Once upon a time, a particular Halloween Retro Review consisted of a cliffhanger ending and a query as to whether we should move on to part two.  I joked about it being a six-year wait, but I wouldn’t be cruel enough to do that to the Faithful Spoilerites…  It’s actually been EIGHT years!  Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of World’s Finest Comics #190 awaits!

World's Finest Comics #190 CoverWORLD’S FINEST COMICS #190

Writer: Cary Bates
Penciler: Ross Andru
Inker: Mike Esposito
Letterer: Uncredited
Editor: Roy Thomas
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: 15 Cents
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $50.00

Previously in World’s Finest Comics: After a terrible accident, the Man Of Steel expired from his wounds.  Being an organ donor, his eyes, heart, ears, lungs and hands were harvested to give to some deserving person, only to be stolen by Lex Luthor and implanted into a cadre of his villainous friends.  We’ll let a young troubadour (who looks remarkably like this issue’s writer Cary Bates) tell it…

World's Finest Comics #190 1

I was actually surprised when I remembered this book was written by Cary, whom I think of as mostly a 1970s/1980s Superman writer, but he was right around 20 years old when this book came out, making him one of DC’s periodic wunderkind writers.  (Future Marvel Editor-In-Chief Jim Shooter likewise got his start as a young man in Weisinger’s Superman factory.)  As for the four men now bearing the Organs Of Tomorrow, they have embarked upon a crime spree unlike any Metropolis has ever seen…

Those costumes are HIDEOUS, you guys.  I mean, really, orange and green?  I admire Ace Shane’s body-positivity, but that ensemble wouldn’t work on anyone, and his tornado chest emblem doesn’t say “super-breath” to me.  It says “cartoon character breaking wind.”  Elsewhere, Lex Luthor remembers his chance meeting with an alien called Motan, who tipped him about the Kryptonian’s body bank, while Batman and Robin desperately try to overcome FOUR villains with Superman-style powers…

At least they have the classic TV Batmobile to work with.  Indeed, this book features a very West/Ward Dynamic Duo, repeatedly clashing with the Big Four and failing, but refusing to give up the ghost.  Indeed, Batman knows that he may not be able to go toe-to-toe with the villains, but has an alternative plain in mind…

R-HOUR!  What can it mean?  While the heroes wait and the Big Four celebrate their wins, the real villain of the piece plots his own supremacy in the shadows, revealing his plans for Superman’s stolen super-heart.

It’s really weird to see this Andru/Esposito Lex Luthor looking like a combination of Don Rickles and President Eisenhower, but he’s still menacing as he revealed his ace in the hole: Green Kryptonite, which should take out any possible resistance from the Big Four.  Indeed, it seems that Luthor has all the bases covered, while the Big Four once again have their hands full with the Caped Crusaders…

Once again, they fail, but Batman is now so sure of his R-Hour plan that he calls the Big Four out at high noon, at a frontier amusement park, for ambiance and/or a nice Gary Cooper reference.  When the Kryptonian-powered baddies arrive, they make short work of Adam and Burt Bats and Robin and are poised for killing strikes when R-Hour hits!

Before he can save the criminal’s life, though, Batman is confronted by Luthor, who realized that Batman conspicuously didn’t try the use of Kryptonite against the villains, inferring that Batman knew it wouldn’t work.  Why wouldn’t it work?


And, bee tee dubs, the Real Steel Deal is no more dead than Luthor himself…

Superman reveals that the plan all along was to draw out these criminals, using a special Kryptonian android from New Krypton, a planet that he and Supergirl created, which is populated entirely by replicas of the people of Krypton.  This particular one was actually in the image of Superman’s own uncle, who gave his synthetic life to help bring down four underground empires…

Oh, and while they were talking, Ace totally died.  That’s… unfortunate.  I mean, sure, that leotard did him no favors, but it’s not a capital crime.  Still, after being horrified as a child by the first part of this story, I found that Part II actually feels like an entirely different world, a different book with different rules, but that’s not a bad thing, just a little disappointing.  World’s Finest Comics #190 is pure Bates in its weirdly ingenious plotting, with some solid, workmanlike art by Ross Andru (though after seeing the cover, I sort of wish Swan had done interiors) and an ending that took last issue’s madness and side-stepped the dodge of “Imaginary Story”, for a better than average 3 out of 5 stars overall.  It took me nearly six years to find this comic in real life, and while part of me feels that my half-formed ideas and notions about what happened next would have been better, this book manages to do the story in canon with the Silver Age DCU…



Turns out it's NOT an imaginary story after all! But Batman comes across as pretty great in it...

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About Author

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.


  1. Wow! Back when part one was published I was still checking the site every so often to see if the new Hero History had gone up. Friday Sing-Along existed on the site, but I wouldn’t discover it for several more years. That there have been innumerable changes goes without saying.
    I’m glad to see my comment back then was finally shown to be accurate, if far from the full story.
    Thanks for all the content then and now!

  2. Joseph O'Connell on

    I’m kind of surprised that no one remarked on the oddity of Superman being ABLE to donate organs! I mean, he’s invulnerable! What surgeon or mortician would be able to cut open his body to harvest organs?

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