14
Mar
11

Comic Cover Roulette: World’s Finest Comics #136

For the long version of what Comic Cover Roulette is, read the first post. (Actually, read it anyway. It’s cool.) But here’s the short version: back in the Silver Age, comic book writers would often be given cover art and assigned the job of writing a story to fit. Now, I’m picking out some classic covers and doing the same thing. This time I’m tackling World’s Finest Comics #136, with a cover by Dick Dillin and Jim Mooney. I’ve never read this issue.

“The Batman Nobody Remembered!”

Batman has been on the trail of one of his most frequent foes, the mad scientist Dr. Hugo Strange. Having barely escaped a deathtrap that involved placing him in a vibratory chamber that almost shook him apart, Batman captured Strange and turned him over to the Gotham City Police Department. He is still shaken up from the trap, though, and is feeling ill when he returns to the Batcave. He collapses in the cave, alone. When he wakes up, he looks around to see that the cave has changed mysteriously. While most of his familiar equipment is still there, much of it has been altered in subtle ways, with the Bat design altered just slightly to look more like a bird. He is interrupted by Robin, who comes down into the cave and acts with surprise. “Who are you?” he asks. “How did you get into the Ravencave?”

Startled by Robin’s reaction, Batman is momentarily overcome when his young partner attacks. Robin manages to activate the cave’s automatic defense systems, and Batman is forced to slip past his own traps to escape the cave. Robin is startled that this man has escaped from systems he believed were impregnable, and loses Batman in the woods outside of Gotham City.

Batman is startled to find that his communication systems do not work. The cellular system linked to his cowl is unable to link to any satellites, and he cannot contact anybody for help. Finding some clothing and using money hidden in his utility belt to buy a bus ticket, Bruce Wayne makes the trip from Gotham City to Metropolis to turn to one man he believes can help him – Superman. As he arrives in Metropolis, he changes back to his uniform and heads to the roof of the Daily Planet building, waiting for Superman to make an appearance. When the man of steel arrives, Batman is surprised to find himself, again, attacked by an old friend. He’s fast and agile, and has trained himself to evade Superman if the two of them ever were to find themselves on opposite sides of the law, but between surprise, fatigue, and a lingering tremble from Strange’s trap, Batman is finally captured by Superman, who brings him to the newsroom of the Planet.

Waiting for him there are Robin and James Gordon, Commissioner of Gotham City. Robin contacted the Justice League and told him about this strange “Batman” who was running through the “Ravencave.” With his appearance in Metropolis, Robin and Gordon have come to place him under arrest… but first, the unmasking. Superman pulls off Batman’s mask just as Lois Lane snaps a photograph of his real identity, shocking everyone. Robin in particular is distraught to see the man he has been chasing is, in fact, Bruce Wayne. Bruce is confused as well, a confusion made only worse moments later when Robin’s partner – who had been overseas on a mission – makes his belated appearance. Wearing a costume similar to Batman’s, but with the bat motif exchanged for that of a blackbird, the hero introduces himself as Ravenman. Lois Lane, ecstatic, rushes off to print the story, exposing Bruce Wayne as a costumed villain called “Batman.” Superman, however, doesn’t think things are so simple.

Superman takes Batman to his Fortress of Solitude, determined to get to the bottom of this mystery. Ravenman, he says, has been his friend for years, and he has long known that Ravenman is really Bruce Wayne. Who, then, is this “Batman?” As Batman begins to question his own sanity, Superman says he has a theory. He places Batman into a device similar to an MRI machine. The device hums and whirrs, studying Batman, and finally displaying a bizarre readout – coordinates for Batman’s location in four-dimensional space. Superman explains that when he captured Batman, he felt strange vibrations inside his body. The device has confirmed his suspicion – Batman has been vibrated into an alternate reality. Strange’s trap shook his body at just the right frequency to cause a shift from his own world to another one where Bruce Wayne’s crimefighting alter ego took the form not of a bat, but a raven. Superman promises to help Ravenman and Robin construct a cover story for the strange appearance of Bruce Wayne in a “Batman” costume, then summons another member of the Justice League. The Flash, who has often been able to travel from one dimension to another by altering his own vibrations, manages to help Batman make his way home. As he settles in to the Batcave, he feels bad for causing the potential trouble for that Bruce Wayne of another world, but is extremely happy to be home.

If you’d like to suggest a cover, go right ahead. Find it online (I suggest using the marvelous database at www.comics.org) and post the link — any cover that has Superman on it is fair game. These characters are, of course, ™ and © DC Comics. I don’t own ‘em, I don’t claim to own ‘em, and I have no intention to use any of these stories for any monetary gain. This is just for funsies. Please don’t sue me.

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