Long before Batman and Superman met in Superman: The Animated Series, but the duo World’s Finest met years earlier in a DCAU comic.

For fans around the world, the DC Animated Universe is considered the best adaptation of the DC Universe ever put on screen. Debuting with Batman: The Animated Series In 1992, this universe featured multiple animated series and dozens of spinoff comics.

One of these comics The batman adventures, even featured the first Superman and Batman team in the DCAU, years before their first canonical appearance in Superman: The Animated Series. These comics featured the animated duo World’s Finest with some key team differences that fans already know and love.

Unlike his eventual team in the cartoons, 1994 the Batman adventures # 25 by Kelley Puckett, Mike Parobeck, and Rick Burchett establishes that the two heroes already know each other, even after they’ve worked together closely enough to learn each other’s secret identities. When WayneTech and LexCorp compete for the same military contract, Bruce Wayne and a red-haired Lex Luthor attend a banquet in Gotham City in hopes of landing the offer. Clark Kent from the Daily Planet, dressed in his signature ’90s ponytail, was also in attendance.

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But when a bomb is planted at the banquet, Wayne and Kent notice that something is wrong. Just before the bomb detonates, Superman appears and throws it into space while Batman deals with the thugs who installed it. A televised broadcast of Maxie Zeus reveals his responsibility for this attack as he threatens Gotham with an earthquake generated by bombs planted throughout Gotham’s underground.

The best in the world unite to defeat him, and as the heroes conduct their own investigation, Luthor takes this opportunity to demonstrate his LexCorp hunter-seeker drones for the military leaders. He sends them after Zeus with the promise that they are the only thing that can stop him. When Superman and Batman initially have trouble finding the bombs, even with Clark’s X-ray vision, they interrogate a pair of Maxie’s henchmen, leading them to Zeus’s base of operations.

Soon, Batman and Superman arrive at Zeus’s location. Superman slides the Athenian arch-villain’s bomb transmitter to deduce the location of the remaining explosives before Lex’s drones arrive, sending the entire stinger into chaos when Luthor orders them to “accidentally” shoot the Man of Steel. The best in the world manage to thwart both Zeus and the drones, with Maxie guiding them to the man who actually built and supplied the bombs: Lex Luthor himself.

Luthor contrived the whole situation to secure the military contract, but after Batman threatens to reveal his involvement in Zeus’s plans, he retires to maintain his benevolent image as a leader and businessman. After threatening Luthor, Batman tells Superman that WayneTech will abandon his offer for the contract due to a conflict of interest and the two heroes part ways on good terms.

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This first team remained at DCAU for years until the “World’s Finest” three-part story arc in the second season of Superman: The Animated Series. As in his comic debut, Lex Luthor was at the heart of his team. When Lex hires the Joker to kill Superman, Batman arrives in Gotham and uses a temporary business collaboration with Luthor as an excuse to visit Tomorrow’s City.

But unlike the comic, the duo doesn’t exactly start out on the friendliest terms. Superman not only disapproves of Batman’s methods, but uses his X-ray vision to learn Batman’s identity, only for Batman to learn his by placing a tracker on the Big Blue Boy Scout and tracking him back to his apartment. Meanwhile, in their civil identities, Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne competed for the affections of a Lois Lane, which generated a lot of friction between the two.

They eventually manage to put their differences aside to defeat Luthor, the Joker, and Luthor’s deadly drones, but the playful rivalry between these two heroes set the tone for the world’s best in the rest of DC’s animated universe. While it may have differed from the duo’s performance years later, their team in Batman adventures Issue # 25 proves that in any medium, the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel are truly the best in the world.

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