Monday, September 29, 2008

Pulped Fiction: The Drunken Abusive Superman!

Recent mass pulpings of DC comic books have been in the news of late, for both booze and bad swears but the pulping practice at DC actually stretches back to 1955!* World's Finest editor Mort Weisinger had to recall 800,000 copies of World's Finest #74 when he discovered writer Bill Finger's "The Battered Batman", a jarring tale of alcoholism, rage, and abuse. In the story, a grateful race of aliens sends Superman a case of cheap Space Wine as a gift, but the rocket bearing the booze bounty passes through a cloud of red Kryptonite dust, and when Superman tries the Ripple, the Red K tainted hooch immediately turns him into a surly abusive drunk. Batman tries to intervene, But Superman smacks him around and berates him until he collapses sobbing. The next day finds Batman wearing sunglasses much to the surprise of the public. Batman will only admit to walking into a door frame 17 times, but Robin becomes concerned and fearful for his mentor. The story is resolved when, as Superman is kicking and insulting Batman, Perry White appears from nowhere and attacks the Man of Steel, pushing him through the wall! The Daily Planet editor subdues the drunken superhero, finally administering a dose of curative Kryptonian detox serum that returns Superman to normal. It is then revealed that "Perry White" is in fact Ar-Rone, the Kandorian Perry White lookalike, who saw the situation from Kandor and enlarged himself to rush to Batman's aid. Then Bat-Mite and Bizarro Krypto arrive in the Legion of Super-heroes' time bubble to fly Batman to the ER.

Of course, none of this was remotely appropriate for DC's young audience, nor would it pass the Comics Code. In a Comics Journal interview years later, Bill Finger would only cite "exhaustion, dehydration, and extreme stress" as a reason for the gaffe.* Upon seeing the printed copies of World's Finest #74, Weisinger hit the roof, ordering the entire run pulped, and retreated to his office to bolt down a bottle of scotch*. He then called in errant Finger for an impromptu weekend rewrite, and badgered artist Curt Swan into redrawing the story, lashing the two with a yardstick for the duration.* The two reworked the story into the more prosaic "Contest of Heroes" that eventually saw print. Few copies of "The Battered Batman" remain, hoarded by the wealthiest and most eclectic comic book aficionados. For now, the original story of the Drunken Abusive Superman remains an elusive comics legend.

*LIES! All lies! None of this happened at all.


Kid Kyoto said...

LOL, well played sir! And quite a bit of photoshoppery to amuse us.

Note to DC: I'd totally read a story about drunken abusive Superman.

Grebo said...

Heh! Hilarious!!

You know something? I LOVE your blog. Seriously. I love it. Your posts and pictures are so funny, so whimsical, so smart, and so incredibly entertaining and... fulfilling!

I have been having a very hard time lately, in terms of my personal context, and I have to say that your blog has been helping keep me sane. And happy. I have gone back and read your whole blog. Every entry.

So thank you. Thank you VERY much for your wonderful writing!

Brian Hughes said...

Thanks so much for the kind words. I have a lot of fun doing this, and look forward to much more!

joe bloke said...

ah! you see? you had me going there, you REALLY had me going.

i need a drink.

coco67 said...

What do you tell a Darknight Detective with two black eyes?

Nothing he hasn't heard twice before!

Anonymous said...


The Joker couldn't come up with something so warped, maybe Grant Morrison.

oh gawd if Morrison sees this he might steal it.

the story should be called Sun-drunk