(Story: Bob Haney, Art: Jose Luis Garcia Lopez & Murphy Anderson. DC Comics, 1977.)
Some observations on World’s Finest #244:
In what few World’s Finest comics I’ve read — which always featured Superman and Batman team-ups — Superman usually got incapacitated by Kryptonite or something.
And the only thing I know about Bob Haney — the writer of this story — is that he’s the guy who wrote that legendary “Batman digs this day” line, and apparently all his stories were nuts. Notably in this comic, Superman and Batman are always wound-up jerks.
Page 1: “Three killings — three human snakes who deserved to die!” Apparently the reader is assumed to be on different moral ground than Batman and Superman then.
Page 2: People in this comic speak almost exclusively IN SLANG.
Okay, so three criminals die mysteriously. Batman offers to buy the coroner a weird stethoscope.
The underworld thinks it was rival gangs that did the killings but Superman and Batman know otherwise and have to stop a gang war, so Batman crashes a meeting of the bosses.
Page 7: I like the way Superman has to always lug Batman around in these comics.
Watching videos of the three murders, Superman is discovered to be at the scene of all of them. So he agrees to be thrown in jail in “honor custody” when word breaks out to the media about his possible involvement in the crimes. It’s hard to believe the Silver Age DC public would turn on Superman so easily, but anyway he breaks out, replacing himself with a Superman robot, and making me wonder what the point of agreeing to the honor custody was in the first place. Note that his rational is that subbing in the robot doesn’t constitute breaking his honor code which is completely morally fucked up.
Also, in the crime boss scene, Superman was able to catch all the criminals bullets without being noticed. Surely he could have subbed in the Superman robot the same way and avoided having to destroy city property?
A weirdo shows up at Wayne Enterprises looking to make a major alloy purchase and Superman steals his watch. At this point, I’m thinking, “Why NOT put Superman in jail?”
They follow the guy who travels through another dimension to reach… Arizona!! Important: Superman is able to recognize on sight when something “fades into another time dimension.”
It turns out this guy is from the future, which explains his miraculous death ray. He has no qualms about killing criminals, but he had to STEAL 20th century money to use back here.
But the main thing is: in the future the environment is destroyed and everyone lives under totalitarian rule. Since mankind is so miserable, Barton aka Robespierre Two, has been sent back in time to create a full size death ray to mercifully wipe out humanity before it reaches that stage.
He impersonated Superman in the videos so he’d get locked up and be out of his way. And he placed the big order with Bruce Wayne to keep Batman occupied. My question is: If he’s going to kill everyone on Earth anyway, why not just KILL Batman with his invisible death ray in the first place?!
Somehow, Superman knows that by coming back in time, Barton has changed the future. Considering the amount of time travel Superman used to do in this era without consequence, I find it hard to believe he’d think that. And how does he know Barton hasn’t made the future even worse by coming back in time?
And when Superman and Batman defeat Barton and he returns to the future, the old Terminator question comes up: Why not just keep sending him back over and over again?
P.S. This story is readable in full here: http://diversionsofthegroovykind.blogspot.com/2010/01/grooves-faves-worlds-finest-comics-244.html