Feb 4, 2019
World’s Finest Comics #155 “Exit Batman-- Enter Nightman!” (part 1 of 2)
It’s time once again for the Agony Booth series that’s electrifying the nation: Bizarre Silver Age Comics! I realize it’s been a while since the last installment. After writing about stories from Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen, Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane, and Action Comics Starring Superman, I was starting to get the notion that maybe this series was a little too Superman-heavy.
So I set about searching for a worthy Batman story to add to the canon, which is easier said than done. Don’t get me wrong, the Silver Age saw plenty of bizarre Batman stories, one of which was detailed on this very site, but none of them feature Batman being, well… a colossal dick. Certainly never to the degree that Superman is a colossal dick in the three stories I’ve covered so far.
I even came across a story where Batman puts his services out for hire, just like Superman in Action Comics #176, but I can assure you at no point does Batman make a guy sign a contract before saving his life. Why the DC writers of the period created a ludicrously assholish persona for Superman, while leaving Batman a near-total blank slate is one of the world’s great mysteries.
But after a lengthy search, I finally found a Batman story I could sink my teeth into, and, well… it also stars Superman, acting like a colossal dick. When it comes to Silver Age DC Comics, there’s really no escaping Superman being an asshole.
And as everybody knows, for every asshole guy in the world, there’s a woman with no self esteem who thinks she can’t live without him. And in World’s Finest Comics #155, dated February of 1966, we learn that Batman is in fact that woman with no self esteem who simply can’t live without Superman.
World’s Finest Comics originally started out as a series featuring separate Batman and Superman stories, until someone realized they were two great tastes that taste great together, and soon World’s Finest was all about Batman and Superman teaming up every month to fight crime. It certainly seems like a can’t-miss proposition, but the novelty must have worn off rather quickly, because just a few years later, things started to get a little weird. Case in point: “Exit Batman– Enter Nightman!”
This cover is really a thing of insane beauty, so let’s examine the different crazy aspects in finer detail.
Here we find Superman watching one of his closest friends getting his ass kicked, and the thing weighing most heavily on his mind is replacing the insignia on some random plaque. The guy has some screwed up priorities, to say the least. And what’s with the plaque? Why do Batman and Superman need a plaque? Unless you’re a member of the Rotary Club or the Wendy’s employee of the month, you really don’t need a plaque.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the cover…
That’s right, a mysterious crime fighter named “Nightman” has just acquired Robin by beating up Batman. It really is that simple to take ownership of Robin. I’ve heard rumors that Batman once lost Robin in a bar bet, but was able to win him back before the story leaked.
Even by the bonkers rules of Silver Age superheroes, how does this make any sense? Beat up a superhero, get his sidekick? What the hell? Do superheroes usually operate according to the rules and customs of prison inmates? If so, Robin has just become Nightman’s bitch.
Also, “That’s the way the Batman crumbles”? I’m actually kind of hoping this is Nightman’s stupid catchphrase that he utters at every possible opportunity. Like maybe he’ll catch some bank thieves in the act and go, “That’s the way the heist crumbles!” That would really endear him to me. Which is not to say that a moronic name like “Nightman” isn’t enough to win my heart.
And lastly, I’ve never read Watchmen or seen the movie, but thanks to the onslaught of publicity surrounding the film, even I know that Nightman bears a strong resemblance to Nite-Owl. So, to all you Watchmen fans, insert your own snarky, uber-geeky comment here comparing Nightman to Nite-Owl, and laugh yourselves silly. You’re welcome.