Friday, April 3, 2020

Retro Review: World's Finest #286 (1982) - "When Hell Breaks Loose"

Hell to Pay

Written by: Cary Burkett
Art by: Rich Buckler, Sam De La Rosa, Gene D'Angelo, and Phil Felix
Cover Price: 60¢
Release Date: December 1982
Review by: Pauly P

Another quiet day in the life of the Trinity. So much happens in 24 pages, it’s crazy! It’ll be more fun if we just jump right in. 

Explain It!

The Trinity is in the Justice League satellite, using League tech to try and rouse Zatanna from a coma. What happened, you ask? Well, Superman recaps the events of last issue: on the way back to Gotham from working on a case, Bats and Supes encountered a weird Man-Tiger who turned into smoke who put Superman to sleep, who had a bad dream about a purloined Zodiac idol stolen from the Fortress, which is powered by 12 Zodiac coins, owned by collectors around the world. The worlds greatest detective deduces some sort of magic is involved, so they take the coins Superman has, which turn out to be fake to Zatanna, who is overcome by some dark magic and rendered comatose. Wonder Woman teleports her to Themyscara. 

Next, we are re-introduced to Dr. Zodiac, and while he frets about being locked away by Batman and Superman and his schtick being foiled by Mercury in retrograde, we are introduced to a hot 1982 era babe in a black evening gown who busts him out and leaves an illusion of him behind. She probably just likes his mustache! That, or she’s a Capricorn and He’s a Cancer. 
She’s “Madam Zodiac”, and she magically exchanges the phone coins Dr. Zodiac has for the real ones! Handy! Turns out though, she is using the Dr. and his Zodiac idol to summon an evil marble of some kind. It’s big and blue and seems like an awesome shooter. 

Next, we shift to Paradise Island, which in this book is in the Bermuda Triangle. Wonder Woman, Artemis, and... Paula. Yes, Paula, he Amazon have taken Zatanna to be put under the Amazonian “healing purple light”, which sort of works until Zatanna wakes up screaming again. 

Next, we drop into Bruce and Dick in a typical day in the Batcave: practicing acrobatics in their underwear.  Bruce is distracted wishing he had more time to be a rich, handsome playboy and decides to join his friend's polo team, to the chagrin of Dick and the delight of Alfred. 

A few narrated panels tell us about a weird Grey mist covering the city, and a synagogue in midtown has been defaced by Nazis. Meanwhile, Clark interrupts a Satanic sacrifice of his neighbor's dog and gets attacked by the Grey cloud for his troubles. 
We then shift to Gotham, where Lucius Fox arrives home... and gets lynched. By the KKK. The Bat-signal isn’t working, so Batman and Robin use police band radio to hear about the incident and head over. A bunch of fat, middle-aged cowards somehow manage to get the best of the dynamic duo until Superman comes to save them. How did Superman know? Just a hunch, he says. Meanwhile, in Midway City, Hawkman fights a vampire and in Star City Green Arrow tussles with a werewolf. On the Police scanner an army of “walking dead” are marching through Downtown Gotham. They’re not alive so our heroes can go to town! They corral the zombies and Superman freezes them solid, but when no is looking, Batman gets taken over by the Grey cloud!

Bits and Pieces:

This book is bonkers! It’s the most Golden age book I may have ever read, and it’s from 1982. So much happens and it’s a normal size issue (24 pages). Art is on par for the era and has the usual traits of older comics (calling each other buddy, chum) and highly narrated. It’s so goofy it’s fun. Still, I just can’t see the trio ever being nearly bested by middle-aged Klansmen or how exactly a satanic cult could get an Altar up the stairs without raising suspicion. In Metropolis. 


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