C2C DARK KNIGHT: WORLD'S FINEST!
Granted, the likes of The Phantom and The Sandman are sandwiched before and between, but by many accounts, Superman and Batman are the first of their kind: the pioneers of the superhero archetype!
Throughout the post-Comics Code fifties they teamed to put to bed various threats of alien, magical, and historical origins, dubbed the World's Finest! Their relationship as heroes, however, would get a an infamous shake-up come the grim and gritty decade of the eighties, which saw the wholesome omnipotence of American icons grow increasingly unpopular.
Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns set the stage for a dystopian conclusion to the Silver Age of comics, and painted Superman as an impotent puppet to a Reagan establishment that had turned the superheroes into scapegoats and driven them to extinction.
It is ultimately Superman who provides the crescendo to this tale of Batman's uprising against their ideaologically corrupt overlords.
So impressive was this tale that it inadvertently canonized a relationship of begrudging respect between the World's Finest icons. No longer brothers in arms; Batman became the paranoid, harsh realist to Superman's optemist. The modern age has gradually seen their differences patched-up, but regardless of the manipulations behind their confrontations, Superman versus Batman has become one of the most popular rivalries in comics!
Here, we present but a few of these epic battles:
Dark Knight Returns #4 (June 1986)
"The Dark Knight Falls" Miller
The new history begins here!
Frank Miller's politically-charged satire turns a mirror to American society in the eighties, indulging in the romanticism of the superhero concept as a dreamscape for action!
With the superhero all but extinct, Batman creates a cultural revolution, returning to challenge the establishment, and inspire a people whose reality has become complacent. With arch-rivalries new and old settled, the dark knight must come face-to-face with the final villain in his one-man war against opression and singularity!
Representing the men who drove his kind away, and forced him into anynomity; Superman confronts the Batman. This is the story that set the tone for all to follow, and established a new Batman mythos!
Dark Knight Strikes Again #1 (November 2001)
"Book One" Miller
After his confrontation with Superman; Batman disappears from the world at large, presmued dead. Superman, however, knows better, and when an army of teenaged militia begin attacking government establishments, the man of steel knows who to hold responsible!
The Dark Knight strikes again to reunite the forces of the Justice League in a strategic battle with a government that has finally ruptured under the pressures of evil. Joined by Green Arrow, the Flash, and a rescued Atom; Batman leads his army against the invulnerable charge of Superman, but there's a bigger shock in store!
In the Dark Knight's absence, governments have changed, and finally the boyscout has been spurred to action, but in order to become a force for good, Superman will need to endure the Batman's battery!
Batman #611 (March 2003)
"The City" Loeb/Lee
Nearly twenty-years after DKR set the tone; Jeph Loeb returns to Batman with superstar artist Jim Lee en tow and a story that takes Batman on a tour of his greatest nemesis -- Superman included!
The rivalry is renewed in the central universe as Batman and Catwoman follow clues of a conspiracy to Metropolis, where Poison Ivy is counting the fortunes of an ill-gotten bounty!
What begins as a grudge match between Ivy and Catwoman quickly escalates into the thing Bruce Wayne has feared the most -- a renegade Superman! Controlled by Ivy's bewitching toxins, Superman literally brings down buildings to cut a path to the Batman, forcing them into a stand-off that needs an whole other episode to contain it!
Batman #612 (April 2003)
"The Battle" Loeb/Lee
Jim Lee's triumphant return to pencilling a monthly comic reaches a climax as he delivers the much publicized battle everyone was waiting to see! The Dark Knight rematch: Superman versus Batman!
Beneath the lights of the city of tomorrow, Metropolis, Batman faces his worst nightmare in a battle against an out-of-control Superman! The fight forces him to draw upon all his weapons as he attempts to fend off the invulnerability of Superman with guile, plastique explosives, and a kryptonite ring that once belonged to Lex Luthor!
It's a fight that will shake Metropolis to it's very core as the Justice League's top two heroes head underground for a superhero slugfest!
PLUS -- Lois Lane plummets to her doom! Yay!
Superman/Batman #23 (November 2005)
"Smoke and Mirrors" Loeb/McGuinness
Finally; Ed McGuinness joins Loeb as Batman falls, this time, to the influences of another! A mysterious entity dubbed the Kryptonite Man has taken possession of the Dark Knight, and in doing so, enfused his body with the radioactive properties of the alien mineral!
While the Maximums seek penalty of death for the World's Finest's alleged involvement in the death of their partner; Superman finds himself on the ropes in a bloody battle with the Batman!
Things are not as they seem as the pair of heroes are unwittingly manipulated by forces other than the Kryptonite Man, and against all odds, temporary salvation comes from the unlikliest of places: a member of the Maximums!