Friday, March 18, 2022

Review: Batman/Superman World's Finest #1

Batman/Superman World's Finest #1 came out this week, an action packed, nigh perfect comic book which hearkened back to thrilling adventure comics of old. I unabashedly loved this comic. This was like mac and cheese, a comfort food of a comic that made me feel happy. 

The book opens with the pages previewed in Detective Comics #1050 but continues full throttle with an over-sized, no ad book. So I didn't mind paying for those pages again. I wasn't cheated. But I won't review those pages here again. 

Writer Mark Waid does a great job here, flashing back to an early meeting of Batman and Superman as a way to show how they became best friends. And that history does resonate in the latter half of the story so didn't feel gratuitous. But the big win here is the characterization of a young Dick Grayson as Robin. I get the sense that Robin is going to be the straw that stirs the drink. He will be our POV character, the comic relief quipper, and the contrast hero against the megastars of Superman and Batman. I trust Waid to handle the DCU well and he does. He writes the DC that I want to read. It takes place some time in the past and has a classic flavor.

Dan Mora is on art and he just shines here. Mora has a lot to show us here as Waid does a deep dive into the DC Universe already. Poison Ivy. Metallo. The Penguin. The Weaponeers of Qward. The Doom Patrol. The work is crisp and engaging. I hope he stays on this book for a long time. But if he doesn't, please give him a classic Doom Patrol book to pencil. I love his take on the team, one of my favorite properties. 

And I was lucky enough to grab the last copy at my LCS that has the cover by Artgerm which reminded me of one of his early covers on Batgirl #14 . So happy to see Kara and Steph together. Make the poster and t-shirt now DC!

I am going to gush.

On to the book.

With Metallo having injected Red K into Superman, the book heads into a flashback from years ago. 

The Penguin has become an arms dealer with the Weaponeers of Qward. Given his new comrades, the Penguin kidnaps Robin to lure Batman into a trap, hoping the Weaponeers will kill the Dark Knight.

But the thing I love here is how calm and quippy Robin is. He tells the Penguin that the villain is 'in big trouble dude' even though he is hung upside down over a foundry vat of molten metal. He wishes he had a nickel every time he was used as bait.

It is just pitch perfect for a young Dick Grayson.

Except Batman doesn't go in.

He sends Superman in to run roughshod on the bad guys while Batman saves Robin.

Lightning bolts from the Weaponeers against Superman? 'It tickles.'

Yes, I know that Waid is going to mine DC history for things like this. But frankly it's why I'm here. What a nice little call back.

You might remember that in the Detective preview, Robin is in green leggings. Here you see he is much younger, a true kid, sporting the shorty shorts. Nice touch. Batman has a tiny bat symbol on his chest whereas in 'the present' of the story he has a yellow circle around the bat.  And Mora really lets us see that time lapse in his depiction of Robin and with costume changes. Great stuff.

And then a handshake that cements a friendship after Superman saves Batman's life.

I like it when these two are true friends. Not begrudging allies. Not bickering about light vs. dark. Not contrasting lessons taught by parents.

Just friends.

A close-up on the handshake sort of cements the tone Waid is going for here.

Back in the future, the Red K is wreaking havoc on Superman as he mutates quickly and strangely, losing control of his powers and his senses. The heroes need to leave.

Some people might think Waid is being too cute when he has Robin ask if Lois knows a 'doctor who specializes in freakish transformations'. But it works for me. A little foreshadowing that pays off almost immediately.

Again, Mora shines here as Superman goes ballistic, panicked as he goes all translucent, etc.

Now this is a Supergirl blog.

With Superman reeling (literally becoming a man of steel briefly), Jimmy wonders if they should call in Supergirl.

Superman doesn't want her to get infected either so he says they shouldn't call her in. 

It seems sad that a mention of Supergirl is enough to make this Kara fan excited. But this is the world I am living in. I can only hope that Waid has some story in his head where Supergirl will guest star.

I told you that Robin's foreshadowing about an expert in freakish transformations is paid off quickly.

Because somehow the Doom Patrol shows up. 

Classic Drake/Premiani Doom Patrol: Cliff, Rita, and Larry. 

Heck, the even use the old logo!

I love the way Mora draws the group, especially wide-eyed embiggened Rita. I hope we see these characters in the rest of this arc. Just gorgeous.

Another little Easter Egg by Waid.

Maddened by the Red K, Superman sees villains everywhere, even confusing Batman for Lex Luthor.

But calling 'Lex' a 'diseased maniac'? That is right from the Richard Donner's Superman The Movie. That's fun.

Batman is able to talk Superman down by bringing in personal information to the discussion, things Lex wouldn't know. Batman leans into his friendship with Superman to save everyone. Yes!!

With Superman calm, Negative Man can come in and bombard the Man of Steel with red sun radiation. (I didn't know he could do that. Waid gives us some comic science around it.)

And then the group heads to a place to try and actually cure the problem. Enter The Chief!!

I have gushed enough. The whole book rolls out stupendously. The flashback showing the World's Finest history. The action. The Easter Eggs. Robin's quips. The classic Doom Patrol. And the dramatic art. 

I loved this book. 

Overall grade: A+


Steve said...

I'm looking forward to Waid's Chief. I'm hoping for a take different than 'Chief is an evil manipulative asshole' . It worked once but it's time to get off that train.

Martin Gray said...

Fine review, what a top opening issue.

Great spot on the film reference, that went right over my head.

I wonder if Waid was being pointed when he’s said he didn’t want Supergirl ‘infected’ - after all, Red K effects aren’t catching (unless THAT’S a Red K effect).

Loved Rita’s shorts, so useful when you’re towering over people.

Anonymous said...

Loved the review, the mention of Kara, and especially this book!
My first series was Worlds Finest in '65; that was my favorite series.
It sure looks like this new series will be just as good! ;)

Rob S. said...

Great review of a fun book!

And you're in luck: according to the solicitations, Kara will be guest-starring in issue 3! Here's the description:

In chapter three, a side mission to track a shadowy figure has Waid, Mora, Bonvillain and Bidikar taking readers on a twisted time-travel tale of titanic tenure! In an attempt to get to the bottom of the mystery, Robin the Boy Wonder and the Supergirl of Krypton venture back in time to China circa 1600 B.C.—running headfirst into the ancient superheroes known as the House of Ji! Meanwhile, Superman and Batman are losing a race against time to save their fellow superheroes from the schemes of a new villain…one simply known as THE DEVIL NEZHA.

Rob S. said...

AND -- just released! -- issue 4 as well!

As Robin and Supergirl race to retrieve the secrets of the Devil Nezha from ancient China, Batman and Superman get more than they bargained for in the present! To save humanity from the fires of the demon, the World's Finest must go toe-to-toe with the protector of Sector 2814...Hal Jordan.

Anonymous said...

I think Artgerm has said his cover is an homage to the one he drew for Batgirl #14.

Meanwhile there's another appearance of Supergirl this week, sort of - and not too flattering, but kind of funny.

It's in Robins #5 - in a game simulation that Spoiler is stuck in, technically one set up by Batman to suggest what the Robins lives would have evolved into had they never served as Robins.

In the simulation, Spoiler is leading a group of Teen Titans that includes Supergirl, and she assigns Supergirl to ground duty because she had been exposed to Kryptonite. But Supergirl ends up flying anyway (apparently disobeying directives), and bumps right into Jaime and Jackson mid-air. She apologizes, but gets scolded by Spoiler for thinking she could handle things better than her teammates. Still, Spoiler agrees to give her another chance. (Nice of her!)

While it's a game that Batman set up, I think it's Spoiler's game choices and a bit of wish fulfillment there. She's the hero of the simulation and pumps herself up by taking the Kryptonian down a notch.

(Spoiler gets her eventual comeuppance as she leads the Titans into a disastrous conflict with the JLA.)


Anonymous said...

Looks like Supergirl will also be in World's Finest #2. Mark Waid said on Reddit, with respect to making Robin a key character: "Wait until you see (his) conversation with Supergirl next issue."

I hope this isn't another case of building a Robin up at Supergirl's expense, though.

In some other young Kryptonian news, Thao-La will awaken in Action #1044 in June.


Professor Feetlebaum said...

This was a great first issue. I hope that readers will support this book, even though it's not set in current DC continuity. The Penguin and the Weaponeers of Qward is a super villain team up I never expected to see. And the Penguin's "WAUGH" made me think of Burgess Meredith.

That Reddit Q and A done yesterday with Mark Waid is worth reading. I read it through a link on Comic Book Resources, and it covers a lot of topics, not just World's Finest. I was a little disappointed with a couple of Waid's answers regarding Supergirl. Someone asked Waid about writing a Supergirl book, and Waid answered that he was "not eager to go there because Tom King did such a great job." Waid also said that the only reason he brought Supergirl into the Legion was because Superboy (any Superboy) was not available. He did say that Supergirl's inclusion "ended up being a happy accident."

The Q and A included a link to a preview page of World's Finest # 2, featuring Supergirl. Kara is wearing what appears to be her "crisis costume" with the red shoulders. But no headband.

Anj said...

Thanks for all the great comments!

Yes, I should have remembered that Supergirl was in the mentions for future WF issues. I hope she becomes a sort of standing supporting cast for the book.

I love all the stuff folks brought up here! Yes, I heard Meredith with the 'WAUGH!'

And I suppose King's book is still too fresh with the trade not yet out to question it. And Waid knows these days not to burn bridges.

All good in my mind!

Anonymous said...

Yeah I trust Mark Waid with Kara Zor El insofar as I trust any creative at DC these days. I’d rather she was a well handled ably depicted supporting character in a book than a headliner in some misbegotten solo series that displayed her as a foul mouthed enabler of homicide.
Anyway this one is off with a bang, lots of fun worries and perils, nothing too dark, nothing too cutesy, seems like solid fun.