World’s Finest 2 – Superman vs the Unknown X, Johnny Thunder joins the army, Young Doc Davis gasses them all, the King in New Orleans, Punch Parker ends, Lando at the circus, and Batman hunts for a little black book

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With issue 2 (Summer 1941), this book changed its title to World’s Finest, which sounds better than World’s Best, and also hearkens back a bit more to its roots, keeping the F from Fair.

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Siegel, Cassidy and Leo Nowak open the issue as Superman deals with the Unknown X, a mysterious gang leader.

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Sergeant Casey, a regular supporting character in the Superman series at this time, makes his first appearance in this book.  Clark Kent has become suspicious of Arthur Jameson, the head of a citizen’s committee, and asks Casey his opinion of the man.  Casey has faith in Jameson, but Clark still has doubts, which he shares with Lois Lane.

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And, indeed, Jameson is the Unknown X.  Like we ever thought Superman could be wrong about this.  There is an early use of X-ray vision in this story.  It took a remarkably long time to figure out how to effectively show this, and in this tale it takes three panels.  First the beams coming from Superman’s eyes, then an explanatory panel, and finally the view he sees by using it.

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Johnny Thunder joins the army in this story, by Wentworth and Aschmeier.  No major explanation is given for this, and the story pre-dates Pearl Harbour, so it really is just another job that he tries, and fails at.

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Johnny unwittingly helps some saboteurs destroy military equipment, but his Thunderbolt acts with a bit more intelligence than Johnny, and takes them down.  Still, the havoc he (and the Thunderbolt) create is enough that Johnny gets kicked out of the forces at the end of the tale.

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By the second Young Doc Davis story it is clear that he is more of what we would now call a paramedic, as he travels with an ambulance.  In this story, the emergency immerses him in a gangland slaying, and the story gets increasingly vicious, with policemen being murdered.

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Davis triumphs over the mobsters by using chloroform to gas the room they are in.  Impressive, but possibly unethical from a medical standpoint.

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Fox and Lampert give the King one of his better tales, and fill in some of the background of the Witch as well.  The King follows the Witch to the French Quarter of New Orleans, which looks very atmospheric, if kind of slummy.

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The King comes across a murdered painter.  He disguises himself as the man, and then discovers that this is the Witch’s father, or so she believes.  Although he was the man that raised her, her true father is a gangster, who gave her up so that she would not grow up with the shame of a killer father.

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She learns the truth during the course of the story, and though she tries to stay with him, her father proves his devotion once again.  He knocks her out and turns her over to the King, who gets her to safety before the police burst in and kill him.

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Punch Parker’s second, and last, case is far more exotic than the first, dealing with murderous plants.  It starts as a relatively simple investigation into a poisoning, but winds up pitting the hero against semi-sentient flora.

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The killer, who has wound up working for a foreign government because of his gambling debts, winds up perishing at the hands of his own hybrid plants.  Parker burns down the greenhouse a the end of the story.

As this was his final tale, I suspect that, although he seems fine, he was also poisoned by the plants, and died shortly afterwards.

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Lando, Man of Magic, heads to the circus in this tale, by Howard Purcell.

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Someone is out to sabotage the circus, and the owner writes to Lando for help.  He stops a gymnast from falling to his death, puts out a tent fire, and tames a rampaging elephant before finding the man behind this, who hoped to bankrupt and buy the circus.

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Finger and Kane close out the issue with a Batman and Robin tale about a gang war in Gotham City.  A new district attorney has evidence against both mobs in his little black book.  He gets murdered, as most Gotham D.A.s do, and the book goes missing.

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Linda Page makes an appearance in this tale, as Batman hunts for the missing book.  Interestingly, in this tale, as in the Superman one that opened the story, the head of one of the gangs is also the leader of the citizen’s committee.  I guess one should never trust those guys.

 

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