When Batty Met Supey

As a nostalgia-fueled blog, it’s not surprising that human memory (specifically my human memory) would be a regular theme here, but it is just a tad surprising to me that it seems to have become the dominant theme. And as I keep coming back to this theme, it’s getting kinda scary just how often my own memory plays tricks on me.

Generally speaking, my memory is pretty darn good. Just put on a pop song from any year from the mid-70s to the late 80s and I can likely tell you the year it was released, the specific time of year it charted, and what comics I was reading at the time. But then there are instances when my memory has utterly failed me, like the time I would have sworn that the word “twerp” appeared in a character’s dialogue when it actually did not. Or when I nearly went on a spending spree buying a whole bunch of Conan comics that I already owned. And perhaps most infamously, there was an extended stretch there when I had somehow forgotten that I spoiled the big reveal in The Empire Strikes Back for my then-best friend and myself right before we were going in to see the movie in 1980.

All of this brings us back to Valentine’s Day weekend earlier this year, when I published a post on Superman and Wonder Woman. During my research for this post, I was caught off guard by the fact that DC’s Holy Trinity (Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman) had virtually no interactions during the Golden Age. This despite the fact that they were all supposed to have been members (“honorary” or otherwise) of the Justice Society of America. Turned out it wasn’t until the early 50s when Batty & Supes had any substantial interaction in the comics, and it was the 60s before the full Trinity were all appearing together regularly in the pages of Justice League of America—and even then, their interactions carried almost no weight at all.

Looking back with several months of hindsight, I believe I can now see how subjective bias colored my memory. I’m a Gen Xer, and like most Xers I was raised on/by the television, thus my earliest memories of superheroes are from television. The Super Friends show got its start at the dawn of my very lifetime and was most certainly my first brush with superhero teams, so the idea of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman (plus Aquaman and Robin) working together has been with me for nearly as long as I’ve been alive.

…And naturally, once I did start regularly reading comics in the mid-70s, comic superheroes were all over each other all of the time. We had tons of team titles, team-up books, guest appearances, and crossovers galore.

So on the deepest emotional level, it just felt to me as if the Trinity had always been some kind of tight-knit group throughout comics history—especially Superman & Batman—even though if I had just stopped to think about it rationally, I would have realized such was not the case.

This led to questions; questions like why was such not the case? And why do I still have this feeling that something isn’t right here? Could I have missed something somewhere? Or is my memory just having some fun at my expense again?

Let’s go back to take a longer look and find out.

The Superhero All-Star Team

For its first two issues, All Star Comics was a regular anthology title featuring several unconnected adventures of different characters. Then All Star Comics #3 (Winter 1940) came along and gave us the Justice Society of America. As Don Thompson put it in the foreword to All Star Comics Archives Vol. 1 (1991):

[T]he heroes in All Star Comics #1 and #2 all appeared in separate, entirely unrelated stories, in exactly the kind of adventures they had been having in other comic books. All Star Comics #1 and #2 were nothing really special for their time. All Star was just another anthology of superhero stories like Adventure Comics, Flash Comics, Action Comics, Detective Comics, More Fun Comics, and the like, albeit with a selection of characters from several other titles. It was, in short, a good comic book, but not a great one—until the third issue, when someone (Publisher M. C. Gaines? Editor Sheldon Mayer? Writer Gardner Fox? All three of them struck by inspirational lightning at once? Someone else? Who knows, after half a century has passed?) had the brilliant idea of having all the heroes get together. (It seems obvious to us today, but all the really great ideas are obvious once some genius has thought of them in the first place. Geniuses are the first to see the obvious while the rest of us slap our foreheads and say, “Now, why didn’t I think of that!”)

Alan Moore expressed this same basic sentiment in a 1985 interview with Amazing Heroes that I just so happened to have read recently. He was discussing the need for growth and evolution in comics and referencing the seismic developments that came two decades prior, in the early sixties: “It’s a very difficult thing to do, because after it’s happened, everyone can say that was what was needed, but before it happens no one knows quite how to formulate the idea.” (Kim Thompson, “The Alan Moore Interview,” Amazing Heroes #71, May 15, 1985, p. 51.)

So yeah, putting all your popular superheroes together on a team, in one comic book together, feels like a no brainer only from a present-day perspective. But even after the idea struck, it still took quite a lot of time for it to evolve into its peak form.

In the beginning, the “team” books like the JSA in All-Star, like the Seven Soldiers of Victory in Leading Comics, still functioned like the other anthology titles had: the issues would feature team members splitting up to tackle different menaces in individual story chapters illustrated by different artists. At the time, this was more logistical than anything else—it was a way of divvying up the labor between multiple artists so you could complete the issue faster and publish it on schedule. Keep in mind, comics were 64 pagers back then and had very little ad space. Still, you could have divvied up the labor and somehow figured out a way to keep the characters together through more of the story if you were clever enough… but this rarely occurred.

So really, none of the superheroes interacted that much back in those days, but let’s concentrate on the Trinity (particularly Superman and Batman) and get a little bit deeper into their history together.

Some Comics Business History

Superman was the first superhero and Batman was basically the second—I mean, there were a few other characters in the year or so between their debuts, but Batman was the next superhero to have an impact that was comparable to that of Supes. Captain Marvel, Flash, Green Lantern, the Human Torch, and the Sub-Mariner would quickly follow in Batman’s wake, and just like that, the superhero boom was on.

It was only natural, then, that when the first superhero team was launched, the first “big two” superheroes would be made a part of it, right? Or so one would think, at least today, but back then they decided otherwise. The reasons for this decision had virtually no connection to simple common sense.

First of all (and bear with me folks, as this is going to get REALLY complicated, but I’ll try and give you the Reader’s Digest version), the company we know today as DC Comics was really two companies at the dawn of the Golden Age… well, technically, three: National Allied Publications, Detective Comics, and All-American Publications.

By 1937, Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson’s National Allied began having money problems. This forced him to launch Detective Comics (DC) as a subsidiary company to keep making comics, but this still wasn’t enough to get out from under the debt he owed to his distributor, Independent News Company, owned by Harry Donenfeld. Thus National/DC was pushed into bankruptcy and Donenfeld wound up acquiring the assets of both companies just about a year later, in 1938. This was the same year Superman made his debut in Action Comics, while Batman would follow the next year in the titular Detective Comics. Obviously, with the timing of all this, Wheeler-Nicholson’s luck was atrocious, while Donenfeld (along with partner Jack Liebowitz) had effectively won the lottery.

So for all practical purposes, National/DC was always one company, but in strictly legal terms, they had started out as two. Then we get to All-American.

All-American Publications was launched by Max Gaines in 1938 with funding from Donenfeld, who required Gaines to take on Liebowitz as a partner as part of the deal. So All-American was kinda, sorta under that Donenfeld umbrella, but not as intimately connected as National and DC were. They had their own office on Lafayette Street while National/DC was on Lexington Avenue, and they operated fairly independently (at least on the editorial/creative side).

In 1944, Gaines was bought out of All-American by Liebowitz. Gaines would then launch the EC comics company (operating out of that very same office on Lafayette), which his son Bill would shepherd to much glory (and no small amount of controversy) in the decade to follow.

In late 1946, National Allied, Detective Comics, and All-American formally merged into National Comics Publications, Inc. Liebowitz would then go on to fold National Comics, Independent News (the distribution arm of the operation), and all other affiliated firms into a single corporate entity, National Periodical Publications. Even though the company’s name was legally “National,” readers would still often refer to the comics line as “DC,” as they were still branded as such on the comic covers. The comics publishing-arm of the corporation would finally, officially re-title themselves as DC in 1977 at the behest of Jenette Kahn.

Circling back to the JSA in All Star Comics: the original concept for the title was that it would feature the top heroes from both National/DC and All-American, just like baseball’s All-Star Game featured the best players from the National and American Leagues. So again: why no Superman or Batman? I mean, imagine if baseball’s first All-Star Game had excluded Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig?

First, the actual comic was being produced out of the All-American offices on Lafayette, so it’s possible National wanted to keep their “big two” in house and more totally under their control. (Even in later years, well after the merger, National/DC editors were known to treat their stable of titles like personal fiefdoms, so this very well could have been the case.) Outside of the big two, the JSA’s original eight members were split right down the middle, with half coming from National and the other half from All-American. Sandman and Hourman were regulars in National’s Adventure Comics; Dr. Fate and the Spectre appeared in National’s More Fun Comics; Flash and Hawkman were from All-American’s Flash Comics; and Green Lantern and the Atom appeared in AA’s eponymous All-American Comics.

Second, there was this rule with the JSA in All Star—a rule that characters often broke the fourth wall in explaining—wherein once a character was awarded their own self-titled solo comic, they would be required to leave the team. Superman and Batman already had their own self-titled solo comics when the JSA got started (in addition to appearing in Action Comics and Detective Comics, respectively), so maybe this played into why they weren’t regulars in the JSA? Maybe they feared overexposing the characters? We’ll likely never know for certain.

JSA membership “rules,” as explained in All Star Comics #6 (Aug.-Sept. 1941).


Note that after Gaines was bought out by Liebowitz in ‘44, there was no reason for JSA membership to be divided along publisher lines anymore, as it was all truly just one publishing company at that point. Thus, many of the “rules” about maximum membership and limitations on how many titles a character could appear in were ignored or essentially tossed out around this time.

The Trinity & the JSA

In any case, Superman and Batman were such big names (even then; perhaps even especially then) that they couldn’t form a new, all-star team of superheroes in 1940 without addressing their absence. Ergo, we got this on the fourth page of the JSA’s debut in All Star #3:

Note that there’s no mention of Superman or Batman having any kind of official ties to the JSA here, but that will change in just a few months. Johnny Thunder and the Red Tomato… er, Red Tornado (whose appearance is a brief one due to a wardrobe malfunction) are also not official members of the team despite their presence in the story. But for those keeping score, Thunder (Flash Comics) and Tornado (All-American Comics) are both All-American characters.

So after Bats and Supes were mentioned during this inaugural meeting, they would be name dropped again whenever there was a roster shake up, being referred to as “honorary members.” On such occasions, there were also instances where fans would be treated to floating-head cameos from “the big two.” The first time this happened was at the end of the fifth issue, when it was announced the Flash would be leaving the next issue (because he had just been granted a new solo title) and thus would join Superman and Batman as honorary members. The same thing happened with Green Lantern in the next issue teaser at the end of the seventh issue.

That seventh issue is also most notable for being the one where Superman and Batman finally appear together with the rest of the JSAers AT LONG LAST.

Yeah, I know, they don’t even acknowledge each other, but they’re still there on the same comic page together! That’s All Star Comics #7 (Oct.-Nov. 1941), be sure to write that down in your notebooks, kids. And while you’ve got your pencil out, write down All Star Comics #8 (Dec.-Jan. 1941-42), because that one features the debut of Wonder Woman! It’s a brief origin story meant to hype her upcoming appearance as the star of a new anthology, Sensation Comics, so she has nothing to do with the JSA at this point, but still… history!

Superman and Batman would continue to be name dropped now and then, and they’d even get floating-head cameos on a couple of covers (of issues where they didn’t even appear). Wonder Woman, meanwhile, would basically join the group in All Star #11 (Jun.-Jul, 1942) and remain a team staple for the rest of its Golden Age run, all the way through All Star #57 (Feb.-Mar. 1951). I say “basically” because after participating in that eleventh issue as a “guest star in a national emergency,” she would quickly assume the title of team “secretary,” but she usually got her own chapters within All Star’s anthology-like format like the other male characters and fought by their side like any other regular member. (What can I tell ya, folks, it was the 40s. I don’t think women were even allowed to own watches until sometime after the 1960s.)

And for those still keeping score, Wonder Woman (along with all of her other Sensation Comics cohorts) was produced out of the All-American office. So put another one in the All-American column.

Finally, finally, finally, in 1947’s All Star Comics #36 (Aug.-Sept. 1947), in a story titled “5 Drowned Men,” the Trinity appeared in a proper comic tale together.

Don’t anyone out there dare try and tell me that this cover is anything less than glorious. Oh, how I love it. Now with this comic being over seventy years old, and business practices in the industry being what they were in the 40s, we can’t be precisely sure who drew it. The Grand Comics Database credits the cover to multiple artists, while other sources, like All Star Comics Archives Vol. 8 (2001) and Lone Star Comics, credit the cover to Win Mortimer. In my own humble opinion, I think I see the touch of Lee Elias on that Flash head, at least, but I could be wrong.

Now would you believe I was lucky enough to experience this story, a Golden Age tale pretty much old as dirt, as a little kid at the very dawn of the 1980s? That’s because I was granted the divine fortune to have DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest #3 (Aug. 1980) find its way into my hands.

While it’s entirely possible I bought this digest off the stands (because I would buy anything that had the Justice Society in it back then), I believe I got it courtesy of DC’s comp list, which I was on for a couple months in 1980 thanks to my aunt’s work connections via Warner Brothers.

As for the story itself, it was no less a thing of beauty than that magnificent cover. It features a stream referred to by Native Americans as “Koehaha,” or “the Stream of Ruthlessness.” Those who “drown” in the stream (which only runs once every hundred years) are “reborn” as totally evil people, with their personalities washed clean of all good impulses. Thus, a revenge plot using the stream creates five new super-villains that the JSAers have to capture (the “drowned” men of the title). Then they have to catch the guy who originally “drowned” these super-villains in the stream in the first place. It’s a very intriguing and entertaining premise, making for a very strong story.

On the Supes-Batman front, there’s not a whole lot to discuss here, as they only interact directly twice in the story. Once near the beginning…

And again at the very end…

The story’s still great though.

Let me add that as a kid and even today, I find myself mesmerized and enchanted by the simple beauty of the Golden Age art style here. Unlike the cover, we have slightly more certainty regarding the interior art: Irwin Hasen did the framing sequences; Lee Elias did the Flash chapter; Joe Kubert did Hawkman; Frank Harry did Doctor Mid-Nite; and Hasen also did the Superman and Green Lantern chapters.

As for the writer, we can’t be completely sure, but I’ve got a pretty good hunch. The evocation of Native American folklore at the beginning, plus little bits like how a wet rope of rawhide will contract as it dries, name checking Tlāloc during the exposition on Aztec history, Flash’s scientific explanation of the stream’s properties at the end… such esoteric and encyclopedic knowledge just screams Gardner Fox to me.

And that was that. The first and last time that Superman and Batman participated in a proper JSA adventure in the pages of All Star Comics.

World’s Finest

It would be five years before Superman and Batman appeared in a story together again. This would be the first time it was just the two of them sharing the spotlight, and it happened in Superman #76 (June 1952). Each hero first learned the secret identity of the other in this tale.

It would be another two years before they teamed up again, this time in World’s Finest Comics #71 (July 1954), which marked the beginning of a very long run of the two teaming together regularly. The very existence of this title is likely another reason it felt to me that Superman and Batman first teamed up much earlier, as Finest had been featuring the two characters since early 1941… just never in the same story before.

In the earliest part of its life, Finest was a 96-page quarterly anthology that sold for 15¢ (as opposed to the regular, 64-page comics that sold for 10¢), featuring Superman, Batman, and other characters. It would eventually cut its page count down to 88, 80, 72, 64, and finally to the then-and-now standard 32 pages (reducing its price to the then-standard 10¢ in the process), leaving only enough space for one story, which is what led to Superman and Batman finally having a real comic-book team-up beginning in issue #71. While Superman and Batman had appeared on every cover together going all the way back to World’s Best Comics #1 (1941), it was only in that 71st issue that Supes and Bats (and Robin) began sharing the same story each issue.

Speaking of the Boy Wonder: it should be noted that Robin was a popular character in his own right back in the Golden and Silver Ages, and thus was also a selling point for Finest. Going all the way back to that first issue, when it was titled World’s Best Comics, Robin was on every cover right next to Superman and Batman up until issue #85 (Dec. 1956), when it was just Superman and Batman. Robin would then return to the cover the following issue and would remain a cover fixture until issue #144 (Sept. 1964), at which point the covers (mostly) began showcasing just Superman and Batman.

So ‘54 was the year Superman and Batman became a regular comics duo. Yep, the history doesn’t lie, folks. And yet… why is it that despite my exhaustive research and all the verification, it still didn’t feel right?

That’s when it hit me.

World’s Finest #271 (Sept. 1981).

Just look at that mouth-watering George Pérez art on the cover—how could anyone resist? Certainly not me! I got it off the spinner rack at the stationery store in Maplewood Center in the summer of ‘81.

Looks like a special issue, right? But what could the occasion be? What’s so special about a 271st issue? Well, it’s the 200-issue anniversary of when Superman and Batman first became a regular team in issue #71.

Along with artists Rich Buckler and Frank McLaughlin, Roy Thomas (having just come over to DC from Marvel) writes a tale that imports a ton of material from the classic Adventures of Superman RADIO show, where Superman and Batman truly did work together as a team for the first time in 1945. Thomas delves into that history in-depth on the inside front cover.

For those who might have trouble reading my scan, I’ll transcribe it for you:

WORLD’S FINEST COMICS, as longtime DC readers already know, has had a lengthy and honored career as a showcase title for Superman and Batman—the two most famous comic-book super-heroes of all time.

The magazine began, actually, as NEW YORK WORLD’S FAIR COMICS (or just WORLD’S FAIR COMICS, for short)—two special 100-page issues printed in 1939 and 1940, in conjunction with the huge world exposition then taking plate in Flushing. N.Y., at the end of the city’s subway line.

Those two special issues were such a success (even though the first of them contained only Superman and a host of lesser heroes, with no Batman) that the powers-that-were decided to make such a magazine a regular thing. Thus, WORLD’S BEST COMICS debuted in spring of 1941, starring Superman and Batman in separate stories, with lots of minor- leaguers in between: one hundred big pulpy pages for just 15¢, which was already a nickel more than most comics cost in those long-gone, pre-inflation days.

With issue #2, the title was changed to the more euphonious WORLD’S FINEST COMICS, and things really got rolling.

Still, for a decade, the Man of Steel never bumped into the Caped Crusader and/or his Boy Wonder buddy, except on the symbolic covers of the magazine—throwing baseballs at Hitler and Mussolini, straddling the big guns on an American battleship, or just clowning around. Their one or two real meetings on the printed page had occurred at sessions of the famous Justice Society of America, in ALL-STAR COMICS (#8 and #37). The sole exception, recounted briefly this issue, was the famous if low-key tale in SUPERMAN #76, “The Mightiest Team in the World,” in which the pair exchanged secret identities and solved a shipboard stolen-diamonds mystery.

Then, in 1954, some wise person made the decision to change WORLD’S FINEST from a giant-size comic down to a regular-size one—and of course, the best way to do that was obviously to team up Superman and Batman in a continuing feature. So this they did, starting with issue #71’s tale entitled “Batman—Double for Superman!”

The merger, need it be said, was an instant success; and this writer, for one, can still remember the thrill of first beholding the cover of that initial 10¢ issue, whereon “Batman” leaped into the path of a firing pistol to take a bullet meant for “Superman.”

The Superman/Batman co-starrers lasted for some two decades, mostly under the recurring banner: “Your Two Favorite Heroes—SUPERMAN and BATMAN and Robin—in One Adventure Together!” (I always figured that since Robin’s name was simply printed as a kind of adjunct to the Batman logo, he didn’t count, but still the sheer arithmetic of the thing bothered me for years.)

In the 1970’s, for a year or so there, Kal-El dropped his alliance with Batman (who, after all, was already teaming up with other heroes in THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD) in favor of one-shot forays alongside other DC stars, beginning with the Flash. But there was some sort of chemistry in the Superman/Batman team that just would not be denied, and so they were reunited in WORLD’S FINEST #215, leaving it to DC COMICS PRESENTS to handle Superman’s one-issue stands.

“Batman’s back, and Superman’s got him!”

And so, as Kurt Vonnegut is fond of saying, it goes.

Strangely, though, the teaming-up of Supes and Bats in SUPERMAN #76 and WORLD’S FINEST #71 was not the first full-fledged joint adventure of those costumed stalwarts, as far as many of us were concerned.

No, their real origin as a team, it always seemed to us, occurred not in a comic-book at all, more’s the pity—but on a 1945 radio program!

The Last Son of Krypton, you see, had had his own regular radio series since the early 40’s, in various formats. This is neither the time nor the place to go into that show’s star-spangled history, but it is instructive that it was also on radio, not in comics, that Kryptonite first appeared; the deadly substance was then sandwiched into the comics themselves a year or so later!

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

It was on the fateful day of March 3, 1945, on the Mutual radio network that Superman responded to a message left furtively on Clark Kent’s desk—and wound up rescuing Robin, the Boy Wonder, who desperately needed his help to find the missing Batman,

(This, of course, is the part of this issue’s story which Superman sees as a dream.)

Superman and Robin teamed up to locate the Caped Crusader; then the three of them ganged up on the evil Zoltan and his minions, as shown herein. After that, the Dynamic Duo appeared quite regularly as guest stars on the “Superman” radio show through the remainder of the 1940’s, even though they never got their own program till TV discovered them in the middle-1960’s.

Thus it was that, when former WORLD’S FINEST editor Jack C. Harris invited me to plot a special 48-page story recapitulating all of Superman and Batman’s various “team-origins,” including several which had been anachronistically placed earlier than the events of SUPERMAN #76, my instant rejoinder was: “What about the radio meeting? That was the real origin of the team, you know—and it’s never been adapted into comics form!”

Jack enthusiastically agreed, and so we decided to do more than simply re-tell old stories in the format of a new one. We would also bring in what amounts to the origin of the Earth-Two Superman/Batman team… the one that happened on that parallel world, first introduced exactly twenty years ago in the pages of THE FLASH. (You know all about Earth-Two, don’t you? The earth on which there’s a Justice Society rather than a Justice League; on which there was never a Superboy, since Clark Kent never donned his colorful costume till he was full-grown; and now, the earth on which Superman, Batman, and Robin, who had met at most in passing before, first joined forces to smash the dastardly schemes of a guy named Zoltan.

For good measure, Jack and I decided we would use, too, the most famous villain created for the radio series: none other than the mysterious, Kryptonite-radiating Atoman (spelling arbitrary), who had created such a sensation in a series of shows in 1946 that his name was even appropriated by Lex Luthor in 1950, as L.L.’s alter ego in the second Superman movie serial, “Atom Man vs. Superman.” (See why we said our choice of spelling was arbitrary?)

Since the original Atoman didn’t have a costume, though, we decided to give him one—the very one worn by Superman’s “partner” Powerman in WORLD’S FINEST #94. Since that Powerman turned out to be a robot, we figured he wouldn’t mind.

My own enthusiasm (as well as artist Rich Buckler’s) having been fueled in turn by Jack’s now, I set to work to listen to everything I could find on tape of the old Superman/Batman and Superman/Atoman encounters, courtesy of my two good friends Don Glut and Jim Harmon. Between Jim’s book The Great Radio Heroes, which covered the first Superman/Batman meeting in depth, and some tapes supplied by both him and Don, I was able to listen to some of the episodes of both adventures… but not enough to satisfy me.

A quick call, then, to still another oldtime radio expert, Larry Ivie, who filled me in on a handful of all-important details about Atoman, and the rest is comic-mag history. A hearty, heart-felt thanks to Don, Jim, and Larry… and my sincerest apologies to them, for any minor flesh-wounds we may have accidentally inflicted upon the radio dramas by having to adapt them, in a relatively few pages, into comics format.

Someday soon, perhaps, if reader response is rabid enough, maybe WORLD’S FINEST’s new and equally zealous editor, Len Wein, will be able to lay his hands either on all those old radio shows, or upon the scripts if they still exist somewhere on our earth. If he does, I’ll be standing right there at the head of the line begging to be allowed to adapt them, as well.

For now, though, it’s enough that we’ve tried—the whole lot of us—to do justice not only to a half dozen, or so very important comic-book stories, a few of which seemed mutually exclusive at first glance, but also to that long-vanished Superman radio show on which so many aspects of the Man of Steel’s mythos first saw the light of day.

Need we add that it was a heck of a lot of fun?

—Roy Thomas, writer

Anyone that wants to hear that classic radio play where Superman rescues Robin from that boat in March 1945 can catch it on YouTube here. The Internet Archive also has most of the old shows in mp3 format here.

What television was to us Xers (and the Boomers too), and what the internet is to Millennials, that’s what radio was to the Greatest Generation. Radio is the medium through which most people got their Superman content in the 40s and may have added as much to the character as the comics did during this time—as Roy Thomas pointed out, Kryptonite and Perry White were born on the radio, not in the comics. All of this likely contributed tremendously to the idea of Superman and Batman being a team during this era, causing said idea to seep so deeply into the collective unconscious that I was unable to believe that Superman and Batman only started teaming up in the mid-50s.

…Or maybe I just randomly remembered Finest #271 while researching for this post. I’m going with the former; it makes for a much more dramatic story that way.

So that’s that. As complete a history of the Superman-Batman team from the Golden to Silver Ages as you’re ever likely to find (he said with no modesty whatsoever). Hope you all enjoyed the ride as much as I did.


One thought on “When Batty Met Supey”

  1. Fascinating bit of cultural history, Crusty! To my understanding, it was the animated Superman cartoon that had Supes flying for the sake of convenience in not having to constantly show him jumping all over the place to get around Metropolis and was later adopted into the comics, so quite a bit of Superman lore was from the cartoon and radio as well as the comics, all eventually blended together. Quite a difference from the rise of Marvel Comics from which the earliest cartoons were fairly primitive animations of the original comics and there was no radio show. Only with the massive success of the Marvel movies starting in 2008, did other media formats begin significantly influencing the Marvel mythos.
    Also, seems to me that the Superman/Batman/Wonder Woman trinity came about due to those being the primary stars of the sole superhero comics to last from the Golden Age into the Silver Age, and further cemented by the Super Friends tv show, which aside from Robin also included another survivor of the Golden Age, albeit not in his own title, Aquaman.
    Over at Marvel, references to a “trinity” usually refers to Thor, Iron Man and Captain America as the Big Three of the Avengers. Otherwise, popularity-wise, the Big Three of Marvel might be Spider-Man, Hulk and Wolverine, which makes for a far different vibe than DC’s trinity. But then, the impression from those World’s Finest covers and the Super Friends cartoons was that Supes, Bats & Wondy were all great friends, whereas ever since Miller’s Batman Returns, Superman and Batman have more routinely been portrayed as at odds with one another.

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