TAC Table of Contents
This story from Len Carparelli, originally posted in May 2017, was updated on December 20, 2019.
1955 “Adventure Of Superman”
Story by Len Carparelli
Clark was tired.
He slowly entered his office at the Daily Planet building, removed his hat, but strangely, still felt the after-effects of ‘The Deadly Rock’- kryptonite- that he’d been exposed to the night before. Funny, though, his weakness usually passed quickly once he was out of the range of kryptonite – and, he thought, how unusual that through a strange twist of fate, his good friend Gary Allen also felt the effects of the kryptonite! Although weakened and comatose, Gary actually gained all of Superman’s powers while under the influence of the deadly radiation. Naturally, Clark had assumed that this unusual power/ weakness transfer between himself and Gary had been temporary and all was restored to normal. Yet, Clark still was not 100% himself – Superman- since that deadly episode.
As Clark sat down, he slowly put his feet up on his desk and leaned back in his chair, hoping for a nice, quiet afternoon where he might even be able to indulge himself in a short nap! But just as soon as he shut his eyes- no such luck.
“KENT!” “Great Caesar’s Ghost! “Where the devil is Kent…? “Some days I think I might able to find Superman a lot easier than I can find Kent!” “Kent!” Planet editor Perry White continued to bellow, but this time, focusing his attention on his beleaguered cub reporter, Jimmy Olsen. “Olsen! “Great Caesar’s Ghost, will you get out of my office and find Kent.. “And don’t come back until you do!”
“And don’t call me Chief!!”
“Jeepers… uh, yes sir, Chief….”I…I mean Mr. WHITE… I’ll get him, sir…” A sheepish Jimmy Olsen ran out of Perry White’s office, turned around the corner at full speed until he practically bumped head-on right into Clark Kent.
“Well!” exclaimed Clark, seeing that Jimmy was about to fall flat on his face - head first! Almost instantaneously Clark grabbed him gently by the collar to avoid the inevitable collision. “Say, what’s the hurry there, Jimmy?”
“Gosh,” Mr. Kent… “Jeepers… “the Chief… oh… “I mean, Mr. White is looking for you, and golly, he’s so mad that… he…he…..”
Clark playfully cut him off.
“Relax, Jimmy, I know, I heard him, and I’m on my way to his office right now!”
“You heard him? “But gee, Mr. Kent, his office is so far away from yours that it… it, well it would be impossible …unless…”
Clark quickly cut him off, again, carefully adjusting his eyeglasses.
“Oh. . . “Uh, well now, Jimmy, did you ever stop to think that maybe the Chief accidentally left his intercom on…. “And that I just so happened to adjust mine… after hearing him yell?”
Jimmy started to think, then pointed at Clark, with a wry grin. “Or maybe you’ve got super-hearing!”
“That’ll be enough of that, Junior, now let’s go see what the Chief wants!”
Clark walked in first. Jimmy cautiously stayed a healthy distance behind Clark, not wanting to incur Perry White’s wrath once again. Mr. White’s office was occupied by several people Clark did not know, except of course, for Lois Lane and Chief Inspector William J. Henderson.
“You bellow…. uh, you called for me, Chief?”
”Oh, yes, Kent. “Sit down. “Of course, you know Miss Lane, and Inspector Henderson. “
Perry White, speaking from his desk, casually glanced at several notes as though he was actually reading. Then removing his eyeglasses, White continued. “Kent, I called you here as this is a matter of dire importance concerning Metropolis and one of her sister cities. “It’s also a matter of utmost secrecy and cannot go any further than this office.” White then once again turned his attention to young Jimmy Olsen. “And that goes double for you, Mr. J. Blabbermouth Olsen!”
Jimmy just gulped and mumbled a “yes sir,” while Mr. White’s guests only showed slight bemusement at Perry’s roughshod treatment of his cub reporter.
“Now, what’s this all about, Chief,” Clark asked, soberly, casually noting that one of Mr. White’s guests bore a very striking resemblance to his good friend Gary Allen.
“Kent,” as White replaced his glasses, he continued, “this is Police Commissioner James Gordon of Gotham City, and this young gentleman here is millionaire philanthropist Bruce Wayne, Gotham City’s number one citizen.”
“Jeepers, just like Superman!” Jimmy blurted out.
Wayne, not unlike Gary Allen, was a well-dressed, good looking young man about Clark’s age. He was very gentle and soft-spoken, and responded kindly to Jimmy with just a bit of a smirk, as though he just might be hiding something, a gesture which was not lost on Clark Kent. “Well, not quite, Jimmy,” Wayne replied, acknowledging the young cub reporter’s enthusiasm with a smile, “But I try to do what I can.”
“If young Olsen here is just about quite finished, perhaps he’ll graciously allow me to continue,” Perry snapped, clearly annoyed, while glaring at poor Jimmy Olsen.
“Kent, both Commissioner Gordon and Mr. Wayne have top-secret information from the Gotham City police department that can be devastating to Superman. “Naturally, since you’re the person who usually is able to contact Superman, I arranged for this meeting. “Commissioner?”
Gotham City Police Commissioner James Gordon then took the floor.
“Mr. Kent, through our underworld spies and contacts, we’ve learned that there is a deadly and powerful crime syndicate that has formed in Gotham City for the express purpose of destroying Superman- and once that has been accomplished, they intend to spread their deadly forces- first throughout Gotham City, then to Metropolis, Central City, Coast City and more. “They feel that once Superman has been eliminated, it’s only a matter of time before they can take over completely.
“They’re organized, smart, thorough, and ruthless. “In all my years at the Gotham City Police Department, quite frankly I’ve never seen anything like it. “They’ll stop at nothing, and I’ve personally seen what they can do. “Mr. Wayne here, has generously pledged all the additional funding we might need to stop them dead in their tracks.”
Clark interjected, “But Commissioner, of course you understand that Superman is completely invulnerable to all harm, and it would be impossible…”
Gordon cut him off. “Mr. Kent, our underground sources have informed us about Superman’s one weakness – kryptonite- and we’re fairly certain that they either have the kryptonite, or they’ve made arrangements to get it. “They seem entirely too confident and quite frankly, although the news we’re getting in Gotham City is extremely reliable – it is very disconcerting.”
Clark was taken aback at the mere mention of kryptonite, a secret he thought that only a select few had known about. His reaction was not lost on Bruce Wayne.
“What’s the matter, Kent?’ Wayne asked, rather confidently. “You look so worried. “Relax, we’ve found out that kryptonite is harmless to ordinary humans like you and me.”
“Unless of course, you’re Superman!”
“Him? “Superman?” Lois Lane laughed. “Half the time, Clark is afraid of his own shadow!”
“Oh, I’m sure Clark can be capable enough on his own.” “Right, Kent?” Wayne perceptibly noticed.
Bruce Wayne’s remarks were now even more disturbing than anything he’d heard in the entire meeting. Clark had always thought, as Superman, his detective skills were second to none, but this Bruce Wayne was as sharp as an ice pick, and Clark knew he needed to watch his step. It wouldn’t be so easy to fool him with his double identity as it was with Perry, Lois and Jimmy.
“Now JUST a minute, here, what are you driving at, Wayne?” Clark demanded. “Do you actually think that I’m Superman?”
Before Bruce Wayne could answer, Perry White jumped in.
“Great Caesar’s Ghost! “Now that’s just about enough of this tomfoolery, we’re getting off the track! “There’s, well, as much a chance of Kent, here, being Superman as, oh, oh, say, Mr. Wayne being the Batman!”
Bill Henderson, quiet until now, spoke up. “Commissioner Gordon, we’re not that familiar with Gotham City, and their police methods, but, now that Mr. White has mentioned it, what about Gotham City’s own crime-fighting champion – Batman- don’t you think we should enlist his help as well?”
Before Gordon could answer, Bruce Wayne jumped in.
“Batman? That over-rated lunatic who runs around in a circus outfit and a hooded cape?” After a few glaring looks from Lois Lane, now realizing how trivial he sounded, Wayne quickly corrected himself. “Uh, no offense to Superman, of course, but the Batman has no super powers, and by risking his life every night, I believe he poses a serious danger to our own competent and qualified police officers!”
“Bruce,” Commissioner Gordon piped in, “the Gotham City Police Department appreciates Batman’s help, and he’s solved several difficult cases for us that the Police were unable to crack on their own. Like Superman, we in Gotham City consider Batman a tremendous asset to law and order.”
“Hmmph,” Wayne mumbled.
Now it was Clark’s turn. “Maybe ‘thou doth protest too much’, Wayne,” Clark said, with a sly smirk. “Say, maybe the Chief is right. “Maybe YOU’RE the Batman!”
Gordon quickly corrected Clark. “Mr. Kent, as much as we appreciate Mr. Wayne’s help and generosity, believe me, I’ve known Wayne all his life. “He’s a wonderful fellow. “But he’s no Batman!”
Although Gordon shrugged off Kent’s remarks, Clark watched Bruce Wayne squirm for only a second; and certainly no one else noted what Clark’s super-senses told him. Wayne’s pulse rate went up, and he began to sweat ever so slightly at the mere mention of the thought that he might actually be the secret identity of Batman.
“Well, now that we’ve uncovered the secret identities of the two most famous crime fighters in the world, maybe we can stop with all this grand foolishness, and get down to business,” Perry White, clearly annoyed once again, gruffly declared, not realizing just how close to the truth he actually was!.
But Perry White did get right down to business. “Kent, your job is to contact Superman,” he continued. “Tell him what we’ve uncovered and have him pay a visit to the Gotham City Police Department. “Henderson, once Kent here has located Superman, maybe between you and Commissioner Gordon, you can devise a plan to ferret out this syndicate. “Find their weakness. “See if you can confiscate any kryptonite before it can harm Superman. “Commissioner, if you think the Batman can help us, perhaps he can work along with Superman to solve this case. “As Mr. Wayne here said, as an ordinary human, Batman should be unaffected by the kryptonite. “Do you have a way of contacting him?”
“Yes,” Gordon replied, “He gave us the ‘Bat-Signal’, a super-bright beacon that can be seen all throughout Gotham City. “He’s usually in touch with us within minutes after we summon him.”
“Good,” Perry said replacing his glasses, now glancing at his desk. “Now if you’d all please excuse me, I’ve got a newspaper to run…”
But before he could finish, Jimmy Olsen chimed in. “Uh, Chief….”
“Yes, yes, yes, what IS it, Olsen?” Perry said, as he reluctantly acknowledged Jimmy.
With a sideways grin, Jimmy continued. “You [gulp] never told me what my job was!”
Perry put his reading glasses on his desk once more, rolled his eyes, and completely exasperated, let out a deep sigh. “Great Caesar’s Ghost, Olsen, will you please tell me, what on earth did I ever do to deserve you?’ “If for just ONCE –just once - you and Miss Lane here could please stay out of trouble, and for goodness sakes, not have to depend on Superman to rescue you, it would probably be the greatest day of my life!”
“And don’t call me Chief!”
Clark, now perched on the edge of White’s desk, also smirked a bit, as he adjusted his own eyeglasses, but that smile quickly faded at Bruce Wayne’s next comment.
“Why, Mr. White, I’d be most happy to watch out for Miss Lane,” Bruce said, “In fact, Miss Lane, if you’re not too busy, why not have dinner with me tonight at one of Gotham City’s finest restaurants?”
“Why Mister Wayne,” Lois perked up with a lovely smile, “that sounds just like a date… and I’d be most happy to accompany you tonight!” Clark, though, was now seething.
Without warning, though, Jimmy blurted out, “Jeepers, uh, me too?”
Both Bruce and Lois looked at each other and smiled, when Bruce broke the ice. “Sure, Jim, of course you can come with us, why, we’ll all have a very nice time.” Bruce laughed, then jokingly touched and patted his wallet pocket. “Why yes, I do believe I can afford it!”
“Besides, there’s plenty of time for Miss Lane and me to go out on our own some night – isn’t that right, Miss Lane?”
For once Lois Lane was caught for words. But not for long. “Well, Clark, when you do finally contact Superman, tell him it looks like he just might have some competition now!”
Clark, doing little to hide his anger, which was not lost on Bruce Wayne, simply grumbled, “I surely will!”
It was Perry White, though, who seemed to have the last word. “Mr. Wayne, if you can just keep young Olsen here out of my hair, and out of trouble, for even the shortest amount of time, you’ll have a friend in me for life.” Bruce chuckled at Mr. White and in a calm, easy going manner, told him not to worry. He gave a wink to Clark, but it was not what Clark wanted to see. Wayne was such an unknown commodity that Clark clearly needed to know more about this unusual man- and- although he was loathe to admit it, even to himself- what his intentions were towards Lois!
After Lois, Jimmy and Bruce Wayne left, Gordon and Henderson filed out, arranging for Kent to contact them for their meeting with Superman. It was also agreed that they would try to have Batman attend the meeting as well.
Once they were alone, Perry looked at his star reporter, who seemed deep in thought, and his tone softened. “Kent, what is it, son, you’re not jealous of Lois and Wayne here, are you?”
“Oh, no. . . no, Chief, it’s just that I….”
“Kent, listen to me,” Perry remanded to Clark, “Remember, son, just when you think you know exactly what a woman is thinking, you have to understand the fact that you really don’t know anything at all!!”
Clark raised an eyebrow at Perry’s odd logic, and muttered, “Oh, uh, yes, thanks Chief…” Clearly, Clark was more concerned about Batman – and the kryptonite.
“Now get out of here, Kent, and find Superman!’ Perry grumbled. “Do you hear me? “Go find him! “Find Superman!”
“I… I’m on my way, Chief,“ Clark said as he bolted out the door of Perry’s office. Once Clark had gone, and he was left alone, Perry White removed his glasses, shook his head, and looked around his office, as he let out another big sigh.
“Great Caesar’s Ghost, has everyone around here gone crazy!!?”
Clark was clearly rattled as he headed home to his Standish Arms apartment that evening. As he entered, he threw his hat onto a marble bust sculpture resting in his foyer, mumbled “Hiya, Sam”, and sat down in his living room. Although he was now feeling stronger, and his super-strength had completely returned, many questions were swimming around in his head, most notably about Bruce Wayne and the Batman. While he’d heard of many reports about this Caped Crusader and his one-man war against crime in Gotham City, his innate curiosity got the better of him as his super-mind tried to piece together all the information he’d learned this day. And Bruce Wayne – this fellow seemed amicable enough, and certainly was on the right side of the law. But there were still too many unanswered questions, and Clark was a man of action. Sitting around was NOT his idea of getting things done, so……
In an instant, Clark stood up and looked around his apartment. Decisively, he ripped off his glasses, tugged at his tie, and within mere moments, it was Superman who made a running leap out the window of Clark’s apartment to fly at full speed into the skies. A blur of red and blue, at first Superman had to steady himself just a bit in flight, but then rocketed through the concrete skyscraper landscape of Metropolis. In a twinkle of an eye, he saw he was approaching his destination: Gotham City!
In less than a few minutes after he’s left Metropolis , the Man of Steel landed in Gotham City only to disappear into a deserted alley and re-emerge shortly thereafter as Clark Kent. Straightening his glasses and his tie, Clark put on his hat and, his hands in his pockets, ambled out into the street, finding himself in front of a very fancy and well-to-do upscale restaurant.
Walking right in, Clark was immediately greeted by the well-dressed, slightly stuffy maître-d.
“I assume you have a reservation, sir,” the host barked, “As we are booked solid for this evening!”
Clark looked around meekly and replied, ‘Oh, uh, no, I’m just meeting some friends….” He was abruptly cut off by a familiar voice.
“Jeepers! Look who’s here! “It’s Mr. Kent! “Mr. Kent! “Over here!” Jimmy Olsen waved at Clark, as he could hardly contain his enthusiasm. Bruce Wayne, however, was not as pleased.
AS Clark approached the table, Lois Lane, as usual, had some snide remarks for Clark Kent. “Well, well, well, whatever happened, Mr. Kent, did you get lost going home, or something?”
Clark removed his hat, holding on to it front of himself as he approached the table, not at all flustered by Lois Lane’s comments. “Well, uh, actually… no, Lois, I was just visiting some relatives here in Gotham City and, well, this sure looked like a nice place to eat, so I thought I’d try it out. What a coincidence, eh?”
“Co-incidence. “Yeah. “Sure,” Lois snapped.
“Golly, Mr. Kent, it’s so great you’re here!” Jimmy was hopeful. Then, he widened his eyes, looked about a bit, and declared, “Hey- maybe Superman might show up tonight too!”
“Well, you just never know where Superman might be at any given time, Jimmy,” Clark replied towards young Olsen with a smile and another adjustment of his eyeglasses.
“I’m not so sure you could afford to dine at this place on a reporter’s salary, Kent, but since you’re here, you might as well join us,” Bruce Wayne chimed in. “Martin,” Wayne called to the maître-d. Obviously he knew everyone here by their first name. “Could you please bring a chair and a complete dining set-up for Mr. Kent, here,” Martin hurriedly obeyed Wayne’s orders. Wayne then turned his attention to Clark.
“Oh, Just a ginger ale for me,” Clark meekly replied, being very careful of his mannerisms around Bruce Wayne. He still did not trust this fellow.
Bruce Wayne swirled the ice-cubes around the glass of his half-filled drink. “Someone once told me never to trust or believe a man who doesn’t drink,” he said, peering intently at Clark, studying him, carefully, as though he were trying to find out more about this strangely mild-mannered fellow. The feeling was mutual. It seems that Bruce Wayne didn’t trust Clark Kent all that much, either.
Clark was on his guard this time, though. He knew Wayne was more than what he presented to the world, and he would not underestimate Wayne’s analytic and detective skills again. That rich, shallow playboy man-about-town pose Wayne had carefully nurtured seemed to be more of an act, and Clark realized that perhaps he and Wayne had more in common than he’d previously thought. There’s more to Wayne than meets the eye, and Clark was going to make sure he found out just what that might be.
“Oh, I don’t think so, Wayne,” Clark replied, as he smiled knowingly at Bruce Wayne. “I only believe in the things that men do.”
Puzzled by Clark’s cryptic remark, Wayne was interrupted by Jimmy Olsen once again.
“Jeepers, Mr. Kent, do think that Superman is actually gonna meet the Batman? “Golly, that’s something I’d sure like to see!”
“Well, Jimmy,” Clark replied, “I’m going to be speaking with Inspector Henderson and Commissioner Gordon to arrange a meeting with Superman at Gotham City Police Headquarters tomorrow. “If Batman decides to show up, well, then, yes, I suppose that they will meet each other.”
“Golly! What a scoop THAT would be! “Right, Miss Lane?” Jimmy’s enthusiasm was infectious.
“Well, Jimmy, if Clark is not asleep at the switch, or if he pulls one of his usual disappearing acts whenever Superman shows up, then you and I will surely get the scoop! “Isn’t that right, Mr. Kent?”
Clark was clearly unnerved by Lois’ remarks, especially with Bruce Wayne present.
“Well, uh, YES, I suppose, Lois, I…” But Clark quickly changed the subject and turned his attentions toward their host, who was intently studying Clark’s every move. “Well, what about it, Mister Wayne? “You've lived in Gotham City your entire life. “What about the Batman? “Will he show up?”
“How should I know, Kent,” Wayne, now clearly annoyed with Clark’s leading and unnerving questions. “As far as I’m concerned, Batman is nothing but a lucky amateur who needlessly risks his life while attempting to do professional police work without a license, background, or anything else! “Why no one even knows who he is behind that hooded cowl! “How can you trust someone like that?”
Lois chimed in. “Bruce, it seems that the Batman is very well liked and respected among the citizens of Gotham City, and Commissioner Gordon said the Police Department has deputized him as well.”
Bruce was adamant. “Maybe so, Lois, but I just don’t like people who run around in masks, claiming to be on the side of the law!”
“After all, Superman doesn’t!”
Then Clark jumped in. “Well, maybe you could help them, Wayne, you studied detective work in college. “Say, maybe you could even teach this Batman a trick or two!” Bruce Wayne was surprised. Kent had clearly done his homework.
But then, Bruce suddenly changed his tone and became very introspective and thoughtful. “Kent, both my parents were killed by a masked mugger when I was a very young boy,” Bruce spoke softly. “And I thought being a policeman might be the answer for me. “I soon found I’m not at all cut out for police or detective work, so instead, I dedicate funding from the Wayne Foundation to help the Gotham City Police department reduce crime in our city. “This Batman character, though, I could do without.”
“Jeepers, “I’m sorry, Mr. Wayne,” Jimmy said.
“Bruce, that has to be so hard,” Lois added.
“Oh, I’ve come to grips with it, in my own way,” Bruce spoke, “And helping the police does give me great satisfaction, even if I can just give them money. “I guess I’m not really a very good detective, and I’d only be in their way.”
Clark soaked in Bruce’s words, finding more about him than he’d thought. His super-hearing also detected Bruce’s pulse rate, which was jumping. He was lying. He WAS a good detective, and Clark’s previous investigation had shown that Bruce had the highest marks in all his college classes, but he never completed a single course. Very strange.
Clark’s thoughts were interrupted by Bruce Wayne. “Well, it is getting late, and I’m sure young Jimmy here needs to get home.”
“Miss Lane, my chauffeur, Alfred, has my personal car parked outside, and he’ll happily give you both a lift back to Metropolis. “Kent, you’re welcome to join them, too. “The restaurant has a personal car service that’ll take me back to Wayne Manor, so don’t worry about me.”
Clark seemed lost in thought.
“Me..? “Oh, uh, I think I’ll just stick around Gotham City for a while, but thanks, Wayne,” Clark replied.
“Suit yourself,” Bruce then called the maître-d. “Oh, Martin, just put the bill on my tab. “Oh, yes, and Kent’s ginger ale, too.”
AS they were leaving, Bruce stumbled and almost fell against Clark.
“Whoops, oh, sorry, Kent,” Bruce babbled, “I guess maybe I had one too many.”
Lois was clearly turned off by Bruce’s apparent inebriation. “Maybe you should be a little more careful, MISTER Wayne.” Bruce just laughed.
“Oh, I’m fine Lois,” Bruce now seemed to slur his words. “M-maybe we can get together again soon!”
Lois just grimaced, thanked Bruce for dinner and sped off with Jimmy, as Alfred, Bruce’s trusted butler and chauffeur greeted them and headed back towards Metropolis. Clark, as usual, disappeared. Bruce Wayne took notice of this as well.
But once Bruce arrived at Wayne Manor, however, he immediately called to his young ward, Dick Grayson, who met him in the study. Bruce was stone-cold sober- AND deadly serious.
“Dick, we need to get in costume right now and head down to the Bat-Cave!” Yes, it was true. Bruce Wayne WAS the Batman!
“Bruce, what’s going on?” Dick was concerned. “I’ve never seen you like this!”
“Dick, I think we may have a visitor, actually, an intruder in the Bat-Cave, and soon. “Superman!”
“Superman?!?!” Dick was flabbergasted. “What, how, ….?”
“No time to explain now, Dick. “With his tremendous super-speed, Superman could be here in moments. “We have to be ready for him.”
Within a moment’s notice, Bruce and Dick had shed their outer garb to become Gotham City’s famed crime fighting duo – Batman and Robin! Quickly, they headed down the long staircase concealed by a grandfather clock in Bruce’s study to the expansive bat-cave that lay deep underneath Wayne Manor.
In the meantime, Clark left the restaurant and once again ducked into a dark alley, removed his hat, and a few seconds later emerged as Superman. With a quick look around, Superman took to the air, leaving only a few stray papers shuffling in the wind behind him. Within minutes, Superman found his destination – Wayne Manor. Using his x-ray vision, Superman peered through the entire house only to find nothing unusual for a rich man’s mansion. Civic awards, polo mallets and other sports equipment, expensive, ornate furnishings, but nothing that could even remotely be considered suspicious.
Just as he was about to fly back to Metropolis, Superman decided once again to use his x-ray vision, and peered around the grounds one last time, and this time, under the basement walls, there it was – a huge underground cave with a very sleek black auto, a large 25 foot replica copper penny, and other unusual trophies, machinery and equipment usually found in police stations, with two masked, caped figures – moving about very carefully and furtively as if they might be expecting something – or someone.
Superman didn’t disappoint them. By super-boring through the ground, he then easily crashed through the granite rock walls of the Bat Cave. After his spectacular entrance, with arms akimbo, he greeted them with a knowing and wry smile.
“Well! “Batman and Robin, I presume.” With a lift of his eyebrow, looking up slightly, he called them on his next deduction. “How interesting it is that your secret headquarters lies directly below Bruce Wayne’s mansion. “So, either Mr. Wayne is apparently funding your entire operation, or, you two are, in all actuality, Bruce Wayne and his young ward, Dick Grayson!”
Superman then attempted to see through their masks using his x-ray vision to clarify his deductions, but was very surprised when he was unable to do so.
“Superman,” Batman pleaded, “Before you go any further, I can tell right now that you are using your remarkable vision powers to attempt to see through our masks. “But you won’t. “You see, our masks are lined with lead. “But, here let me make it easy for you.”
Batman pulled back his cowl, to reveal the visage of Bruce Wayne. Superman was taken by surprise, but Dick Grayson was flabbergasted. As if reading his mind, Bruce turned to his young ward and continued. “Dick, don’t look so surprised. “Superman would have found us out sooner or later. “It would be impossible for us to fool him, with his great powers. “But we’re all on the same side, and I trust that Superman will keep our secret.”
“Isn’t that right, Clark?”
Superman was taken aback. “Excuse me? “Uh, Batman…. “Mr. Wayne, I’m sorry to say, but, ah, you’re sadly mistaken, if you really think I’m Clark….”
“Knock it off, Superman,” Bruce continued, now pulling his mask back in place.
“Yes, you ARE Clark Kent, and you’re wondering how I know. “Well, if you recall, at the restaurant, when I called Martin to serve you your ginger ale, I was hoping your super-senses wouldn’t detect the tasteless, odorless drug I slipped into your drink. “ It was a very strong sedative, which would have simply rendered an ordinary human faint. “The sedative was harmless, but should’ve knocked you for a loop – that is, of course, unless you really were Superman!”
Batman continued. “Not being satisfied, do you remember when I ‘accidentally’ bumped into you as we were leaving?” Batman then reached into his utility belt to pull out a large, very sharp, but bent hat pin. “You didn’t even feel this touching your body. “Look at it now. “Do you still want to deny that you’re secretly Clark Kent?”
Batman wasn’t finished. “And once you crashed through the walls of the Bat-Cave you were instantly photographed and x-rayed from every possible angle. “Although I doubt that ordinary x-rays can penetrate your invulnerable body, I’m still betting that when I develop those x-rays, I’ll find some proof that you’re Clark Kent – perhaps his clothes, his hat, his glasses, his fingerprints, his driver’s license, or any number of things. “Well, Superman?”
Superman, for once, was at a loss for words. “I…I…”
Batman pulled back his mask again, to reveal a now humble, contrite Bruce Wayne. “Superman… Clark… listen to me. “I’m not your enemy. “I was the one who got Commissioner Gordon to go to Metropolis specifically to enlist your aid, as I had no other way to contact you. “Superman, we need you, and we may have a bigger problem here than anything you’ve ever faced in your entire career. “Quite frankly, I’ve never seen anything like this an all my years of crime fighting in Gotham City.”
“It looks like I have no choice,” Superman, still cautious, but now very serious, stated. “All right, Batman, what’ve you got?”
“Superman, have you ever heard of a man named Lex Luthor?”
That very name actually sent chills down Superman’s invulnerable spine. The one man who came closest to destroying Superman, until Superman caught wind of his scheme. Years ago, Luthor had disguised himself as the “Atom Man” and developed a synthetic kryptonite, which almost proved fatal to the Man of Steel. Yes, Superman certainly knew all about Lex Luthor, and was none too happy to hear his name mentioned once again.
“Yes, Batman, I know of Luthor, what of him?
”Superman, I believe it is Luthor who’s behind the recent crime wave in Gotham City, and I also believe he is working on a formula to develop synthetic kryptonite.”
Superman was quick to reply and very adamant. “He’s done it already, and believe me, the last time was a very close call for me!”
Batman went on. “Luthor has moved all his businesses to Gotham City and he’s hiding behind a mantle of respectability, Superman. “I think Luthor is pooling his significant resources to plan an all-out crime-wave style attack on Gotham City, to keep the police - and me- preoccupied. “And, if he does have the kryptonite, I’m sure he’s hoping that you’ll intercede so he can use it against you. “Trust me, Luthor’s resources are considerable. “I dare say his fortunes rival those of the Wayne Foundation’s!”
“And that’s saying something!”
“Batman…. Bruce…,’’ Superman was now thoughtful. “Luthor is a technological and scientific genius. “He’s also a master planner. “He’d never make a move and expose himself once again as a criminal mastermind unless he was certain of doing away with both you AND me… permanently.” “As long as he knows that both Superman and the Batman and Robin team are on the job, he’ll try to use his stooges to make our lives miserable and we’ll never get to the bottom of his real plans. “Batman, we need to be the World’s Finest crime-fighting team if we’ve got any shot of defeating Luthor once and for all.”
“Then count us in, Superman. “The Bat Cave and all our resources are at your disposal.”
It was clear to Superman that he and Batman would need all the tools at their crime-fighting disposal if they were to defeat Luthor. So, Superman began, “Batman,” he entreated, “Since it looks like we’ll be working together from now on, let me start by repairing the damage I’ve done to your ‘Bat-Cave.’”
Focusing his X-Ray Vision on the broken granite wall, and using his great super-speed and super-strength, Superman reversed the damage within moments. Dick [Robin] Grayson was astounded.
“That’s amazing!” He blurted out.
“We’ll have to be, if we want to defeat Luthor and his henchmen,” Batman added, but smiled and winked a knowing wink at Superman. Superman had come to realize that Wayne had invested a considerable amount of his vast holdings into the crime-fighting arsenal that outfitted the Bat-Cave. A quick look around with his X-Ray vision informed him that not only did Batman possess the armor-plated high powered “Batmobile” [as he called it], but there were also state-of-the art computer micro-fiche files containing massive information on all known criminals in the Gotham City and the surrounding areas, lab technology equipment that rivalled the Metropolis police headquarters, and, in a large, adjoining chamber of the Bat-Cave, a military grade fighter jet adorned with the signature Bat-emblems – a “Bat-Plane” of sorts.
Superman also surmised that millionaire Bruce Wayne could very easily choose to live a life of luxury, the one he only pretended to do in his guise as a bored, playboy idler. Instead, Wayne risked his life daily, without praise, adulation or benefit simply for the sole purpose of fighting – like Superman himself – a never-ending battle for truth, justice and the American Way.
None of this was lost on Superman. And Batman had no super-powers to aid him in his one-man war against crime. Reluctantly at first, but now fully committed, Superman realized he was now a member of the WORLD’S FINEST crime-fighting team.
“Batman,” Superman said, “We have a lot of work to do, and although it’s late, I think we should start right way, but…”
Batman smiled and winked a knowing wink at Superman. “I know what you’re thinking Clark, as Bruce turned his attention to Robin. “Tomorrow is a school day for Dick Grayson,” as Bruce gently nudged the teen-ager to get to upstairs and to bed. “Everything I’ve got to go over with Superman, you already know, so have Alfred get you a little night snack, and off you go, lad.”
Disappointed, but always respectful, Dick was about to leave the Bat-Cave when Superman walked towards him, and put his arm around his shoulder, as he’d done so many times when comforting a disappointed Jimmy Olsen.
“Dick,” Superman began, “There is no excuse for not getting a good education today in the United States of America, and you can’t be an effective crime-fighter without it!”
“Look how hard Bruce studied for many years until he was able to become the BATMAN! “And don’t worry, with LUTHOR on the scene, believe me, you won’t miss out on any of the action. “Besides, both Bruce and I are going to need you rested, and at the peak of your crime-fighting skills if we’re going to be able to crush LUTHOR’s gang mob!”
“Gee thanks, SUPERMAN,” Dick was excited and clearly impressed by Superman’s abilities and thoughtful insight. “You’re right, you and Bruce, I’ll head upstairs now and get some rest. “We’ll get Luthor’s gang- for sure!”
“You bet we will, son,” Superman replied.
Hours later, Batman released all the secrets of the Bat-Cave to Superman, whose photographic memory was able to digest the information fully, as well as Batman’s crime-fighting arsenal, his tactics and motives. Superman used his x-ray vision to study all the details of Batman’s crime file, which he also committed to his super-memory. Together, they began devising some strategies and alternate methods of working together, now that they each knew each other’s secret identities. First and foremost, though, it was agreed to do everything possible to help preserve the secret of their dual identities.
Throughout the night Superman began to comprise a more complete picture of the man behind the cowl. While Superman did see many similarities between himself and the BATMAN, some of their crime fighting methods were very different. Superman did harbor some reservations about Batman’s more questionable tactics, which Bruce realized straight away.
“Clark, I’m not Superman,” Bruce playfully gibed, and explained to him that his lack of super-powers often forced the Batman to use guile, fear, and trickery to flesh out suspected criminals and their motives.
Superman smiled, and agreed with Bruce. He trusted him much more now, since Bruce, a passionately private man, would choose to reveal his innermost secrets to a man he’d only known for a few days. After many hours of work, Superman completed his initial run-through of their plans and strategies.
“Bruce, it’s early morning already and Clark Kent needs to get to the Daily Planet if he wants to keep his day job!” Batman laughed. Superman shook hands with a now-unmasked Bruce Wayne, and, although less uneasy that Batman had uncovered his Clark Kent identity, he did feel that Batman and Robin could both be trusted implicitly.
“But how will you leave, now, Superman, with….”
Superman cut him off. “Why, through the front door of Wayne Manor, of course!”
Batman looked at him with a bit of concern, wondering if Superman’s exit might cause suspicion and endanger their secret identities if he might be spotted flying away from Wayne Manor. But Superman simply walked behind a partition in the Bat Cave and in less than three seconds emerged as…………….. Clark Kent!
“No one will question a mild-mannered reporter leaving your home from the front door, Bruce. “You can have Alfred drive me to a remote location where I can switch back to Superman and speed home to Metropolis. “Then tomorrow we’ll meet at Gotham City police headquarters to devise a plan to wipe out public enemy number one – Luthor!
Dick Grayson had gotten up early for school, and headed to the Bat-Cave, surprised that Superman was still there, just in time to witness Clark’s miraculous transformation.
“But Su…. uhh, Mr. Kent…. HOW did you DO that??” He queried.
“Actually, it’s pretty easy, Dick,” Clark smiled, “when you’ve got super-speed!”
“Wow! “Bruce, with Superman on our team, why, we’ll make mince-meat out of Luthor and his stooges in no time!”
“Now don’t be too hasty, youngster,” Bruce warned his young protégé, “Luthor is a criminal genius and even Superman ran into trouble the last time he tangled with him. “Isn’t that right, Clark?”
“Bruce is right, Dick,” Clark replied, “Don’t EVER underestimate Luthor. “It’s a shame that his brilliant mind is devoted to crime and evil. “But Luthor will stop at NOTHING to achieve his goals. “We have to be focused, alert and at the top of our game to defeat him!”
“Gosh,” I’ll do my best, sir,” Dick meekly replied.
“Crime never pays, Dick,” he continued, all to Batman’s relaxed approval, “and as long as we three are a team, Luthor WILL be defeated. “I guarantee it. “Bruce, I’d better be going. “Dick, study hard today at school!”
“Alfred is waiting upstairs for you, Clark. “Godspeed, and we’ll see you tomorrow.”
Wayne’s butler, and closest confidant, Alfred, still somewhat bemused at the flurry of happenings that have gone on since Bruce Wayne had decided to take up the mantle of the BATMAN, was, as always completely nonplussed, and at the ready, dapper as ever in his chauffeur’s garb, to drive Clark back to Metropolis in one of Bruce Wayne’s Rolls-Royce limousines, when Clark meekly commented, “Oh no, Alfred, just leave me off at the outskirts of town, at least 5 miles from Wayne Manor.”
“But sir, ahem, begging your pardon, Master Kent,” Alfred interjected, “How will you get back to Metropolis on your own, after all, it is quite a distance away….” Clark cut him off.
“Oh I’ve arranged my own transportation,” Clark said, with a wink, before exiting Bruce’s car.
“Very good, sir,” Alfred knowingly replied, as he sped off back to Wayne Manor.
Once Alfred had gone, Clark removed his hat, ducked behind a couple of boulders, and reappeared, seconds later, as SUPERMAN!
Superman hurriedly walked out into the clearing, took a quick look around and with a powerful leap, took to the skies, and sped back to Metropolis. Within minutes he arrived at his office in the Daily Planet building, slipping into a coat room to emerge, once again, as Clark Kent, mild mannered reporter.
Not scant minutes had passed when Clark realized he didn’t need super-hearing to note a familiar bellowing coming from the next office.
“Kent!” “Great Caesar’s Ghost, where the blazes is KENT?”
“You called, Chief,” Clark replied, as he stuck his head into Perry White’s office, only to see young Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane already there.
“Oh, Clark, how nice to see that you actually still work here,” Perry White, in his most sarcastic tone of voice remarked. “You’d never know it with all those mysterious disappearances you make!”
“Uh, yes sir…” Clark meekly replied as he carefully adjusted his glasses.
“Now, listen here, Kent, and you too, Miss Lane, and you, MISTER Olsen. “Inspector Henderson has just informed me that he’s on his way to Gotham City right now to meet with Police Commissioner Gordon at 10:00 AM this morning,” Perry White exclaimed, “Kent, I’ve assigned both Miss Lane and this young idiot Olsen to cover what I think will be the top news story of the year!”
“But now I’m wondering if I should have YOU tag along with them, Kent, just to make sure that this story actually gets covered properly…”
“Jeepers, we’ll be fine Chief, why, what (gulp) could possibly go wrong?” Jimmy inquired, with a wry grin on his face.
“Great Caesar’s Ghost,” Perry White frustratingly sighed, his hand on his face. “With you, Olsen, I sometimes wonder what could possibly go RIGHT?”
“And DON’T call me CHIEF!”
Perry White wasn’t finished. “Now you listen here, James, and you too, Miss Lane. “Inspector Henderson has informed me that word has it from Commissioner Gordon that the BATMAN will definitely be at the meeting! “The problem is, nobody knows if SUPERMAN will be attending!”
“In fact, no one even knows where Superman IS!” Once again, Perry turned his attention to Clark.
“Kent, are you going, or what?”
“What, Chief,” Kent, caught off guard, stammered, “Well, I guess if Superman is going to get there I better get moving… “That is, uh… “Say, just what do you mean, Chief?”
“Great Caesar’s Ghost, Kent, are you still in a blasted fog? ”Do I have to think for EVERYBODY here? “YOU’RE the only one who can usually contact Superman! “Where IS he?”
“Don’t worry Chief, I’ll be there…”Uh, I mean, he’ll get there… “One way or another, that is…” Clark mumbled under his breath.
“Say, look at the TIME….” Clark stumbled for words as he looked at his watch. “I better be off, if I’m going to make that, uh, I mean, look, I’ll see you later, Chief, I’ve got to GO…”
Clark quickly grabbed his hat and hustled himself out the door of Perry’s office before anyone could say another word.
“Kent! “KENT! “Get back here!” Perry White soon realized the futility of his barking commands, as Clark was now long gone. “Now what the devil does he mean by THAT?”
“Oh Chief,” Lois remarked, “You know Clark, always full of mysteries and disappearances!”
Jimmy Olsen piped in. “Who knows, Chief, maybe he ducks into a closet, takes off his glasses and turns into Superman!”
“Oh, Great Caesar’s Ghost! “Please, Olsen, spare me. “This is no time for some idiotic, ridiculous fantasy,” Perry continued, “I only hope Kent can contact Superman. “This sounds deadly serious, and I think both the Metropolis and the Gotham City Police force are going to need all the help they can get!”
Jimmy Olsen, unable to keep quiet, chimed in again. “Don’t worry, Chief, I’LL be there to help!”
“And that’s precisely what I’m afraid of, you young whippersnapper! “Now get out of here, both of you and TRY to come back with a story that I can print!”
“Don’t worry Chief… “Uh, I mean Mr. White….. “You can count on us!” Jimmy interjected.
“OUT!” Perry bellowed.
“Yes sir,” Lois meekly replied. An exasperated Perry White slumped back in his chair, after they’d both left, and shook his head.
“Crazy. “Just crazy.”
While Perry was bawling out Lois and Jimmy, Clark wasted no time ducking into a quiet storeroom, and, seconds later, emerged as SUPERMAN, just as Jimmy had imagined - never knowing how right he actually was! Superman once again rocketed out of the high- story window of the Planet building, took to the air and sped through the skies towards Gotham City Police Headquarters.
Scant minutes later, he swooped through the window of Commissioner Gordon’s office, only to find Batman, Robin, Inspector Henderson, and Gordon already there.
“SUPERMAN!” Henderson was the first to exclaim the Man of Steel’s presence. “Superman, thank heavens you’re here!”
“Well…. “Hello, Bill,” Superman calmly greeted Henderson, but before Superman could say another word, Commissioner Gordon quickly joined in.
“Superman,” Gordon meekly exclaimed. “I’m Commissioner James Gordon. “Meet your Gotham City counterparts, Batman and Robin!”
“Thank you, Commissioner,” Superman warmly responded as he immediately turned his attention to the Caped Crusaders. “Batman, it’s an honor to meet you, I’ve heard so much about all your good work here in Gotham.” He put his arm on Robin’s shoulder. “Hello, son.”
Robin gave Superman a knowing smile.
Batman replied immediately. “Same here, Superman, “we’ll need you in this fight, and we’re sure glad to have you on board.”
Both Gordon and Henderson glanced at each other and breathed a sigh of relief, not knowing how the two crime-fighters would get along, but their fears were soon allayed. But before anyone could say another word, the door suddenly swung open and in stumbled Jimmy Olsen, nearly tripping over a desk, followed by Lois Lane.
“Jeepers, are we late? “I mean, the girl at the front desk said it was okay for us to come in…”
Superman rolled his head back and let out a hearty laugh, and noticed Batman snickering under his mask as well. “Oh, it’s all right Commissioner, this is Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen from the Metropolis Daily Planet, and they’re both very good friends of mine.”
“Golly,” an awe-struck Jimmy Olson blurted out. “Batman and Robin! “Wow, what a… “Jeepers, can I get a picture of…”
Batman interrupted. “Yes, Olsen, please do, but get Superman in here as well. “I want your paper to tell the general public, INCLUDING gangland’s top mobsters that Batman and Robin have teamed up with SUPERMAN and, together with the help of both Gotham City and Metropolis’ fine police forces, their days of freedom will be NUMBERED!”
“Golly, yes sir, I will!” Jimmy replied.
After about a half hour, it was agreed that Jimmy and Lois would print the news of Superman and Batman, who would now be teaming up to combat crime together, in a special edition of the Daily Planet. Along with several photos of Superman with Batman and Robin, it was decided that the cover pic would be Superman and Batman shaking hands. The story was clearly to be aimed at Gotham City’s gangland, and would be impossible for Luthor not to take notice.
The next day, back at the Daily Planet office, both Perry White and Inspector Henderson were quite pleased with the story.
“WORLD’s FINEST CRIME FIGHTING TRIO TO COMBAT CRIME WAVE!”
“Well, it’s about time you two did something right without having to be rescued by Superman,” a gruff Perry White barked. “And where the blazes were YOU Kent, while all this was going on?”
“Oh… uh, well, you know, Chief, since Superman was already there, I, uh, felt no need to…” Clark, at a loss for words, stammered again.
Lois piped up next. “Oh, Chief, don’t you know that Clark is never around when Superman shows up,” Lois continued, “Why, Mr. Kent, I do believe that you are actually jealous of Superman…”
“Well, all’s well that ends well, I suppose,” Perry White interrupted. “Hopefully Luthor’s mob will be, at the very least, intimidated by this new team-up of Superman and Batman.”
The phone suddenly rang in Perry’s office. “It’s for you, Inspector,” Perry motioned to Henderson as he handed him the phone. Clark’s super hearing picked up information from the call on the other end. It was The Gotham City Police department, in a courtesy call to Metropolis, informing Henderson of a serious robbery in progress at Gotham City’s largest bank.
“WHAT?” Inspector Henderson yelled. “You want me to get SUPERMAN there?” “But I don’t know…”
In all the excitement, no one noticed that Clark, with his super-hearing, picked up on the urgency of the Inspector’s call, and had surreptitiously slipped out of the room. He was already on his way, having quickly changed to SUPERMAN before anyone noticed he was gone.
“Now where did KENT go?” Perry White queried. “Great Caesar’s Ghost, now, just when we need Kent to contact SUPERMAN, he disappears!”
“C’mon Jim, Lois perked, “let’s get the ‘Flying Newsroom’ to shuttle us to Gotham City! “Maybe we can get a scoop that Clark will miss out on!”
In a moment, Lois and Jimmy were gone. “I’d better get going too,” Henderson said. “This could be big.”
“So long, Mr. White.”
“Oh don’t mind me, I’m only the boss here,” an exasperated Perry White said, to no one in particular. Everyone had left.
“Great Caesar’s Ghost, I’m sorely tempted to do something I’ll never regret!”
Meanwhile at the Gotham City bank, bullets were flying as a well-equipped gang of bank robbers held the Gotham police force at bay. Some officers were badly wounded, and it was a melee at the scene. The crooks seemed to be getting away with the robbery when suddenly, from the sky, SUPERMAN made a spectacular entrance.
“All right, boys, the party’s over,” Superman declared.
Immediately he blocked a bullet from wounding another officer. “Get this man some medical help,” Superman yelled, before greeting the leader of the bank robbers with a knowing smile.
“Well, well, well, if it isn’t my old friend, Si Horton,” Superman greeted the ringleader who he’d put in jail many times before. Scant seconds later, Superman used his super-breath to blow the remaining gang members into a wall, which immediately knocked them all unconscious.
“You’re through, Horton,” Superman warned. “Better give up now, and don’t force me to get rough with you!”
“Get back Superman,” Horton clamored to the Man of Steel as he pointed his gun at Superman’s chest. “I’m warning you!”
Superman just laughed, as he advanced closer. “Why, Si Horton, haven’t you learned yet that bullets don’t harm me?”
“Don’t…don’t come any closer, this is my last warning, Superman!”
Superman just glared at Horton with that determined look on his face, and ignored him as he reached out to grab his gun, but not before Si Horton let out six rounds, all of them striking the Man of Tomorrow in the chest. To his surprise, Superman fell and appeared to be mortally wounded.
“Howdya feel NOW, Superman,” Horton laughed.
“I… I… feel ….dizzy…weak…” Superman was barely able to speak, and unable to rise from the ground. It appeared that he was about to lose consciousness.
“HA! This stuff is MURDER!” Horton gloated.
“That’s right, Superman, you’re weak as a kitten! “Because you’re loaded with KRYPTONITE,” Horton smugly declared. “And there’s more where that came from! “You’re lucky, Superman, that I ran out of bullets or I’d have finished you off for sure!”
“I….. I…” Superman was about to lose consciousness when Si Horton let out a nasty laugh as he attempted his getaway. But just then, a small black object with an attached rope line hurtled toward him at high speed and circled around his body several times, preventing him from moving a muscle.
“Wha… what??” a clearly dumbfounded Si Horton blurted out.
”You’re not going anywhere, Horton, except directly to jail,” a low, gruff voice averred. After a perfect throw from his batarang, it was BATMAN who corralled Horton, and told him that he was very lucky he didn’t put up much of a fight.
“I’m not nearly as pleasant as Superman,” Batman informed a now shaking and frightened Si Horton. Commissioner Gordon arrived on the scene just then as Batman told him to “take care of these clowns”, as he had to rush SUPERMAN to Gotham General Hospital.
“Superman is seriously hurt, and the Batmobile can get him there faster than any ambulance,” Batman told Gordon, “and time is of these essence. “Somehow, these thugs got ahold of some Kryptonite and Superman could DIE if he doesn’t get immediate medical care!”
“Golly, Batman, he must weigh at least 500 pounds,” an exasperated Robin exclaimed, as he tried to haul Superman’s now limp and seemingly lifeless body into the Batmobile.
“Let me help you, youngster,” Batman replied, “Remember, Superman’s from the planet Krypton, not from Earth, and his extra-dense atomic structure, which renders him invulnerable, also contributes to his added weight. “It’s like trying to pick up a slab of iron!”
“Gosh, a real ‘Man of Steel’,” Robin replied.
“You could say that,” Batman concluded, as he used the Bat mobile’s winch to load Superman into the car. Within minutes they were at Gotham General Hospital, where Superman was immediately admitted. A very determined and defiant Batman calmly informed the attending physician, “You will drop everything you are doing right now and get his man anything he needs. “NOW!”
The doctor told Batman that first he would need to fill out all the necessary paperwork, identification and insurance forms, as well as his primary physician, and information about any previous diseases, infections, next of kin, and…
Before he could finish, Batman grabbed the man by the collar and lifted him three feet in the air as he pinned him against the nearest wall.
“Now, listen to me carefully, son,” Batman calmly spoke, “This is SUPERMAN… “and If he dies because of some idiotic, foolish paperwork snafu, you’re going to have to answer to ME… and if that happens, trust me, YOU will be the one lying on this gurney, and you WON’T be getting up from it anytime soon!”
“And you’ll need a lot more medical help than you can possibly imagine, so, now get….”
Batman was cut off by the Hospital’s Chief Physician. “Batman, please let this man down, I have the world’s leading specialists flying in here immediately by jet, to tend specifically to Superman’s care. “Dr. Reed, from Mercy General in Silsby, will be heading the team. “We’ll make certain that Superman will receive unrivalled care, and give him the same unrivalled dedication that he’s always shown the world.”
Batman carefully put the emergency room physician down. “Thank you doctor, and keep in mind that any additional expense the hospital incurs will be covered totally by the Wayne Foundation; just call this number and speak to Bruce Wayne. “He’ll handle all the financial details.” Batman handed the doctor a slip of paper with Wayne’s private number. “Money is no object when caring for Superman.”
“Thank you Batman, I’ll call him right away…”
“You might want to wait a few hours, Doctor, I happen to know that Bruce Wayne is out of town until later this evening. “I can also tell you that Mr. Wayne will write you a blank check, for whatever Superman needs!”
Batman noticed that Superman was stirring on the gurney.
“What……. Where am I……,” Superman weakly uttered.
“Easy Superman,” Batman answered, “you’re in Gotham General, and some doctors will be coming here soon to check you out so….”
At that, Superman rose up and seemed to recover somewhat quickly. “Batman,” he pleaded, “I’ve got to get back there, why, that criminal mob will…”
“Don’t worry, Superman, we got them all,” Batman reassured the Man of Steel. “They’re all on their way to the Gotham Penitentiary as we speak, but you’ve got to be examined right away. “You’ve been hit by Kryptonite bullets!”
“Luthor!” Superman exclaimed, to no one in particular.
“What?” Batman wasn’t sure if Superman was still semi-conscious or perhaps even delirious from the Kryptonite attack.
“Luthor!” Superman repeated. “He’s the only person in the world that I know who can actually create synthetic Kryptonite! “When that mad scientist Meldini teamed up with Happy King, I thought the formula for creating synthetic Kryptonite died with them! “Obviously, Luthor managed to get his hands on it…. “But when I get my hands on him, I’ll ….”
Batman tried to reassure the Man of Steel, and attempted to push him back on the gurney, only to realize that Superman’s super-strength was slowly returning. The Dark Knight almost fell to the ground!
“Whoa, easy there, Superman,” “Remember, I haven’t got super-strength like some of us in this room…”
“I’m sorry, Batman, but I can’t lie around here with Luthor on the loose. “We’ve got to get going and…”
But Superman was cut off by a familiar voice.
“I’ll be the judge of that, my friend!”
Superman looked up to see a group of doctors and scientists enter his room, headed by his old friend, Professor La Cerne. Superman broke out into a broad smile at the sight of his old, and trusted friend.
“Superman, you know very well that Kryptonite is tricky stuff, and of all the many times you’ve encountered it, you usually recover very quickly once you are out of range of the element. “The mere fact that you were knocked unconscious and are still lying here in a hospital bed tells me that we need to examine you thoroughly, as well as to try and get a sample of this new form of Kryptonite, although I don’t see how that would be possible…..”
“Very easily done, Professor,” Batman interjected. “I picked up one of the bullets and placed it in my utility belt, hoping to examine it later, but I think you’d be more qualified to do that than me. “Oh, and relax, Superman, it’s completely enclosed in a lead container.”
“Well,” Superman said, “that’s a relief!”
“Excellent, Thank you Batman,” the professor replied. “Now, Superman, we’re going to do a battery of tests on you,” he insisted. “I realize that because of your invulnerability, some of them will be clearly impossible, but hopefully we can still find out something. “I also want to get that Kryptonite bullet to my lab and see what we can come up with. “Oh, and by the way, Superman, do you realize that your uniform is ripped slightly by your “S” emblem?”
Superman looked down and was shocked. Yes, amazingly enough, there was a small bullet hole near the bottom of the “S” shield. In all his encounters with Kryptonite, even the Kryptonite bullets that he encountered with Happy King, nothing on Earth was ever able to penetrate his indestructible uniform – until now!
“Great Scott!” Superman exclaimed. Without a second thought, the Man of Steel focused the full power of his X-Ray Vision on the tear. Sure enough, it fused his Super-suit back to normal.
“Now I know we’re dealing with Luthor,” Superman said. “Let’s get these tests done with right now! “I want to get back to work with Batman to get to the bottom of this crime wave – and these attempts on my life!”
“We’ll be in touch, Superman,” Batman remarked. “Not much more we can do here. “Perhaps the Bat-Cave’s crime lab will yield some clues. “C’mon, youngster,” he clued in to Robin, with a wink, silently indicating that Bruce Wayne had better get back to the Wayne Foundation offices before he’s missed.
By the next day, all the nation’s newspapers, including the Gotham Gazette and the Daily Planet carried the same banner headline:
FELLED BY KRYPTONITE BULLET’ –
An early edition of the newspaper was handed to a tall, overpowering businessman in a dark blue pinstripe suit at his executive offices in Gotham Towers – not far from the Wayne Foundation building. When he put the paper down, the tall, well dressed, but completely bald and sinister-looking man drew his face into a contented, pleased smile.
“Well, well, well, so, we almost got him that time!” It was Superman’s arch-enemy, LUTHOR, now hiding behind a mantle of respectability as the CEO and President of his own giant Corporation, LEXCORP, which rivalled the Wayne Foundation in sheer size, volume and financial assets. Indeed, Luthor and Wayne were deadly business rivals, with Luthor using his connections and finely honed business acumen as a cover for his underworld criminal activities. Two of Luthor’s armed henchmen were also present in the 30th floor of the building, in Luthor’s private office.
“This is just the beginning,” Luthor boasted, “Superman won’t survive the next kryptonite attack! “I’ll kill him for sure, if it’s the last thing I ever do!”
Suddenly, Luthor and his cronies were startled by the sound of several of his thick, office windows smashing to pieces simultaneously.
“No you won’t, Luthor, because ‘the last thing you’ll ever do’ is to spend the rest of your life in jail!”
“If I have anything to say about it!”
It was Batman who smashed the windows in Luthor’s office, and flew through them at a speed that might have even rivalled Superman’s. Without a thought, he quickly disarmed Luthor’s thugs with his batarangs and, with a quick karate chop knocked the both of them unconscious almost simultaneously.
Then, he turned his attention to Luthor, drawing him close as he grabbed him by the collar making sure he ripped and ruined Luthor’s tailor-made, expensive shirt and his suit jacket. Luthor began sputtering, and stammering, “why you, you… vigilante, I…I’ll have you arrested, and thrown in jail yourself….”I’ll sue, I’ll, why, my personal guard is on the way up right now… and…”
Batman brought Luthor close to him, face to face while twisting his arm to make certain Luthor was in great pain.
“Now listen to me, Luthor,” whispered Batman, who was now deadly calm and serious- but kept up the pressure on his captive’s twisted arm. “First of all, I’ll be gone… out the same way I came in before your goons can even get into the elevator. “Secondly, I know all about you, and your days as a ‘respectable’ businessman in Gotham City are numbered; and lastly, you had better hope and pray that it’s Superman who topples your empire first, because, trust me, you DON’T want to have to deal with me… “You know, Luthor, I won’t be nearly as nice as Superman and, as you are just now starting to realize, unlike Superman, I am not at all averse to, oh, shall we say… bending the law…” Batman then twisted Luthor’s arm to the point of almost breaking it. Luthor was in agony.
“Get out… “GET OUT of here… “Why I’ll….”
“No you won’t, Lex, you won’t do anything because I’ll get to you, and I’ll get to you first. “Remember that… and this…” Batman then pushed Luthor into an antique and ornate vase displaying a lavish and expensive flower arrangement, which broke and shattered to pieces on Luthor’s fall.
“Oh, I’ll be back, Luthor, count on it!” To Luthor’s amazement, Batman JUMPED out the broken 30th story window, but coupled with his astounding acrobatic ability and his bat-rope, was out of sight long before Luthor’s personal guard could get up to his office.
Luthor’s tactical squad just then burst into his office, now pretty much in shambles. “Mr. Luthor, Mr. Luthor, what happened here... “Are you all right?”
Luthor was furious. “Did you see that man… that… that BATMAN… “I want him! “FIND him, find out where he lives, who he is under that mask, and bring him to me, unmasked, alive and in pain…NOW!”
“He’s not SUPERMAN, he has no super-powers, now GET GOING!”
Luthor’s team was clearly frightened by the mere mention of the BATMAN, and knew full well what a dangerous man he was- particularly to lawbreakers. Batman was known to bring in evil-doers, and often at all costs, unlike Superman, who was more tolerant of the law.
“GO! “He’s just a human being! “He can be brought down to his knees just like any other mortal on this planet!” Luther steamed.
All three of Luthor’s personal swat team looked at each other. “I sometimes wonder if the Batman is human,” one of them muttered under his breath.
“What was that,” Luthor screamed. “Now you all listen to me, all of you, either you bring the BATMAN to me, here, and on his knees or I’ll have you all fired… or worse!
“Now GO!! “And send someone up to clean up this mess,” Luthor yelled.
“Yes sir, right away chief,” the hapless security team responded.
“And would you PLEASE ring up my tailor, and tell him to get me a new suit!”
While Luthor was fuming, Batman slid down his Bat-rope to the waiting Batmobile, smiling. He’d heard every single word, because, unknown to Luthor and his team, Batman had secretly placed a hidden eavesdropping device in Luthor’s office, and everything that was said was now transmitted directly to a tiny ear-piece in his cowl. Batman correctly figured that he would need a hidden advantage to monitor Luthor’s nefarious activities. Upon reaching the street, Batman rushed to the hospital where Superman was now being discharged. He immediately ran into Professor La Cerne.
“Oh, Batman, so nice to see you, just the person I wanted to see,” ever the gentleman, the Professor greeted the caped crime fighter. Just then, adjusting his cape, Superman walked in the room, looking and feeling much more like his old super-self.
“Batman, I want to brief you on my findings, and Superman, here, already knows everything I’m about to tell you. “It seems, that whoever fabricated these kryptonite bullets, and Superman believes it was Luthor, has managed to develop a form of ‘SUPER-kryptonite’ that is much more concentrated-and deadlier- than ordinary kryptonite. “That’s why it was able to penetrate Superman’s indestructible uniform, which, by the way, I believe, is the only reason Superman survived the attack. “His super-suit slowed the bullet down enough to prevent it from entering his body. “Superman has made a complete recovery, but ONLY because of that!”
Professor La Cerne continued. “I believe Luthor has managed to get ahold of some pure kryptonite, and using it with a combination of Professor Meldini’s original formula, concocted this deadly element. “A shame, really, Professor Meldini was a brilliant man, before he ultimately turned to crime…”
“What else, Professor,” Batman, now a tad impatient, asked.
“Oh, yes, well, it is my professional opinion that if the Kryptonite bullet had actually penetrated Superman’s invulnerable body, he would have eventually died from fatal kryptonite poisoning. “In that case, his own vital organs, indestructible to anything else, would have failed him through radiation exposure and brought about his death. “Remember, because Superman remains invulnerable even during Kryptonite exposure, an emergency operation would be clearly impossible! “Only that kryptonite bullet – or another like it - could penetrate his invulnerable skin!”
The professor continued. “You see, my dear Batman, in all his encounters with the stuff, Superman has never ingested it in any way; he’s only been exposed to it – which is why he recovers so quickly. “But in the presence of this ‘super’ kryptonite, his usually speedy recovery was greatly diminished!”
Professor La Cerne was visibly disturbed as he continued speaking. “Batman, this is the deadliest danger Superman has ever faced! “While kryptonite is harmless to ordinary humans like you and me, high caliber bullets fired from a well-aimed pistol are not! “Luthor has developed a near –perfect weapon that is deadly to all of us – including Superman!”
“The only good news I can tell you, Batman, is that because of the incredibly rare combination of the elements needed to create this ‘super’ kryptonite, Luthor can’t have much more of it – so you can be assured he will be planning his next attacks against Superman very carefully!”
“Thank you Professor, for all you’ve done,” Batman replied.
“Yes, yes, thank you, my good friend, you always seem to be right there for me when I need you,” Superman acknowledged, as he clasped the Professor’s hands.
“Please, call me if you need me, anytime at all,” Professor La Cerne responded. “I know there can only be one Superman!”
“Indeed,” was Batman’s reply, who now turned his attention to Superman, as Professor La Cerne quietly made his exit. “Superman, how are you?” Batman inquired.
“Never felt better in my life!” Superman replied, smiling, and patting his chest. “But now we need to get Luthor and catch him red-handed so we have a case against him in a court of law that will stick!”
“And by the way, where have you been, Batman?”
“Oh, just visiting an old friend,” was Batman’s quizzical answer.
It was a who’s who of the Metropolis underworld crime family that met at Luthor’s Gotham City office later that week. In addition to the recently bailed-out Si Horton, there was Lou Cranek, Luigi Danelli, Walter Canby, the ‘Fixer’, the ‘Duke’, ‘Turk’ Jackson, ‘Muscles’ McGurk, ‘Leftover’ Louie Lyman, Duke Taylor, Lank Garrett, brothers Paul and Steve Barton, as well as a least a half-dozen others who were now the ones to face Luthor’s unholy wrath. Luthor was furious.
“With all my influence, connections, and, I might add, a significant amount of money, I manage to get ALL of you half-wits out of prison – one way or another – and what do I have to show for it? “A botched bank robbery, MORE bail money expended, and the whole stupid lot of you can’t even stop one masked vigilante, a teen-ager, and that flying boy scout -Superman – even though I’ve armed you with the deadliest kryptonite weapon Superman has ever faced in his life!”
“NOW he’s back and fully recovered, AND both he and that cowled interloper have teamed up to try and bring down my entire organization! “How on earth did this sorry group EVER become Metropolis’ top gang leaders? “Why, I don’t think the whole lot of you could rob a chocolate bar from a candy store!”
“Yeah, well maybe SUPERMAN was spying on us with them super-peepers of his,” the Duke opined.
“I’d like to put him in a cube for seven years,” Steve Barton remarked.
“If only I had that mind-machine again, I could take out the BATMAN with it…” Lou Cranek mused.
“We’ll get him, Mr. Luthor, we’ll get him! “Look, he’ll be so rattled he won’t even FLY! He’ll be WALKING home,” Louie Lyman interjected.
“Shut up, all of you,” Walter Canby jumped in, ignoring his cohorts’ ramblings. “But, now wait a minute, Mr. Luthor…”
“Don’t you ever interrupt me again, Canby, or any of you,” Luthor railed. “I’m giving you idiot characters just one more chance to permanently eliminate both Superman and that masked menace. “If you fail me again, I’ll see to it that none of you will ever enjoy another day of life as long as you live! “Which may not be long!”
“Now get out of here – all of you – and await my next orders!”
The mob of criminals duly left Luthor’s office, as Luthor fumed and tried to formulate a new plan that he hoped would bring down the Man of Steel – and the BATMAN – for good. But still unknown to Luthor, Batman was listening to every word, on the high-frequency receiver in his Bat Cave. Also present this time, though, was SUPERMAN.
“An old friend, perhaps, Batman,” Superman surmised, with a wry grin on his face. “How you managed to pull off that little trick was pretty impressive, my friend! “Luthor has the best anti-bugging detectors that money can buy!”
“No he doesn’t, Superman,” was Batman’s reply. “But the Wayne Foundation does. “My scientists and research team are all top ex-government and military officials and leaders who are in on the latest and most modern technological advances. “Costs me a fortune to keep them all on payroll, but, as you can see, in times like these, it’s well worth it!”
“So I see,” was Superman’s comment.
“I don’t have x-ray vision or super-hearing, Clark,” Batman wryly commented, “So I have to adapt.”
Superman just smiled. “Bruce, what’s our next plan of action? “In spite of Luthor’s ranting, these men are the cleverest and most dangerous criminals I’ve ever encountered. “They’re tough enough to capture on their own, but with Luthor’s brilliant mind guiding them, and with that Kryptonite…”
“True enough, Clark, so we need to set a trap for them. “Here’s what I suggest…”
“Why, good heavens, I don’t think you feel very well….. Superman,” Batman hinted.
“What? “Batman, I feel just fine…. “Why, all my Super-powers have fully returned, and…” Batman just removed his cowl, smiled, and winked at the Man of Steel. Superman’s face broke into a broad grin as he smiled back at his new colleague…”OH, I see!”
The Daily Planet headlines the next day were simply unbelievable.
LOSES ALL HIS SUPER-POWERS –
Jimmy Olsen was granted the exclusive televised interview with the apparently now very UN-Super – Superman in Perry White’s office at the Daily Planet. Besides Perry White, also present were Lois Lane, and Batman and Robin.
“Jeepers, is it really true, Superman, that you’ve (gulp) really lost all your super-powers?” Jimmy Olsen was dumbfounded. “Do you feel all right?”
“Yes, Jim, but my strength is completely gone!”
“The exposure to that SUPER kryptonite had a delayed reaction which destroyed all my powers, and according to the scientists, it seems that this effect may very well be permanent,” Superman reported. “I can no longer fly, my super strength and invulnerability have vanished, and my super-senses are now only those of an ordinary human! “The only bright spot I see in this, Jim, is that because I’ve lost all my super-powers, like everyone else on Earth, I am now immune to the deadly effects of Kryptonite! “It no longer weakens me or affects me in any way!”
Superman was apparently holding one of the recovered Kryptonite bullets in his bare hand, which he showed to Jimmy and the rest. “See?”
Perry White chimed in next. “But Superman, now you can be hurt by bullets, fire, why, any weapon that can kill any one of us can also destroy YOU! “And now you’re going to be a sitting target to Horton and the rest of his band of goons!”
Superman went on. “True enough, Mr. White, and, I suppose my new immunity to kryptonite is only a small benefit, but listen to me, Jimmy, and you can print this in the Daily Planet, too: “I have NO intention of retiring from crime-fighting, and I’ll be working night and day right alongside Batman and Robin here, to bring down Luthor’s mob. “Yes, we have reason to believe that the Lex Corp president is the true mastermind behind these crime waves, and what’s more, we have proof!”
“I’ll be sharing patrol with Batman and Robin, although since I can no longer fly, I’ll be riding with them in the Batmobile!”
Jimmy voiced his concern next. “But, golly, Superman, won’t that be dangerous? “I mean without your super-powers won’t you….”
Superman cut him off. “No, listen, Jimmy, Batman and Robin risk their lives every day to fight crime in Gotham City, and yet, THEY have no super-powers! “How can I let the good people of Metropolis down after I’ve sworn to protect them? “No, Jimmy, the fight must go on until the streets of both Metropolis and Gotham City have been swept clean of this criminal element, and I’m sure Batman would agree!”
“Olsen, Superman is a valuable asset to our crime fighting team with or without his super-powers,” Batman avowed. “AS always, we welcome his aid in this war on crime!”
“Great Caesar’s Ghost, this is just awful,” spoke a worried Perry White, who could no longer hold back, “Why, this almost guarantees a new crime spree right here in Metropolis!”
“No, Mr. White, Inspector Henderson has just informed me that he has beefed up the Metropolis Police force in readiness for such an occurrence,” Superman relieved the Planet editor. “And I strongly suggest to the criminal element in Metropolis, that they give themselves up before they find they may have to tangle with Batman and myself- super powers or NO super-powers.
Lois Lane could not hold back tears. “Gosh, Superman, do you think, (gulp) you’ll ever get back to your normal self… “Oh, I mean…”
“That’s all right Miss Lane,” Superman gently responded, “but I’m afraid you’re going to have to get used to me as just being an ordinary man from now on.”
“Jeepers!” was Jimmy’s only response.
With the interview concluded, a somewhat tired and worried Superman calmly walked out of the office with Batman and Robin, and all three climbed into the waiting Batmobile. As it sped off, Metropolis TV caught the unusual glimpse of Superman riding as a passenger, seemingly unable to fly.
“So, we may have succeeded after all,” a grinning Lex Luthor gloated, having watched the entire interview on his private TV monitor. But just as suddenly, Luthor’s glee turned to blind rage.
“I don’t believe it!” Luthor abruptly yelled. “I think it’s a trick, that’s all, a trick to get us to dispose of the last of our remaining Kryptonite bullets! “Well, it won’t work! “Those three caped interlopers have a very unpleasant surprise coming!”
“CANBY!” Luthor yelled to the hapless Walter Canby, who’d he only screamed out just a day before.
“Canby, set up a caper! “A BIG one. “Somehow, you’ve got to let those three caped fools know all about it, so they show up and attempt to stop us. “Leak it through the press, somehow. “Only this time, we’ll stop them! “Load the guns, but put the remaining kryptonite bullets in mine! “If it’s a trick, a ruse of some sort that they’re planned, it won’t work, and I’ll be the one to finish him off for good!! “If Superman is still invulnerable, then the Kryptonite will finish him off. “If not, the bullets will kill him anyway!”
“Ha, ha, ha!” a defiant Luthor gloated. “Finally! “I can see it now! “The end of the Man of Steel! “And those two masked clowns will join him in the graveyard as a bonus.” Luthor then got very got serious and glared at Walter Canby.
“Remember, Canby, this time our plans have to be fool-proof! “If they are trying to pull a fast one on us, we have to be certain they don’t succeed! “This is the last of the Kryptonite, and I can’t make any more!”
“If you fail me this time, Canby, I’m warning you….”
A frightened Walter Canby shakily tried to reassure an ever-furious Lex Luthor. “Nothing will go wrong, Mr. Luthor, I’ll have my best men on it, you’ll see... It’ll be a glorious day, the end of the so-called WORLD’S FINEST crime fighting team!”
“Bah!” Luthor interjected. “It better be, Canby, or it just may well spell the end of YOU!”
“I wonder what they’re planning,” A curious Superman asked Batman, who were all listening to Luthor’s hidden microphone signal from the Batmobile.
“Gosh, I don’t think we fooled them at all, Bruce,” a worried young Robin opined. “Superman, that last kryptonite attack almost killed you before, and it looks like they’re planning on using it again. “Did you think they were going destroy all their bullets?”
“Of course not, son,” Superman replied, “Batman thought of all possibilities and this was only one of them. “We simply have to stay one step ahead of them, that’s all!”
“Let’s find out what they’re planning first, Robin, then we’ll configure our strategy,” Batman replied. “Remember, lad, criminals always get overconfident, and this is one of the most important tools in our crime-fighting arsenal. “Once overconfident, they get careless. “Then we can nab them!”
“Superman, aren’t you worried,” Robin asked, as he turned his attention to the Man of Steel. “After all, that new kryptonite is the deadliest danger you’ve ever faced!”
“Robin, worrying does no good.” Superman answered. “In the face of danger, we must always be vigilant and cautious. “Remember what I told you, son, ‘crime never pays.’ “You’ll see, Luthor and his henchmen are setting their own trap, NOT the other way around!”
“Superman’s right, youngster,” said Batman. “Be observant and vigilant. “Don’t get overconfident and we’ll bring Luthor and his whole gang down for good!”
Once again, the next day the news headlines were all ablaze.
POLICE WORRIES ABOUT HUGE CRIME SPREE
SUPERMAN EFFECTIVELY FIGHT CRIME
WILL SUPERMAN RETIRE WITH HIS SUPER-POWERS GONE?
And on it went. The Daily Planet also reported that with the additional beefed-up Metropolis Police force, most of Metropolis’ criminal element were either put behind bars or holed up in hiding. They also reported that Superman would now be working in Gotham City alongside Batman and Robin in the hopes of quashing the deadly criminal mob, that, as Superman reported, was seemingly led by Luthor.
In Perry White’s office, Lois Lane called on the Editor-in-Chief with a very interesting question.
“Say Chief,” Lois called.
“Oh, yes Miss Lane, come in, come in,” Perry White answered, looking up from a newspaper, undoubtedly the latest edition of the Planet... “Is that young idiot Olsen with you, or did he actually go out and find me a scoop worth printing?”
“No I haven’t seen Jimmy, Chief, but it’s not him I’m worried about, it’s Clark.” Lois was visibly disturbed. “I haven’t seen Clark since the day of that robbery at Gotham National Bank, when SUPERMAN got hurt. “Chief, do you think Clark is angry with me because I said he was jealous of Superman?”
In his usual gruff manner, Perry replied, “Now, Great Caesar’s Ghost, Miss Lane, I’m not running a lonely hearts club here, I’m trying to put out a newspaper, and….. Say, now, wait a minute, Lois, come to think of it, I haven’t seen Kent, either…”
“That’s what I mean Chief, “I’m starting to get worried…”
Just then a familiar face walked in. “Someone mention my name?”
“Clark!” Lois cried out.
“Kent! “Great Caesar’s Ghost, Kent, where have you been? “Sometimes I think I’m the only editor who pays people to keep getting into trouble!”
In his usual mild manner, Clark responded to both Lois and Perry. “Oh, hi there, Lois…. “Uh, yes, well, Chief, why, with all the goings-on, what with Superman losing his powers, well, it’s been a little tough getting around….”
“Now what on Earth do you mean by that, Kent? “Great Caesar’s Ghost, don’t tell me you’ve got SUPERMAN running around as your own personal car service…”
Clark looked down and once again adjusted his glasses. “Uh, no…well, not exactly, Chief, but….”
Lois piped up next. “Yes, what exactly do you mean MISTER Kent?”
“Well, Lois, and uh, Chief, it’s just that with Superman somewhat out of commission, I’m busy tracking down other stories that, uh, well, could be of interest to the Planet, and…………”
“OH, never mind, Kent, but as long as you’re here, tell me, what is he going to do now that he’s an ordinary person like you, me, and… “Well, what I mean to say, Kent, is, I’m worried about Superman.” “Without his super-powers, he’s vulnerable to a lot more than just kryptonite. “What’s he going to do?”
Kent looked serious. “I wish I knew, Chief, I wish I knew.”
AT that moment the phone rang. It was Inspector Henderson. Perry answered, “Yes, Inspector..?”
Clark quickly grabbed the phone from Perry White. “I think it’s for me, Chief.” Clark suddenly became very serious. “What?” He’s WHAT?” “Where, Inspector?” “Gotham City?” “ME? “Uh, no well, I, uh, I think I’d, oh, I’d better stick around here, uh, just in case….”
“Kent!” “What is it? “Give me that phone!” Perry White took the phone from Clark and got the details from Henderson about a tremendous assault on the Gotham Federal Reserve, the largest bank in the country, which routinely housed several billion dollars’ worth of currency and precious metals. It was under siege by Luthor’s entire mob, who’d been sprung out of prison only hours before by one of Luthor’s nefarious schemes, and was headed up by Walter Canby.
In all the excitement, Jimmy Olsen rushed in, but no one noticed Clark quietly slipping out of the office. Scant seconds later he was entering a small storage closet, removing his glasses, loosening his tie….and within moments it was SUPERMAN who once again rocketed out of the window speeding towards Gotham City!
“That was Inspector Henderson! “It’s a tremendous crime spree and an all-out siege on the….” In the middle of his rant, Perry looked around for Clark, who was now long gone. “Great Caesar’s Ghost! “NOW what in blazes happened to KENT?”
Perry White barked his orders at Lois Lane. “Miss Lane, you take young Olsen here and get over to Gotham City as fast as you can and get me the scoop on this latest barrage!” “And for Heaven’s sakes, keep out of trouble, as there’ll be no SUPERMAN to rescue you this time!”
“Don’t worry Chief, I’ll be there to protect her!” Jimmy gallantly replied.
“Miss Lane, would you kindly inform this young nincompoop that he’s NOT Superman!?”
“Yes sir, Chief?”
“DON’T CALL ME CHIEF!”
Seconds after leaving the Daily Planet, high in the skies, Superman was now communicating with Batman through the special belt-radio Batman gave him only days earlier.
“Are you reading me, Batman, I’m on my way to Gotham City.”
“Loud and clear, Superman, Robin and I are heading to the Gotham Federal Reserve, so meet us there. “But remember, you’ve got to walk in. “You’ve, ahem, got no super-powers - remember?”
“Understood, Batman. “If I spot you on the road I’ll let myself right in to the Batmobile!”
“Over and out!”
Sure enough, Superman’s tremendous speed got him to the Batmobile only blocks from the Federal Reserve, although Superman traveled many miles from Metropolis. The dynamic trio arrived at the federal Building only to find Luthor’s newly freed mob raiding the place in full force. Batman and Robin knew they’d have had their hands full cleaning up this entire gang without SUPERMAN’s super-powers.
“Well, I guess there’s no point in keeping this a secret any longer,” Superman said, exiting the Bat mobile.
They were all there- all of Luthor’s henchmen. But at super speed, with his tremendous super-strength, Superman knocked them all down in no time flat. Danelli, Cranek, the Barton brothers, ‘Left over’ Louie, and all the rest. As Superman made short order of Luthor’s goons, only ‘Muscles’ McGurk was left who came out from hiding and aimed his gun right at Superman.
McGurk was astonished as he fired his gun. “No. “It CAN’T be… “No.. “NO…“I don’t believe it.”
“Believe it my friend,” was Superman’s response as he easily crushed McGurk’s gun in his hand. “The only place you’re all going is right to JAIL!”
“Gosh, you were right, Superman, it worked,” an overjoyed Robin exclaimed.
“Not yet, my young friend,” a voice from the shadows emerged. It was Luthor. “So, Superman, it was a trick, after all. “You never lost your super-powers. “Which means this bullet will end your career - and your life- for good!”
Before Batman or Robin could make a move, Luthor shot Superman at point blank range with his kryptonite-loaded gun. The bullet tore through Superman’s costume once again striking the “S” shield, but this time, as the bullet tore through his uniform, blood began to flow rapidly from Superman’s chest. Superman fell to the ground, and appeared to be mortally wounded.
“NO!” Robin screamed out.
“HA, HA, HA,” Luthor gloated as he let out a greedy laugh. “I’ve DONE it! “One bullet, and finally, I’ve done it! “I’ve KILLED him! I’ve killed the so-called Man of Steel!”
AS Robin rushed to Superman’s side, Luthor was so delirious in his moment of glory, he never noticed Batman coming up from behind, disarming him, and letting loose with a hard right hook to Luthor’s jaw.
Once Luthor was incapacitated, Batman slipped his bat- handcuffs on Luthor and duly informed him, “We’ve got everything we need on you now, Luthor, and it’s the end of the line for you!”
Even though Luthor was reeling and bleeding slightly from Batman’s punch, he managed to wipe the blood from his jaw with the bat-cuffs on. “Ha, ha, ha, you know what, Batman, it’s WORTH it… “It’s worth everything to me as I will go down in history forever, as the one man who KILLED Superman! “Ha, ha, ha!”
Suddenly, from the end of the street, the Man of Steel rose up, seemingly unhurt, and back to his old Super-self as he walked right up and confronted the president of LEX Corp. “Well, Luthor, at you’ll least go down in history as one of the hundreds who’ve tried…. And all FAILED!”
“WHAT?” Luthor’s gloating now turned to an incredulous, sputtering rage. “WHAT?! “Why, that’s… that’s….IMPOSSIBLE… “Why, why, your indestructible uniform is torn, you’re bleeding like an ordinary human…. “I saw it… I saw it with my own EYES…”How is this… what..?”
Luthor for once, was dumbfounded. “That kryptonite bullet should have done you in for good…”I... “I…”
“Wrong again, Luthor,” Superman replied, “Maybe during your very long prison term you’ll come to realize once and for all that crime does not pay, and that when you are on the side of lawlessness, you’re always going to lose… count on it! “Particularly when I have brave men like Batman and Robin on my side to help me put evil men like you away from society!”
“Bah!” “All right, spare me the lecture, Superman, and I’ll go quietly, but tell me one thing, just HOW did you beat that Kryptonite bullet?” “I SAW it tear through your indestructible costume, and I SAW you, the invulnerable SUPERMAN, bleeding… “How….?”
“Oh do you mean this….?” Superman answered, as he proceeded to rip off his tunic where Luthor had shot him, only to reveal a second costume, his real indestructible uniform underneath. Superman tossed the torn shirt, “S” and all, into a nearby trash bin. “This cheap copy? “Really, Luthor, I thought you had more brains than that!”
Luthor was still in a rage, but now more curious than ever. “But I saw you bleed, Superman, I saw…”
“What you saw, Luthor, was a small, bursting canister of fake blood,” Superman replied. “Obviously, my dear Luthor, you’ve never been to Hollywood, have you? “It was necessary to use the fake blood to hide any glimpse of my real super-suit underneath that might’ve tipped you off. “We would take no chances with you!”
“All right Superman, you win, but just how did you escape the Kryptonite poisoning? “That first encounter with it almost did you in for good!”
“It certainly did, Luthor, but… well, why don’t you tell him, Batman?”
“Why of course, Superman,” Batman replied. “You see, Luthor, you’re a fool if you think you could ever outwit, or even defeat Superman!”
Luthor just frowned, as Batman went on. “Luthor, we knew all about your plans here to plunder the Gotham Reserve well in advance. “We also knew that Superman would never be able to withstand a second attack of the ‘super’ kryptonite you’ve developed. “So, quite simply, using all my detective skills, I surmised the location of all your remaining kryptonite bullets.”
“Once I determined I had them all accounted for, I made a second trip back to your headquarters, where I removed ALL the deadly shells and disposed of them at the Bat-Cave. “What you shot at Superman were simply harmless, phosphorescent bullets that I coated to look just like Kryptonite. “I wouldn’t ever take a chance with Superman’s life!”
Luthor was silently fuming.
“You can rely on this, Luthor,’” Superman then forcefully replied. “The Batman and I have no intention of disbanding our new partnership should the need arise for us to work together again. “If you are fomenting any evil plans for the future, you’ll have to deal with ALL of us from here on in. “And I can guarantee that you won’t succeed, not as long as I have powerful allies like BATMAN and ROBIN in my war against crime.”
Just then Inspector Henderson and Commissioner Gordon pulled up to the crime scene.
“Well, Bill, it looks like our friends here have mopped up the scene and done our work for us,” Gordon remarked. “As always, thank you Batman and Robin, for once again cleaning up the streets of Gotham City. “And my special thanks to you, Superman, for all your help. “Anytime Metropolis can spare you, you are always welcome in our fair city.”
“Now hold on, there Jim,” Henderson replied to Gordon, “Don’t give Superman any ideas! “Or I’ll try and steal Batman and Robin and get them to patrol Metropolis for me!”
Batman let out a rare smile, and a chuckle, follow by a hearty laugh from Superman! “You can stop counting on that now, Inspector, as I think with this big haul, crime will be rather quiet in BOTH Gotham City and Metropolis, so perhaps Batman and I can take a much-needed vacation!”
“For sure, Superman,” said Batman, “But…. and you can count on this too, Luthor, if there’s a need for Superman and I to combat the evil forces of society again, we’ll be there before you know it!”
“Think about that during your prison term!”
“Let’s go, Luthor,” Commissioner Gordon remarked, “you’ve got a date behind bars!”
A defeated Luthor was furious. “Bah!”
The next day, Inspector Henderson, Commissioner Gordon and the Planet staff reporters met in Perry White’s office to celebrate the end of the crime wave. The headlines were once again ablaze with the great news.
FINEST’ SUPERMAN –BATMAN TEAM-UP
SUPERMAN ‘SUPER’ ONCE AGAIN!
Also present at Perry’s office were Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson.
“Mr. Wayne, we understand that you personally took control of all of Luthor’s businesses and disbanded Lex Corp, while distributing the various companies he controlled to local business men both in Gotham City and Metropolis, giving many a fresh start”, Perry White remarked. “I must say, I was very happy to print the news of your wonderful generosity in the Daily Planet.”
“It seemed like the right thing to do Mr. White, since many businesses suffered under Luthor’s evil reign,” Bruce Wayne replied. “When – and if – he ever gets out of prison, he’s going to have to start fresh – just like every other citizen in the United States of America.”
“Jeepers, that sure was swell of you, Mr. Wayne,” Jimmy Olsen added.
“Jimmy, here in America, everyone deserves a fair shake, and we need to see that the likes of someone like Lex Luthor never arise again,” Bruce said. “Don’t you agree, Kent?”
“I surely do, Mr. Wayne, I surely do,” Clark responded, with a smile and a wink to Wayne.
“And speaking of which, just where were YOU, MISTER Kent, while all this was going on,” Lois Lane curiously asked. “It seems mighty suspicious to me that all this time, while SUPERMAN was busy, there was no sign of you!”
“Well, MISTER Kent?”
“Now, my dear Miss Lane,” Clark quickly answered, “don’t you know that there’s a logical explanation for everything?”
“I’m listening, Mister Kent,” Lois responded.
“Well, Lois,” Clark answered, “Since my car broke down, I was unable to get here until, by chance, SUPERMAN showed up and gave me a lift!”
“Well, all I can say Lois, is, why, if it weren’t for Superman….. I wouldn’t even be here!”
Everybody let out a good laugh!
miss the next thrill-packed episode
Comics and Superman
"Like The Only Real Magic -- The Magic Of Knowledge"