I consider myself fortunate that when I began reading comics, DC converted several titles to 100 pages. These were goldmines for classic Golden and Silver Age gems and classics. The new lead story, not so much. World's Finest #223 (My-Ju'74) introduced the most unexpected character. In fact there was even a Warning, and I quote: "Throughout comics history, there have been shocks and sensations galore! But we guarantee that the following amazing story is so startling, we never dared revealed it before!"

 

We, being writer Bob Haney (you see where this is going) and editor Murray Boltinoff, and dragging artist Dick Dillin into it. It starts with a serial murderer in Gotham City, dubbed the Boomerang Killer, as he uses two-pound metal boomerangs to slay his victims. Batman, without any clues is stymied, passes by Boston Brand's grave and gets Deadman's help to track down the BK. Before this can turn into a Brave & Bold story, Morgan Edge sends Clark Kent to cover the BK news to get ratings. So Superman arrives in Gotham and saves several people from the BK who always escapes.

 

Batman and Deadman track down a clue that leads to a mental institution where Batman is shocked to find out that the man he's pursuing is....... (SPOILER ALERT).....Thomas Wayne......Junior! He is the older brother of Bruce who suffered a head trauma as an infant that left him brain-damaged and a danger to society.

 

Superman becomes suspicious that Batman is protecting the BK by destroying evidence. He confronts Bats, unaware of Deadman's prescence and learns the truth. Superman decides to nab this guy but Batman has Deadman possess the Man of Steel. Batman then tries to reason with his unstable sibling, only to get clobbered by a boomerang. Somewhere Digger Harkness is smiling!

 

Deadman as Superman tries to smash in, only to find out his ghostly being has negated Supes' powers. Just then someone tries to destroy the building Batman is in. Deadman leaves Superman who saves the day. Batman reveals the true villain and motive, as is his wont, and proclaims his psychotic brother a victim and pawn. That should make the families of the four people he killed feel much better.

 

Anyhoo, Thomas Jr escapes but under the control of Deadman who justifies it to keep him from harming others and giving him a new life!

 

Wow! I wonder if Denny O'Neil or Julius Schwartz knew about this! My first WF featured the Super-Sons, my second...this. Is it any wonder why I like a little continuity?

 

Oh, and wait, there IS a sequel!! 

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I love insanity like this, and it was often in top form in World's Finest.
I was primarily a reader of Marvel comics back in the '70s, however I would buy every "100-Page Super-Spectacular" I could get my hands on (even Wonder Woman!), and I do have this one. I can pretty much guarantee I never reread this story after I discovered the Neal Adams reprints. My favorite story from WF #223 at the time was “The Composite Superman”. I dug those little statuettes and I learned a new word!
Actually this was also my first exposure to the Legion of Super-Heroes. I was fascinated by all the names, costumes and powers. I was overjoyed to discover they had their own book as well.

Oh and I guess Superman told the world about these future heroes. Oddly enough, he always lamented about Mon-El being trapped in the Phantom Zone and yet he had a statuette of him as a Legion member from his Superboy days!

"The Reversed Heroes" was a cool reprint too with Elton Craig who finds Jor-El's super-power pills(???) and goes on a crime spree wearing a mask, though everyone knows it's him, and little purple shorts!

The Deadman, Aquaman and Robotman stories made this issue an eclectic mix!
Those "100-Page Super-Spectaculars" were the greatest thing to come along since the invention of ink.
Philip Portelli said:
Actually this was also my first exposure to the Legion of Super-Heroes.

For me, that would be the Dev-Em story reprinted in Superboy #177, still among my very favorite LSH stories ever!
Now for the sequel! It took place in World's Finest #227 (F'75), another 100 page Spectacular. Bob Haney wrote this one, too, so here we go again! The convoluted plot revolved around "illegal" gold being smuggled into the country, which could cause an economic panic! But Batman is too distracted over Deadman absconding with his brain-damaged brother, Thomas Wayne, Jr. to live a new life. Strangely, this didn't bother him at all in his own titles or even in the prior WFs!

Superman is annoyed by Batman's lack of focus as they meet in an office they rented to co-ordinate their plans. Too bad they don't have cool bases of their own! Anyway, the story has Batman confronted dueling stuntmen, ala Evel Kievel, searching for Deadman's new identity. He finds him as Daredevil Devlin who DOES resemble Marvel's DD! By a wondrous and time-saving coincidence, the other stuntman, Marko the Magnificent is the brains behind the "gold flood"! That's one way to tie a story together, not a good way but a way!

The major loose end is closed when Thomas sacrifices himself to save Batman, even though he has no idea they're brothers. So Batman has his dramatic moment and Deadman hits the ghostly trail again. Would it surprise anyone to know that neither story was ever reprinted nor even mentioned again!

There were another great mix of reprints of the Vigilante, Martian Manhunter and Rip Hunter-Time Master as well as a classic Superman/Batman adventure rifed with references to the Batman TV show!
Great thread. Had Thomas Wayne been staying in Willowood Asylum? Both Willowood and someone called Thomas Wayne (who doesn't seem to be the full shilling) are elements of Morrison's current Bat-story...

It seems his project is to include all the elements of previous stories, even the completely whacko stuff, as here.
The minute I read this, it was like being struck by lightning! I went back to WF #223 and verified that Thomas Wayne Jr had been committed since a child to Willowwood Sanitarium, even being given the name "Thomas Willowwood"! I can't believe Morrison is delving into not only forgotten Bat-History but deliberately forgotten Bat-History!

Please give me the issues of the current series where you saw ythis because I missed it completely!

This is another coincidence of crossing over threads! It's starting to get scary!

Figserello said:
Great thread. Had Thomas Wayne been staying in Willowood Asylum? Both Willowood and someone called Thomas Wayne (who doesn't seem to be the full shilling) are elements of Morrison's current Bat-story...

It seems his project is to include all the elements of previous stories, even the completely whacko stuff, as here.
Grant Morrison: For me, there's a Batman story that I started in issue #655 with Andy Kubert, and the whole story is that Batman is up against the ultimate diabolical mastermind – and by that, I mean it quite literally. And it's about how he cheats him. And also, we wanted to set up the big idea that maybe – maybe – the ultimate diabolical mastermind is Thomas Wayne. So the readers were kind of left with two choices: maybe it was Thomas Wayne pretending to be the devil, and maybe it was the devil pretending to be Thomas Wayne. And that leads into the next phase of Batman, which I'm starting in the summer. The whole thing should wind up as five book collections that tell one, big story.

More here: http://comics.ign.com/articles/950/950703p5.html
It is mad the way everything starts joining up! This happens a lot when it comes to Morrison. Coincidence? Or a Magickal Web? You decide.

Anyway. As Doc says its all part of one massive story that sort of started in Batman 655, but which Morrison has expanded out so that it seems to include every Batman story ever published (even, or especially, perhaps, the demented ones).

The Willowood connection becomes explicit in the just-published Batman #702, but that issue won't make much sense unless you've read Final Crisis and Batman R.I.P., which it turns out were much more interconnected than seemed at first.

When I reread Batman #702 yesterday, it felt like a staging post in one of the biggest stories ever written! About a character who's such a mainstay of our culture that none of us can even remember the first time we saw him! One of the ways he's in the very top rank of heroes.
It still seems hard to believe that Morrison is basing a major part of his story on a thirty-five year old tale that everyone agreed was a mistake! Could Thomas Wayne Jr be the scandal that Doctor Hurt threatened to ruin the Waynes' reputations with? Has Thomas Jr been hinted at during Morrison's run before #702? I'm a little worked up by this since I had no idea this would become so relevant!

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