Monday, January 23, 2023

Review: Batman/Superman World's Finest #11

Batman/Superman World's Finest #11 came out that week and was a satisfying ending to the Boy Thunder storyline. This was a story about trust and inspiration, about survivor's guilt and rage. We learned last issue that David becomes Magog from Kingdom Come. But what happens between now and then to make the angry teenager become a dark anti-hero?

I'm repeating myself but Mark Waid has a command on the characters of Batman and Superman. He understands their core. So when I read this book, I see Superman writ large; I see Batman. And seeing how he guides these heroes as they deal with David's increasingly violent tendencies is perfect. Robin is also a big part of this series, acting almost like a commentator, pointing out these values in the titular characters. Throw in Waid's usual deep cut of DC history (and even DC movie history) and you have a thrilling tale. Trust me, he puts in a very little known character who I love.

Dan Mora continues to shine on art. The Key is such a trippy character, all hopped up on mind-altering drugs, that Mora injects the pages with enough psychedelia to keep me happy. The action sequences are top notch. But it is the expressive work in this issue, particularly that of Superman, that glitters. Great cover too. 'Thy Will Be Done' is a nice nod to the Kingdom Come link here.

On to the book!

The Key is thrilled to learn that David comes from an alternate Earth. Using his chemicals, The Key is able to pry the memory of Superman's Fortress out of David's mind. Perhaps with access to David's ship, he can explore the multiverse.

I love the art on this page, all swirling art with crazy colors by Tamra Bonvillain. This is something out of Shade the Changing Man or Ditko Dr. Strange and I am there for it. It perfectly conveys the mind-altered state of David.

But that's flashback. Remember, last issue David was rescued and basically scorched the Joker. Luckily he stops before he killed the Clown Prince.

This moment is even heavier knowing that Magog killing the Joker in Kingdom Come was pivotal in Superman's decision to retire.

Here is some of that excellent Mora art. Check out the stern look on Superman as he tells David that heroes don't decide if someone deserves death. It isn't there call. That's a piercing stare.

And the second panel is made more impactful by the lack of background. All you get is the stare. That is all you should see.

It is clear that even that stare might not be enough. Batman thinks Superman needs to use the ultimate answer.

Holy shades of Superman II! Superman has a depowering chamber in his Fortress. The Man of Steel is about to do just that when he stops himself.  This isn't a problem with David. It is a problem with him. Superman thinks he needs to do better to help Boy Thunder.

That is such a Superman thing to do. He always is striving to do more, help more.

The Key interrupts the discussion. He wants that ship and so teleports into the Fortress with some friends.

Did Mark Waid ever go deep into the DC depths for the flunkies The Key brings along. Bag O Bones? Acid Master? Dr. Phoenix, the Abominable Snowman? Zebra-Man? And Ferlin Nyxly??

I am sure I am in a small niche group of Ferlin Nyxly fans!

Moreover, the Key has a way to depower Superman. 

Boy Thunder steps in to take out the D-list villains. He does so with nearly deadly force.

It is clear, David isn't learning the lessons that the heroes are teaching.

After some shenanigans, David has The Key in his clutches and is ready to burn the bad guy to cinders.

Superman is Superman again. He knows David is better than this. He'll convince him so.

But the best part is Robin doubling down saying he knows it is true because Superman never lies.

That's Superman. Belief and inspiration.

David does hold back. 

But the Key had activated David's ship in hopes of exploring the multiverse. Somehow David is linked to the ship. It'll head to some other Earth and take David with it.

Perhaps David has been listening all along. Because he says wherever he goes because of the lessons he learned from Batman, Superman, and Robin.

Maybe there's hope?

Or maybe not. 

He is met by Gog on the world he lands on. 

His destiny as Magog seems intact.

This backstory does add a little bit of context to Kingdom Come. Why did Magog appear when he did on that world? Why did he kill the Joker? Was it because he remembered the Joker torturing him? Was it to help avenge that world's Superman because he remembered being befriended by this Superman? Is it just that his rage was nurtured by Gog? Or some combination of all that?

If you love Kingdom Come, which I do, this is a nice little tangential tale. But it certainly stands on its own. 

I also like how Waid has constructed the first year of this book. A five part story followed by a stand-alone one-and-done. Single issue stories are a wonderful throwback. And they serve as a sort of palate cleanser before we hit the next arc.

This book continues to fire on all cylinders.

Overall grade: A


Martin Gray said...

Ferlin Nyxly! I got excited to a silly degree, even if Dan Mora’s version isn’t up there with the Curt Swan/Murphy Anderson original. And the Abominable Snowman… all we need is the Galactic Golem, the Viking from Valhalla and that stupid lynx and that’s Bronze Age Superman covered.

The ending of this issue would have been much more powerful had it not been spoiled by the end of last issue’s.

Anj said...

It is interesting that we saw it then without really seeing Magog again this issue. And yes, the surprise was then making this end just proving last issue's surprise.

Perhaps Waid is seeding a future story?

Steve said...

I did love this arc but didn't it feel more like a chapter in a larger story rather than something that stands alone? If I'm right I hope Mister Waid gives us the next bit sooner rather than later considering DC drops things and changes course with seemingly little consistency.

Anonymous said...

Anyone willing to rescue "Acid Master" from his one-and-done Purgatory is Aces High With Me.
Also caught a whiff of Action Comics #391 "The Punishment of Superman's Son" in this one as well...this is one of the few DCU books I can read sans trepidation, which means I can just sit back and obsess over the plot sans larger consequences.

Its a relief