Missa Pro Defunctis

In a change to our advertised post, we’re bringing you World’s Finest 227 from February 1975, It’s the second of three 100-page Super-Spectaculars from that month which I’ve read this summer. I always had a soft spot for WF: it was one of the first DC comics I can recall reading. It operates on the briliant and simple premise of teaming up Superman and Batman every month- except in the early Seventies when it  functioned briefly as a Superman team-up book , in the mould of Brave and the Bold.

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The cover is an eyecatching (patriotic?) mix of white, blue and red. it’s more appealing than the murky green of the previous June…

Death Flaunts Its Golden Grin: this  is the sequel to the Thomas Wayne/Deadman story that introduced Batman’s insane brother in WF 223 .

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The World’s Finest team is on the trail if a gold smuggling ring operating out of a WW1 flying circus. Batman  is on the trail of acrobats, since Deadman has usurped the body of his sibling. It ends with the inevitable, tragic sacrifice of Thomas Wayne.

This ingenious crime story by Haney and Aparo focuses more on the temporary schism between the WF than on the Deadman subplot. It’s also a prime example of Haney’s freewheeling approach since Thomas Wayne Jr. is effectively written out of the canon permanently with this story.

Having read many, many JLA stories in the 70s, I tend to view Dillin as the Sal Buscema of DC- he drew just about everyone in the DCU- while Aparo is the John Buscema, if you will.

The Secrets of Mount Olympus: Jack Miller and Bill Ely present a cinematic epic for Rip Hunter, Time Master, who uses the Trojan Horse to thwart an invasion of aliens posing as Greek gods. This rather stodgy 1962 story may have inspired LSH Annual 2 by Dave Gibbons. That 1983 story saw the shape-shifting Durlans mimicking the gods of Olympus.

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The Reformed Owlhoot Club: for much of the Sixties and Seventies, three Golden Age-rs were promoted so often that I’m surprised they didn’t graduate to the JLA. They were the Spectre, Wildcat and the Vigilante. in this Howard Sherman yarn, crooks who have gone straight thanks to Vig are blamed for fresh crimes that use their M.O.s

It turns out that crooks are posing as a film company and using the club members talents as training material. A clever little idea that deserved more space to develop. Also, Stuff the Chinatown Kid no longer looks Chinese.

The Man With 20 Lives: this is the third adventure for the Martian Manhunter from Detective Comics in 1956. Jack Miller and Joe Certa show the reluctant vistor from space bring a criminal’s career to an end when a hood thinks he’s being pursued by a ghost.  I like this noir-ish angle to an otherwise humdrum hero. I don’t really understand why J’Onn J’Onzz didn’t appear in the Super-Spec Detectives when the supernatural likes of  Dr. Fate and Kid Eternity did.

DC Comics Stars on the Screen: with a reference to the  Super Friends on tv , Bats & Supes introduce a three-page retrospective of their movie serials, tv shows and cartoons. Matinee serials starring Vigilante, Congo Bill and Blackhawk are also featured.

The Cape and Cowl Crooks: a simplistic mystery in which scerets of Superman’s Fortress rejuvenate and alter the personalities of Commisioner Gordon and Perry White. They become Anti-Superman and Anti-Batman. This predictable adventure is drawn beautifully by classicist Curt Swan and written by sci-fi author Ed Hamilton, who wrote many of the Legion stories. In terms of tone, it’s feels like the Adam West tv series. It’s also chock-full of villain cameos: Luthor, Brainiac, Prankster, Toyman, Joker, Penguin, Riddler and Catwoman all appear, in person or as statues.

This is a mildly diverting, inoffensive issue. Much of the art is classy if not especially dynamic. The selected strips reflect a rather sedate period of DC history, prior to the unsettling, angsty debut of upstart Marvel.

Coming soon: Wuxtry! Wuxtry!

All images are presumed copyright of their respective owners

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