World’s Finest 227 (Jan/Feb 75) was also in my possession from a young age, but it was a coverless version, and I have no idea where I ever got it. Probably from a doctor’s office or a barbershop. It took me a long time to realize I did own this book, as I did not recognize the stories from the images on the cover. It reprints the Cape and Cowl Bandits, but the image makes it look like the Joker, Penguin, Toyman and Prankster are significant characters in the story. And while Deadman does appear with Superman and Batman, and Superman does destroy a Statue of Liberty, that is in no way the focus of the story.
Superman smashes the fake statue to open the tale, by Haney, Dillin and Blaisdel, which deals with stopping gold smuggling into the US.
As Superman deals with that storyline, Batman is on the trail of his brain-damaged brother, whose body is being possessed by Deadman, following up a story from a few months earlier. He finds Deadman working as Daredevil Devlin, an aerialist who uses a balloon for this performances. There is a rival one, Marko, who descends apparently from nowhere, his ship can go so high.
Superman discovers that Marko is using his ship for the gold smuggling, while Batman tries to convince Deadman to give up Thomas Wayne’s body. The two plots come together far up in the air, and the action works very well.
Deadman does leave Thomas Wayne’s body, and Wayne dives in front of Batman, taking a bullet for his brother. Thomas dies in Batman’s arms.
This feels like a Deadman story, which is a good thing. Although the bad guy gets caught, there is no victory over Thomas Wayne’s corpse, and Deadman is left all alone.
Ignored for years, the character of Thomas Wayne, as well as Willowwood sanitarium, are brought back into the Batman series by Grant Morrison.