Superman and Batman: 1958: Suspicious Minds, Chapter 1: Stop the Presses

by HarveyKent

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Your two favorite heroes,
Superman & Batman
in one adventure together!


“Wow,” Lois Lane Kent said, staring up at the façade of the grand hotel as her husband, Clark, paid the cab driver. “I haven’t been to the Siegel Arms in a few years; if anything, it’s gotten even ritzier in that time.”

“It does cater to an upscale clientele,” Clark Kent said, joining her. “Where else for Bruce Wayne to stay while he’s in town?”

“Clark, coach me on what to say,” Lois said, taking his arm. “Around… Bruce’s wife, I mean.”

“What do you mean, Lois?” Clark asked.

“Well, I don’t know how much she knows, what Bruce has told her. I mean, obviously she knows he’s Batman, but does she know that we know?”

“Bruce told her everything,” Clark said evenly.

“Everything?” Lois asked, surprised. “Even about… you?

“Even about me,” Clark said, nodding. “Like me, Bruce has no secrets from his wife.”

“Yes, but, well, that wasn’t his secret to share!” Lois protested, as they walked through the lobby.

“Clark and Lois Kent to see the Waynes,” Clark said to the desk clerk. The conversation halted until the Kents were in the elevator.

“Well, Lois, I told you Bruce’s secret when we got married,” Clark reminded her. “I cleared it with him first, of course, but he didn’t have a problem with it. It made it easier in the long run.”

“Clark, this is going to sound horrible, but that’s different,” Lois said. “After all, I was never a — a criminal.”

Clark was silent. He had a dozen good responses to that, but they all stuck in his throat at the moment, because Lois’ comment echoed one that had been in his own mind.


“Clark, hello!” Bruce Wayne said warmly, grasping his old friend’s hand. “It’s so good to see you again!”

“You too, Bruce,” Clark said, wringing Bruce’s hand, careful not to use his super-strength. “Marriage agrees with you!”

“Lois, hello,” Selina Kyle Wayne said warmly, taking both of Lois’ hands in hers. “It’s been too long! The boys are always getting together, every time Luthor and the Joker join forces, but we don’t see each other nearly enough!”

“That’s true, Selina,” Lois said, a little shyly. Selina’s open friendliness made Lois a bit ashamed of her comments in the elevator. “Did you bring the baby? I’m dying to see her!”

“Alas, no,” Bruce said. “She’s got a slight cold, so we left her with Alfred. You’ll have to come to Gotham some time!”

“And don’t wait for the Penguin’s next crime wave to do it!” Selina chided, good-naturedly.

“How’s Dick?” Clark asked, changing the subject.

“He’s fine,” Bruce said, beaming with pride. “Taking his bar exam next month.”

“I still don’t believe it,” Clark said, shaking his head. “It seems like yesterday when he was a scrappy lad with a slingshot. Now he’s nearly a lawyer!”

“I’m proud of him,” Bruce said. “One by one his young friends from the All-Star Squadron seem to have lost touch. Sandy Hawkins went out on his own years ago; I don’t think Dick’s heard from him since. It’s the same with Speedy and the Star-Spangled Kid.”

“I don’t think anyone’s heard from the Seven Soldiers of Victory in years,” Clark said. “I wonder what–?”

“All right, boys, enough shop talk!” Selina chided. “Don’t we have dinner reservations?”

“That we do,” Lois said, rising to the hostess role. “Maison d’Beauring, finest restaurant in Metropolis! We should go; if we’re a minute late, they give your table away!”

“What, even to the editor of the Daily Star?” Bruce scoffed. “I would think they’d be afraid of a bad write-up!”

Laughing, the four friends walked to the elevator.


Dinner was exquisite and full of friendly chatter. Lois and Clark quickly forgot their earlier reservations and enjoyed themselves; Selina, after all, was a charming woman with a delightful sense of humor.

After dinner, Clark suggested a show; he had tickets for a new play at the Shuster Theater. Bruce liked the idea, but Selina begged off.

“I hate to be a killjoy,” she said, “but I’m afraid one of my headaches is coming on.”

“Selina’s gotten those now and again since her pregnancy,” Bruce said. “We’ve tried everything, but the only thing that works is rest.”

“You go ahead with Clark and Lois, honey,” Selina said. “I’ll go back to the hotel and put my feet up. Don’t worry about me.”

“Well, OK, if you’re sure,” Bruce said, giving his wife a kiss on the cheek. He put her in a cab to the hotel, and he and the Kents took another to the theater.

About a block away from the theater, however, Clark examined his wallet and cried out in shock. “Oh, no!” he exclaimed. “I forgot the tickets!”

“Oh, Clark,” Lois said. “They must be in your desk at the paper! The theater critic gave them to Clark,” Lois explained to Bruce.

“Driver, take us to the Daily Star Building,” Clark said. Of course he could have flown there and back in a heartbeat, but he couldn’t do that in view of the driver. Fortunately, the theater was only a few blocks away from the newspaper building.

“Keep the meter running. I’ll be back in a flash,” Clark said, jumping out of the cab.

“So, Bruce,” Lois said, making small talk while Clark was gone, “Clark tells me you’re in town on a new business venture.”

“Something like that,” Bruce said. “A year ago we opened a new women’s shelter in Gotham City, a place for women to get away from abusive husbands. Selina runs it; her first husband was like that, you know.”

“Her first husband?” Lois said. “I didn’t know she’d been married before!”

“Oh, yes,” Bruce said. “Her miserable first marriage was what drove her to become the Catwoman. Now she’s found a calling helping other women out of similar situations. The Gotham shelter has been such a success, we’re planning to open one in Metropolis.”

“It sounds like a very noble–” But Lois’ accolade was cut off by the muffled sound of an explosion. Bruce and Lois stared in the direction of the noise, and saw smoke pouring out of the basement windows of the Daily Star Building.

“The pressroom!” Lois shrieked. “Someone’s set fire to the presses!”

“Stay here,” Bruce called, bolting out of the cab. “I’ll call the fire department!” Lois watched him sprint off in the direction of the building, knowing full well that he had no intention of calling the fire department, at least not yet. For a moment she marveled at his courage. He was rushing headlong into danger with no thought of himself, only of helping anyone who might be caught in the pressroom. She had seen her own husband do the same a hundred times, but he was indestructible, and Bruce Wayne was only a man. Only? No, not only.

Bruce timed himself as he ducked into the shadows and shed the cocktail attire of Bruce Wayne, wealthy philanthropist, for the dark uniform of Batman. Three seconds over his peak time. Well, he had been doing this for nearly twenty years. Batman heard the sound of running feet; he turned his head and saw a small, lean figure racing off into the darkness. He wanted to go after the runner, but he had no time; it was more important to see if anyone in the burning building needed help.

When Batman burst through a basement window into the large pressroom, he realized that his help wasn’t needed. He watched with a smile as Superman blew his super-breath onto the burning presses, extinguishing the flames. A couple of teenage pressboys stood in awe of the Man of Tomorrow. Batman watched as one of them stepped backward to get a better view; the Dark Knight’s keen eyes caught sight of a huge roll of paper, twice the size of the pressboy, teetering on its shelf, upset by the explosion. In a single fluid motion Batman swung down on his bat-rope and snatched the pressboy out of harm’s way, a split-second before the enormous paper roll crashed down onto the spot where the boy had been standing.

“Wow!” the boy exclaimed. “Superman and Batman, in the same night! Wait till I tell the guys!”

Batman favored the pressboy with a small smile. “It’s a good thing you’ll be around to tell them,” he said. “Watch your step next time, son.”

Superman flew down to the spot where Batman had deposited the newsboy. “Thanks for the timely assist, Batman,” he said. “It’s a good thing you were in town.”

“Yes, fortunately I wrapped up that lead I was tracking down in time to hear the explosion,” Batman said. “What caused it?”

“A crude but effective firebomb,” Superman said. “I saw fragments of it as I was putting out the fire.”

“Interesting,” Batman said. “I saw a light on upstairs; I think it was the editor’s office. Why don’t we pay him a visit, see what he thinks of it?”

“Yes, I’m sure Mr. Kent can shed some light on this,” Superman said.

Moments later, Superman and Batman stood behind the closed door of Clark Kent’s office. “OK, Mr. Kent, shed some light,” Batman said.

“You won’t like it,” Superman said grimly. Beneath his mask, Batman raised an eyebrow. “The obvious target of the firebomb was the printing press.”

“Yes, someone wanted the paper stopped,” Batman agreed. “Wouldn’t be the first time.”

“Except the only thing we were printing tonight was the Sunday magazine insert,” Superman said, opening his desk. “Whoever planned this arson must have known that, so that is what they wanted stopped.” Superman pulled a sheet of paper out of his desk and handed it to Batman. “Here’s the mock-up.”

Batman’s mouth narrowed into a grim line as he read Lola Barnett’s gossip column. It spoke of the new women’s shelter being opened in Metropolis by Mrs. Selina Wayne, but the shelter was only briefly mentioned; the bulk of the article was about Selina’s career as the Catwoman, and Barnett’s surprise that Bruce Wayne had lowered himself to marry her.

Batman handed the mock-up back to Superman. “You approved this,” he said simply. It wasn’t a question.

“Barnett’s a gossip hack,” Superman said, not at all defensively. “Everyone from President Eisenhower to Inspector Henderson has been a target of hers. She even attacked Wonder Woman in a column, once. I don’t like it, but it does sell newspapers. I didn’t care for the tone of her article, but to reject it because of my friendship with you would compromise my journalistic ethic.”

“So it would,” Batman said. If he took notice of how Superman did not speak of his friendship with Selina, he did not mention it. “But you can’t seriously be suggesting that Selina did this.”

“I don’t like it any better than you, old friend,” Superman said. “But you have to admit, she had means, motive, and opportunity.”

“Nothing of the sort!” Batman snapped. “First of all, you’re suggesting she faked her headache to separate herself from us and commit the arson. Her headaches are real; I vouch for that. Second, she didn’t even know about this hack article.”

“So you say,” Superman interrupted. “Perhaps she knew without you knowing about it.”

“And third,” Batman plunged on, ignoring Superman’s comment, “she had no motive for trying to kill that story. Her past is an open book. This wouldn’t be the first time anyone made snide comments about her marrying above her station, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. Why would she take action now?”

“Perhaps because this would jeopardize her shelter project,” Superman offered.

“Then she would have called you on the phone and asked that the article be killed, or at least toned down,” Batman insisted. “Use your super-brain for a minute, Clark, and you’ll see that there’s no way Selina could have done this.”

“All I see,” Superman said carefully, “is an old friend letting his personal attachments cloud his judgment.”

A heavy, oppressive silence hung in the air between the two friends.

It was Batman who finally broke the silence. “So you insist that Selina is guilty?”

“I never said that,” Superman said. “I only said that she’s a suspect. You insist that she couldn’t have done it; I merely acknowledge the possibility that she could.”

“If that’s so,” Batman said, “acknowledge the possibility that it could be someone else. What else is in that magazine insert?”

“Nothing damning,” Superman said. “It’s mostly things like recipes, craft ideas, and book reviews.”

“Nothing else involving anyone personally?” Batman insisted.

“Just a couple of things,” Superman said. “Lana Lang’s interview with Morris Gold, the television star, and an article on Irwin Stevenson, Metropolis’ first zookeeper, who’s retiring this month after forty years’ service.”

“Can we agree to at least check them out, before we go flying off the handle?” Batman asked. “Let me read the articles for background, then look into Gold and Stevenson. If nothing turns up there, then we can investigate Selina.”

“Well, that’s reasonable,” Superman considered. “Let’s divide the labor, though. You check out Gold, and I’ll take Stevenson.”

“Fair enough. And Clark… please don’t let on that you suspect Selina, unless you have to. It would upset her very much. She hears enough of that from the so-called high society of Gotham; she doesn’t need it from her friends.”

“Certainly, Bruce,” Superman said, after a moment’s tense silence. “Let me get the articles; I’ll go over the Stevenson one again myself. If there is anything to find, it may help me know what to look for. We can start tomorrow.”

“Fine,” Batman said. “Meanwhile, I’d better go dismiss the cab. I don’t know about you, but suddenly I’m in no mood for a play.”

Watching his friend go, Superman realized that their relationship would probably never be quite the same again.

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