Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Review: Batman/Superman World's Finest #22

Batman/Superman World's Finest #22 came out last week, continuing the 'Return to Kingdom Come' storyline. 

From the beginning, I have had some trepidation about this story because of how much I love Kingdom Come. The more that happens on the Kingdom Come Earth, the more difficult it will be to reconcile the events of Kingdom Come unfolding as they did. 

Here we are on this world. The heroes are worshipping Gog. Our Earth-0 Superman and Batman are interacting with, even befriending the Superman and Batman of Earth-22. Shouldn't all these events be remembered? Shouldn't this impending battle against Gog lead to a more jaundiced eye at Magog? Isn't Gog's failed 'Catacomb' prison similar to the 'Gulag' in Kingdom Come and wouldn't that give the KC Superman pause to make it? And won't our heroes tell these heroes about the witnessed graveyard?

The only thing I can think is that somehow this is Earth-22A, close to the Kingdom Come world but not the actual one. It is the only way to put the genie back in the bottle.

Outside of my concerns, there is a lot to like in this issue. Our Superman's anger over how David turned into Thunderman is powerful. Gog's origin is linked to DC history and the Fourth World. The World's Finest team unites with the other world's World's Finest team. It's all pretty cool.

And, as usual, Dan Mora smashes it on art. We get to see his Supergirl again briefly. He gives us three new character designs. We see his take on some Kirby stuff, some Morrison stuff, the and some Alex Ross stuff. It is all beautiful. 

I am going to try to keep my worries at bay and judge the issue on it's own merits. But it'll be tough.

Gog is out and in the open on this Earth and the heroes are bending the knee to 'the Ascension'. 

It is revealed later that is Metron's chair but anyone who knows the DCU recognized it off the bat. What I do wonder is if that device at the top is the Rock of Ages, the Worlogog of that Morrison JLA story. Get it? Gog ... Worlogog!

But seriously, think of the Batman in Kingdom Come. Can you ever imagine him kneeling before anyone in worship??

The Justice Battalion head over to take out our heroes and deliver them to Gog. At one point Batman thinks it might not be that bad a plan. Throw the fight to stall for time.

I include this set of panels for a couple of reasons.

One, Dan Mora can draw Supergirl any time he wants in my book. She looks great.

Two, Batman should never be able to toss Supergirl around like this, even if he knows Klurkor. 

In the end, the heroes are overrun by Kingdom Come versions of heroes and even a couple of new folks.

Here Gog describes himself as the 'Bringer of Eternal Light'. He wants to bring the heroes glory. 

That doesn't sound like the usual motivation for our heroes, even those on Earth 22. So it made me wonder if there is some mild mind control being done by Gog.

In one of the better scenes in the book, our Superman calls out the E22 Supes for not making David a better hero. 

Superman has been pretty irate this whole storyline. No denying his anger here. Mora sells it ... face contorted, muscles tense. It feels just a little out of character for him to be this furious. I still wonder if this place is somehow affecting Supes. But good for him for calling out this other Superman for basically allowing David to nurture all his negative instincts.

Remember, David has been denying knowing our Batman and Superman to the other heroes on this world. But he has a different relationship with Gog. They have been training David to do something dramatic.

I have not liked David at all in this story so kudos to Waid for giving us this brief moment where the character has some introspection. He recognizes our heroes as friends and mentors. Even his body language by Mora gives us a sense of regret.

The titular heroes are thrown into 'The Catacomb', a massive prison for super-villains.

There they meet Metron, another hero thrown into the dark placeby Gog. Literally starving for knowledge, the New Genesis hero talks to Superman and Batman.

It turns out Gog was one of the 'old gods', the race killed in the first page of the Fourth World New God's series. He floated out in space until he found Earth. Then he befriended Metron. 

I like linking Gog to both the DCU writ large and the Fourth World. And Gog's desire for Order at any cost also is interesting given Magog's desire for order and justice in Kingdom Come which leads to chaos.

The E-22 Batman wonders how our heroes knew David's name was David. That could only be true if they knew him which means maybe they aren't lying about the multiverse. That leads the E22 World's Finest to free our Batman and Robin.

Great panel here, a very different scene from the earlier confrontation. I suppose it shows how Superman can forgive. 

But then a twist.

Gog turns David into Magog.

And Metron reveals that Gog wants the heroes to go to Apokolips to bring a war to Darkseid. What's worse, it is a suicide mission. According to Metron, Gog knows they won't win. So what is the purpose.

This is an incredible page from Mora. Packed full of characters and energetic. 

But surely, should this happen, a war against Apokolips would alter the E22 timeline leading into Kingdom Come. (Seriously, I hope this is on a Kingdom Come adjacent world and that Magog gets tossed from this Earth to that Earth ...)

Some fun stuff here. Some nice moments. Fantastic art. If I didn't know Kingdom Come I'd probably rank this higher.

Overall grade: C


PT Dilloway said...

It does seem like prequels while filling in some holes end up creating more of them, like Star Wars and Fox's second batch of X-Men movies.

Anonymous said...

Its a good rattling yarn even if I'm getting sick of whiny Boy Thunder...and this is what our third mind-controlled in the background Supergirl in three years? I'd be more incensed but Waid gets a pass from me, sooner or later Supergirl will rise to advantage...at least with him writing the narrative.