Friday, March 25, 2016

Top 5 Fridays: Top 5 Superman/Batman Stories

This is it, folks! The day has arrived! Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice debuts in theaters everywhere today, and doubtless most of the movie will have been spoiled online by the time this article goes live. Don’t let that dampen your enthusiasm for the movie, however, or for this series of Top 5 articles inspired by the film! Jody couldn’t make it today because he’s been standing in line at his local theater for ninety-six hours, so he asked your ol’ pal Reggie to fill in. And you know what that means: this is going to be a list of the weirdest, most obscure Superman/Batman team-ups ever. I can’t wait to dive in, can you? Read on!

5. World’s Finest #94
“The Origin of the Superman-Batman Team”
Written By: Edmond Hamilton
Art By: Dick Sprang, Stan Kaye
Cover Date: June 1958

Why not take it all the way back to the beginning of the World’s Finest Team, in flashback form? In this story, Dick and Bruce see a television news bulletin about Lex Luthor escaping from prison, so, in their guises as Robin and Batman they race to Metropolis to lend Superman a hand! Upon arriving, they learn that Superman has a new sidekick named Powerman, who has the combined abilities of super-strength and being very rude. Having nothing better to do, Batman and Robin reminisce about their first adventure with Superman, when he wanted them to back off due to the danger of the mission. Remembering his selflessness, Batman and Robin decide “fuck what he wants,” and go to save Superman’s hash in the present by using silicon shields or some other such nonsense. Ultimately, we learn that Powerman was a robot all along, which probably gave a lot of bright ideas to the automobile industry.
"Superman and I are also registered at Crate & Barrel."

4. World's Finest #77
"The Super Bat-Man!"
Written By: Edmond Hamilton
Art By: Curt Swan, Stan Kaye
Cover Date: July 1955

Some goon develops a ray that can remove Superman’s powers and zap them into a normal human being, but before the criminal scientist can absorb the abilities of Krypton’s last son, Batman pops into frame and receives the full blast. Now Batman can fly through the air and toss boulders around like a baby having a tantrum while Superman has to drive an incredibly awesome roadster and probably yield to lame pedestrians besides. Turns out that this guy didn’t have a powers-stealing ray at all: instead, he shot fine Kryptonite dust into Superman’s uniform, to weaken him. The powers-giving ray, however, turned out to work perfectly fine for the duration of twenty-four hours. Batman and Superman catch up with the bad guy just in time for their natural abilities to normalize, and Superman destroys the machine even though it is probably one of the most impressive achievements of modern engineering.
This Super-car will get you lots of Super-pussy.

3. World’s Finest #224
“The Shocking Switch of the Super-Sons”
Written By: Bob Haney
Art By: Dick Dillin, Vince Colletta
Cover Date: August 1974

A good tip for those seeking DC comics’ weirdness: when you see Bob Haney is the writer, you are on the right track. This issue deals with his creation, the Super-Sons, actual and true sons of Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne whose names are Clark Jr. and Bruce Jr.—because as long as something is inherently ludicrous, there’s no need to bring sensibility to the proceedings. Here, the college-aged Super-Sons get sick of their crusty old dads and determine to link up with a new age guru named Dr. Zamm. There’s a whole thing where the guru threatens to destroy a town with some toxic gas whose full details I forget, but what I could never forget are Bob Haney’s hilarious and out-of-date attempts at simulating the speech of young people. I am a little bummed, however, that the “Funky Robot” never caught on, not even for weddings and Bar Mitzvahs. That ain’t boss, daddy-o!

"Last time I did a 'funky robot,' I had nano lice in my Underoos for weeks!"

2. Superman/Batman vol. 4
Written By: Jeph Loeb
Art By: Ed McGuinness, Dexter Vines
Release Date: December 9, 2008

Jeph Loeb’s and Ed McGuinness’ run on Superman/Batman was fairly insane throughout, but never more so than at its end, in issues #20 to #25, when Clark and Bruce are manipulated by the Joker and Mr. Mxyzptlk as part of some cosmic chess game. This causes them to flit through the multiverse like Jim Werner without his Adderall, and they confront or are confronted by the Maximums (parodies of characters in Marvel Comics’ Avengers), Jonah Hex and his Western World, Kamandi and his post-apocalyptic world, and Bizarro No. 1 and Batzarro (Bizarro Batman, duh), among many others. I’m guessing that Loeb knew he was moving on to be exclusive with Marvel, and determined to use as many of the DC characters that he hadn’t gotten around to yet. A lot of people find this type of story confusing, but I say a mad dash through the multiverse isn’t meant to be thoughtfully chewed and digested, but spun in a blender and sucked through a crazy straw until it makes that annoying hollow sound that signifies there is no more slurry left. Trying to make sense of a story like this is like trying to find a grain of sugar in a salt shaker.

They call this "smart" television?

1. World’s Finest #151
“The Infinite Evolutions of Batman and Superman”
Written By: Edmond Hamilton
Art By: Curt Swan, Sheldon Moldoff
Cover Date: July 1965

This is possibly the most messed-up Superman/Batman story ever, because in this four-color drama, Bruce Wayne is the bad guy! Some convenient ray shines on Batman, evolving him into the Batman of 800,000 years into the future, when his cranium will be too large for him to wear a cowl. Made more intelligent by virtue of a larger brain (because, of course: the larger the brain, the more smarts ya got), Batman decides not to turn his pal into the Superman of 800,000 years into the future, and instead flips the evolution switch or something so that Supes regresses into a caveman! Though the comic says nothing about Superman losing his super strength or other powers, as a caveman he deigns to pick up a club as a weapon. Batman, now more of a Lex Luthor-type since his dome expansion, has designs on world domination, but then Krypto shows up for no particular reason and gets in the path of the ray. Caveman Superman is incensed by his pet pup’s regression and pushes Batman in front of the ray, making him normal mid-twentieth century Batman, blissfully unaware of the noir carnage that awaits him at the close of the millennia.

And a caveman Superman shall lead them.


  1. Well Reggie, you almost had me beat but at least I've read one of these "less conventional picks." Superman and Batman vol. 4 was a fun Library read. There been a few comic books I've picked up from a library and remembered; entire Sandman Run, a couple of Ultimate Spiderman trades, and Last but most certainly not Least "The Runaways Vol. 1-4". Superman and Batman vol. 4 was the first time I ever read about "Mr. Mxyzpkt". And was the first time I realized Superman is Powerful, But he is no God compared to Mr. Mxyzpkt.
    Fun list.

    1. The Runaways was an amazing series! And you can impress your friends and family by announcing that the proper pronunciation of Mr. Mxyzptlk's name is "MIS-terr miz-yiz-PIT-lick!"