So in my tireless quest to figure out who really was the most humiliated character in the history of funnybook covers, I finally settled upon the series Superman and Batman co-starred in for something like 40 years: World's Finest Comics. And here, at last, I hit the motherlode. This book was the king (the KING, I say!) of batshit crazy cover images. I am in awe of its horrible glory. And now, I share a taste of it with you...
1. Early on, the World's Finest covers were relatively tame. They showed Superman, Batman, and Robin palling around together, engaging in any number of wholesome sporting activities, such as... log-rolling!
Robin's playing the fool here, while his adult pals eye each other with knowing glances. They were always playing little pranks on each other like that, the way pals do in the wild. And Robin gave as good as he got. After awhile, though, all this collective "palling around" starts to take on a family dynamic. I think maybe it's the way they go on a picnic together. Anyway. Once the "family" feel starts to creep in, the "gay" feel isn't far behind. I mean, we're talking about two grown men, in tights, constantly spending all their quality time with a 12-year-old boy wearing a pretty scandalous pair of scale-mail short shorts. How very Roman of them!
Of course, none of that was intended. That's just a (jaded) modern eye looking at these covers. But I do wonder if DC weren't a little scared of the backlash they might face due to some perceived homosexual subtext, because in 1950...
2. Superman and Batman suddenly start paying a lot more attention to women.
Of course, it might also be that they just got a new cover artist who liked to draw pretty girls with nice legs. But, man! There's sure an awful lot of ladies on these boy comics covers all of a sudden!
Then things get whacky...
3. I love it when Batman wears a hat!
4. Though Superman can pull off a humorous chapeau with aplomb, as well!
5. Superman... is a dick.
6. That's okay, though, because Batman, it turns out, is actually EVIL!
7. More than once!
8. That's okay, though, because the very next issue they were BOTH evil!
Oh, how I love this cover. Superman laughing at his own evil joke, Batman with a tommy gun... Brilliant!
9. But not as brilliant as this! They're evil, AND they're wearing funny hats!
10. Where the hell are they here? Pottsylvania?
11. First rule of Fight Club...
12. Things eventually got so bad between Our Heroes that Superman started teaming up with other heroes on the sly...
(This one's notable mainly for featuring Wonder Woman's infamous "go-go" costume. Yes, she really wore that for a while. And no, it's really no more ridiculous than her normal outfit...)
13. Of course, they eventually got back together. Blood, after all, is much thicker than water...
(Notice that nowhere on this cover does it say "Imaginary Story.")
(Also: "Bruce-El" my ass! Sometimes, I wanna punch World's Finest right in the mouth!)
14. Now, I know what you're thinking: what titans of crime could possibly stand up to the combined might of the Superman / Batman team? And I answer... THIS GUY~!
(I like the way his super powers just keep on listing behind Superman's cape. The Composite Superman's got so many powers, they can't even fit them all on one cover.)
15. Variation on a theme...?
16. And of course there were these guys:
17. The Joker is a GENIUS!
18. Most annoying... super-villain team-up... ever!
19. Robin and Jimmy... are dicks!
20. Of course, their kids weren't much better...
21. ...and, times being what they were, they had to go off and do their "Easy Rider" thing...
22. ...and, just like with Fonda and Hopper, it all ended in redneck tears.
(I had this issue as a kid, and the cover always fascinated me. The story inside was pretty lame, but every time I hear somebody say "NOPE!" this image flashes before my eyes. Comics, man. They'll scar your ass for life...)
(This "Sons of Superman and Batman" thing ran for quite a while in the mid-70s, by the way. One of DC's many bizarre attempts to connect with the youth culture over the years. What Marvel often did effortlessly, DC's never quite figured out. Vibe, anyone?)
23. Then there was the time Superman had that hunchbacked twin brother...
(Yes, he's feeding the poor bastard gruel. But, hey. It's no worse than Batman's brother, the Boomerang Killer...)
24. And remember when Superman died that time?
And there are more, but I am tired. I didn't even really get to the humiliating covers, either! Maybe a Part Two is in order somewhere down the line. For now, though, I leave you with this...
25. I... don't even know what to say about that.