Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Episode #179: Superman Family Comic Book Cover Dated November/December 1955: World's Finest Comics #79!

World's Finest Comics #79, November/December 1955, was published around September 29, 1955. It contained 32 pages for the cover price of a dime. The editor was Jack Schiff, and the cover was drawn by Win Mortimer.
The Superman/Batman story in this issue was the 12 page tale The Three Magicians Of Bagdad, written by Edmond Hamilton, pencilled by Dick Sprang and inked by Stan Kaye. It was reprinted in World's Finest Comics Archive vol. I and Showcase Presents: World's Finest vol. I. (Today the city's name is spelled Baghdad. I will use the spelling of the city as it appeared in this story from the 1950's.)

Dr. Carter Nichols waved his hands in the air, but was unable to bring Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson from the past. Nichols' hypnotic time force had failed to bring them back to the present.

At the Daily Planet newsroom, Clark and Lois read a news item about Gotham City's Dr. Nichols asking for Superman's help. Superman flew to Dr. Nichols' lab in Gotham City, and learned that Bruce and Dick were stuck 1,000 years in the past in Bagdad of the Arabian Nights. Dr. Nichols was unaware that Bruce and Dick were Batman and Robin. The Man of Steel flew through the time barrier to retrieve his friends.

In a flashback, we saw Bruce and Dick volunteering to help Dr. Nichols solve the scientific mystery of a magnetic mountain of ancient Bagdad. The doctor hypnotized them, and Bruce and Dick vanished into the past.

When they arrived in Bagdad, they changed into their identities of Batman and Robin. They asked sailors for the location of the local Magnetic Mountain. They hired a boat and sailed to that location. As they approached the mountain, the metal in their utility belts was attracted to the mountain. The Dynamic Duo were snatched out of their sailboat and pinned to the mountain. To keep from being crushed by the impact, they held the ends of their capes as parachutes to slow their flight.

A rope descended from the mountaintop and Batman and Robin were rescued, after they got rid of the metal in their utility belts.The Dynamic Duo learned that their rescuer was none other than Aladdin. He did have a lamp, but it was not magical. Aladdin had been swindled out of his inheritance by Abdullah, the Great Magician of Bagdad, for the worthless lamp. Batman and Robin agreed to help him recover his inheritance.

Batman and Robin borrowed the lamp to attempt to fool Abdullah into thinking the lamp was magical after all.  Later, in front of a crowd in Bagdad, Robin rubbled the lamp to make a pile of trash begin to smoke. Batman secretly threw a smoke pellet from his utility belt into the trash. Abdullah had his men seize the Dynamic Duo and present them before the Great Caliph, ruler of Bagdad. He accused Batman and Robin of being false magicians and working for the mysterious 40 thieves. The Caliph gave them a chance to prove that they were magicians.

With no hope, Robin rubbed the lamp and commanded it to prove his magic was real. The Dynamic Duo were surprised to hear a voice outside a window respond, I hear and obey, Master! Superman had arrived at ancient Bagdad and lifted the palace. The Man of Steel told Batman and Robin the whole story, but the Dynamic Duo refused to leave until they helped Aladdin.

Abdullah was convinced that Superman was a genie and the lamp was magical, and conspired to get it back. He promised Robin that he would return Aladdin's inheritance to him if the Boy Wonder would go to his palace.Batman left to track down the 40 thieves. To insure that the genie would obey him, Abdullah asked Robin to have the genie bring a block of ice from the far north to keep him cool. Superman obeyed. As soon as the Man of Steel disappeared in the sky, Abdullah's men seized Robin. He learned that Abdullah and his men were actually the 40 thieves, and they took their boy hostage to their hideout.

Abdullah remained in his palace with the lamp. When Superman returned Abdullah ordered him to bring him gold from the depths of the earth. Superman obeyed, but not in the way Abdullah intended. The Man of Steel brought a stone container of molten gold, too hot to be useful to his new master.

Abdullah then ordered his genie to bring him the most powerful weapon in the world. Superman took a very long iron chain into a storm cloud, and a streak of lightning hit the palace through the chain.

Batman found Robin's chest emblem on the ground. The Boy Wonder had ripped it off his costume with his teeth. Thank goodness he was on a good dental plan. It lead Batman to their hidden lair. He listened to one of Abdullah's men order all but two men ride to raid Bagdad. The two men would guard Robin.

Abdullah ordered his genie to bring a Roc, a mythical bird. With his bare hands, Superman chopped down trees and split enough wood to build a giant wooden bird. Superman flew it over Bagdad and drove the thieves away from the city. They rode back to their hideout.

Batman had helped Robin escape, only to see the thieves return from Bagdad. Superman then broke off a large piece of Magnetic Mountain and carried it over the thieves. Their swords were attracted to the magnetic rock, and Superman threw it into space.

For revealing the real thieves, the Caliph restored Aladdin's inheritance, and Superman carried Batman and Robin back to Gotham City of 1955 on a flying carpet.

The first time travel story I read from World's Finest Comics was a reprint of The Three Super-Musketeers, which we'll cover later this year. This was just as much fun, a wild adventure story.

Professor Nichols was a recurring character in silver age Batman stories. He would send his friends Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson back in time, and sometimes Batman and Robin, using his time travel hypnosis.

When Batman and Robin were stuck to the magnetic mountain because of the metal in their utility belts, I wondered why they wouldn't have had to remove their utility belts, instead of just remove the metallic objects in their belts. Wouldn't their buckles be metallic also? I was amused that no one in Bagdad thought Batman, Robin and Superman were dressed strangely. I guess Superman got a pass since he was a "genie". The Man of Steel was very clever to obey Abdullah in ways that were useless to his master. But then, the silver age Superman is very sneaky that way. Maybe he's been hanging around Mort Weisinger too much. I give this story 4 Superman Capes out of 5.

I was only able to read the reprint of the Superman/Batman story, and wasn't able to read the other two stories in the issue. The only information I was able to find was from Mike's Amazing World Of DC Comics.

Green Arrow appeared in the six page story Archer From Across The Sea, written by George Kashdan and drawn by George Papp.

Tomahawk starred in the six page story, Weapon Of Peace, written by France E. Herron, pencilled by Bruno Premiani and inked by Ray Burnley.

Elsewhere in DC Comics, 29 titles carried the November or November/December 1955 cover date.

Next episode: Superman Comic Books Cover Dated January 1959: Superman #126 & Action Comics #248!

In two weeks: Superman Family Comic Book Cover Dated December 1955: Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #9!

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