Thursday, January 18, 2018

Brave Cavemen and Circus Clowns

World's Finest Comics #138 (DC, December 1963, 12 cents)
World's Finest wasn't always a Superman-Batman team up book, but at this stage in its history, it was—but hadn't yet turned into primarily a Superman book. As represented by the cover alone, this issue is pretty goofy. The cover, drawn by Dick Dillin and inked by Sheldon Moldoff, shows Batman, Robin, and Superman, bearded, clothing torn, and bearing caveman weapons, as frog-like aliens train zap guns on them.

"The Secret of the Captive Cavemen" Script: Bill Finger, Art: Jim Mooney. (15 pages)
An alien being discovers that its Z-beam doesn't work on Earthlings, so it goes to the public library to learn why. "The modern Earthling is not affected, so you must go into the past!" The heroes use the time-machine of their friend Professor Nichols after alerting Superman. "50,000 years in the past," Batman and Robin encounter a woolly rhinoceros before befriending some brave cavemen after Superman's arrival.

To trick the aliens, the superheroes tear their costumes and glue hairs cut from animal hides to their faces so they look more caveman-like. The aliens' Z-beam "robs the mind of will power" when used against cavemen, so the heroes act like they're under the aliens' control. They learn that the cavemen are being forced to mine drakkium from a quarry as slaves because unrefined drakkium is deadly to the aliens. The aliens also plan to take over the modern-day Earth by bombarding it with refined drakkium, which is harmful to humans. The aliens do not succeed.

"Little Pete" Written and drawn: Henry Boltinoff. (One-half page)
Pete hits a home run and breaks up the ball game because he broke Mrs. Brown's window.

"The Secret Face of Funny-Arrow" Script: Ed Herron, Art: Lee Elias. (10 pages)
The Green Arrow goes up against a criminal who either is or is not Funny-Arrow, a performing circus clown. Of the two stories in this issue, this is the more interesting, and Elias's artwork is excellent. Funny-Arrow's presence at the scenes of crimes is suspicious, and the character is just comic enough to not be obviously criminal.

"Peter Puptent" Written and drawn: Henry Boltinoff. (One page)
The explorer meets a business man while on safari.

The issue also includes a one-page text piece, "Build Your Own Universe," which focuses on astronomy-related models and hobbies.

Availability: The Superman, Batman and Robin story has been collected in Showcase Presents World's Finest Vol. 2. The Green Arrow piece was collected in Showcase Presents: Green Arrow, Vol. 1.

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