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Friday, 7 July 2017

DC Special 28 - Earth Shattering Disasters, with Batman, Aquaman, and the Legion of Super-Heroes

DC Special 28 (June/July 1977) features Earth Shattering Disasters, although only the Batman story has the ground actually being shattered. The Aquaman story is about water, and the Legion of Super-Heroes story COULD have resulted in some shattered ground, but mostly has fires.

Bob Rozakis, John Calnan and Tex Blaisdell open the issue with the introduction of a new villain, the Quakemaster. As one might expect, he is causing earthquakes in Gotham City, using a special kind of jackhammer, which emits a high intensity, pulsing beam.

The Quakemaster manages to get away from Batman in their first encounter, thanks to falling rubble. Batman retreats to the Batcave to see what he can figure out about the man, though he gets trapped in their when another earthquake strikes.

Batman manages to find a way out of the cave, deduce who the Quakemaster is, and his motivation and likely targets (a discredited architect seeking to prove that other buildings are no safer than his), and even withstands a direct assault with the jackhammer beam before taking the guy down.

Quakemaster almost sort of appears the following year in Secret Society of Super-Villains. We see a picture of him. His real next appearance is many years down the road, losing the jackhammer in a poker game in Justice League America.

Gerry Conway, Don Newton and Dan Adkins handle the Aquaman story, which deals with some long disposed of atomic waste that interacts with oil from a sinking tanker, creating a deadly life form.

This is the weakest story of the lot, simply because the oil blob doesn't look terribly impressive or dangerous for most the story. Aquaman and the military argue about how to deal with it, but for the most part nothing either tries has any effect.

Only when the oil thing reaches land does the story kick into gear. But by then Aquaman has figured out to use a corrosive acid to destroy it, and it gets taken care of.

The final story in the issue features the Legion of Super-Heroes, and is told by Paul Levitz, with art by Arvell Jones and Bob Layton. It doesn't look terribly impressive, but is a good story that brings back the notion of fusion powerspheres, something mentioned back towards the end of the Adventure Comics run, but forgotten about for years afterwards.

Now one of the fusion powerspheres has been sabotaged, and the wondrous future world is descending into chaos. People have no ability to cope without their highly mechanized world functioning. Brainiac 5 leads Timber Wolf, Ultra Boy, Phantom Girl and Chemical King in dealing with the situation.

The man behind the sabotage proves to be Fenton Pike, a minor villain from a couple of years earlier. He is working for someone else, though I'm not sure that we ever find out who. The Dark Circle would be my guess, as this story comes right before their attempt to launch a world war.

The story makes pretty good use of the various heroes assembled. Ultra Boy uses his power to run generators while Timber Wolf uses his acrobatic skills to get to difficult places and help in evacuations.

Pike refuses to explain how to stop the powersphere from exploding and taking out the entire city. Chemical King makes a very rare use of his powers, slowing down the reaction and giving Phantom Girl an opportunity to get inside the sphere and fix it, following Brainiac 5's orders.

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