Thursday, January 29, 2015

80-Page Thursdays: World's Finest #244!

From 1977, World's Finest #244, featuring stories by Bob Haney, Dennis O'Neil, Tony Isabella, Jack C. Harris, and more; with art by Mike Nasser, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, John Calnan, and more. With a Neal Adams cover!

The cover is suitably dramatic, although it leads into a typically oddball Haney story: three mobsters across the county are murdered, by bullets that came out of nowhere, one of which went through the mobster's dog without hurting it! Working the case, Batman and Superman check out surveillance film of the mobsters, looking for someone tailing them, and find...Superman? Supes denies having been anywhere near the mobsters, but he could've done it...when word is leaked that Supes is under suspicion, Commissioner Gordon has no choice but to put Supes "in honor custody until Batman can clear you!" Batman works the case for 24 hours, but gets nowhere; so he decides to take a break and put in an hour at Wayne Enterprises. Ooh, a whole hour!

Wayne sees L.C. Barton of Red Star Ventures, who needs a certain alloy for construction of a giant solar power grid in Arizona. Needing the alloy in two days, Barton dumps a suitcase full of money on Wayne's desk to have the alloy shipped by air. Superman then arrives, having left a robot to cover for him in jail, and points out some clues "the world's greatest detective" may have missed: Barton's pulse was very slow, 20 beats per minute, and synced with his watch. The cash he paid with was from 1974, yet felt unusually old. And Barton passes out in the street, but then recovers quickly when Superman replaces the watch. Batman sneaks into the trunk of Barton's limo, and Superman follows invisibly at super-speed, as the limo drives into another dimension, to arrive in Arizona under an hour from Gotham City! (This would mean more if we knew how far away Gotham was from Arizona...)

Supes and Bats check out Barton's set-up, before he confronts them, revealing his real name as "Robespierre 2," and that he knows their secret identities, since he's from the future. Robespierre used the model of his solar station to test his invisible death ray on the mobsters, healing the dog since he loved animals. But the model was just a test, since he was going to use the completed station to kill everyone on earth. From a future filled with war and death, the scientists of the orbital settlement he was raised on sent Robespierre back in time to destroy humanity, a preemptive mercy killing. Framing Superman and getting Bruce Wayne to supply a needed component were just to keep the heroes occupied--wow, that seems convoluted, even for a Haney story! Superman tries to explain that merely by coming back in time, he's changed his future; but Robespierre doesn't buy it, and zaps Supes with red sun energy, then sets his hired hands on Batman. (They're just workers hired for construction, and Robespierre tells them Bats is an industrial spy in disguise; which is such a dumb excuse Batman may be holding back out of pity.)

Recovering, Superman uses a quartz asteroid to block red sun energy from the star Betelgeuse--reasoning the converter must've been getting red sun power to affect him--and stops Robespierre's weapon from getting enough power to destroy humanity. (Or do anything, it didn't even blow up Arizona.) Robespierre is then zapped back to his time, which may or may not even happen now; but again, DC seemed to assume there would be a nuclear war or biological disaster or some other terrible thing between the present and the pretty utopian future of the Legion of Super-Heroes...

Also this issue: Black Canary versus the Rainbow Archer! (Hey, no laughing! Actually, we're going to come back to that one tomorrow, since it features one of the dumbest exchanges I've ever seen in comics.) Green Arrow versus Slingshot! And Vigilante and Wonder Woman stories, both involving a crap-ton of dynamite.


SallyP said...

Good God, I do love comics...and these sorts of stories are why.

Dale Bagwell said...

The Rainbow Archer? Really?
Never heard of him until now, but.....yeah plenty of gay jokes come to mind.