This issue of the World’s Finest holds a special place in my heart. :) It gives us Clark/Bruce as canon! ;)
I enjoy the snarky commentary by Chris on his blog about this issue, and decided to add my own little story.
When I first read this comic, it was the ‘70s. I was very much a virgin in these woods (Starsky and Hutch line of dialogue; yeah, those guys didn’t bother with subtext much ;) ) about slash when I read it. Either K/S had not begun or it was in its very early stages. I don’t know the year of this comic but it sure looks like 1970s to me.
I’d always loved the Superman/Batman friendship (and the Batman/Robin friendship, too, but that’s another story, heh heh) and always picked up a copy of World’s Finest when I could. Prior to the 1970s Robin was always a part of the team, but now WF generally just featured Superman and Batman while Dick Grayson was away attending Hudson University.
So I settled down to read, eagerly anticipating another best buddy adventure, and as I turn pages, my reaction increasingly becomes, “WTF?!” A huge smile is plastered on my face as I read. This goes beyond mere friendship!
Now, I’m of the firm belief that in most instances, you can interpret a close friendship either platonically or in slash mode. Not every single close friendship between men (or women) is going to involve sex, darn it. :) But this issue? Um, as the blogger notes, this might be the gayest comic evah! ;)
It’s written like a Harlequin romance, but that’s not exactly bad when it comes to our boys. ;) All the emoting, the desire to spend the night together in the Fortress, the feeling that no one else can understand them…sigh. Lovely.
That ‘gentle’ hand Clark puts on Bruce’s shoulder…double awww. :)
An invasion approaches! As the alien worms head to Earth (and the obvious symbolism is discussed, heh heh), we have the boys fitting each other like a “hand in glove”, and the rainbow symbol as they clasp hands for a long time! Priceless! And in the 1970s, I do believe that the rainbow flag was a symbol of the fledging Gay Lib movement. So how subtle was that? :)
Now can you imagine how my innocent young mind was boggling here? :) I was already starting to eat the apple from the Tree of Knowledge and I come upon this comic!
All those years of preferring male/male friendship scenes for TV and comic friends (Jim/Spock, Jim/Artie, my fave heroes) over conventional het romance scenes was beginning to make sense to me.
And the battle in the Fortress as the aliens turn Superman’s weapons against them was cool (not shown in this blog), as is Clark’s anguish at Bruce getting hurt by a stun ray (should have scanned that!). Earlier when Clark was out fighting the aliens in space, Bruce was, as the blog notes, asking him if he’s okay like every three seconds! :)
Now, these boys are Emo Kings (I refrain from using, ahem, Queens)! I am not a worm fan so to be honest, when they croaked I wasn’t crying, but Clark and Bruce were! Such sensitive guys! :)
And the last panel tells us that while weeping they embraced each other! Ah, such sweetness! I have to wonder if today’s comics would dare this? I’m not a regular reader of current canon so perhaps the male heroes go around weeping together and embracing each other often? :)
Truly, the True Romance nature of the script calls for teasing, but for a slash fan, how awesome is this?
If I can dig this comic out of storage, it’ll be put in a place of honor. :) I can remember this story years later even before I found this page. It’s one of those comics that stick with one throughout life! ;)
Seriously, though, we as slash fans have to giggle and appreciate this canon version of our boys. A far cry from the post-Crisis reboot when Superman and Batman acted more like enemies than friends, this shows that the friendship (and more!) was strong and loving and that the dreaded Bat, for cryin’ out loud, was willing to open himself up so completely to Supes (okay, as I was typing this I realized that my double entendre skills are still alive and well).
Boy, the times they were a’changin’. A lettercol writer in a later issue pointed out the, ahem, strong emotions between the two, and he wasn’t pleased. He thought that the writers had sissified his two favorite male heroes, who would never cry or hug or do any of that stuff, unless it was with a girl and even then only hug, no crying! When I read that I laughed long and loud. :)
DC, of course, will never openly acknowledge any slash relationship, choosing to use surrogates instead (Apollo and Midnighter of the Authority ‘verse, those crazy kids!), but you have to wonder how many of the writers over the decades have either been gay themselves and enjoyed messing with straight minds by using subtext, or were straight but liked the tongue-in-cheek (once again, entrende skills firing on all cylinders!) tweaking that a rainbow atmosphere can give.
Remember, before comics became ‘graphic novels’ and people like Miller were employed to make Batman psychotic and twist his relationship with Robin into abuse and other horrors, you had comics that were written for kids, were capable of serious themes but were a lot more fun with light-hearted adventures, too, and people before Stonewall in ’69 generally didn’t think too much about gays or gay tendencies or any of that stuff. Gays were so in the closet that they didn’t exist for most people. The friendship between Superman and Batman was just good buddies stuff, but then, a story like this was published! So slowly subtext was becoming text once in awhile, and who better than two friends who had literally known each other for years and were always sharing adventures outside their own books?
It always amuses me when people who are not comics fans or who are just casual readers will take a look at a panel of ‘close friendship’ between Clark and Bruce and often say, “Boy, get a room!” ;)
Maybe TPTB had Clark marry Lois to help fend off such thoughts, but since when does a beard (hey, Lois, sorry!) make the gayness go away? ;)
As I said earlier, you can always interpret the relationship between our boys as strictly platonic. I have no problem with that. In my eyes, though, I saw these two as romantically involved for years, even before it became fashionable! When I was a little girl reading my comics out in the backyard of my home or on the porch of our summer cottage, I was always way more interested in the buddy/buddy relationships than the girl/boy, with a few notable exceptions (sorry, can’t help it, love Diana and her blond pilot, what can I say!). While I always liked Lois, suffering through some terrible characterizations of her in the Silver Age, I always thought the relationship between her and Superman was nice, but more of a temporary boyfriend/girlfriend thing instead of leading to marriage. For me, despite some Silver Age hiccups, Lois was always this snarky, kick-ass woman who was tops in a male-dominated profession, using decidedly un-feminine traits of aggressiveness and strong will to get what she wanted, while ironically Clark was the sweet, gentle one of the pair.
Come to think of it, Bruce and Dick have known Clark as long as Lois. :)
Anyway, it does my heart good to see such interesting comics such as this classic World’s Finest issue. Whenever they are in a setting beyond the two of them, usually the JLA, it’s always fun to note from previous years how Superman would always be protecting Batman and if our favorite Kryptonian was kayoed by Green K or magic or whatever, Batman would always be the one to play fierce protector.
So, let’s hear it for Rainbow Superheroes! ;)