ONLY THE FINEST
By Ed Sanchez
In 1941, the United States was still more than a year away from entering World War II, but the rest of the world was already in the grips of the conflict. It was evident that even in this country, the need for heroes was great. So it was that National Periodical Publications (DC Comics) introduced World's Best Comics, a 100 page giant featuring a dizzying array of characters including Batman, Superman, the Crimson Avenger, Johnny Thunder, Young Dr. Davis and Zatara (among others).
With the second issue (published that summer), the title became World's Finest Comics and featured covers and stories with Superman, Batman and Robin. The title became popular because it was the only place where comic readers could find stories with Batman and Superman in the same book, and because it was much more than just a showcase for those two characters. Countless new heroes were given stories in the title, and many went on to become fan favorites.
From issues #1 - #9, the title was 100 pages and added stories with characters such as The Sandman, Johnny Thunder and Hop Harrigan. The 3rd issue featured the origin and first appearance of one of the more popular fiends in Batman's pantheon of villains, The Scarecrow. Issue #6 featured the start of Star Spangled Kid strips, an Aquaman appearance and a Sandman story by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. Green Arrow stories began to appear with the 7th issue, and Boy Commandos joined the title in #8. Of special note is the fact that the first 17 issues had cardboard stock covers, which generally hold together much nicer than the regular stock paper covers, thus making it possible to obtain some really nice copies of these over 50 year old classic comics.
With the 21st issue (1942), the title went bimonthly but still featured a great line-up of characters (including regulars Batman and Superman). The 71st issue was a landmark, featuring the beginning of stories that would team Batman and Superman; a theme that would carry the title for much of its existence (this issue contains the story where Batman and Superman first exchange secret identities). Over the next few years, more landmark events unfolded within the pages of the title. The 84th issue was the 1st Silver Age issue, the 88th issue featured the 1st teaming of The Joker and Lex Luthor, and the 90th issue included the 1st appearance in the title by Batwoman.
World's Finest Comics went on to run 323 issues over the course of 45 years, and was one of the few titles on which readers could count to deliver unique teamings of super-heroes and villains. Although 1986 saw the last issue of World's Finest Comics, the tradition of stories featuring Batman and Superman remains close to the hearts of their fans. There is no doubt the world never had finer than Batman and Superman.
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