Friday, June 24, 2022

Review: Batman/Superman World's Finest #4

Batman/Superman World's Finest #4 came out this week and this book continues to just delight me. This book seems to be set in the late Bronze Age and I am solely basing that on costumes and personalities. But some of the story sensibilities also fold neatly into that era. Almost anything can happen and we just can chalk it up to 'comic book science' or 'comic book magic'. 

And for a Supergirl fan, this book is a revelation. This is the type of Kara I am hoping to read. Quick to action. Still young and learning. Young enough to be startled. Powerful enough to beat down the bad guy. I mean it when I say that this is probably the best Supergirl book I have read in the last few years. I know ... your own mileage may vary. But reading this is reading who Supergirl is to me. Thank you Mark Waid.

The rest of the story is fantastic. Superman and Batman's easy friendship and rapport. Nezha and his evil plans. Bronze age heroes under Nehza's spell. The cliffhanger It all works.

The art by Dan Mora is just as fantastic. The action sequences are spot on with an energy that sizzles. The expressive work is just fantastic, especially Supergirl. There is a composite World's Finest suit which demands an action figure. This is one of those books that I really linger over the art to drink it in. 

Seriously, this is a fun and entertaining book that everyone should be reading.

On to the particulars.

Last issue ended with Green Lantern under Nezha's control. Here Hal is even more powerful than usual, his green energy capable of injuring Superman. And that is because the energy is tinged with magic.

Surprisingly Nezha is here, in the flesh, and wades into battle. I was not expecting that. 

I figured he'd still be manipulating things from the sidelines.

And a little bit of monologuing. 

Nezha freed himself from the prison the Warriors of Ji put him in. Within his own prison he wrote a spell. 

I thought this well rendered by Mora, Nezha clawing sigils and symbols into the wall to open the doors from the inside. 

I also like this plot turn. Nezha feels bigger because he freed himself and wasn't freed by someone, like Luthor or Felix Faust.

Meanwhile in the past, Supergirl and Robin here something bad from the Warriors of Ji. Something about how they trapped Nezha doesn't sit right.

This is what I mean about Mora's expressive work. You can see the shock on Kara's face. So evident by her eyes and the hand to her face. This is the same brash Kara who leapt into battle last issue, who chided Robin earlier. She is still new enough to the game to be impacted this way.

I also love how Mora draws her. Her hair is great. And I love how the S-symbol is just slightly warped because of how her costume hugs her body.

With the information in tow, Supergirl scoops up Robin and races back to the 'present'. But the time stream is rocky. I like how Kara matter-of-factly says it means someone is trying to mess with the timeline or change history. 

But the storm is powerful enough to rip Robin from her grip. 

Just as fantastic as the shocked look on Supergirl was above is her determined look here in the top panel. Those are some steely eyes. 

Will this be one of those plot twists where the person trying to upset the timeline is Robin on his way back? Or is this just a throwaway line.

And then the Dragon Ball Z moment of the issue.

Batman is able to hold off Hal with the Philosopher's Stone.  But it won't hold. The only way to defeat Hal is to have stronger will. 

The two heroes think together, concentrating both their will to strip the ring off the hand of  the bedeviled (and therefore weaker willed) Hal.

It somehow works. 

And even crazier, the single thought process and power of the ring fuses Batman and Superman into this composite. 

I love this design. The chest symbol. The red hood. The black sleeves with white gloves showing that the Green Lantern power is there. It all works.

Now how it happens? Who knows or cares. It is these crazy fun things that make comics so fantastic.

With Hal out of the picture, Nezha brings in the next wave of controlled heroes. Wonder Girl and Kid Flash in their 70's costumes. Bronze Age Firestorm. Black Canary.

The fused hero is deft with both their own innate powers and the ring.

But just like fusion in DBZ, it is incredibly powerful but short-lived. Already the heroes are down to 9%.

I know I am waxing Mora's car. But seeing him draw these characters from my youth reading comics was joyous. Love his Wonder Girl!

The World's Finest hear from the Doom Patrol about Nezha's cage on Corto Maltese. Using their last ergs of energy they pound him into the stratosphere in hopes of throwing into the cave. But they run out of juice and separate.

Luckily it is at the exact time Supergirl comes back.

She gives Nezha a beatdown similar to the one she laid on the Anti-Monitor in Crisis #7. Like she pounds him down. 

Yes. That's Supergirl. Rushing into action and taking out the bad guy.

Okay, she acknowledges that Batman and Superman did most of the heavy lifting. But she did her bit, knocking Nezha out.

But she has to give the bad news. Nezha's cage has to be locked from the inside. Someone has to sacrifice themselves.

I will reiterate this is the best Supergirl I have read in a while. I love how her word balloons are wonky, showing the effort she needed to put in. And I love how she has no time for small talk, telling Batman and Superman to listen to her.

And the art in all these panels is fantastic. I especilly love the sort of bedraggled and angry/frustrated look on Supergirl here. She has just been in a brutal fight. And now she has to tell her friends someone has to basically kill themselves to defeat Nezha.

It all just works. 

I read comics for entertainment and this book is firing on all cylinders.

Overall grade: A+


Anonymous said...

I absolutely agree!

My guess/hope is that Kara will seal herself in,
then time-travel back to when it wasn't sealed,
get out, then go back to the 'present'.

Or perhaps Flash can do it, then vibrate out?

In any case, a great cliff-hanger. The last page,
with everyone's shocked expressions, was superb.

I actually got the Williams II variant cover.

Anonymous said...

This has been a tremendous series. This is what you get with a top tier writer, and it really accentuates how dismal so much of the writing at DC currently is.

And Dan Mora's art is fantastic. So far he draws entire issues by himself, which seems to have become the inexplicable rarity at DC. I hope he stays on the title for a long time.

This is a series that's uniting all DC fans, I think.

Normally I probably wouldn't buy a book like the mini-series starting in September, "Batman vs. Robin", but with Waid writing it, it's probably not to be missed. It's going to be about this demon Nezha again, who apparently is the very demon that factored into the story told by Williamson in his Robin series.

Plus, Mahmud Asrar will be drawing it, his first work for DC in a decade. I really liked his work on the first two dozen issues of the Supergirl New 52 issues, a really nice long run which is also rare these days.


Martin Gray said...

Fab review. This is such a great book. Mora’s art seemed scratchier than previously, but it suited the increasing momentum of the story.

The demon is more formidable than I expected, his personality and trash talk making him seem a scary geezer. Waid is so good.

I’m not too worried about the supposed sacrifice necessary to seal him in there. Elastigirl could shrink her way out. Negative Man could zap through a crack…

… or Supergirl could spin her way into the time stream and, as you suggest, Anj, become the disturbance that annoys her so much.

Anj said...

Thanks for comments.

I was thinking the Negative Spirit could somehow be the one on the inside. So great idea Mart. The Doom Patrol being there has to be for a reason? The Robot body doing it while Cliff's brain is outside?

Love the idea of Supergirl causing the very disturbance she is annoyed with. Perhaps it is her trying to go back and save Dick?

Anyways, it is smashing. I wasn't sure I would like Nehza being so 'in your face' but he is quite delightful as a villain.

Anonymous said...

How is that for authentic Karatharsis ehh? The boys are as usual in their last ditch, until Supergirl makes like a Battering Ram and carries the Day!
And she knocked The Devil Out Cold as well...I have little here about which to complain, can’t wait for her all star time odyssey to recover Robin (weird setting for a second date but maybe those crazy kids will click next time:)...
Boy as abused as she has been recently it sure doesn’t take much to put her back on the A List...a little decision, a little heroism, some serious smackdown, a toss of the old spun gold...and Supergirl is Baack!


Metal Mikey said...

The only thing that's keeping me from buying this book on a monthly basis... and it does look to be my kind of thing... is that while the look and feel of the characters appears to be classic DC, it still appears to be "written for the trade". I guess I'm just TOO old fashioned to hope for at least one book to trade in on one-and-done appeal, with occasional 2-parters to throw in!

Unknown said...

I'll tell you one thing; the sacrifice BETTER NOT BE SUPERGIRL!! I'm still very PO'ed for what DC did to her in COIE #7; I don't care if it was 37 years ago!! And don't kill The Flash again!! But I hope that whoever it is, they can come back to their time stream; I don't want any of them to be a sacrifice!! And seeing Wonder Girl in her second TT's outfit is just awesome!! Seeing Donna as Wonder Girl again is awesome!! I love all the OG's new looks!! Dan Mora is a superb artist!! The writing is fantastic!! This is a winning DC team!!

Anonymous said...

Insofar as we can trust any creative at DC, I think we can trust Mark Waid with Supergirl. Besides the solicits indicates she has to go time traveling again to recover poor Robin who is probably trying to build a time machine on a prehistoric island with some coconuts...


Anj said...

Yes. Give me more Mark Waid Kara.

He rescued her in the Legion while Joe Kelly was having her murder in her main title.