History of the Batman #5: World’s Finest Begins – 1941, Pt. 1

The golden age adventures of Batman and Robin continued in the pages of Detective Comics and Batman. Whether fighting minions in a fairytale land or conserving a mystical ring owned by Ghengis Khan, this team was as popular as ever. So much so, they joined National Comics other superstar, the Man of Steel, in an all new publication initially titled ‘World’s Best’. Early 1941 not only brought Batman and Superman together for the first time on a cover, but also introduced the term ‘Batmobile’ and the second major love interest in Bruce Wayne’s life, Linda Page.

Detective Comics (Vol 1) #47, January 1941

Created by:

Bill Finger – writer

Bob Kane – cover, pencils

Jerry Robinson – cover, inks

George Roussos – cover, inks, letters

Money Can’t Buy Happiness

Story: Batman teaches that money can’t solve problems to the troubled family of Harvey Midas, his son Roger who had a hit and run accident and his daughter Diane who is being forced into a marriage while she is in love with another man. In the end Roger pays the price for the boy injured in the accident and Diane marries for love.

Detective Comics (Vol 1) 48, February 1941 *Part of Chronology

Created by:
Bill Finger – writer
Bob Kane – cover, pencils, inks
Jerry Robinson – cover, inks
George Roussos – cover, inks, letters

The Secret Cavern

Story: When a man named Lewis discovers a secret gold depository underground, a group of criminals wanting these riches frame Lewis’ daughter Linda for murder unless he tells them the location. To save his daughter’s life he reveals the information. The Batman becomes involved while investigating the murder, realizing Linda is not the killer. The Caped Crusader and Lewis take down the crooks together and preserve the depository from being robbed.

Bat Facts: The term ‘Batmobile’ is used for the first time in this story, coined by Bill Finger. The car is based off of a 1936 Cord 812, a red convertible.

Detective Comics (Vol 1) 49, March 1941

Created by:
Bill Finger – writer
Bob Kane – cover, pencils, inks
Jerry Robinson – cover, inks
George Roussos – inks, letters

Clayface Walks Again

Story: After escaping prison, ex-actor Clayface returns to the theatre to cause deadly havoc. Discovering this news, Batman goes to the movie set of the film “Argus”, which stars his fiancée Julie Madison, now dubbed ‘Portia Storme’. Trying to get his revenge on Madison, Clayface nearly kills her and everyone around him, including Robin the Boy Wonder, by burning down a large piece of the set. In order to have Clayface emerge from the shadows, Batman has Julie Madison don the Robin costume. This plan is successful and Clayface returns to jail.

Bat Facts: This is the last Golden Age appearance of Julie Madison, for she calls off her engagement to Bruce Wayne in this story, due to the fact that she wants someone who does more than be a playboy millionaire. Ironically she desires a companion like the Batman, a theme that is reoccurring throughout the Caped Crusader’s romantic history.

Batman gets dumped
It’s over, Bruce

World’s Best (Vol 1) 1, March 1941

Cover art by:
Fred Ray

Worlds Best Comics 1The Witch of the Manuscript of Doom

Created by:
Bill Finger – writer
Bob Kane – pencils, inks

Story: The Dynamic Duo of Batman and Robin have to solve the real mystery of the death of Erik Dome, whose mystery manuscript by a person disguised as a witch. After falling into a trap and escaping in heroic fashion, they discover it is Dome’s publisher, Mr. Wright, was the witch that took the script.

Bat Facts: World’s Best brought the most popular super hero teams from National Publications (DC Comics) together in one book, Superman and Batman and Robin. However, Superman had his own story  (Jerry Siegel’s ‘Superman Vs. the Rainmaker) with the Dynamic Duo fighting off witches. Due to legal reasons with Best Publications at the time, issue 2 would become ‘World’s Finest’, which would last into the modern comic book era.

Batman (Vol 1) 5, March 1941

Cover by:

Bob Kane

Jerry Robinson

The Riddle of the Missing Card

Created by:

Bill Finger – writer

Bob Kane – pencils

Jerry Robinson – inks

George Roussos – inks

Story: Batman and Robin have to stop The Joker who now has a new gang of smugglers on a gambling ship.

Bat Facts: Jerry Robinson has presented the new Batmobile in this tale. Based off the main 1936 convertible, a miniature bat hood ornament and a bat-shaped battering ram is added to the car, which is now blue and black instead of a speedster red.

The first Batmobile!
Now here’s a Batmobile! Created by Jerry Robinson

Book of Enchantment

Created by:

Bill Finger – writer

Bob Kane – cover, pencils

Jerry Robinson – cover, inks

George Roussos – inks

Story: Inventor Professor Anderson sends the Dynamic Duo to an alternate universe called Fairyland, where they come across storybook characters. While there, they save a girl who has been captured by the Black Witch and defeat her before returning to the real world.

The Case of the Honest Crook

Created by:

Bill Finger – writer

Bob Kane – pencils

Jerry Robinson – inks

George Roussos – inks

Story: Batman goes up against the deadly gang of Smiley Sikes when they capture Robin. The Dark Knight stops the violent mob yet he is shot three times, having to be saved by a doctor.

Crime Does Not Pay

Created by:

Bill Finger – writer

Bob Kane – pencils

Jerry Robinson – inks

George Roussos – inks

Story: Two bank robbers, Mike and Tommy Grogan, are on Batman and Robin’s radar when during a robbery Tommy is shot and they kidnap a nurse by the name of Linda Page to help. In the end, Batman saves Linda and the duo brings the criminals to justice.

Bat Facts: This story marks the first appearance of the character Linda Page, who appears next in World’s Finest (Vol 1) 2. Page becomes Bruce Wayne’s golden age socialite romantic interest.

Bruce Waynes ladies
When Linda Page and Bruce Wayne meet for the first time

Detective Comics (Vol 1) 50, April 1941 *Part of Chronology

Created by:

Bill Finger – writer

Bob Kane – cover, pencils

Jerry Robinson – cover, inks

George Roussos – inks, letters

The Case of the Three Devils

Story: The Caped Crusader and the Boy Wonder have to stop three acrobatic thieves dressed as devils from stealing priceless items.

Detective Comics (Vol 1) 51, May 1941 *Part of Chronology

Created by:

Bill Finger – writer

Bob Kane – cover, pencils

Jerry Robinson – cover, inks

George Roussos – inks, letters

The Case of the Mystery Carnival

Story: While Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson expect fun times at a carnival, they have to guise as Batman and Robin when they discover the carnival has been taken over by a criminal gang out to steal attendee’s money.

Detective Comics (Vol 1) 52, June 1941 *Part of Chronology

Created by:

Bill Finger – writer

Bob Kane – cover, pencils

Jerry Robinson – cover, inks

George Roussos – inks, letters

The Secret of the Jade Box

Story: After an art collector by the name of Porter is killed for his jade box, Batman begins investigating and discovers the mystical contents of the box were once owned by Ghengis Khan, giving Loo Chung control over Chinatown’s criminal underground.

worlds-finest-batman-robin-superman-5World’s Finest Comics (Vol 1) 2, June 1941

Cover by:

Fred Ray

The Man Who Couldn’t Remember

Created by:

Bill Finger – writer

Bob Kane – pencils, inks

Story: When the new district attorney, William Kendrick, is murdered in his home and a whole new gang war erupts in Gotham City, Batman leads an investigation tracking down Kendrick’s killer and finding inner corruption within the citizen’s community group.

Next week we will cover the rest of the Caped Crusader’s tales in the year 1941, continually building this hero’s incredible mythology!

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