Friday, May 19, 2023

Review: Batman/Superman World's Finest #15

Batman Superman World's Finest #15 came out this week ... and I'm just grinning. 

Has there ever been a book more appropriately named? This book is truly the world's finest comic being produced.

Who doesn't want fun, gripping, interesting superhero action in a cohesive universe? Who doesn't want to see Batman and Superman as friends. Robin and Supergirl as sidekick about to take the step into full-fledged heroic personas? A deeeeeeeep dive into DC's catalog, with B-list heroes fighting D-list villains? Snappy dialogue? Gorgeous, energetic art? 

This book just sings.

Writer Mark Waid is clearly having a ball here. I have been reading DC for over 40 years and I think I have a comprehensive fund of knowledge on the era this book takes place in. But when you start pulling out the weird villains of the 70's Titans and Challengers of the Unknown, I am at a loss. But here they are! But these little flourishes and Easter Eggs only work if the main story is engaging. Things are becoming clearer here. We have moved from a 'Who killed Simon Stagg?' murder mystery to an all out robot rebellion on Earth. Waid went there in his Threeboot Legion but this time we get to see some familiar faces joining the fray. Throw in 2 new villains and the writing crackles.

Dan Mora gets to have just as much fun. The book is Batman/Superman but Mora gets to bring his style to a ton of the DCU here. The Titans, Supergirl, Robin, the Doom Patrol, the Challenger of the Unknown, and Red Tornado are all in this book. This reads more like a Legends of the DCU book and Mora is sizzling. As I have said before, every character he draws makes me want to have Mora on that character's book. Heck, I'd read his Red Tornado! Whoa!

Enough gushing. We have hit 15 months of it. On to the details.

Last month we met Ultra-Morpho, a Metamorpho-like character but who can turn into any element, not just those found in the human body. The cliffhanger had the villain turn into Kryptonite.

But this whole thing started with the death of Simon Stagg. We learned that billionaires around the planet were being replaced by androids and siphoning off their wealth to presumably Professor Ivo. I wondered why kill off Stagg if that was the ploy.

Thankfully Waid answers the question. Stagg was an early model and was about to die anyways. So the murder plot was done to remove it from the board. Excellent plot reason for this odd turn.

And really solid opening scene where it is Robin who saves Superman from the K-death by burying Ultramorpho under building debris. Everyone gets their moment in this book.

It seems like a short lived victory but then Batman and Metamorpho arrive. And Batman is driving (or maybe riding) in a giant robot made up of the rescued Metal Men. How cool does this thing look!

One thing about this book, it is an action figure line waiting to happen. We have seen the Batman/Superman/GL amalgam. Now this thing! And just wait ...

But the new plot line emerging is the robot rebellion. Earlier we saw a classic looking Red Tornado (!!) seemingly falling under an evil protocol. 

Here Waid dusts of Mekanique!! I at least know this villain!

The WWII robot is taking over humans minds (that looks suspiciously like Waid in the foreground) and takes on the Doom Patrol. And despite having a human brain in a robot body, Robotman falls under her sway.

I love the way Mora draws the classic DP. That Rita is to die for.

Meanwhile, the Metal Man disassemble and try to overpower Ultramorpho. 

Metamorpho becomes a lead suit for Superman to don and he joins the fray. I love Rex's face as the S-shield! And great action by Mora. A left-handed uppercut! Usually Kara goes southpaw and Superman is a rightie!

But Ultramorpho is pretty powerful. Spewing acid, he melts the lead, overpowers the Metal Men, and grabs our World's Finest pair and flies off.

I could see that Metamorpho/Superman being an action figure too.

We get glimpses throughout the world that robots are running amok. 

I am sure Ultivac is a true Challengers villain from one of their adventures. But it is moments like this that make this book truly special for me. When was the last time the Challengers of the Unknown got any page space, let alone a Dan Mora splash page.

Just awesome.

Robin, Metamorpho, and the Metal Men are recovering from their injuries and trying to figure out their next step. Thanks to a remote sensor, Robin knows Batman is still alive.

Metamorpho yells that the next step should be finding the villains and doing a direct assault but Robin knows that isn't the right plan.

I love how he stands up to Rex when Metamorpho says not attacking is a death sentence.

You just feel that Dick is on the cusp of becoming his own persona in this book. He is as much a hero in this title as Bruce or Clark. And seeing him 'grow up' is just fantastic. But there is still that whimsy and youth as well. Waid walks this fine line of giving us this 'in between' Robin. I can't remember the last time I liked a Dick Grayson Robin this much.

The title heroes wake up in a factory. They are wearing power-inhibiting collars as are the other prisoners - all tech-based characters: Doc Magnus, the Bug Eyed Bandit, The Toyman, Dr. Cyber and even ... Professor Ivo!

Ivo isn't the villain here. But his latest creation, Newmazo, is! Never give an omnipotent creature free will!!

Ivo not being the main villain is a nice twist. He is as much a pawn in his own plan as anyone. But again, Waid reaching deep into the DC bench just makes me smile. Dr. Cyber! I can see Don Heck's Who's Who page in my mind!

Even Robin knows he is going to need some help to save the heroes and quell the rebellion.

He first calls the Teen Titans but they are fighting 'The Awesome Threesome' robots (again, presumably an actual foe from their books). 

So he calls on the next big gun ... Supergirl.

She is protecting Metropolis from Chemo!!! I love Kara in this book. From her sassy response to Dick that she isn't waiting for his call and usually is busy to her courage in saving citizens and fighting Chemo ... I want a Mark Waid Kara book. I love that first panel, all the grit and determination visualized in just that one eye by Mora as she uses her forearms to shield herself. Just classic.

We end on a cliffhanger as we see it isn't just robots but perhaps all electronics that are about to rebel. 

What can I say? This is a near perfect book. It reads just like classic super-hero books should read. The characterization is spot on for these iconic figures. Robin sticking his finger in Metamorpho's face is a thing of beauty. And the art is perfection.

I'll say what I usually say at this point. Everyone should be reading this book. Everyone.

Overall grade: A


Anonymous said...


This is why WF was my very first series back in the 60's, which I
still have, and still re-read. This is just as great as they were.
I totally agree that EVERYONE s/b reading this book! Thankx for the
reviews, since I still occasionally miss some points.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Waid, Anj, I posted this in comments the other day, but wasn't sure if you saw it? Anyway, I was sure this would interest you:

Steve said...

There's so much to love about this series. What really stands out for me in this issue is when Batman flat out refers to Superman as his friend out loud. Since Crisis, so many writers have looked at the tonal differences between the two and declared they should not get along. It's like they've never had a friend radically different from then that they'd go to the mat for. (and I'd argue Bruce and Clark are more similar, than different at the core)

I do wish Kid Amazo had been used and the Big Bad of this arc had a less dumb name but that's me.

Anj said...

Thanks for the comments.

Yes anon, I saw Waid talk about wanting to do more with the WF Supergirl. That would make me thrilled.

I love that this book is all about Superman and Batman as close friends. Wonderful!

Anonymous said...

Geez it's been decades since Supergirl last tangled with Chemo and even that, was the Earth Angel, seems a shame to shunt a good throw down off to the side, but the book is so well written I hardly notice.