Bat-Witch 2: Electric Boogaloo

I knew when I set out a few days ago to review World’s Finest #186 that it was going to present something of a dilemma. After all, as much as it was physically impossible for me not to post something as mind-bendingly awesome as S for Shakespeare, it’s just the first installment of a tantalizing two-parter, and without the following issue, it’s just not complete, which caused no small amount of wailing from my outspoken readership.

But tonight, wail no longer, friends! Thanks to the herculean efforts of ISB reader Julio Dvulture and the always-stalwart Shane Bailey, I have secured a copy, and while I can barely believe what I’m about to type, it may actually be crazier than the last one.



For those of you whose brains have been melted by the sheer Kanigherian madness of our last installment, I’ll recap: In an effort to find out who made a bust of Revolutionary War hero “Mad” Anthony Wayne–who surprised the heck out of me by being an actual person–in a Batman mask, Batman (his descendant) and Superman took a quick trip to the eighteenth century, where Superman:

1. Got in a fight with Anthony Wayne and his horse.
2. Said the single greatest sentence in comic book history.
3. Made a bunch of superstitious townsfolk think a sea-serpent had freed an accused witch.
4. Framed Batman for witchery.


5. Acted like a total jerk to Benjamin Franklin.

All caught up? Good. Let’s get on with it.

The story picks up the next day, and with Batman just about to be burned alive as punishment for his foul consort with the Man-Goat, Ben Franklin shows back up to make one last effort at getting the caped crusader a pardon:



Let this be a lesson to you from the Founding Fathers: We can’t go on together with superstitious minds.

Of course, this is Silver Age Superman we’re talking about, and if you think that a little thing like the pleading of the architects of modern democracy’ll stop him from having his best friend burned at the stake for witchcraft, then check your Bottle City at the door on the way out, buster. That’s just not how Kal-El rolls.



Why exactly Batman’s alleged demons would set themselves on fire, we may never know, but really: That’s the least of our problems here.

It’s at this point in the story that Batman–who has inexplicably forgotten that he’s fucking Batman and generally gets out of deathtraps more complex than a sheepshank around a log four times before breakfast–finally remembers that he can lie, and gives us what might be the second best panel ever:



That is literally all it takes to turn the town against Superman, thus setting a record for the most easily influenced townsfolk that would stand until the advent of the Springfield Monorail. Batman is freed from the stake, Superman takes off to join up with the British and crush the Continental Army once and for all, and we get a fantastic chapter break.



What follows is pretty much what you’d expect, given the circumstances. Superman joins up with General Henley and the British forces to track Mad Anthony down, and considering that he can fly and has X-Ray vision, it’s not long before he drags Wayne back to encampment, lays down his pimp hand



…and then declares that Batman and Mad Anthony must fight each other to the death with their bare hands.

Normally this would be a cause for concern, what with the damage to the space-time continuum that would result from Batman killing his own ancestor, but in keeping with this issue’s theme of showing Batman at his most inept, he is immediately put face-down into the mud by Mad Anthony’s use of the “20th Century fighting tactics” of karate and judo. This is, as I’m sure you all expect at this point, never explained.

Before he can finish the job, though, Tony’s interrupted byt he arrival of his own sidekick, Robby, who (of course!) bears an uncanny resemblance to Robin and fights the British with his slingshot, which gives Batman the idea to hand over a chunk of Kryptonite hes been carrying around for the entire time and tell him to shoot Superman in the head with it. Robby does, and this is where things start to get crazy.

Once he takes the shot to the forehead, Superman stumbles around for a second wondering where he is, then singlehandedly defeats the entire British army in one panel, reuintes with Batman, and finally–FINALLY–explains just what the hell has been going on here:


(Click for a larger, more legible, and yet
completely incomprehensible version


Oh, right. An afreet. Well that makes perfect–what?!


(Again with the clicking)


Sorry, Batman, but that does not explain everything. But if you’ll allow me, I think I might be able to clear things up here. So, why do Superman and Batman go back in time to the Revolutionary War, where Superman frames Batman for witchcraft so that he can save him from being posessed by a genie that also knows karate?

Because Bob Kanigher. That’s why.

39 thoughts on “Bat-Witch 2: Electric Boogaloo

  1. Didn’t Supes already try the Shakespeare line? That kinda dilutes its greatness, I would say, which is probably why it didn’t work. “I’ve kept my lies straight and everything! Surely I also have the power of SUPERLYING!?”

    Also, the afreet being a creature of Mohammedan origins, I think a preferable explanation would be that Batman and Superman went back in time to prevent American from becoming an Islamofascist state. But your simpler option is most likely correct.

  2. What if they had run into a colonial Jimmy Olsen, as well? Heck, with the Silver Age what it was, what if they had run into the real Jimmy Olsen pretending to be a colonial Jimmy Olsen? I think that’s the only way this two-parter could have been made better.

  3. All the comic needs is a fight to the death with Captain Marvel and it’ll be eveything I want in a Superman/Batman book.

  4. bwah?! Huh? The who in the what now?!
    Me go sleep now. I will read about the mices. Brain is dead.

  5. An afreet? W-O-W!
    You know, I can almost picture it:
    It’s the Silver Age, a buncha guys around a conference table, they have a deadline but they know nothings gotta make sense, there’s an inordinate amount of illicit substances lying around when suddenly:
    “Hey Bob, my guy got me some hashish. Say’s its real primo stuff. Called ‘Afreet’ or somethin’, You want some?”
    “Afreet huh?”

  6. errr….WHAT!?!?

    My god, this is like DC’s version of Civil War! Superman and Batman completely out of character and fighting one another.

    Whose Side Are You On?

    (Actually, if an afreet was the cause of Civil War’s mess, it would make much more sense! Perhaps we should start using the phrase “Because Mark Millar” from now on?)

  7. Wait a sec, did they actually capture the efreet, or is it still running around causing trouble in the Revolutionary War?

    Actually, that efreet went on to continue his career after defeat at the hands of Superman and Batman. You may have heard of him… Benedict Arnold. And now you know… the REST of the story!

  8. Well, an afreet. That totally justifies Salem.
    And who the hell is the old man in the “S for Sorcerer” panel?

  9. Not that this is even in the top fifty things that make no sense here, but how the hell did Ben Franklin get from Massaschusetts to Philadelphia and back overnight with his petition (even pretending that all the signers of the Declarataion were still hanging around Philadelphia, and that Franklin himself wasn’t already in Paris)?

    Because Bob Kanigher. That’s why.

    Ah! Got it. Thanks.

  10. “a genie that also knows karate”

    Thanks, Chris. I’m off to stat up an Efreet with Monk levels for my viking-themed D&D campaign.

  11. Later, the afreet learned the error of his ways, and decided to reform his life. He used the “S for Shakespeare” line as inspiration and became all of history’s greatest actors: Calculon… Emotitron 5000… David Duchovny…

  12. I think the most important lesson that can be learned from this masterpiece of educational comicbookery is this:

    Witches? Hogwash!

    Sorcerors? Pure fabrication, kids!

    Efreeti? As real as a heart attack, and twice as funny.

    Glad that’s finally been cleared up.

  13. I hope the guys writing Superman/Batman right now take this stuff to heart and retcon it into their current book. And I thought Supes getting shot with a Kryptonite bullet was cool.

  14. I was all set to believe that “Mad” Anthony Wayne was a Wikipedia fabrication by a serious Silver Age fanatic with way too much time on his hands until I scrolled down and found all the external links. This means that either “Mad” Anthony Wayne was a real person or that Silver Age fanatic has been busy for a good, long time.

    We also don’t have enough military commanders nicknamed “Mad.”

  15. Afreet? Ten bucks says Deadman put the Afreet up to this…while high on some primo ghostly hash.

  16. Old Mad Anthony was the real deal. Led the bayonet charge at Stony Point, made sure his men didn’t shoot by taking the flints out of their flint lock muskets.

    I loved the story, especially since it shows old Ben Franklin up as a fraud. No Witches and Sorcerers indeed. Those townsfolk knew what was up.

  17. As I mentioned in the part 1 comments, I’ve been waiting almost 40 years to learn how the story ends and why Supes was being such a tool…and THIS is the reason? An Afreet? A %#$*& genie?!

    =hit’s head=

    Of course it was! Why, why didn’t I see the signs?!

    Others ask, what happened to the escaped Afreet? I posit that at least in the sixties, it split its time between Barbara Eden and Mr. Kanigher himself. Currently, it splits its time between Grant Morrison and Alan Moore. (Or maybe there were two afreets: notice that Mad Anthony Wayne’s horse didn’t cast a shadow either.)

    Anyway, a big thanks to Shane and Chris for turning this around so quickly. It’s always better to know the truth.

  18. Considering Batman both asked for and took over the explination, the only question that remotely makes sense is the final one.

    “Wait, what the hell are we doing here in the first place?”

  19. The funny thing is that complete story is as nonsensical as the excerpts you chose. After “Just Imagine Stan Lee”, we really need a “Because Bob Kanigher”.

  20. It would have been awkward if the editor on this issue had suddenly realized that Kanigher wasn’t casting a shadow.

  21. GOD HELP YOU if Superman can’t see your shadow. HE WILL BURN YOU.

    So Anthony Wayne is real? That means that, by logical extension, BATMAN IS REAL. My theories were correct!

  22. I notice Ben Franklin wasted no time sidling up next to the hot blonde. No surprise there, but wow was he wrong about superstitions. Not often you read a comic book that goes out of its way to make a founding father look stupid.

  23. Bruce Wayne was named by Bob Kane (or perhaps more likely Bill Finger) after “Mad” Anthony Wayne. So this story is actually a piece of meta-textual self-reference.

  24. guayec Says:

    And who the hell is the old man in the “S for Sorcerer” panel?

    Either Ben Urich’s great-great-great-great-grandfather, or Orville Redenbacher.

    (Given the afreet, I’d bet on the latter.)

  25. Well, I always knew that middle eastern spirits spent all their time learning oriental martial arts-and hanging around colonial America. And apparently Superman is a fount of occult knowledge. Pity he had no idea how to do anything useful, like, say, stop the genie from going on its merry way possessing people. I mean, what’s going on with this General Henley guy? And, why, why, is the genie on the side of the British?
    Oh, right. Bob Kanigher. That and apparently Afreet hate our freedom.

  26. shikomekidoni: “Pity he had no idea how to do anything useful, like, say, stop the genie (…)”

    Well, always remember: Rock beats scissors, Magic beats Superman.

  27. Well, of course magic beats Superman (one of the more amusing old JLA’s I own has a wizard oneshot him by giving him a magic heart attack), but if he’s suddenly an expert in possession, you’d think he’d know where to find an exorcist or something.