Thursday, February 19, 2009

"Batman - The Superman of Planet X!"

Issue: Batman #113

Cover Date: February 1958

Writer: France Herron

Penciller: Dick Sprang

Inker: Charles Paris

Cover Artist: Sheldon Moldoff

Synopsis: One evening, Bruce Wayne finds himself compelled to don his Batman costume. Puzzled as to why he is going on patrol without Robin, he flies off in the Bat-Plane unsure of where he's going. Suddenly, Batman's head begins to spin, and a moment later, he finds himself no longer in the Bat-Plane. A voice welcomes Batman and reveals to him that he is on the planet Zur-En-Arrh. Batman gains his bearings and comes face to face with another Batman clad in red, yellow, and purple. The Batman of Zur-En-Arrh informs Batman that his planet needs Batman's help and relates how he was inspired to become a costumed hero for his world after observing Batman's heroism with a powerful

After a tour of the Batcave of Zur-En-Arrh, the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh shows Batman the Bat-Radia, which "issues electronic molecules that cause controlled disturbances in the atmosphere." With introductions out of the way, the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh tells of invaders approaching Zur-En-Arrh, prompting Batman to ask how he can help when even the technology of Zur-En-Arrh is not enough. The Batman of Zur-En-Arrh then fires a ray gun at Batman, and to the Caped Crusader's surprise, the bullets bounce off of him. The Batman of Zur-En-Arrh tells him that because of Earth's elements, Batman gains super powers on the planet. Batman finds that he can bend metal and fly, remarking that he has become just like Superman on Earth.

Batman finds out about his super-powers not a moment too soon, as the alien invasion of Zur-En-Arrh begins. The invaders fire nuclear orbs from cannons at the planet, but Batman hits them away with the wreckage of one of the cannons. Batman then flys at the invaders to attack them head on, but is surprised when they suddenly turn invisible. They reappear, but only long enough to reveal an army giant robots. The pair of Batmen seem outmatched until the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh acts on a hunch that the Bat-Radia would disrupt the electrical force that caused the invaders' invisibility. The hunch pays off, and the invaders flee from the planet after Batman lassoes the robots with a Super-Batman made length of wire. The Batman of Zur-En-Arrh thanks Batman for his help and offers him the Bat-Radia to place in his trophy room. Batman then finds himself back in the Bat-Plane and wonders if his adventure on Zur-En-Arrh actually happened. The answer? Well...I'll let Batman tell you:

Thoughts: This is one of my favorite fifties Batman stories, even before the recent "R.I.P." arc in Batman. Right off the bat (no pun intended), you have great art by Dick Sprang. You gotta dig the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh's costume and the amount of detail put into the Bat-Radia when it first appears. I've mentioned a number of times on here already how much I like Sprang's art, but I don't think you can praise his work enough. He's as definitive a Batman artist as Neal Adams in my mind.

Dick Sprang's great art is also accompanied by a great story. You've got aliens, robots, and a Super-Batman; what more could you ask for in a Silver Age story? I always get a kick out of seeing Batman team up with whatever alternate Batmen the writers of the fifties could come up with and the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh is one of the best. There's no question that Batman's one of the greatest super heroes when aliens are inspired by him to don a suit of their own. Batman gained a number of powers during the late fifties and early sixties, and I'm sure he gained Superman's a couple of times. But playing golf with nuclear orbs? That had to have been a first.

This story has been reprinted twice in the past and is set to be reprinted a third time in the upcoming Batman: The Black Casebook trade paperback. Whether you're a fifties Batman fan or interested in reading the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh's first appearance after reading "Batman R.I.P.", "Batman - The Superman of Planet X!" is a must read.

This story has been reprinted in Batman Annual #2 and the Batman In The Fifties TPB.


Pat said...

Awesome giant Sprang robots in that issue; IIRC he used that design a couple of times in the Silver Age.

Anonymous said...

I am a Psychic for so many years and during one of my meditation, I was given insight by my inner consciousnes that my soul came from the planet ZUR that's why I researched on this in the computer.Well if it is so I am lucky to be one of those advanced being.The author of BATMAN was also, I believed an advanced being from another planet.

Anonymous said...

Hi, my fellow friend Anonymous.

Welcome to the world of Chaos Magick. I went into Batman looking for myself (AND OH, THE THINGS I FOUND!).

Have some Grant Morrison in your Batman.