Thursday, June 16, 2011

Episode #183: Superman Comic Book Cover Dated January/February 1956: World's Finest Comics #80!

World's Finest Comics #80, January/February 1956, was published around November 29, 1955. It contained 32 pages and sold for a dime. The editor was Jack Schiff, and the cover was drawn by Win Mortimer. The Superman and Batman story was titled The Super Newspaper Of Gotham City. Edmond Hamilton wrote the 12 page Story, which was illustrated by the classic Batman art team of penciller Dick Sprang and inker Charles Paris.

The story began outside the Editor's office of a newspaper. We hear a familiar refrain, Great Caesar's Ghost! What kind of reporters are you two? Get out and bring me a real story! The door opened and reporters Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne leave the office of editor Lois Lane?!

In a flashback, we saw Gotham Gazette editor John Hall being informed that the company's board of directors would close the newspaper because it was running out of money. Hall was working on a crime expose which would boost circulation, and so he talked to Bruce Wayne, who was a board member, for help, but Bruce could only convince the Board to keep the paper open for another 30 days.

Bruce then changed to Batman, and he and Robin called on Superman to help. The Man of Steel agreed to help save the Gazette, with a little strategy.

The next day, Clark discussed the Gazette's financial problems with Lois, and referred to it as "that old sheet" within Perry White's hearing. That annoyed the Planet's Editor-In-Chief, because he once worked at the paper. He assigned both Clark and Lois to help save the Gazette, but not to bother returning if they fail.

When they got to the Gazette offices, they saw Hall being carried to the hospital due to exhaustion and overwork. That is how Lois Lane became editor. Bruce convinced Lois to hire him as a reporter. He planned to use the opportunity to search Hall's desk for clues to what the expose was about. But Lois shooed him out of the office before he had an opportunity.

Luckily Clark had used his x-ray vision and found a note in Hall's desk mentioning about a mole who threatened Gotham City. Clark and Bruce then left for their separate beats.

Clark covered the story of a ship that had been stuck in arctic ice and then returned to Gotham Harbor because of a super fast current. Unknown to them, they had Superman's secret help in order to protect Clark's secret identity.

Bruce was to cover the opening of a riverside park, but called Robin, and the two went into action as Batman and Robin. They performed acrobatics over the Gotham skyline to lure the overflow crowd out of the park.

Superman later returned to the Batcave, where Robin had found a clue. A criminal nicknamed the mole had tunneled out of prison and was still at large.

The Dynamic Duo teamed up with Superman to save an engineer and fireman from an out of control and about to explode train, and Bruce Wayne beat Clark to turn in the story. As they changed into Batman and Superman in a broom closet, Robin alerted Batman that he had found a clue about the Mole, but ran into trouble.

In a flashback, Robin was checking one of the last construction sites in Gotham for clues about the Mole. He became suspicious of the foreman who didn't have calloused hands. The foreman was suspicious of Robin and had his men capture him.

Superman carried Batman, and was able to spot tunnels leading from the same construction company to Gotham's banks. While Batman followed the gang in the tunnel, Superman burrowed underground to detour the gang to a Gotham City jail cell.

Bruce Wayne turned in the story, and Superman distributed copies at super speed. A rejuvenated John Hall thanked the three reporters for taking a rumor he had picked up from the underworld and breaking the story which saved the Gazette. Bruce was able to return to his polo, and Lois to brag to Perry how she had edited a major newspaper.

But don't worry, Perry brought her back to Earth. The next day, back at the Daily Planet offices, when she turned in her story he bellowed, You call this a story? Great Caesar's Ghost! Has playing editor gone to your head?

Working in the production department of a newspaper, I noticed that there was not a regular Gazette reporter on the story. While Hall may have gotten the tip, he would have assigned the story to one of his reporters, not worked on it himself. And a subordinate editor would have taken his place.But then we wouldn't have had the trio of Clark, Bruce and Lois working together. Hall and the employee who informed him of the Board's decision are the only members of the Gazette staff we saw, other than the Board members themselves. I doubt the paper's staff would have welcomed these outsiders who thought they could save their paper when they couldn't.

Clark came up with a clever way to save the ship and report on the story as Clark without exposing his secret identity.

Bruce showed himself as a quick learner when it came to being a reporter. We saw Robin as the Boy Hostage again.

Superman showed some of his wild super powers, as he sealed the jail floor at super speed so the gang couldn't escape.

All comments aside, it was a fun story to read Lois, Clark and Bruce catching the bad guys and saving a major newspaper, all in the same day. The peril of the Gazette certainly strikes close to home today, as the news industry adjusts to the digital era. So I give this story 4 Superman Capes out of 5.

Green Arrow starred in the second story of the issue, The Bewitched Bow. The six page story was drawn by George Papp.

The final, six page, story starred Tomahawk in, The Brave Of Fort Fearless, drawn by Fred Ray.

Elsewhere in DC Comics, 32 titles carried the January, or January/February 1956 cover date.

Next episode: The Superman Comic Book Cover Dated March 1959: Action Comics #250!

In 2 weeks" The Superman Family Comic Book Cover Dated February 1956: Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #10!

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