A test of skill between Batman and Superman involved the Dark Knight surviving a nuclear explosion that should have killed him.
Superman and Batman share a long history with each other. Both heroes have countless solo adventures and many team stories from their time in the Justice League of America. Despite being undoubtedly loyal to each other as friends and fellow superheroes, Batman and Superman have developed a friendly rivalry over the years. On The best of the world # 175, by Leo Dorfman and Neal Adams, Batman and Superman’s rivalry included an ordeal that should have left not just Batman, but Robin and Jimmy Olsen out of the blue on the spot.
It is set on the theme that one day a year Batman and Superman hold a friendly competition of skills with each other, with Superman and Jimmy Olsen on one team and Batman and Robin on the other. Over the years, the two heroes have won the same number of contests, with neither of them ever proving to be definitely better than the other.
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The last contest between Batman and Superman will last three days, and each day will focus on a different set of tests for the heroes. The first day involves a simple test for Batman: escape from an unbreakable glass container filled with knock-out gas without using any of his devices. Batman completes his test and the teams pass the Superman test. The location is said to simply be “far out to sea”, where Superman flies over a ship. In it there is a bell, a whistle and a cannon. Batman asks Superman to find out which of the three elements would make the loudest sound. Batman, Robin, and Jimmy Olsen are standing on a nearby shore, staring at Superman. Suddenly, a “multi-megaton” atomic bomb detonates, a giant mushroom cloud that appears where the ship was.
Robin happily exclaims that Superman discovered Batman’s riddle, finding the object that contained the hidden atomic bomb. Superman returns and explains that the wristwatch Jimmy Olsen had given him to repair also worked as a Geiger counter, indicating the presence of the bomb.
However, the logistics of this test don’t make sense, even by the standards of the time the story was published. For starters, Batman, Robin, and Jimmy Olsen were standing a few hundred feet from the nuclear bomb when it exploded. Being close enough to see the mushroom cloud from a nuclear detonation is close enough to kill someone; being within a few hundred feet of the explosion would ensure instant death. There is nothing that would have allowed Batman to survive that, much less Robin and Jimmy Olsen. The shock wave from the blast, the force of the nuclear blast itself, the heat from the blast, and the resulting radioactive fallout are things that would have instantly destroyed all three beings without power.
The best of the world The # 175 was printed in 1968, almost 30 years after WWII. While it is absolutely understandable that what the world knows about science has increased significantly since 1968, there is little chance that anyone knew how impossible this scenario would have been at the time of publication. The problem also fails to address the subsequent nuclear devastation that would have been caused to the ocean and nearby Metropolis.
The joy and wonder of reading comics is immersing yourself in the fantastic worlds that enclose their pages. Disbelief is suspended and our minds embark on wonderful journeys. However, there are limits to this suspension of disbelief, and the idea of Batman surviving that explosion is far beyond belief. The Caped Crusader’s weft armor may be thick, but it’s not that thick.
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