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!!
Actually this was also my first exposure to the Legion of Super-Heroes.
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.