Wednesday, June 22, 2016


That one dude is tucked up like crazy against Superman's taint.
In the history of Superman battling Batman in the pages of their assorted comic books, few stories seemed to feel quite so much like an episode of the original series of Star Trek than World's Finest Comics vol.1 No.185, June 1969, "The Galactic Gamblers" ...

When both Superman and Batman suffer a case of shaky leg syndrome, they meet up in Metropolis to wile away their insomniac hours by beating the living shit out of robots decked out to look like medieval knights. This is easy-pickin's for the World's Finest Team, so it's a big surprise when they suddenly find themselves teleported away into a giant bingo cage or something, rolling helplessly for a quintet of immortal and seemingly-omnipotent alien space gamblers.

"Planet of Chance" even sounds like a Star Trek episode.

Seeking to end their eternal boredom by waging increasingly granular bets with one another ("Superman landed first - you lose! A thousand Krumen at 7 to 5 is ..." ... "I can count! I have been losing to you for the past 6,789 years!"), the five gamblers -- Rika, Zada, Rafello, Nicko and one who didn't get a name, so I call him "Noo-Noo" -- have brought heroes from all corners of the galaxy to their homeworld of Garenvol* for life-or-death challenges for centuries.

*Stop taking Garenvol and get medical help right away if you develop any of the following symptoms of lactic acidosis: unusual tiredness, dizziness, severe drowsiness, chills, blue/cold skin, muscle pain, fast/difficult breathing, slow/irregular heartbeat, stomach pain with nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Naturally, Superman ought to be able to slap these doofs back to the Stone Age, but the planet orbits a red sun! Bummer! This means that the duo are tested in an array of games of deadly chance.

Game of Thrones has gone really off-script this season.
To begin with, they're dumped out of the dice cage over a plus-sized checkboard. Half the squares are black, the other are red, and one color is laced with explosives! Superman solves the problem by alighting gently on the corners of two colors. That seems to me to spell "BOOM" but, regardless, he stands there on tiptoes unharmed. Batman follows, and it takes some batarangery to ensure that he lands -- narrowly -- on a non-explosive square. The tension already begins to increase between the competitors, just like it does on American Ninja Warrior. Neither of these guys is here to make friends!

A second contest has the heroes pinned to the inside of giant slot machines, risking instant dissolution if two similar death symbols line up. If they get two Uncle Festers, though, that's a 2x payout, I'm pretty sure.

Right about now is where Batman -- still in charge of his utility belt -- should probably start whoopin' bat-ass. Unfortunately, while the heroes have been getting their notes in order, the aliens kidnap Jimmy and Robin, and threaten them with death if Superman and Batman don't fight to the same in a hedgemaze of terror!

It's what happens when you let your guard down.
I don't know if World's Finest Comics was on a budget, but the maze of death is a little understocked. Batman and Superman find rifles hanging from strings, and a single bullet each hanging from strings also, and then a pair of grenades hanging from strings and that's it. No killer buzzsaws, deadly lasers, or robot assassins. Just army surplus on yarn.

Excuse or justification?
Batman takes to the guns like a fish to water, putting the lie (as always) to the idea that Batman hates guns because guns killed his parents. Batman always appears to LOVE guns. If only his parents had been murdered with a length of steel pipe, Batman would probably have fifty guns on him. Aw well, a better world ...

Ultimately, the games fall apart when Superman reveals that he and Batman had been working together the whole time, until they could find where Jimmy and Robin were hidden and free them. The red sun radiation which robbed Superman of his powers was, all along, only ... SCIENCE BULLSHIT! It turns out, in fact, that the solar system in question surrounded a yellow sun, but peculiarities in the atmosphere made the sun LOOK red. I'm not sure what the actual difference is in the phony baloney science world of Superman and Batman, but whatever the case, it all worked out in the end.

Of course, the aliens didn't even kidnap Robin and Jimmy until halfway through the story, so why Batman and Superman played along up to that point is genuinely up in the air. Perhaps they really were bored...


BillyWitchDoctor said...

It seems like seventy percent of the Superman-Batman team-ups were overcomplicated sting operations in which Our Heroes pretended to be helpless. But that's a natural consequence of regularly combining the forces of Any-Power-He-Needs-Man and a guy with a boomerang, a mini-laser and a stylish car.

Deathsheadknight said...

Batman with 50 guns on him is called The Punisher.

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