World’s Finest 3 – Johnny Thunder ends, Young Doc Davis in the operating room, Sandman begins, Lando grows some facial hair, and the Scarecrow debuts

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Superman, Batman and Robin play baseball on the cover of World’s Finest 3 (Fall 1941).  Most of the covers will feature activities like this, building the notion of the friendship between Superman and Batman, even though the book contains no stories in which they meet, for many years.

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Wentworth and Aschemeier conclude Johnny Thunder’s run in this book with a story in which Johnny proposes to Daisy, but she defers marriage until he gets a good job, and suggests he attend night school to improve his education.

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Despite the great dragon in the splash, the story never gets around to including one, as Johnny winds up playing football against a rival school, and winning, thanks to the Thunderbolt.

Johnny Thunder’s series ends in this book, but he continues to appear in Flash Comics.

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Young Doc Davis enters the operating room in this story, by Henry Boltinoff.  Hoods enter the room as well, kidnapping the patient in the middle of the surgery.  Although presumably they wait until he gets sewn up.

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The ransom note appears to have been written by an illiterate, but Davis smells iodoform on the note.  This makes him suspect a doctor is behind the kidnapping.  When he approaches the surgeon to share his views, he gets rudely dismissed.  Sure enough, Davis is on the right track, and solves the kidnapping.  The motive, beyond greed, remains opaque.

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Sandman begins, in a story by Craig Flessel and Grothkopf, that takes Wesley Dodds and Dian Belmont to the opera.  The singer gets booed and humiliated by the audience, even though she is not a bad performer.  Wes is very suspicious, and gets into his Sandman gear to investigate.

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It turns out to be a nasty version of a protection scam, with artists threatened with a disruptive audience unless they pay off the gang.

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Lando, Man of Magic now has a moustache and goatee, adding an air of maturity to the character, and making him distinct from DC’s other stage magician/hero.  Howard Purcell remains the artist.

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The story has Lando in Panama, where he has to deal with the Hood, another magic user who takes control of the natives and makes them revolt against the plantation owners.  There are some good magic scenes, even if the story is a little uncomfortable, considering the horrible way native workers were treated on the plantations.

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Finger and Kane are joined by Jerry Robinson as they introduce the Scarecrow, the only major Batman villain to debut in this book.

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Jonathan Crane is an odd and reclusive professor, who thinks nothing of firing a gun in his class to illustrate the effects of fear.  Curiously, that has nothing to do with the reason the other academics shun him.  They think he spends too much money on books, and not enough on clothing. This must be a very fashion-conscious university.

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To get more money to feed his love of literature, Crane adopts the identity of the Scarecrow, and hires himself out as a hitman.

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The rest of the story has Batman and Robin pursue and capture the Scarecrow.  There is no fear gas, or any of the other attributes that would later accrue to the character.  Really, the best thing in the story are the first few pages, with him scaring the students.

The Scarecrow would make only one more appearance in the 1940s, a couple of years down the road in the pages of Detective Comics.

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