Knowledge Waits is a feature where I just share some bit of comic book history that interests me.
Today, we look at the complicated origins behind a hilarious out-of-context comic book panel.
If you’re familiar with out-of-context comic book panels (I recently did a list of some examples of creepy out of context panels, and I’ll have a list up soon of some hilarious ones, as well, which is where I cam across this one), a popular one is the following panel of Bruce Wayne kissing what looks to be Barbara Gordon while assuring here that she’s the only person for him…except for Superman, of course…
Funny bit, right?
Okay, first off, the image has been edited. That’s why it won’t be on my upcoming hilarious out-of-context panels list, because it’s not ACTUALLY a real comic book panel.
Here’s the original panel…
As you can see, though, the correction only makes the panel even MORE inexplicable at first, no?
This is because the panel comes from a very unusual comic book story. You see, in the early 1980s, after initially reducing the page count in their comic books (following the DC Implosion), DC expanded by adding back-up stories to most of their books. They tried different ideas, and one unusual one that popped up as a back-up in Superman a few times was a clever series of stories by Bob Rozakis about “What if baby Kal-El was discovered by the Waynes instead of the Kents?”
It debuted in Superman #353…
By the end of the issue, Bruce has decided to become Superman, working with Commissioner Gordon, who knows his secret (Gordon found the baby and gave him to the Waynes).
When we next check in on Bruce “Superman” Wayne in Superman #358 (with a young Denys Cowan now drawing the feature), his job as Bruce Wayne is working with his girlfriend, Barbara Gordon, at a rare bookstore…
That phone call was actually an elaborate ruse to get Bruce out of the store so he can turn into Superman. However, once he has saved the day, he returns to work and is in for a surprise when Barbara is suspicious of him, but not in the way that Lois Lane used to be suspicious of Clark Kent, but a more realistic line of thought…
I believe there was only one more Bruce “Superman” Wayne story in Superman #363 before the whole thing was dropped (I believe DC just dropped the back-up stories period).
If anyone else has a suggestion for a fun piece of comic book history that you’d like to see me write about, feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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