BHOC: WORLD’S FINEST COMICS #238

Another book that I think was bought for my brother. There are a couple of these right around this time all at once, so the only thing I can figure is that maybe one of them was actually intended for my second brother, Joe. Either way, I ended up with all of these books in the end, including this issue of WORLD’S FINEST COMICS.

This was another issue of WORLD’S FINEST to feature the Super-Sons, purportedly the teenaged offspring of Superman and Batman. These comics perplexed me a little bit as a kid, and I instinctively intuited that they “didn’t count” towards the actual canon, that they were somehow set apart from it, despite the protestations on the letters pages to the contrary.

The Super-Sons were an attempt to make the world of Superman and Batman more relevant to the young audience of the time. I always associate them with the Mod Squad, which was then airing in reruns, in that they were intended to be hip and groovy with-it young people, but the stories were being produced by middle-aged men who had an imperfect sense of what was going on with that generation, no matter how well-intentioned they were. Consequently, most Super-Sons stories are almost parodies of their era, and try so, so hard to convince the reader that the creative team is on their wavelength. They are legitimately weird comic books.

The story opens with the Super-Sons on their motorcycle in tandem (and for some reason in costume) running across a girl, Dora, being accosted by two costumed figures. Coming to her rescue, they learn that Dora stages puppet shows for the needy and underprivileged, and that her two attackers were disgruntled employees of hers. Smitten with Dora, Supes and bats offer to take the place of the two men in the night’s performance for the inmates of a maximum security prison.

Turns out that Luthor is being held in this facility, and the Super-Sons are accused of aiding in his escape. Which they unwittingly did–see, Dora is actually Ardora, the daughter Lex Luthor never knew he had with her similarly-named mother on the planet Lexor, a reference to an older series of stories and a plot-twist that has already been spoiled on the cover of the issue, sadly. Dora has come to free her old man so that he can help with a plague of gigantism that has struck Lexor–a plague that Luthor himself set in motion in case of his capture, predicting that his supporters would need his help and break him out of prison.

Supes and Bats stow away on Luthor’s spaceship and find themselves on Lexor, and swiftly taken into custody–Lexor is a Red Sun world, where Superman Jr. has none of his powers. Now free, Luthor goes to release the antidote to the gigantism plague but finds his laboratory having been smashed by an errant meteorite. Dora now having learned of her dad’s duplicity, the two Luthors attempt to recreate the antidote–but in order to do so, they’ll need ingredients only available in the dangerous Lost Zone of Lexor. Dora solicits the help of Supes and Bats, and Luthor exposes Supes Jr. to a solex ray that will restore his lost super-abilities.

So Supes and Bats brave the Lost zone to recover the needed venom. Despite his restored powers, Supes Jr becomes infected by the gigantism malady and is close to strangling in his indestructible costume as he grows within it. But the bite of the lizard saves him (though how it could penetrate his super-skin is a mystery–some shoddy plotting there.) Supes Jr’s blood provides the necessary antidote, and Dora forces Luthor to return to Earth in the custody of the Super-Sons, thus atoning for her part in his escape.

Finally, we have another Statement of Ownership on the letters page, which indicates that WORLD’S FINEST COMICS was selling 199,614 copies of a print run of 485,101 for an efficiency of 41%, very much in line with the other DC titles of this era we’ve seen so far.

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