Saturday, November 5, 2011

Episode #203: Superman Family Comic Book Cover Dated November/December 1956: World's Finest Comics #85!

World's Finest Comics #85, November/December 1956, was published around September 27, 1956 (which, four years later would be the day I was born). The editor was Jack Schiff, and the cover was pencilled by Dick Sprang and inked by Stan Kaye, who were the art team for the Superman/Batman story in this issue. The title was The Super-Rivals, written by Edmond Hamilton. This story was reprinted in World's Finest Comics Archive vol. I and Showcase Presents: World's Finest vol. I.

In the kingdom of Balkania, ruler Princess Varina decided to visit America, over the objections of her Prime Minister. On the next day, Perry White assigned Clark Kent and Lois Lane to cover the arrival of the Princess's ocean liner in Metropolis Bay. In Gotham City, Commissoner Gordon asked Batman and Robin to greet her as well.

When Princess Varina arrived in her ocean liner to Metropolis Bay, Batman and Robin used the Batplane to sky write Welcome Princess Varina while Superman played tugboat in bringing her ship into the harbor. Waiting on the dock was Lois Lane and Vicki Vale, of Vue Magazine in Gotham City. They both agreed that their respective heroes would bored welcoming a girl. Lois and Vicki got a surprise when Batman and Superman ignored them as they escorted the Princess off of her ship.

During the Metropolis ticker tape parade which greeted Princess Varina, Superman and Batman impressed her when they kept an overcrowded balcony from collapsing. At City Hall, the two heroes argued over who would protect her, and brushed off Captain Stefan, Princess Varina's Aide, when he insisted on watching over Her Majesty. He joined Lois and Vicki in being jealous of the World's Finest Heroes, but for different reasons. At a press conference, Lois asked Princess Varina if she had a fiance in her home country. Her Majesty answered cryptically that she might marry someone in the United States.

Superman and Batman competed against each other to see who could top the other in granting her every whim. When Batman escorted the Princess around Metropolis in the Batmobile, driven by Robin, Superman carved S & V in a heart on the side of cliff in the countryside as they drove by.

On the next day, when the Princess and her party boarded a train bound for Gotham City, joined by Lois and Vicki, Superman flew the entire train to its destination. During Gotham City's parade which greeted the Princess, Commissioner Gordon warned Batman about a rumor some gangsters would try to rob the Royal Jewels. Princess Varina and her delegation settled into a mansion outside of Gotham.

While Superman and Batman escorted the Princess to her temporary home, Lois and Vicki plotted to find out which hero the Princess would marry. When they got the opportunity to speak with Princess Varina privately, she revealed to them that she was in love with Captain Stefan, but the Balkanian Parliament forbid her to marry a commoner. Of course, Lois and Vicki promised to help the two lovers elope.

Unknown to them, their conversation was heard by Superman and Batman, who shared the news with Princess Varina's Prime Minister. This was very bad news, because if the Princess abdicated, her country would plunge into civil war. We also discover that Superman and Batman had feigned romantic interest in the Princess to create an obstacle to her elopement at the Prime Minister's request.

Superman and Batman played along when Princess Varina requested a hat just like the one worn by Lois Lane, which was only available in Metropolis. They appeared to leave, Superman following Batman who flew the Batplane, but it was actually flown by Robin, who towed a Superman dummy behind the Batplane. Batman and Superman stayed hidden, and observed Captain Stefan and Princess Varina driving away to elope.

While Batman followed the eloping lovers in the Batmobile, Superman carved a roller out of stone wide enough for a two lane road. With it, the Man of Steel rolled a detour through the countryside, which the lovers took, and led back to the mansion.

Pete Kaney's mob had kept the mansion under surveillance,  and used the opportunity to attempt to rob the Princess while she was outside the security of the mansion. But while Superman and Batman secretly took out the gang's two gunmen, the outnumbered Captain Stefan took care of the remaining gangsters. Superman and Batman let the Captain take the entire credit for saving Princess Varina, and her country's grateful Parliament granted permission for the two lovers to wed in appreciation for Stefan's bravery.

As Princess Varina and her fiance returned to Balkania by ocean liner, Lois hoped the two heroes had learned their lesson.

Dick Sprang's art as usual was great. It turned out that Lois Lane wasn't the only one jealous of her superhero. Vicki Vale was just as jealous of Batman.

I wasn't a great fan of Superman and Batman almost fighting over the affections of Princess Varina, but I couldn't think of an alternate solution for keeping her country from falling into civil war. First of all, they were fighting over the affections of a foreign dignitary. And what if their plan worked and she fell in love with Superman or Batman? The heroes risked wrecking her relationship with Captain Stefan. The ending of the story made it better for me, when Batman saw the opportunity to allow Stefan take the credit for saving the Princess. Of course, it involved placing both of them at risk, but the two heroes were ready to jump in at a moment's notice. And the Balkanian Parliament could also have awarded Captain Stefan a title for his bravery.

Thanks to the twist at the end, I give this story 3 Superman Capes out of 5, instead of 2, as I otherwise would have.

Tomahawk starred in the six page second story of the issue, The Frontier Destroyer, drawn by Fred Ray.

This issue's final story starred Green Arrow in the six page tale, The Dangers From Tomorrow, drawn by George Papp.

Elsewhere in DC Comics, 30 titles carried the November, or November/December 1956 cover date.

Next Episode: Superman Comic Books Cover Dated January 1960: Superman #134 & Action Comics #260!

In 2 Weeks: Superman Family Comic Book Cover Dated December 1956: Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #17!

 Check out SLIPSTREAM, a new web comic book written by jeffrey Taylor, co-host of the FROM CRISIS TO CRISIS podcast, and drawn by yours truly. Thanks to SUPERMAN HOMEPAGE .com contributor Adam Deschanel for putting the website together. It will begin November 2011.

Also, if you know the original publication information for a Superman story involving his alien zoo at his Fortress of Solitude, reprinted in the 1970 SUPERMAN BUMPER BOOK, a UK Superman hardcover anthology, post it in comments or through the contact information below.

You can join the SUPERMAN FAN PODCAST and MY PULL LIST groups or pages on facebook, and follow both the podcast and blog on twitter @supermanpodcast.

SUPERMAN FAN PODCAST is a proud member of thefollowing:
- The SUPERMAN WEBRING of websites, and

SUPERMAN FAN PODCAST is at . Send e-mail about this podcast to

The theme of this podcast is PLANS IN MOTION, composed by Kevin MacLeod, and part of the royalty free music library at

MY PULL LIST is my spoiler free comic book review blog of the titles I read every week. It can be found at Send e-mail about this blog to

Superman and all related characters are trademark and copyright DC Comics. Any art shown on this podcast is for entertainment purposes only, and not for profit.

Thanks for listening to the SUPERMAN FAN PODCAST and, as always, thanks to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Superman WebRing

Superman WebRing The Superman WebRing
This site is a member of the best
Superman websites on the Internet!
Previous SiteList SitesRandom SiteJoin RingNext Site
SiteRing by



Total Pageviews