It’s that time of year again, as Batman Month returns to Marooner’s Rock. And with a new film coming out next year, it feels appropriate we look at some of the best stories where the Dark Knight met the Man of Steel to get you in the mood.
One is the ultimate depiction of a hero with amazing powers, the other is THE example of an ordinary man who can match up to titans. One is an example of hope and positiveness, while the other is darker, but still dedicated to justice. So, let’s look at the best times they’ve come together.
The Mightiest Team on Earth!
In 1952’s Superman #76, a story depicted the classic origin of how our favorite superheroes became friends. When both Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent are traveling on a cruise ship (alongside Lois Lane, of course), the two end up roommates. When a crisis happens, the two attempt to change clothes and disappear in the dark, only for a flash of light to reveal their secrets to each other. Deciding to team up for the duration of the cruise, the two try to solve the crime while also deal with Lois’s suspicions about their coincidental appearances on the same boat as Clark and Bruce. It’s silly, but it’s that classic Golden Age kind of fun, and set the tone for a lot of the two’s team-ups throughout the 50’s and 60’s.
One Night in Gotham
In Superman: The Man of Steel #3, shortly after Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns came out (and no, we will not include that, since it’s more a Batman story than the two of them, and its main contribution to the new film is the look of Batman), the newly rebooted DC universe of the 80’s showed off a new first meeting between the two. When Superman tracks down a criminal named Magpie to Gotham, Batman shows up, and the two come to blows. Superman sees Batman as a criminal, and Batman sees Superman as naive. When Batman reveals he’s got a bomb on a random person that will kill that person if the Dark Knight is harmed, the two go after Magpie, comparing notes and methods along the way. In the end, Batman reveals the threat was against himself, and Superman realizes that Gotham needs someone like Batman to protect it. It was a rocky start, but a good story.
Superman & Batman: Generations
In this Elseworlds tale (meaning alternate universe and non-canon), we see a version of Batman and Superman in a universe where they, their supporting casts, and their world age in real time from their debuts to the present. With an opening chapter set in 1939 (complete with their original costumes), each one is set in a new decade, with all manner of twists and turns. Basically, it’s at once a love-letter to the characters and their histories, a lot of ideas that people probably had about their future families that could never be in the old stories, and a look at how real-world events like the Vietnam war and the cynicism of the 80’s would affect them. Definitely a treat for fans of all their myriad incarnations.
Not a comic this time, but a three-part episode from Superman the Animated Series (yet it really feels more like a pilot for the conjoined series The Batman/Superman Adventures that played both Batman and Superman episodes). The Joker steals a massive chunk of Kryptonite and offers Lex Luthor a deal to kill Superman for an obscene amount of money. Batman follows his enemy to Metropolis, and he and the Man of Steel do not get off to a good start. It then gets worse as Lois starts to fall for Bruce Wayne. What follows is some awesome storytelling as we see the two go from rivals to allies, and it’s a timeless update on the story of two of the greatest heroes meeting.
This was the first storyline to run in the comic Superman/Batman, a series that starred the two and had them take on the sort of odds that only they could in the most epic fashion, and this was the best one in the book. When a massive asteroid made of Kryptonite is headed to Earth, President Lex Luthor (yes, this was when he was president) offers a massive bounty for Superman. Batman and Superman decide that they’ve had enough of Lex running the country like his own personal toy, and finally take the fight to him while trying to find a way to save the world. And from that simple storyline we get some of the most awesome action featuring the two. You want Superman and Batman fighting Metallo? You got it. You want the two of them fighting a small army of super villains? You got it. You want the two of them facing freaking CAPTAIN MARVEL AKA SHAZAM AND HAWKMAN? You got that and a climax featuring Evil President Lex in a robot suit too. This is a great treat, and whether you read the comic, or watch the animated adaption of it, it’s going to more than satisfy you.
Batman and Superman are two of the greatest heroes, archetypes for others to either follow or contrast with. And with their first big screen team-up coming, they’re just getting started. Just like we are, because it’s October and Batman Month is going strong!