Superman and Batman have fought a lot of forgettable villains, but Anti-Superman and Anti-Batman have to be the most baffling. When the World’s Finest uncovers the identities of their opposite numbers, the two DC Comics heroes are in for quite the surprise.
Anti-Superman and Anti-Batman made their debut in World’s Finest Comics #159, in a story entitled “The Cape and Cowl Crooks!” written by pioneer science-fiction writer, Edmond Hamilton, in what would be his last story for DC Comics. The story follows Perry White’s journalistic investigation into the careers of Superman and Batman, with help from Commissioner Gordon. White and Gordon wander into the weapon’s room at the Fortress of Solitude and accidentally overturn a bottle of colored gas that turns them evil. They end up tangling with Supes and Bats, but only after using a secret serum that de-ages them and imbuing Perry with super-powers via a special machine.
Alliteration abounds as the front cover proclaims that these “cape and cowl crooks” are “mightier than the Man of Steel and more than a match for the Masked Manhunter.” The diabolical duo makes their debut outside prison cells containing Joker, Penguin, Toyman, and Prankster, making a “Bat-mail Delivery.” Meanwhile, at the Fortress of Solitude, Superman informs Perry that he and Batman must head to the bottle city of Kandor, giving them the run of his secret Arctic retreat. Afterward, Batman follows suit by blindfolding the cop and the reporter before whisking them away to the Bat Cave.
Back in Metropolis, mild-mannered reporter, Clark Kent, gets the scoop on two costumed troublemakers. The Man of Steel searches with his telescopic vision, only to spot Anti-Superman lifting a glowing Batmobile, also known as the Anti-Mobile, in the air with one hand. The combatants immediately engage in battle, with Anti-Superman ripping the dome off a museum and hurling it at Superman like a frisbee. At the same time, Batman and Robin are in pursuit of Anti-Batman, as he navigates the twists and turns of the private freeway leading to their top-secret lair. After receiving an emergency call on the Bat-Phone, the Dynamic Duo manages to team up with the Last Son of Krypton and subdue the pair of tricksters.
If the time period wasn’t established by the plot and characterization alone, a big clue had to be the appearance of one Captain O’Hara, the flatfoot with the Irish lilt from the 1966 Batman TV series. Editors advise readers to put on their thinking caps in order to figure out the origins of these “Cape and Cowl Crooks.” Despite its predictable campiness, this installment of World’s Finest is loaded with charm.
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