World’s Finest 42 – the Wyoming Kid begins, Zatara goes west, and Batman meets Marco Polo

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From the prominence given the Wyoming Kid, as his series joins World’s Finest with issue 42 (Sept/Oct 49), you would think this guy would remain a well-known character, rather than footnote in the DC Universe.

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Ryerson Johnson and Howard Sherman bring the hero of Western Comics into this book with an important story for the Wyoming Kid.

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The Wyoming Kid wanders into a town where Hoke Claggert just happens to live.  This is the man who killed the Wyoming Kid’s father, and the Kid has been hunting him ever since.  Knowing that the hero is arriving, Claggert attempts to provoke a fight, in which he can kill the boy in “self-defense,” but all he succeeds in doing is letting the boy know that he is in town.

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The man is so consumed by fear and guilt that the Wyoming Kid actually has a pretty easy time getting his vengeance.  Although he does not get to personally kill Claggert, who jumps off a cliff in an attempt to get away.

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Kashdan and Kubert send Zatara out to perform at Gophertown, which is as small and remote as it sounds.  There he comes across a thieving cowboy bully.

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Zatara uses his magic to humiliate the man, and capture him, which the sheriff is too intimidated to do.  Nice art by Kubert makes the tale worth reading.

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Professor Carter Nichols was a frequent supporting character in Batman’s various series, and makes his first appearance in this book in this story, by Bill Finger and Jim Mooney.

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After coming across some ancient Chinese fireworks that explode into what appears to be a Batman face, Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson visit Nichols, to be sent back into the past.  As has become common in stories with the professor, Nichols role is reduced to a cameo in one panel, hypnotizing them to send them through time.

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Batman and Robin wind up in China, at the time that Marco Polo is working as a governor there.  A rival is trying to frame Polo, in order to extend his own power, and become a rival to Kublai Khan.

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It’s a decent adventure. Not great, but not awful.  It does make a peculiar effort to connect Marco Polo’s name with the sport of polo.  As always happens in these stories, it is Batman’s presence and actions that spur the ancient Chinese to create the fireworks that made him travel back in time in the first place.

 

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