Friday, April 22, 2022

Review: World's Finest #2

World's Finest #2 came out this week and was another knockout winner of an issue. This issue, much like the last, feels like a love letter to the DCU. It is just about perfect.

I shouldn't be surprised that writer Mark Waid can capture, almost effortlessly, the voices of these characters. And by placing these stories somewhen in the past (and maybe even somewhere in the continuity of the DCU), he has a sort of carte blanche to go classic with these characters while still infusing some of their more current mores.

Perhaps the biggest surprise in the issue is his wonderful characterization of Supergirl. I remember talking to Waid about Kara at a Boston Comic Con back in the day. I mentioned how his Supergirl in the Legion was so different from that time's 'current continuity' of Supergirl, the angst-riddled angry monster in the Loeb and then Kelly issues. It was clear in hearing him talk about picturing her smiling and flying that he and I shared an outlook. 

Here we have Waid doing it again. This Kara is there for her cousin, eager to help, capable and intelligent. Once more so different from the 'current continuity' Kara, the emotionally-devastated, angry monster of Tom King.

Seriously, and probably no surprise, the Supergirl stuff was my favorite part of the issue. But trust me, the rest of the issue is tremendous as you'll see. And it is clear that Waid is going to use our World's Finest duo as a straw to stir around the drink of the whole DCU.

Add to it the unbelievable beauty of Dan Mora's art and you have a winner. Last issue I said I wanted Mora on a Doom Patrol book after seeing his take on the classic team. After this issue, I want to see him on a monthly Supergirl book. His art sings, from the medical drama of the first scene to the brutal flashbacks of Devil Nehza origin, it all just leaps off the page.

Buy this book. 

On to the specifics.
Last issue ended with Superman injected with Red Kryptonite directly into his veins. I came into this issue thinking we were going to have a couple of issues of Superman afflicted. Leave it to Waid to just solve the problem within the opening pages.

In a nice nod to the Drake/Premiani Doom Patrol stories, the Negative Spirit has one minute to work his way through Superman's vasculature to purge the radiation. That is a clever solution to the problem. And in the old Doom Patrol stories there was always a 'will he make it' cliffhanger about the Spirit's one minute time limit.

But this is a World's Finest book. As Superman clings to life we see Batman talking to his unconscious friend telling Kal to hold on. We see panels of the heroes in adventures that probably we will never read but showing them in combat together. I love that in this book, the two are easy friends.

And then when Superman survives, we see Superman smile. I love this panel, especially Rita's scared look. Batman smiling is creepy!

The Chief thinks he knows what is going on.

Caulder brings out a sword he liberated from someone named 'Zahl', a nice call back to the DP's old villain General Zahl.

The sword belonged to someone named The Devil Nezha. 

Batman and Caulder keep trying to one up each other with knowledge bombs about the China Dynasty the weapon is from leading to this great interaction between Superman and Robin. Of course Caulder and Batman would want to be the smartest man in the room and would engage in that nonsense.

Just a perfect character moment.
Then we get the origin of Devil Nehza.

Mora constructs the pages perfectly with members of the Doom Patrol stepping in to say one piece of the story. This let's Mora showcase his skills with these characters as well as show how Nehza was the son of a warlord. When Nehza was killed in battle, his father relinquished all his power and riches, reduced himself to a servant, to find the way to resurrect his son. 

But once brought back, Nehza was angry his father gave everything away and beheads the old man.

What a brutal and truly evil origin. But it gets worse, Nehza began to accumulate magical weapons and grew and army, terrorizing the world. That is until he was imprisoned by a team of magical warriors from the noble house of Ji.

Waid does a good job capturing the individual voices of the Patrol as they each say their part. And Mora really shines in the flashback sequences.

The devil symbol on the syringe Metallo used is Nehza's. Is Nehza back? Or an acolyte? Whoever it is they mobilized super-villains to not only fight the World's Finest but others too. Billy Batson, the Flash,  and Wonder Woman are under attack. You know we are going to see these characters as Waid tours the world.

But the senior World's Finest needs to learn more about how the Warriors of Ji imprisoned Nehza, so they enlist the junior circuit to go back in time to see how.

Yup! Robin and Supergirl will go on a side mission into the past.

And yet, the open the conversation so icily that even Superman notices.

Seriously though, look at how incredible Mora's Supergirl looks, in a sort of pre-Crisis red-shouldered uniform. All she is missing is the headband!

The groups split up, old school style. The Doom Patrol are off to find Nehza.

Superman and Batman fight Felix Faust who is terrorizing Billy Batson in Fawcett. Faust has removed Batson's mouth, so no magic word.

It looks like Faust's magic just might defeat Batman and Superman. That is, it looks that way until Superman whistles in a way to neurologically batter Faust with vertigo and cramps.

Remember when Morrison had Superman sing to defeat Darkseid. Remember when Waid had Supergirl whistle to calm an earthquake. Just as perfect.

Meanwhile, Supergirl and Robin fly off. 

Finally, it is clear their cold interaction is because they had a disastrous date. Showing off? Monkeys? Avalanches? Flirting with the server?? We'll probably never see this and all the better. My mind is going crazy.

I love that these two gave it a shot and it failed.

And look how Mora shows it. This isn't Superman cradling Lois as they fly. Robin is as stiff as a board as Supergirl carries him by his shoulders. Perfect art/word complements.

And this is a smart, capable, adventurous Supergirl.

She follows the unique energy signature of the sword back through time until she brings the pair to ancient China. That page is wondrous.

But I also loved this panel. Supergirl doesn't need a translator. She speaks the ancient dialect!

Smart, capable, adventurous. Perfect.

The warriors of Ji assume our heroes are the magical army of their enemy.

And it turns out Faust was maybe playing possum.

He is working for Nehza who has promised great power to those who eliminate the Devil's enemies.

Double cliffhanger!!!

I loved this book. LOVED it!

Such a great take on these characters. Such a vile new villain. And just the best Supergirl I have read in while!

Everyone who is a fan of the DCU should be reading this book.

Overall grade: A+


Martin Gray said...

Amen to that. What a wonderful issue this was, top to bottom. How wonderful to see Supergirl get her due… I hope DC continue in this vein.

Anonymous said...

I think this is the first time Supergirl has volitionally broken the time barrier in 37 years....? Feel free to contradict me on that though. Loved her frigid interactions with Robin...I say these two lovebirds should give it a second shot, nothing funnier than a disastrous second date IMHO, it could easily fill a whole issue if Mark Waid wrote it...

Martin Gray said...

Thank you, JF! I was just wondering about that very thing - with your assumed permission to post a link to my own review, Anj:

Anonymous said...

“First Date Comics starring Supergirl and Robin the Boy Wonder” written by Mark Waid:)


Anonymous said...

"I think this is the first time Supergirl has volitionally broken the time barrier in 37 years....?"

By volitional, do you mean of her own free will? Or do you mean under her own power?

In terms of free will, but via technology:

She didn't resist when Bruce ("sort of") helped her into a time machine to return to the present after having been kidnapped and taken to the future, in Supergirl #27 from 2008. This is the story "The Shape of Things to Come" (on the cover) or "The Girl of Tomorrow" (on credits page).

By the same token, she voluntarily entered the time portal to return to the present in Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #36, also from 2008.

Do these count?

Have there been other similar cases of time travel in the last few decades?


Anonymous said...

Allow me to clarify, I think this is the first time in 37 years Supergirl has used her own superpowers to pierce the time barrier and thus self time travel...since 1984 she has needed technology or assistance to do that, I think anyway.


William Ashley Vaughan said...

This is the kind of comic book DC should be publishing on a regular basis.
Thank you Mark Waid for giving us a Supergirl who is a confident, intelligent, hero instead of a traumatized idiot.

Anonymous said...

Hello from a french fan of supergirl,

The belt of the costume is quite wide, it looks more like the newer sle costumes. It's a good mix.

Now that we have the robin and supergirl duo, can we have the batgirl and superboy duo?

Bossman said...

I am torn. This series sounds great but I just cannot buy anything with Mark's name on it.