Thursday, December 1, 2011

Episode #207: Superman Family Comic Book Cover Dated January/February 1957: World's Finest Comics #86!

World's Finest Comics #86, January/February 1957, was published around November 29, 1956. It contained 32 pages for the cover price of a dime. The editor was Jack Schiff, and the cover was pencilled by Curt Swan and inked by Stan Kaye.

The Superman and Batman story was titled The Super Show Of Gotham City, written by Edmond Hamilton, pencilled by Dick Sprang and inked by Stan Kaye. This 12 page story was reprinted in World's Finest Archive vol. II and Showcase Presents: World's Finest vol. I.

Batman and Robin answered Commissioner Gordon's summons via the Batsignal. Instead of being alerted to the latest villain escaping from prison, they were invited to participate in the Gotham Police charity show.

After returning to the Batcave, the Dynamic Duo began picking their trophies which they thought would most interest the public. They were soon joined by Superman, who volunteered to participate. Batman had the idea of the heroes re-enacting some of their super deeds, and Superman planned to arrange for Clark to have a few days off in order to make time for the show (Clark's 4th silver age vacation).

The charity show even made front page headlines in Metropolis, but Clark informed Lois that he wasn't going to be there (at least in that identity he told himself). Lois met Commissioner Gordon outside Gotham City, where the charity show would take place. They were soon joined by Batman and Robin, and Lois noticed that there was nothing set up for the public to sit and watch the show. Superman appeared and chiseled a stadium out of a rock cliff.

The charity show began with the Gotham Police Motorcycle Corps riding in various formations. Superman carried a giant platform which was filled with many of Batman's trophies. While the public observed the Bat trophies, Mr. Bartles, who had been contracted to film the show, thought to himself that Superman and Batman wouldn't like his plans for his film of their show.

After Superman borrowed two buildings from Gotham City, Batman and Robin re-enacted their defeat of a spider like machine robbers used to scale a building. But Batman's aim was thrown off when the flagpole his batrope was tied to bent. Robin helped him recover and they stopped the machine.

Superman's first stunt was to catch the rocket originally used by the Rocket Rocketeers to rob banks. The Man of Steel misjudged the trajectory, and had to catch up with the rocket. Bartle's cameraman commented that both scenes were spoiled, but Bartle wasn't worried. There would be more stunts to film.

Lois, however, was concerned. She suspected someone was sabotaging the show.

The World's Finest Heroes next re-enacted the case where Batman and Robin found and defused a bomb that had been hidden in a merry go round. Superman lifted it above the crowd for safety. Batman and Robin were successful, but had to hold on for dear life when the merry go round began to spin at a high speed. Commissioner Gordon declared the show would be over until tomorrow.

Superman and Batman dismissed Lois' concerns, but she was determined to fund the culprit. She asked Bartle if she could look at the film of the crowd observing the Bat trophies, but he informed her that he had only filmed the stunts.

After dark, Lois snuck into the rocket, but someone's hand shut the door. She banged on the door, and Superman and Batman let her out, but they continued to dismiss her concerns.

The first act on the next day was recreating when Batman and Robin used the Batplane to catch a gang that wore diving suits to reach their underwater hideout. After flying the Batplane low over the water, Batman retracted the Batplane's wings so that the craft could operate as a submarine. But they didn't emerge, and bubbles surfaced. Superman rescued the submerged Batplane, and Batman and Robin were unhurt.

Superman struggled to overcome a tank disguised as a fire breathing dragon, but finally won.

As he retrieved a giant bow from Batman's trophies, Superman adjusted the bowstring. Lois had hidden in a lead box used by criminals to hide from Superman, and had seen the Man of Steel sabotage the bow. She was convinced that he must have locked her in the rocket.

Superman and Batman reenacted when Superman shot an arrow, carrying Batman, to catch some crooks who had sabotaged a bridge. The Man of Steel had remained behind in case he had to make emergency repairs. Superman undershot the plane, but Batman had worn his parachute cape, and floated safely to the ground.

Before Lois could inform Gordon what she had seen, Bartle demanded his check back, because his film was worthless. Batman and Superman convinced Gordon to agree to Bartle's demand. The heroes informed Bartle that they knew of his plan to market the film as an actual documentary of their real exploits and not re-enactments. They had purposefully botched their stunts, and now they would perform for real, and the film from the show would make a lot of money, all for charity. They began with Superman juggling Batman and Robin as he flew over the crowd.

First of all, I can't picture Batman participating in any charity show. That's a job for Bruce Wayne. While I didn't feel sorry for Bartle being scammed, I had to wonder about the crowd. Why would they want to return for a second day if Superman and Batman performed so badly. It was never made clear if Superman did lock Lois in the rocket. I wonder if the producers of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight got the idea for the glider cape from Batman's parachute cape in this story. I give it 2 Superman Capes out of 5.

Elsewhere in DC Comics, 34 titles carried the January or January/February 1957 cover date.

Next Episode: Superman Comic Book Cover Dated March 1960: Action Comics #262!
In 2 Weeks: Superman Family Comic Book Cover Dated February 1957: Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #18!

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.

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