Friday, April 3, 2015


Where was he before this?
The trick of finding a decent villain for World’s Finest is to find someone who can outclass Superman AND Batman, while not outclassing either one of them too drastically. You’ll never get far with a guy made of kryptonite who harbors a pathological fear of bats, as a for instance. That’s why Cheapjack, villain of a pair of issues of World’s Finest (Nos.316-317, June-July 1985), is such an unusual pick – because he’s not a match for either of them.

It could also be a poor bat's man cave.
Bearing a surprising resemblance to a top-hatted Grant Morrison, Cheapjack dressed like a maitre’d at a cyberpunk restaurant and commands a biker gang dubbed The Werewolves of London, because is there anything quite as intimidating as a Warren Zevon song? Cheapjack even busts out some suspiciously Morrison-esque lines of dialogue: “Making order out of chaos … sense out of disarray … that is my special talent, isn’t it?” I don’t think it’s impossible that Morrison traveled backwards through time and reinvented himself as a z-list Worlds Finest villain, do you?

That aforementioned special talent which Cheapjack possesses involves making weaponry – robots, assault vehicles, flamethrowers, mobile headquarters – out of garbage and trash. This would all be very impressive until you remember that Superman and Batman routinely beat the living hell out of robots, assault vehicles, flamethrowers and mobile headquarters made out of state-of-the-art scientific equipment tougher and more powerful by a factor of a hundred or more than junk. Cheapjack may as well tape guns on the side of a cardboard box and call it a mecha for all the good his other inventions do him. His mobile battle station has steel arms and pinewood chassis. What is this, a Boy Scout Derby?

Like more than a few mid-80s bad guys, Cheapjack’s big plan revolves around a cheaply-produced, highly addictive super-drug. His is called Synthedrine. “It’s a wonder drug” he explains, “One I can synthesize practically anywhere… and sell it far cheaper.” It’s a wonder drug he manufactures on the cheap inside a wooden shack and is distributed by a biker gang. So it’s meth.

I bet Morrison even has a flying junk car. Made of music or something.
Cheapjack’s outing against Batman and Superman ends with basically Batman telling Superman “Hey, go destroy his walking battle station” and Superman replies “You mean like this?” and then punches it and it falls down like an old gazebo. Sorry Grant Morrison Cheapjack Walter White guy, see you in Seven Soldiers and/or at the Emmys!

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