and Wonder Woman takes on Queen Bee

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Adventure 463 (June 1979) opens with a Flash story that is only remarkable in the way it ignores the major events taking place in his own book at this time.

Cary Bates, Don Heck and Joe Giella tell a story that has the Flash returning from a visit with Jay Garrick on Earth-2, and stumbling across an ancient spirit, the Urtumi, that feeds on the after-images he leaves behind while running.

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I never understood how Don Heck got so much work in comics.  I don’t believe there was ever a single panel he drew that I liked.

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Conversely, I don’t think there was ever a single panel Jose Luis Gacia-Lopez drew that I didn’t love.  With Frank Chiaramonte on inks, and Len Wein in the driver’s seat, the Deadman storyline that opened his run in Adventure comes to a powerful conclusion.

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Despite Kronsky’s unstable nature, Deadman still holds out hope that his helmet will create a new body for him, and he tries a variety of ways to access it.

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Finally, he inhabits Inga, and almost succeeds at his goal, but the body explodes.  The helmet will only work for Kronsky, and only almost worked for Inga because of their genetic similarity.

Ultimately, Kronsky sacrifices the helmet, which is driving him insane, to be able to stay with his family.

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Paul Levitz and Joe Staton bring the death of Batman storyline to a conclusion, as Dr Fate leads the team in hunting down the man responsible, Frederic Vaux, a patsy of darker forces.

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Vaux used the powers he was given to convince Jensen that Wayne had framed him, and gave him the power to destroy him.  Why did the mysterious dark forces choose to operate in such a roundabout way?  That’s never addressed, and this final chapter is not really very fulfilling in terms of the villains.

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Vuax casts a spell to remove the memories of everyone on Earth, part of the larger plan to enslave him.  After his defeat by Dr Fate, as the spell begins to wear off, Fate makes sure that the exact circumstances of Bruce Wayne’s death are not remembered, restoring his secret identity, as well as those of Helena and Dick Grayson.

All in all, the death of Batman storyline is far better in terms of what it achieved, than in how it achieved it.

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Aquaman’s battle with United Food Products over their farming of the sea beds near Atlantis concludes this issue, by Paul Kupperberg, Don Heck and Joe Giella.

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Aquaman is opposed by the Atlanteans, Vulko, Mera and even Aqualad, whom he gets into a fight with, but he pursues the UFP anyway, with Aqualad in hot pursuit.

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The leader proudly proclaims that the true plans were to destroy Atlantis, and please note the unusual garb of the sailor standing next to him in the first panel.  As I said, there is more to this storyline than it seems at first.

Aqualad overhears, and joins Aquaman as they destroy the UFP base.  Back in Atlantis, even Vulko finally concedes that the UFP were dangerous.  But their plans are far from over…

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Wonder Woman is seen at work for the only time during her run in Adventure, as astronaut in training Diana Prince, in this story by Gerry Conway, with art by Joe Staton and Frank McLauglin.

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She is sealed in a sensory deprivation test, which saves her when a swarm of deadly bees attack NASA.  She uses her lasso to round up the bees, saving her co-workers, and then follows them back to their giant lair.

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She discovers JLA villain Zazzala, the Queen Bee, an alien conqueror.  Though she bests Queen Bee in combat, she is forced to release her when Zazzala reveals that the scientists stung by the bees had their minds drained as the result, and the honetcomb contains their combined mental faculties, which only Zazzala can return to them.

Queen Bee last appeared facing the Justice League three years earlier in their own book.  The story concludes next issue.

Adventure 462 – Batman dies, Flash stalks his wife, Deadman has trouble with in-laws, Wonder Woman vs Sargon the Sorceror and Aquaman battles corporate farms

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The Justice Society may not have had a long run in Adventure Comics, but as the cover to issue 462 (April 1979) makes clear, some of it’s most important stories occurred during it.  Paul Levitz and Joe Staton kill off Batman in a not-so-great, but certainly memorable, tale.

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Picking up from where the last issue left off, Dr Fate attempts to get Bruce Wayne to safety, and the rest of the team revive long enough to battle, and fall, to Bill Jensen again.

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But there is no avoiding where this story is going.  Bruce dons his Batman garb one final time to face down Jensen, and both die in a cataclysmic explosion.

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The funeral scene is the best part of the story, with grieving Helena persuading Dick not to take over the role of Batman.  Bruce’s identity has been exposed to the world in his death, and theirs have been compromised as well.  But it’s left to Dr Fate to point out that the story has climaxed,but not ended.  Who or what was behind Jensen’s attack?

The story concludes next issue.

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The Flash’s marital troubles had taken centre stage in his own book, and spill over in this story by Cary Bates, with dreadful art by Don Heck and Joe Giella.

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Barry Allen gets so jealous when he discovers Iris is meeting another man that he spies on her by vibrating invisibly and following her.  It turns out the “other man” is simply an old friend, a scientist who has been working on a device to access the astral plane.

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Flash follows her there as well, which is not such a bad thing, as he rescues her from an astral demon.  And though they do communicate their feelings for each other in the astral realm, Iris has no memory of it and is simply angered and humiliated when she finds that Barry has been stalking her.

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Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and Dick Giordano take over the art on Len Wein’s Deadman saga with this issue.

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It turns out that Kronsky has been developing a helmet that would give thoughts physical form, and no one is more thrilled to hear this than Boston Brand, as it would mean he could get his own body again.  Cleveland would also likely be excited, if he knew his brother kept hitching a ride in his body.

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Solomon and his goons have come to the circus as well, in pursuit of Kronsky and the helmet, and Garica-Lopez does some great work with the battle between the mobsters and the circus folk.

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But it was the horrifying final page that really stuck in my mind as a kid, as Kronsky retrieves the helmet he had hidden with Inga, and uses it to murder Solomon and his men.  Turns out Kronsky might not be such a victim after all.

The story concludes next issue.

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The Ruby of Life, which gave Sargon the Sorceror his powers, has come into the possession of Queen Hippolyta in the Wonder Woman story in this issue, by Jack C Harris and Jack Abel.

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Sargon, originally a hero in the 1940s, had returned as a villain in the 60s, but his last appearance, in a Justice League story in the early 70s, had seen him back on the side of the angels.  In this story he convinces a young couple sailing near Paradise Island to land and steal the gem back for him.

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It turns out he needs them to do this because he is actually imprisoned within the stone, and is merely sending an image to the couple.  Wonder Woman shatters the gem, freeing Sargon and releasing him from the spell of the jewel.  But as he has the stone again a few years down the road, it is clear that the magical gem cannot be so easily destroyed, nor can its possession of Sargon end.

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I may not have cared for Don Newton’s art on Aquaman, but at least it was better than Don Heck, who takes over with this issue, as Paul Kupperberg continues his story of evil farmers bringing doom to Atlantis.

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Even with evidence of the environmental destruction the UFP are causing, Vulko remains completely unconcerned, convinced that they will find some solution in time.  Corporate greed versus the environment, been going on for a long time.

The story concludes next issue.

Adventure 461 – Barry Allen framed for murder, Deadman finds the bad guys, Aquaman takes a stand against farming, Wonder Woman teams with Wonder Girl, and the Justice Society of America begins

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The number of series in Adventure 461 (Feb 79) drops from six to five, though with no drop in pages.  Rather, the Justice Society is given a double length series as they move from their own comic, cancelled as part of the DC Implosion.

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The Flash gets an entertaining and off-beat tale by Cary Bates, with art by Irv Novick and Frank McLaughlin.  Barry and Iris are travelling by car, and stop at a gas station.  A hunter comes out, drops his gun, and Barry picks it up and shoots the man dead.

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Iris cannot figure out what is going on, and upon visiting Barry in prison, discovers that he has no idea either.  The gun shot itself, and when he raced to stop the bullets, he discovered there were none, the man had squibs planted in his coat that exploded.

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Sticking around to try to figure out the situation, Barry is set up by another faked death, and then meant to be killed escaping.  But of course he uses his super-speed to avoid that fate, and manages to find the supposed victim and clear his name of the crime.  It was all an attempt to frame and kill an outsider, while allowing a wanted criminal (the hunter) to fake his own death.

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In this instalment of the Deadman story, Len Wein and Jim Aparo slow down a bit, recapping past events as Deadman tries to figure out what is going on.  He figures out that the man behind the fire and attempted murder was Solomon, a wealthy industrialist, and tracks him down, learning that the other man who escaped, Kronsky, was being held by him to extract information.

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Inga reveals more of her past to Cleveland, that her father was a prominent scientist who disappeared a few years before she escaped from Russia.

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So all in all it’s really no surprise when Kronsky shows up at the circus, and we discover he is Inga’s father.

But at least the story has taken a clear form before its climax.

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The Justice Society begin their run in Adventure with a three-page introduction, of the team itself, as well as Earth-2. Paul Levitz and Joe Staton then give  play to Power Girl, trying to prove herself to the dismissive older heroes, Green Lantern, Flash and Wildcat.

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Robin shows up at the headquarters, where he reveals that he has known Helena was really the Huntress all along, even if Bruce never figured out what his daughter was up to.

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Then the action gets going as a powerful madman, Bill Jensen, takes over some twin towers and demands that Bruce Wayne, the current Police Commissioner of Gotham City, be turned over to him for vengeance.  Jensen quickly takes down Power Girl, Flash, Green Lantern, Huntress and Robin before Wayne arrives.

He blames Wayne for framing him for a murder he didn’t commit, and his attempt to kill Bruce is only thwarted by the power of Dr. Fate.

The story continues next issue.

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This beginning chapter to a new Aquaman storyline is a less than impressive start, although the story will improve as it goes on.  Paul Kupperberg and Don Newton have Aquaman discover that a company, Universal Food Products, has begun extensive farming of the lands around Atlantis.

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Aquaman distrusts the company immediately, and Vulko’s defense of them certainly calls into question his abilities as king.  Aqualad joins Aquaman as he seeks out information on land from the company headquarters, and discovers that UFP’s real plan is the destruction of Atlantis.

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Wonder Woman gets an extremely rare team-up with Wonder Girl in this story by Jack C Harris and Jack Abel.  Wonder Girl had been introduced as a member of the Teen Titans, an a backstory involving Wonder Woman was ascribed to her (and flashbacked to in this story), but in truth she had never been a sidekick in Wonder Woman’s comic.

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Wonder Woman finds her at a special school, while tracking down some Amazon-costumed thieves.  Donna refuses to accept any connection between the school and Diana’s case, but Diana sticks around and discovers that the head of the school is really the old, lame, JLA villain Headmaster Mind.  He has conned the girls into believing they are drawing powers from Wonder Girl as she sleeps.  The Wonder women simply turn the tables on him, convincing the girls that they have stopped the fake device from working, their powers in reality just came from their belief in the machine.

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It’s not a bad story in concept, though not great in execution.

Wonder Girl had last appeared in a Flash Super-Spectacular, and next appeared in an issue of Brave and the Bold later in the year, both times as part of the Teen Titans.

Headmaster Mind had not appeared since battling the JLA in the late 60s, and as he made no further appearances, it seems he really did die in the explosion at the end of this story.

 

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