Friday, March 24, 2023

Review: Batman/Superman World's Finest #13

Everyone should be reading Batman/Superman World's Finest. 

I cannot remember the last time I was so thrilled to read a comic. This title, written by Mark Waid and drawn by Dan Mora, has been a complete treasure. It is a sort of classic look at the Superman and Batman families. It is a little bit of a primer/teaser to the DCU as a whole. It includes deep dive references for grizzled readers like me. And it is fun! Comics should be fun!

World's Finest #13 came out this week and was another rollicking, entertaining issue. We have seen Waid bring in the Doom Patrol, the Teen Titans, and other guest stars here. This time we are deep diving into Metamorpho, the Element Man. Tremendous! Waid throws in a significant plotline, the death of Simon Stagg, that directly impacts one of our title stars. 

Dan Mora is a machine. I think, if you compare this to the first few issues, he is a bit sparser in his details. I am not surprised given the amount of work I am seeing from him out there. From covers to the upcoming Shazam book, Mora must be a machine. His stuff still sizzles. There are a couple of pages in this book that are just stunning. So I am glad that even though he is on Shazam he is still sticking around here too.

Waid and Mora have given us a baker's dozen of winners. Everyone should be reading this book. On to the details.

I can only hope that the extended Super and Bat families continue to show up in this book, at least in cameos like this, the opening scene of the issue. Supergirl and Batgirl are stunned at hearing how the 5th dimensional imps fooled Batman and Superman. 

This is a deep dive reference to the classic World's Finest #169 , 'The Supergirl-Batgirl Plot', a completely insane Silver Age story. 

Mora draws such a stunning Supergirl. I am so happy she has been so prominent in this title. I know that Waid is a huge fan. 

In a perfect world, we would get an issue with Babs and Kara as the stars. Mr. Waid and Mr. Mora ... make it so!

I suppose part of the reason for this scene was to introduce us to the World's Finest take on Jimmy Olsen, still young and eager, crushing on Batgirl, and Superman's pal.

But it was this side-eye that Supergirl gives Batman when questioning the title of 'World's Greatest Detective' that made me laugh out loud. Between the 'Put him in an orphanage' line and this one, Kara has definitely got the best zingers in the book. (Although Dick also has had a bunch!)

Then Superman (actually Clark) and Batman both get word. Simon Stagg has been poisoned. Someone murdered him. 

Interesting that Stagg is listed as a Bruce Wayne rival. In fact, Bruce Wayne was supposed to meet with Stagg that very day. Hmmm ...

Love how Mora sort of channels the more cartoony style of Ramona Fradon in his depiction of Stagg here. 

It prompts Batman to relay to Robin the origin of Metamorpho. Remember, this is sort of a primer for the DCU. As a young reader, I learned about the greater DCU through team-ups especially in books like The Brave and The Bold and DC Comics Presents and even anthology books like World's Finest. So Waid bringing in other characters into this book just feels so true, so comforting, and so fun.

But this page is pure body horror. Look at how Mora depicts Rex Mason turning into Metamporpho, trying to will some sort of humanoid form. That is just Cronenberg-esque. Gory and gorgeous.

I especially like that the first panel is his seeing himself in the warped reflection of the sarcophagus, making his appearance that much more bizarre. Mora is a godsend!

The Stagg murder is even more mysterious. He was in a locked room. Batman and Superman can't find a delivery method. 

If anyone has a reason to kill Stagg, it's Metamorpho who could completely sneak in and be the poison himself. 

It is a bit interesting that Batman is so suspicious.

I find it also intriguing that Mora's depiction here is more 'real' instead of the more Fradon-esque pic before.

We get an action break with Batman and Superman helping Metamorpho stop a museum theft. Waid knows that we are buying a super-hero comic so you need super-heroics. 

But he wastes no time in letting Rex know he is under suspicion. 

Classic Batman I suppose. He doesn't trust anyone. 

But things get more complicated. Earlier in the book, Clark told Jimmy to start investigating the Stagg murder as well. 

Drink in this brilliant splash from Mora showing Jimmy being 'Mr. Action', showing his investigative work. This could be a movie poster. This could be an ad for a procedural television show. This could be a poster or the cover for Jimmy Olsen #1. Now I want Mora to draw a monthly Jimmy book. I want Mora to draw every book!

Except ... Jimmy thinks Bruce Wayne is the killer!

What can I say. This book is just firing on all cylinders. The perfect complement of pictures and words.

Buy this book! And recommend it to others!

Overall grade: A


Steve said...

My favorite part was how Sapphire was portrayed. She came across as a vacuous bubble head most times in the past. Nice she wasn't cruel like Iris or Jean but just as nonflattering. Here her love has her saving Rex and it is awesome.

Martin Gray said...

This is such a winner - ‘treasure’ is right. And yes to a Kara/Babs issue.

Given Jimmy is so smart but has come to the wrong conclusion, Bruce is being framed. And given this is a story set in the past, and Stagg is around today, it has to be Stagg himself.