|I feel like that tiny caveman in the lower right has a story all his own.|
The dynamic between Batman and Superman is always an interesting one, although it’s been the vogue since the Eighties to have an at-least-slightly antagonistic relationship between the two characters (In case you feel like blaming that on Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, I should point out that a schism was forming between the heroes as far back as Mike Barr’s Batman and the Outsiders and Joey Cavalieri’s World’s Finest arc. See? This blog’s educational).
Generally, however chummy or antagonistic their relationship, the pair is portrayed as the mutual godfathers of all superheroes; titanic figures overseeing complementary aspects of duality, light and dark, justice and vengeance, elevation and punishment. For my part, I like to imagine them as a pair of ridiculous bro-hams who spend their free time pulling dumb stunts on each other to blow off steam, such as in World’s Finest Comics vol.1 No.151 (August 1965) in which Superman makes Batman stick his head in a Kryptonian microwave and so Batman turns him into Fred Flintstone.
|Wow, it really DID make him super-smart!|
When the Man of Steel spies an ancient Kryptonian scientific device plunging towards Earth, he chooses to have his pal Batman approach it. Having been transformed to kryptonite, like all other surviving debris of Krypton, the machine is deadly to him, and besides which Superman doesn’t know what it might do, so it’s best to let his best non-invulnerable friend handle it. Hey, how come only scientific devices, building and monuments ever survived the destruction of Krypton? What about, like, furniture? Is there a kryptonite recliner speeding towards Earth this minute?
Anyway, it turns out that the device is an evolutionary ray, with which Batman immediately decides to shoot himself in the face. BAZARMP! The ray works as advertised on the radioactive tin and launches Batman a full 800,000 years up the evolutionary chart, giving him a head like an infected thumb and a bad attitude. Wanting to preserve his unparalleled, futuristic intellect, Batman turns the device on Superman, but pushes the little lever the other way so that Superman becomes a dumb caveman. Also he immediately grows a beard. Like, I can see why Batman might’ve gone bald, maybe future men evolved out of hair follicles, but Superman could already grow a beard … I dunno, it’s like this isn’t even a real textbook on evolutionary biology!
Reduced to primitive barbarism and looking like Captain Lou Albano, Superman is banished to the distant past by the future-clever Batman, who himself escapes to the year of 801,965 AD (which, for those of you doing the math, is only 3300 years shy of DC One Million’s destination of the 853rd Century. You sort of wish Morrison had somehow incorporated this story into that one). Superman, fired up by hurt caveman feelings, pursues Batman to the future where he embarrasses him in front of all of Batman’s new future-friends by hauling him back to the prehistoric past where dinosaurs might chew him up and shit him out. By the way, I assume all this traipsing around and slapfighting in mankind’s dawning must have had some sort of Ray Bradbury effect on the present, and now dinosaurs are running for president.
Eventually, the former best buds and evolutionary peers hash out their differences, primarily because Superman threatened to have his dog murder Batman unless he put an end to all of this shimmying up and down the ladder of human progress. Honestly, it worked so well, you might be surprised that Superman doesn’t play the “murdered by Superdog” card a little more often!
|The new morality at work.|