1940 New York World's Fair Comics cover with Batman.
1940 New York World's Fair Comics cover with Batman. DC Entertainment

See Batman and Superman's First-Ever Appearance Together

Mar 23, 2016

Batman and Superman have been, over the course of about three-quarters of a century, friends and enemies—a line they'll walk again in the new movie Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

But when they first met, in 1940, they weren't really either of those things. They were just standing near each other:

1940 New York World's Fair Comics cover with Batman.1940 New York World's Fair Comics cover with Batman. DC Entertainment 

Along with Robin, they appeared on the cover of this 1940 New York World's Fair Comics book, a souvenir edition sold at the event. But they didn't actually interact on the inside. Batman was a relative newcomer, introduced in May of 1939, while Superman had been around since the summer of 1938 and was established enough to earn his own "Superman Day" at the Fair.

Inside the book, Superman foils a jewel thief at the World's Fair. In a separate section, Batman and Robin are at the fair when they learn of a scientist who is destroying bridges around Gotham.

Exterior view of the Administration Building for the 1939-1940 New York World's Fair.
Exterior view of the Administration Building for the 1939-1940 New York World's Fair.Margaret Bourke-White—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Exterior view of the Administration Building for the 1939-1940 New York World's Fair.
Models of the sculpture 'Night' by artist Paul Manship, created for the 1939-1940 World's Fair.
Scene in Queens, New York, before the April 30, 1939, grand opening of the World's Fair.
Administrative buildings designed for the 1939 World's Fair.
Craftsmen work on a huge diorama prior to the opening of the 1939 Worlds Fair.
Craftsmen work on a huge architectural model of "the city of the future" at the 1939 World's Fair.
Preparing for the 1939 World's Fair, New York.
Preparing for the 1939 World's Fair, New York.
Working on General Motors' "Futurama" exhibit -- the city of the near future -- at the 1939 World's Fair.
Display in the Ford Motor Company pavilion at the 1939 World's fair.
Exhibit featuring raw materials that go into making Ford automobiles, 1939 New York World's Fair.
Waxworks on display at the 1939 World's Fair, including Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes (bottom middle) and Adolf Hitler.
Exhibit featuring raw materials that go into making Ford automobiles, 1939 New York World's Fair.
Exhibit featuring raw materials that go into making Ford automobiles, 1939 New York World's Fair.
Architectural model created for the 1939 New York World's Fair.
Architectural model created for the 1939 New York World's Fair.
Architectural model created for the 1939 New York World's Fair.
Architectural model created for the 1939 New York World's Fair.
Architectural model created for the 1939 New York World's Fair.
Architectural model for a textile building created for the 1939 New York World's Fair.
Architectural model created for the 1939 New York World's Fair.
Architectural model created for the 1939 New York World's Fair.
Modernist symbols of the 1939 World's Fair, the Trylon and the Perisphere -- collectively called the "Theme Centre" of the expo.
1939 New York World's Fair.
LIFE magazine feature on the 1939 New York World's Fair.
LIFE magazine feature on the 1939 New York World's Fair.
LIFE magazine feature on the 1939 New York World's Fair.
LIFE magazine feature on the 1939 New York World's Fair.
LIFE magazine feature on the 1939 New York World's Fair.
LIFE magazine feature on the 1939 New York World's Fair.
LIFE magazine feature on the 1939 New York World's Fair.
LIFE magazine feature on the 1939 New York World's Fair.
LIFE magazine feature on the 1939 New York World's Fair.
Exterior view of the Administration Building for the 1939-1940 New York World's Fair.
Margaret Bourke-White—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Imag
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Even though they didn't share a storyline, the World's Fair edition changed the game for superheroes. This was the first step toward comics embracing the crossover format and the genres it inspired: it was, as The All-Star Companion explains, the first time any two comics characters who had their own franchises appeared together anywhere. Eventually, less popular characters got the same treatment. And it wouldn't be long before Batman and Superman were working together, not just standing near one another. Decades later, that tradition continues.

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