We all know that Dark Knight Returns spawned Batman vs. Superman as a meme, but Son of Krypton and Bat of Gotham had battled plenty of times before, although it was always a hoax, or due to red kryptonite, or some other dodge where they were best friends again when it was all over. Heck, just about every World's Finest cover in the late 1960s had the two of them fighting each other one way or the other.

My question is: What are the best BvS stories you remember?

For example, there was a World's Finest where Superman hypnotized Batman into forgetting Supey's secret ID to see if Batman could ferret it out, thereby pointing out any holes in the Clark Kent cover story. Batman did, and Superman became angry and demanded to be hypnotized into forgetting Batman's ID, so he could show that he could figure that out, too. He did -- because Batman secretly helped him. What I remember about it is that it showed Superman being genuinely petty -- it wasn't red kryptonite, or Mr. Mxyzptlk, or any other dodge -- Superman was genuinely being a jerk, but Batman played along anyway, because they're pals.

Another I only vaguely remember is one where Superman lost his powers and became Nova, figuring he could be like Batman. Only he was terrible at it, and once again Batman had to secretly help him out. (Or something like that -- I read part one and part two literally decades apart.)

Another is where Superman replaced Batman with a partner who turned out to be a robot -- he was using ther robot to protect Batman for some reason and, of course, had to lie to him to justify the cover.

Anybody else have any favorites? I'll run a "top 10 BvS battles" column if y'all can help me think of enough of them!

And, of course, there's Kingdom Come and that other Mark Waid story where Batman's plans to kill the Justice League were stolen and used.

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Captain Comics said:

I just thought of another post-Silver Age one: "Batman: Hush," where they fight for some reason.

That would be in Batman #609 (January 2003). I remember it specifically because it was my "I Can't Stand It Any More" point with Batman. 

Come to think of it, the Captain Marvel/Spy Smasher battle in the second year of Whiz Comics was a proto-Superman vs Batman fight. But I didn't think it lived up to its premise.

There are further World's Finest Comics stories where Batman and Superman are at cross-purposes for part of the adventure, e.g. World's Finest Comics #146 (Batman won't tell Superman the name of man he believes destroyed Krypton), #233 (Batman tries to protect his brother from Superman by getting Deadman to possess him). Likewise #222 had the Super-Sons at odds.

When Batman quit the JLA and formed the Outsiders there was a subplot about Superman's and Batman's estrangement in World's Finest Comics that was resolved in #300.

The cover of #237 has Superman manhandling Batman, but I don't know what happens in the issue. The cover of #239 is a scene from the story, but Superman and Gold are just pretending, to fool monitoring aliens.

Another issue with Superman/Batman fights is #173. But they're not themselves at the time. There's a synopsis here, with spoilers.

In the Silver Age there were also a couple of stories in which young Bruce Wayne cracked Superboy's secret ID. This page on their many "first meetings" has information.

Of the stories I've mentioned I suppose I have the most affection for the World's Finest Comics #249 vampire tale. I called the stake a stalagmite, but it might be coral or wood. I'd have to check.

Captain Comics said:

Commander, I'm definitely re-reading the Deck Log to inform my own column. It's probably your Log that made me remember that particular WFC more than others. Do you have any other BvS favorites?

Sorry to take so long to get back to you, Cap.  Other than "The Game of Secret Identities", my two favourite "Batman vs. Superman" tales also come from the same period.

The first, "The Feud Between Batman and Superman", has been bandied about already on this thread.  What makes it significant to me is a fact I mentioned in my Deck Log entry about World's Finest Comics # 149---the scene at the hospital between Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent, after Wayne states that he is breaking up their partnership.  It's clear from the dialogue that Superman genuinely perceives the Batman as a contributing member of their team; he's not just humouring the Gotham Gangbuster.  That puts a slightly different cast on everything Superman subsequently does to bolster his partner's confidence.

(Of course, anyone who ever saw a situation comedy, even in those early days, knew what was going to happen the minute we saw Superman contact Kandor to set up the phoney Metalloid menace.)

Something else understated about that tale.  After discovering---from overhearing Jimmy "the Blabbermouth" Olsen---the hoax that Superman tried to run over on him, the Batman seems to get over his anger and mistrust of the Man of Steel pretty quickly He reevaluates the situation and realises that the threat in a short turn-around time.

But, in retrospect, I think that is explained by the fact that, after the Masked Manhunter's initial outrage fades, he grasps how much Superman actually respects him.  The Man of Steel modelled his and Olsen's Kandorian identities of Nightwing and Flamebird after him and Robin.  They have a Nightmobile and a Nightcave and a Nighthound.  It's subtle, but if one looks at the expressions and body language of Batman and Robin when they introduced to the Nightcave, it's apparent that the Batman is flattered.

The other story that stands out for me is "Prison for Heroes", from World's Finest Comics # 145 (Nov., 1964).  This is the one in which the Batman is brainwashed by aliens into serving as the ruthless warden of a prison for the galaxy's super-heroes.  The mind-altered Caped Crusader manages to lure Superman to the prison planet and deprive him of his super-powers.  After which, he becomes an inmate and treated mercilessly by his former bat-buddy.

What makes this "Batman vs. Superman" tale memorable is the fact that, this time, it's Superman who's the underdog.  Nevertheless, bereft of his super-powers, he fights through his fatigue and anger and fights back with keen wits and resourcefulness.  It was one of Mort Weisinger's favourite story angles:  that even without his super-powers, Superman is an indomitable and capable hero.  This tale certainly nails that down.

There's one story I recall, but I'm not sure it fits the theme of "Batman vs. Superman" battles, but it might.

It was in The Batman Chronicles #7 (Winter 1997). The premise was the hoary old trope of somebody on Death Row and a race against time to prove the condemned's innocence before the execution, with Superman pushing for exoneration and Batman maintaining that justice must take its course.

The problem was, for Superman, that he found out the condemned woman wasn't wholly innocent. Unlike most tales that indulge in this trope, this story presented aggravating circumstances and mitigating circumstances, raising the question of how guilty was this person? Guilty enough that she deserved to be executed?

Commander Benson said:

What makes this "Batman vs. Superman" tale memorable is the fact that, this time, it's Superman who's the underdog. Nevertheless, bereft of his super-powers, he fights through his fatigue and anger and fights back with keen wits and resourcefulness. It was one of Mort Weisinger's favourite story angles: that even without his super-powers, Superman is an indomitable and capable hero. This tale certainly nails that down.

I said it before on another thread, but Superman was always most impressive to me when he showed his heroism and resourcefulness without his powers. That didn't come from Krypton, that came from The Kents!

“Jeff, those World's Finest stories are collected in, for some reason, World's Finest Archives and Showcase editions.”

Oh. Well, I’ve got ‘em then. I was thinking more of a themed collection, but there are other things I’d rather see DC collect first, such as… oh, I don’t know, how about almost all of Superman from the ‘60s and ‘70s which hasn’t been collected yet?

Last week I said that “I never owned or read World's Finest #180,” but I think I do own it and did read it. Seems to me I picked up for two bucks at a flea market in San Diego in the ‘90s, read it and promptly forgot it. That’s what I’ve found with several distinctive DC cover I tracked down decades later: the story often did not live up to the cover. I couldn’t find WF #180 this weekend, but I didn’t look very hard (which means it wasn’t in the first box I looked), but I do plan to track it down and re-read it soon.

Did you buy any of DC's digests in the 80s? (They were great.) The GCD tells me the story's two parts were reprinted together in DC Special Series #23. (#178 had the first part. #179 was a reprint giant.)

I didn't. A current friend of mine has a trunk full of them (a trunk he uses as a living room table). He doesn't actively read or collect comics anymore, but he's not interested in getting rid of his DC digests. I'm quite envious of his collection.

Does anyone know anything about the "Injustice" series. I think the whole premise is Superman conquering the world and Batman leading the resistance, but I've never read any.

According to Wikipedia it was (is?) a tie-in to a video game. It has a page on the game with a synopsis. The game's cover shows Superman battling Batman.

Before Superman would fight Batman for whatever reason and it would all be over by the end of the story. Now they need a series!

Luke is right; Injustice is a tie-in to a video game. I think of it as an Elseworlds.

The premise is, The Joker kills Lois Lane through one of his schemes and a grieving Superman -- doubly grieving, because she was pregnant -- declares Never Again!, kills The Joker and imposes order on the whole world ...

... basically, what he wouldn't and didn't do in Kingdom Come. And like that story, nearly all the DC Universe heroes, villains and teams are pulled into the action. Even the gods from the Greco-Roman pantheon and the New Gods are drawn in, as well as the actors from the magic realms like Etrigan. Doctor Fate and John Constantine.

(It's kind of like that legendary post Cap wrote on an old, old, OLD iteration of the board about a chess match between Batman and the Black Panther, but with more killing.)

The series is winding toward a big finish, and it's anyone's guess who will prevail.

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