Monday, June 26, 2023

Review: Batman/Superman World's Finest #16

Batman/Superman World's Finest #16 came out that week and I know you will be shocked to hear this ... it was fantastic. 

I have been a big fan of this series since it began. Set in some recent past time so not bound by current continuity, with classic versions of not only out titular heroes but all DC heroes, this book has been a revelation and frankly a revolution against the current DCU.

I have always been a fan of Mark Waid. I think his grasp of comic writing and the DCU is pretty impeccable. But he is being masterful here. This is a Batman/Superman book by name. And they are the straws that stir the drink. In reality, this is a Legends of the DCU book with anyone and everyone a possible guest star. In this issue alone we get a majority of the Justice League, a collection of C-list villains given credibility, and more robot characters than you can imagine. Moreover, his characterization work is spot on. There is a GA/Batman moment that is perfect. Robin has a line of dialogue that is just perfect.

Perhaps most impressive for me is the path this arc has taken. What started out as a simple murder mystery ('Who killed Simon Stagg?') has turned into a planetary threat with the entire human population at risk. That isn't an easy track to jump to but Waid has done it.

Add to that Dan Mora's exemplary artwork and the book sings. I guess you can add Hawkman, Firestorm, and Flash to the laundry list of characters that Mora has rendered here that I would want to see him draw on a monthly. And this is his second book on the rack each month. 

On to specifics.

Our heroes have been captured by Newmazo who has enslaved them in his robot building factory and begun an AI war. Anything with any AI, from cars to cellphones, to airplanes, can revolt and lead to the death of the humans running them. Thankfully, the Flash is able to save Robin from the Batmobile driving itself into a wall. 

So this is interesting because it sets up the threat as maximum with a all of humanity at risk and our heroes trapped.

It is also reminiscent of Waid's Legion Threeboot series when the robots rebelled again.

Will Magnus, under threat by Professor Ivo, gave Newmazo a responsometer. But it turns out that when you make an omnipotent creation they rarely stay obedient. 

But I like how this Newmazo was able to absorb intellect like the old Amazo absorbed powers. Just like that he was as smart as Ivo and Magnus. He then kidnapped other AI villains, the Toyman, Dr. Cyber, and the Bug-Eyed Bandit and absorbed their intellect.

Seriously, Waid has made The Toyman, Dr. Cyber, and Bug-Eyed Bandit respectable and legitimate. 

With the DC's billionaires replaced by his drones, Newmazo suddenly had the wealth he needed to push his plot forward.

And what a plot. Newmazo has taken control of all the robots in the DCU and has them herding humans to acid pits for dissolution. 

Horrifying! And a big leap from Bruce Wayne being suspected of killing Stagg!

Thankfully, the human heroes are out there trying to stop all the mechanical ones, from Kelex to Superman Robots to GI Robot. 

G.I. Robot!! Being destroyed by Metamorpho! From someone who grew up reading and memorizing DC continuity and characters and Who's Who listings, I love these deep dives. I even got to see my beloved Mr. Atom!

Alas, Newmazo doesn't know that Oliver Queen and Ted Kord (kidnapped for their money) have other skills. Leading the supervillains and other captives, they make a rudimentary bow for Ollie to take out the Green K Ultramorpho. Add to that some lead shielding and hopefully Superman would be back in action.

Best two panels in the book. The villains don't know Ollie is the Green Arrow. Won't this bow shot tip them off? Batman says that he is Batman, everyone will assume he shot it. Great line. Ollie denying that Batman could? Also great. Ted lobbing a Mama insult at Ultramorpho? Perfect.

These small scenes capture the essence of these characters so easily. Just tremendous.

Then the reinforcements show up to stop Ultramorpho from re-integrating.

Check out that old school Firestorm! And just thrilled that Supergirl is still showing up in this book.

Mora can do no wrong. 

But why does Batman want Green Lantern to put Newmazo's control satellites into orbit around the planet.

I guess you don't question Batman. But in this adventure where drones have replaced people, you think Hal might pause half a second.

Still pretty cool.

Wonder Woman and Robin head out to find the one AI villain not captured ... T.O. Morrow.

As I said before, Waid has such a capture for these characters at this stage of their career. A young, energetic Robin saying 'T.O. Morrow' sounds like a family restaurant made me laugh out loud,

From the action to the character beats to the plot progression to the dialogue, it's a home run.

As for Supergirl, she sticks around with Batman for some reason. 

Turns out, it's not Supergirl ... it's Newmazo in disguise.

Nice cliffhanger. 

Hope this leads to the real Supergirl showing up to bail out Batman next issue.

Everyone should be reading this book. Perfect mesh of words and art. The best comic on the market right now.

Overall grade: A+


Bostondreams said...

Love the interplay been Ollie and Bruce, and the small smile on Bruce's face!

Martin Gray said...

Lovely review. What a top book this indeed is.

Mind, I’ve always found Toyman and Dr Cyber to be credible threats (heck, the latter always wanted to slice Wonder Woman’s face off and ear it!).

One thing I especially loved with the art was Plastic Man actually looking plasticky, that’s great work from Mora and colourist Tamra Bonvillain.

Anonymous said...

This was a superior cliffhanger, Waid has a talent for them much like Gail Simone. For an seemingly fatally overcrowded cast, its all handled so deftly, I think Waid could write any DCU Team Book with Aplomb, even the obscurities...Cave Carson? The Inferior Five? No sweat! I think though, it falls to me to ask, if NewMazo was masquerading as Supergirl, then where was The Real Kara?
Kidnapped? Taken Hostage, or off smacking AI around?
Well whatever...I trust Mark Waid implicitly that if Supergirl has been taken hostage he'll follow the "Rule of the Three Selves" "Self Reliant, Self Confident, Self Rescuing".