Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Hunter and the Hunted!

According to the DC Wiki, the cover for World’s Finest 181, cover-dated December 1968, was by Irv Norvick. Cary Bates was the writer, and Adru-Esposito were the artists.

MAN – Superman looks downright haggard, doesn’t he? I mean, what in the world could make him look THAT scared? Maybe it’s all cover-art hype. Maybe not.

Our story begins as Clark Kent is being feted for a Reporter of the Year award. Isn’t it interesting that every award we ever encounter, seems to be won by one of our character cluster? I mean, nobody ever consoles Perry White for coming in SECOND in the North American Cigar-Chomping Competition.

Anyway, we learn that Clark (Superman) Kent has a strange device secretly built into his glasses. When his super-computer at the Fortress of Solitude detects an emergency situation, the glasses emit an ultra-sonic signal.

Another interesting thing about these glasses, if you’ll look at the art, is that while emitting this sub-audible signal, they also flash bright yellow! Right, -- WHAT?

At any rate, the big emergency detected by the Super-Computer can be avoided if Superman leaves Earth for 24 hours. Which he does, but not before leaving a warning note for Batman in the Bat-Cave – because the danger, whatever it is, is to BOTH of the World’s Finest Heroes.

And that note left by Superman (which is also drawn as emitting an eyeglass-like glow) is the reason why Robin, in the Batcopter, sees from the air a red-headed STRANGER driving the Batmobile. Yes, it’s Batman. He is on his way to the time-travel equipment of good ol’ Professor Nichols. Since he can’t fly away like Superman to avoid this threat – whatever it is – then he will escape into a randomly chosen time.

The Caped Crusader’s rationale for wearing a disguise is, according to Batman: “I can’t tell him who I am! If Robin has the slightest clue to my whereabouts, that mystery hunter Superman’s computer warned about might force him to talk.”

Umm, Batman, if you really wanted to sneak away – the disguise is just fine. But why not drive a 1965 Dodge if you want to be inconspicuous? If you’re driving the Batmobile, aren’t you kind of announcing to the world, “Hey! I’m Batman!”

And Batman’s escape is a good idea, for the next morning, a strange guy dressed like a Mod, but coiffed like Richard Harris in Camelot, shows up at both the Daily Planet and in the Bat-Cave, looking for them. He’s got a strange jackal-seeming dog in zebra pajamas, that he calls “Zyr-2.”

QUESTION: If this is “the next morning” after the evacuation of our two heroes – THEN 24 HOURS ARE OVER! Isn’t this oddball a little late? Why didn’t the Super-Computer tell Superman, “You don’t need to leave until tomorrow morning”?

And dig how the otherworldly search team simply “beams in” and out. Definitely sensing a bit of STAR TREK bleedover here.

Turns out that the otherworldly pup Zyr-2 is also a cosmic bloodhound. He makes short work of finding both Superman and Batman.

Somehow, he also exerts a kind of hypno-eyed compulsion.  When he says, "You are coming with me," people believe him!

Even if he's hidden out on the Planet Toron . . .

Or in Earth's own past, like Batman.

Now, is it just me, or does it look weird to anybody else how Batman is shown removing a full-head red-haired face mask . . . WITH THE BAT-MASK UNDERNEATH!?!?!   Sweaty much?

Meanwhile, take a look at those psychedelic backgrounds in the two panels depicting dimensional/time travel.  I just think they are pretty neat.  Well-drawn and way out.

So, here we are on what we now know to be the planet Orr.  The stranger's "mind-domination" has forced the World's Finest Team here, to the planet's capital names Azib, where they are sentenced to live . . . FOR THE REST OF THEIR NATURAL LIVES.

What will happen next in this weird tale?  Is their captor a stalker?  A hero worshipper, an enemy?

In the last page of Part I of this tale, Batman Kayoes their captor and Superman grabs him, to learn . . . his powers don't work on Orr!  So the heroes are forced to hoof it on shank's-mare, fleeing through an alien city for shelter.

See you next time for the conclusion! And just like those depctions of our hero's transworld travel, it will BLOW ... YOUR ... MIND.

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