It has always struck me that people seem to think of Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent as enemies or, at most, just partners when faced with the fight for justice crime when, in reality, they are best friends who know each other better than anyone else closest to them and understand each other in both their best and worst times. Their friendship is the foundation of the Justice League and honouring Superman’s anniversary week, I wanted to share with you a little more of insight into the friendship and partnership between the World’s Finest,
Yes, in almost every version of reality that they have met in they started off as enemies, but in those same realities, as time passed and trust began to develop, a friendship of the ages was created. There are other realities where they were raised together, where they met each other as children or where their biological parents where the ones that seal their fate, thus making this relationship a multi-universal constant (there’s even a series dedicated to said premise, but more on that later).
But before we get excited, let’s start at the beginning, in 1952, with The Mightiest Team in the World, appearing in Superman #76. The issue starts with Clark and Bruce meeting on a cruise ship, leading into a comical gag of sharing the same cabin due to a double-booking mishap and where, after the cruise is attacked, they learn the alternate identities of one another and team up to become the greatest duo that comics have ever seen.
Although in that issue, they got along just fine and really worked well together, it wasn’t until 1954 when the duo would team up again, this time in their own series titled World’s Finest that would last for 30 years, until 1986, on a monthly-basis publication.
It was in the World’s Finest run, and their time together on the Justice League of America, that we got to see them as best friends, working side by side like a well-oiled machine solving almost any problem with an unwavering trust between each other, even sharing the keys to the Batcave and the Fortress of Solitude.
However, Crisis on Infinite Earths happened and erased the World’s Finest run, which in turn took almost 20 years (actually 17), for them to become best friends again.
It was in 2003′ Superman/Batman, a series that served as a “relaunch” of World’s Finest series, that Jeph Loeb allowed the bromance between the duo of heroes to be once more, cementing into reality one of the most iconic friendships there is in DC Comics’ lore, with the addition of narration as to how much they admire each other.
Their friendship is one built on trust, faith, and understanding, and to see more of it here are some comic books where you can learn just that.
When Clark Met Bruce – Batman/Superman #3, New 52
Back in 2003 we were presented with the question, “what if Clark and Bruce had met as children?,” when Bruce Wayne stopped at Smallville, Kansas after the death of his parents and a young Clark saw him and wondered if he should ask the boy to play with him and his friend, Pete Ross.
In that childhood moment, Clark rejected the idea, having been convinced by Pete that inviting “the rich kid” was not a good idea as he “looked like he had never played anything in his life”, and that question was left to be answered by readers, with many possibilities as to “what if?” but it wasn’t until years later (10 to be more accurate) when everything would change.
In a Batman/Superman issue in the New 52 continuity, where a young Bruce and a young Clark, who had just started their “superhero careers”, are thrown seven years into the future to an alternate universe, an earth where Clark decided to ask Bruce to play baseball, the question was answered and revealed how that small decision had changed Clark’s and Bruce’s lives forever.
The two boys bonded immediately, saying how lonely each other were in their own way, and what started as “a couple of hours” until the car was fixed, turned into a whole week at the Kent farm, cementing a friendship that would last a lifetime, as Clark was Bruce’s first true friend and Bruce was the first person, outside of his own parents, that was not scared of Clark because of his powers and alien heritage.
As they grow up, having each other’s presence as a constant not only in their “normal” life but as well as in their paths to become the heroes they are, helped them became better people in both aspects of their lives.
By having Clark in his life, Bruce turned out to be an adult who is more capable of trust and emotional self-reflection than his counterpart from Earth-1. Bruce also happens to be married to Selina Kyle and is training their daughter to become the first Robin. He’s still dark and broody but is also capable of opening up to people that he cares about.
Clark, on his part, has more control over his powers due to his long-lasting relationship with Bruce, as he is capable of healing flesh at the cellular level with his laser vision. This gives proof that by having Bruce and his over-analytical mind on his side has allowed Clark to hone his abilities with surgical precision, while also providing him with more confidence in his day to day life, as he is married to Lois.
But that’s not all, their own cities are a little different as well, with Gotham being ultimately safer, turning Arkham Asylum into an amusement park, and most major supervillains are now frozen in a cryogenic prison due to Wayne Enterprises being a much more advanced company than in Earth One… all because Clark asked Bruce to play baseball with him.
New 52 had a lot of mistakes, but this storyline isn’t one of them.
Batman/Superman comic series
“In every version of reality, in every world we meet, we will find each other.”
That’s basically the storyline of this particular series, as it presents us a variety of worlds and alternative universe where Superman and Batman meet and eventually become friends… and showing us what happens when they don’t.
This series has plenty of fun reads, but I recommend Public Enemies, where we can really see Bruce and Clark’s personalities not only clashing out but also complementing each other in times of need, especially in the face of defeating Luthor and clean their names; another story to watch out for is Absolute Power, a dystopian world where our favourite heroes were raised as brothers to become dictators on Earth, and, finally, Apocalypse, where they meet Kara and fight against Darkseid, you know, just their regular Sunday morning.
Batman #36 and Batman #37 (Rebirth)
These are the most recent issues of the story-arc titled Superfriends, and it all starts in Batman #36 when Clark learns about Bruce’s engagement to Selina and feels like he doesn’t know his so-called friend as much as he thought, as Bruce never called to share the big news with him.
Then, as the series progresses, with Clark talking to Lois and Bruce talking to Selina over a case they are investigating, respectively, both men share what their thoughts are on each other, pointing out the flaws on themselves and the strengths in the other, in an almost kind of mirror dialogue that puts a spotlight on personal identity and intimacy, all while still refusing to admit that they are truly best friends, even though they are more alike than they’d like to admit, and boy do they have a hard time admitting it.
And, after all that talk, that “maybe they never were really close friends anyway”, and all the emotional dialogue that Lois and Selina had to listen to…. the two couples bump into each other, learning that the two cases they were working on separately were actually the same case. And it’s an added plus that Selina and Lois finally meet one another in the flesh, after ignoring the bickering of their respective partners.
But things don’t end there, no, as it is in Batman #37 that we get to see them actually interacting as friends, having their “man-to-man” conversation about Bruce’s engagement, and what their friendship means to the other (with the usual amounts of bickering). And, as the story progresses, the duo of couples go on a double date at a local fair with a superhero theme, resulting in having to share super suits between them. (Clark even wears his glasses on top of the Batsuit-.
As the date progresses, Clark and Bruce finally have a conversation, but as emotional conversations between them and about them are not their strongest suits, it’s while they’re having a competition at the batting cages.
At first, Clark doesn’t understand how Bruce fell for a “criminal”, as he’s at war with criminals which Bruce contrasts by saying that is as puzzling as to how the man with one of the greatest secrets in the world is smitten with one of the greatest investigative journalists, finally getting to the conclusion that love is indistinct and cares about nothing when it’s about bringing people together that are perfect for each other.
However, as time passes and they leave the batting cages, their conversation takes a more emotional turn. Bruce admits he has no idea what he’s doing and how the relationship between him and Selina is supposed to work in the long term, only to have his best friend reassure him that he’ll find a way like he always does, as it’s something he can relate to.
This all occurs while Selina and Lois have a conversation on their own about how the couples were brought together in the first place.
The date ends on a sweet note, with Bruce proving to Clark that he can hit a pitch from the Man of Steel himself, despite how impossible Clark thinks it is and showing that, in the end, they are the best friends they claim to be, with only a small handful of communication issues.
These are only a couple of issues that illustrate this particular relationship, as it has been around for more years than most of us have been alive. It’s a friendship that in some ways define both characters and makes them stay true to themselves.
Yes, there are times when they are fighting, when they say unnecessary cruel things to each other and even that universe where the story literally revolves around each other fighting, but at the end of the day they had each other’s backs no matter what and will go to great lengths to protect the other. They are the brother they never had but had always wanted while growing up.
With Superman’s 80th Anniversary, and Batman’s coming next year, it feels right to talk about such an iconic bond, as both characters have had an impact not only in people’s lives but in mainstream media and pop culture.
Although there have been movies (Public Enemies) and series (the crossover between BTAS and STAS and in some episodes of Justice League and Justice League Unlimited), I can only hope that one day we’ll see it adapted on the big screen, hopefully in the DCEU, a World’s Finest film where Ben Affleck’s Batman and Henry Cavill’s Superman are working together solving a crime but arguing and bickering all the time like they always do.
What do you think about this friendship? What are your favourite issues of this two?
Let us know in the comment section down below!