Wednesday, July 03, 2013


Gotta say that I felt cheated. Y'see, when I was eleven going on twelve I discovered comic books as a mode of entertainment that I could actually afford, and for the next four or so years I was what you would call an obsessive but not to the point of compulsive comic book freak. However, by the time I gave up comic fandom for rock 'n roll the comic book world exploded all over the place like one of my teenage forehead pimples hitting the bathroom mirror with a gargantuan splat. It wasn't exactly what I was hoping for what with Christopher Reeve as the sissified Superman, the Hulk not as incredible as one would have hoped not to mention Adam West, Burt Ward and the rest of the BATMAN cast revising their roles on videotape for an ever-sagging NBC, but at least all of those paperbacks and classic reprints were finally making their way to my local shopping mall bookstore, and at that point in time I really could not care one whit! But boy was I mad considering that now after giving up on comic books because of a variety of reasons (one being the lack of proper forties-sixties reprinted material),  those classic stories I so desired were now about as easy to find as hemorrhoids at a nudist colony!

Capitalizing on the late-seventies Big Superhero Comeback came this book, one of many DC reprints under the Tempo Books banner that collected various "Silver Age" sagas for an audience that would read just about anything as long as it had a superhero on the cover.  This particular one featured the infamous WORLD'S FINEST team of Superman and Batman in stories that originally appeared from the days long before this particular title became a team-up between Superman and other DC denizens (with Batman earning his own team-up title THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD in case any of you care). 'n yeah, this is a book that I certainly would have wanted to read during my adolescent days of mass confusion (witness the vivid memories I still retain of reading a 35-cent Giant at my uncle 'n aunt's house on a rainy October Saturday morn during a failed garage sale), but as fate would have it by the time this came out I couldn't care one whit about these stories that once captivated my pea-like brain. However, things do change...

"Batman, Son of Krypton!" is a '64 weirdie, one of those heavily intertwined DC Universe stories where bizarre coincidences seem like the normal thing what with people from the past intermingling with people of the future and ordinary supporting characters becoming superheroes by the miracle of magic potions and liquids etc. 'n so forth. In this one Batman is convinced that he too is a former Kryptonian after looking at some pictures of himself as a toddler named "Bruce-El" performing super acts and coming across a lead box containing gold kryptonite, the kind that saps Kryptonians of their super powers! Of course it turns out that he isn't a member of any super-race...seems that when he was a tyke his neighbor was a scientist who was studying the doomed planet with a powerful telescope that could actually see the people of the planet up close, in the process becoming a "Kryptonologist" learning the language (good lip reader he!) and passing on bits of Kryptonian history and lures to his young neighbor while even photographing him doing powerful deeds! Of course Batman, being very young at the time, forgot about this strange superhero storyline crossover in his past though for some odd reason he could remember an obscure Kryptonian saying the scientist told him when he was only a mere two!

"The Menace of the Atom Master" is from '59 thus Batman and Robin still have that Bob Kane/Sheldon Moldoff squared chin and round head look that might have seemed dated to some even then. Superman and Batman are out 'n about wreaking havoc on their respective burghs only it ain't them but another runna-da-mill mad scientist who's pretty good at creating solid illusions with his "Super Ray Machine." Sheesh wotta dolt...if he were really smart he coulda thought up some gorgeous ladies to ease them lonely mad scientist nights and had himself a ball 'stead of turning to a life of crime!

"The Day Superman Betrayed Batman" also from '59 yet not drawn in the standard Kane style is a bit of a stretch as you would expect...sure, Superman turns Batman over to the police after a film of him receiving a big payoff from a gangster surfaces, but it was all part of a big sting operation in which Superman, Batman, Commissioner Gordon and about half of Gotham City were in on in a valiant attempt to bring down "The Condor Gang." Just goes to show you what great lengths that these guys will go to in getting their badskis!

Closing out the book's yet another '59 saga entitled "The Duplicate Man," one which I must admit ain't exactly a strong note to go out on considering how the villain's powers (being able to split himself into two bad guys) is about as original as my Sophomore High report on electronic music where my sister misspelled "Sun Ra" as "Sien Ra" (as if I'll ever let her forget!). It's good enough for what it is (cheapo quick-fix superblob kid fun) though, good enough that if it popped up in some reprint title back when I was collecting these things I would have read it up and digested it like any other comic book saga around. I mean, what are ya gonna expect from one of these late-fifties Comics Code stories anyway, Batman and Robin making out while Superman enforces his White Power credo world-wide (although something along them lines probably woulda read better'n some of the adventures suburban ranch house kids were inundated during those Wertham-dominated times I'll tell ya...)???

No comments: