The Duel of the Super-Duo, WORLD’S FINEST COMICS No. 163 (December ’66); story: Jim Shooter; art: Curt Swan and George Klein; 18 pages; on sale October 25th ’66.
WORLD’S FINEST COMICS No. 163 (December ’66); cover by Curt Swan & George Klein ⇒
also in this issue:
Cape and Cowl Comments — letters from readers; 1 page.
Fate Holds Four Aces; story: Jack Miller; art: Curt Swan & Ray Burnley; 6 pages.
. . . with various and sundry advertisements.
Cape and Cowl Comments
The arrival of the new Batgirl is announced–and she will team up with Supergirl in a future issue of WORLD’S FINEST COMICS.
Complaints are made over the intrusion of the Batman TV show’s influence on the comic book pages–yet DC was selling far more comics thanks to the Caped Crusader’s newfound fame.
While the Joker’s name remains unknown, the Clown Prince of Crime has adopted several aliases over the years. For more about this, see the discussion of Fate Holds Four Aces below.
And letter writer John Workman asks an intriguing question about reprints. Wearing many hats, Workman himself will soon find work as a johnny on the spot at DC, not least of which in the production department as a colourist and a lettterer.
Once the production department cracks the reprinting challenge for older material, Workman will have a hand in making available many more of those pre-1950s classics.
For the whole letter page go to the spoilers.
Fate Holds Four Aces
As mentioned by John Workman on the letter page, the back-up feature in WORLD’S FINEST COMICS was the Editor’s Round Table–a somewhat misleading description for this feature. It’s likely that the Editor’s main rationale for this segment was to use up stories from the publisher’s catalogue, rather than paying for new content.
Nevertheless, the feature allows many unusual 1950s stories to find a new audience, including this offbeat tale from HOUSE OF MYSTERY No. 27 (June ’54) by writer Jack Miller and artists Curt Swan and Ray Burnley.
The pretext for this reprint is the connection to Batman’s Joker.
To see how that Joker card is played in the story’s conclusion go to spoilers.
various and sundry advertisements
Very often the ads themselves were done as comic pages–and it hardly mattered that a comic page might be trying to sell something (in fact it was sometimes hard to tell exactly what these pages were trying to sell).
WORLD’S FINEST COMICS No. 163 is full of these one page and half page funnies.
For example, Mike’s Toy Factory or “How I make it with my Emenee thermo/craft Workshop!” introduces us to Mike and Bob (the art could be Sheldon Moldoff) and Mike’s futuristic form of 3-D printing for the do it yourselfer.
The Captain might be based on Captain Billy (Wilford Fawcett), the nom de guerre used by the publisher of CAPTAIN BILLY’S WHIZ BANG and other Fawcett magazines, comics and books–a real life army captain in World War I, just like Ralph’s gramps.
And then there’s Cap’s Hobby Hints by Henry Boltinoff–which might not have been an advertisement exactly, but it seems to promote hobbyist activities for the young readers–carried in all the DC titles.
For more ad funny pages, go to spoilers.
The Duel of the Super-Duo
It was not unusual for Superman and Batman to fight one another in the pages of WORLD’S FINEST COMICS. This issue has them in a gladiatorial fight to the death for their host, a cosmic collector named Jemphis, as well as for his guests–a gathering of ne’er do wells from across the galaxy.
Added to the feast is an assembly of new super-heroes whose brief debut–as rendered by Swan and Klein–leaves one longing for more.
Being only fourteen years old when he first started writing for editor Mort Weisinger’s Superman titles, this is one of Jim Shooter’s earliest Superman and Batman team-ups. Being so young, Shooter has the same perspective as we readers and seeks to satisfy our desires as fans.
The adventure begins on the Gotham Bridge, with Batman–thanks to his trusty Batmobile and its batty devices–rounding up yet another couple of dime store crooks. Among the reporters on the scene to cover the story is the DAILY PLANET’s Clark Kent.
Rather than hold court with all the journalists, the Masked Manhunter gives the exclusive to Kent. As Clark, who is in reality Superman, rides along with his pal, the two complain about the daily grind of crimefighting and long for a vacation getaway.
In answer to their yearning, a disembodied voice beckons them to an out of this world holiday resort, as a mysterious portal opens up before the Batmobile. The suped-up sportscar enters a space-warp tunnel–what looks exactly like a Boom Tube; however, this Jack Kirby term for a tunnel that warps through space has not been invented yet. Our two costumed crimefighers are transported to a seeming paradise planet for a proposed super-hero convention.
Their host is revealed as the collector Jemphis-one of those enigmatic space-recluses that govern a planet all their own. Jemphis could have easily been played by William Campbell aka Trelane, The Squire of Gothos on STAR TREK (original air date January 12th, 1967). In fact, many elements of this story would not be out of place on that 1960s science fiction series.
Yet, at the time Jim Shooter scripted this story, none of those STAR TREK classics had even aired on television.
Jemphis shows the popular pair around his exotic planet, populated with fantastic plant-life. As well, their host has replicated the secret hideaways of the galaxy’s great heroes: Aeroman’s skyscraper headquarters, Solarman’s floating globe hideaway, Serpento of Orzak’s pit, Dr. Chill of Klon Kado’s iceberg fortress and, of course, the Batcave and the Fortress of Solitude.
The curious collector invites the World’s Finest Twosome to check out the accuracy of his workmanship. But when the Gotham Goliath inspects the ersatz Batcave he falls under the spell of a Mesmerizing Machine, forcing him to obey the orders of his host.
Meanwhile, in the duplicate Fortress of Solitude where is another Mesmerizing Machine, the Caped Kryptonian recognizes it as such, having encountered these hypnotic devices before in his travels across the galaxy, and he destroys it before the machine and its green Kryptonite can have any effect on the Man of Steel.
This adventure is divided into two chapters, as was the practice. Thus, while The Duel of the Super-Duo serves as the title for the first part, the second part is called The Super-Combat. And on the cover, the adventure is given the title The Court of No Hope!
The Super-Combat now pits the powerless Man of Tomorrow against his former ally, the Cowled Gladiator.
When Batman tries to commit vehicular homicide with the Batmobile both heroes are knocked out in the car crash. The Batmobile is a wreck.
At the arena of Jemphis, the invited guests are the universe’s greatest villains.
And while the combatants seem evenly matched, Batman gets the upper hand and is prepared to kill his former friend.
What? Is the Darknight Detective really going to violate his code against killing and finish off the Metropolis Marvel?
See the spoiler page for the climax of this gladiatorial contest to the death!