How An Ill-Fated Cruise Led To The First Batman And Superman Team-Up
As we all know, the Dark Knight and Man of Steel are set to meet onscreen in Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
But exactly when did the superheroes first stumble upon each other?
Well, in terms of sharing a story, their initial meeting occurred aboard a swanky cruise liner. And thanks to a heaving throng of vacationers, Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent were left with no choice but to share a perilously cozy cabin.
Kinda like Steve Martin and John Candy splitting a motel room in Trains, Planes and Automobiles. But with Superman and Batman. On a boat. Nestled inside a tiny room.
“Those aren’t pillows…!”
Technically speaking, the characters' first combined appearance was on the cover of World’s Best Comics #1, released in February of 1941. But as readers would learn, DC Comics had pulled something of a fast one—the heroes starred in separate stories.
Superman and Batman appeared inside a comic together for the first time in All-Star Comics #7, published later that same year. But even then, it was a fleeting one-panel cameo at the back end of the book.
Back to the first “real” meeting between the Man of Steel and Dark Knight. It arrived inside the pages of Superman #76 (June, 1952), and bloody hell, it is brilliant.
Following capture of Gell, the last remaining villain on Gotham’s Most Wanted list, Batman and Robin are faced with a distinct lack of crime. Bruce Wayne has a plan for this bad guy-bereft intermission: A snazzy cruise! By stunning coincidence, Clark Kent is all set to board the very same ocean liner, seen off at the harbor by ladyfriend Lois Lane.
It's not long before trouble starts to bubble—the ship is jam-packed full of seafarers, forcing the heroes to share a teeny-weeny cabin. Both of whom are deeply concerned about revealing their secret identities…
Meanwhile, out on the docks, a diamond-looting bandit shrouds his escape by setting a fuel truck ablaze. Spotting the fiery kerfuffle, Bruce Wayne dims the lights to change into his crime-fighting alias. Unsurprisingly, Clark Kent has the very same idea, and thanks to rising flames outside, a flicker of light unveils their alter-egos. Ulp!
But these startling revelations are placed on hold—Lois Lane is trapped within the fire’s sweltering embrace. Quoteth the heroes:
“No time to talk this over now, Superman! The fire out there will blow up that tank-truck!”
“Right… We’ll talk about this later!”
Nimble detective work uncovers the jewel thief’s dastardly plan: Flee the crime scene aboard the cruise liner while donning the guise of a vacationer. But after obtaining permission to operate the vessel, Superman and Batman find their mission complicated by none other than Lois Lane! Freshly saved from the inferno, she’s decided to take her vacation in order to report any and all shipping shenanigans for the Daily Planet. And that means Superman must find a way to explain Clark’s absence!
The heroes hatch a plan: Change back to civilian clothes in their cushy cabin, where Clark will pretend to be horribly seasick. Catching sight of the landlubber’s failure to endure the high seas, Lois storms off in disgust. But this decoy won’t keep the reporter at bay for long...
Superman’s idea to pretend he’s jealous of the attention Lois directs at Batman backfires—after (again) reverting to their civilian identities, Clark’s miraculous recovery from seasickness leads Lois to suspect that the duo are actually the world-famous superheroes! Luckily, they manage to throw her off the scent and capture the diamond-looting scoundrel. Oh, and then Lois accepts a date request from Robin.
Clark Kent isn't too impressed. Neither is Bruce Wayne, for that matter.
Superman #76: My new favorite comic book of all time...