Monday, September 25, 2023

Review: Batman/Superman World's Finest #19

Batman/Superman World's Finest #19 came out this week, the ending of a quick 2 parter looking at the origin of the team. I have really been impressed with the overall cadence of this book. We have 5 parters; we have done-in-ones. Now we have a two-parters. Fantastic.

Kudos to Mark Waid for not stretching out stories to fill a trade. This was a quick little story. I suppose you could have dragged this out 5 or 6 issues. But there is no need. That makes me happy.

Waid continues the 'origin' of the World's Finest pair and I like how the turning point is where Batman learns about how the death of Superman's parents (and the rest of Krypton) is something that drives him a little. There is a commonality between these two that would bring them together. As this is an early take on these two, I like how both are still pretty raw. 

But Waid really got me with a callback to Aethyr, the oversoul of the Phantom Zone from the 80s that has been revisited now and then. You can count on Waid to lean into DC history!

Travis Moore brings a clean take on the art here. This issue is pretty action heavy and Moore cranks up the power, giving us Kryptonians brawling away. 

If the 'done in ones' are an amuse bouche in comics, this was a meaty hors d'oeuvre. 

On to details.

Superman and Batman were brought together when the Riddler was leaving clues written in Kryptonese as well as Gotham citizens randomly disappearing. It turns out that Jax-Ur had noticed some weakening in the Zone walls and was able to calculate the next openings. He set the riddles in Nygma's mind to lure Superman to one of the rifts hoping to swap places and get some revenge.

Instead last issue, it was Batman who got swapped. This leaves Jax-Ur out on Earth to battle Superman. It's a clash of the titans. Great panel here by Moore. 

Of course, the weakening of the Zone is a mystery that we get hints at. And, of course, what is to stop Jax-Ur from doing this again? Or other villains from slipping out? We don't get those answers. 

I love how Jax-Ur is still relatively underpowered, as he should be. 

But he isn't powerless. And quickly learns that he can endanger others to get Superman distracted and let him scamper off.

Good, old-school villainy!

Just as Jax-Ur quickly learns how to use heat vision and flight, Batman quickly learns how to communicate telepathically from the Zone.

This is my favorite scene in the book. Superman talks of Jax-Ur's fated rocket experiment which killed thousands on Wegthor. That led to Krypton's outlawing space exploration, which of course led to a lack of space arks for Jor-El to use to help get people of Krypton.

It is Superman saying that he is angry at Jax-Ur for tangentially causing his parents' death that clicks with Batman.

Here is the common ground for these two. They have both lost a lot. 

Batman and Superman try to turn the tables on Jax-Ur by leading him to the next rift and trying to reverse the swap. But Jax-Ur is ready.

In classic villain hubris, he intends to prove that he doesn't fear the heroes by bringing Batman back.

Seems a little bit too easy a reason for getting Batman back in the game. But it was simpler times. This truly feels like a Silver Age story. 

When the heroes realize that Jax-Ur is hellbent on revenge towards Krypton, Superman realizes there are other Kryptonians on Earth.

Ohhhhh ... I was so ready to see a very young Supergirl in Midvale. 

Instead, it is the bottle city of Kandor in the Fortress. 


Meanwhile, in the Zone, Alfred thinks he knows what is causing the weaknesses. It is an alien.

I figured it was the Time Trapper.

I was wrong.

Meanwhile on Earth, in a scene reminiscent of Superman II, Batman tricks Jax-Ur into standing on a Phantom Zone Projector pad on the Fortress floor, sending the villain back.

Simple enough. 

Although Batman quickly wiring alien tech into a floorboard seems like a stretch, even for the Dark Knight. 

And that's that. 

The two recognize what they have in common - both in history and purpose. 

I love how Batman recognizes that Superman is no fighter. He promises to train his new friend. 

This would have been a fine ending. 

But we get an epilogue.

The alien is Aethyr The Messiah!

Continued in Action Comics??

A callback to Aethyr! I love it.

So this was a fun little issue. This felt like classic entertainment. Things happen a little easily. The villains do stupid things. The heroes quickly figure out an answer. But it was fun. I loved seeing these rookie heroes trying their best and realizing they can learn from each other.

Overall grade: B


Martin Gray said...

We love Aethyr! So, no Supergirl, this must have been set in the short period - less than a year, our time - between the rescue of Kandor and arrival of Supergirl.

Anonymous said...

It felt a little pat towards the end there, I mean Batman has no problem reverse engineering some alien tech he's seen for the first time? Very Leo Dorfman...BUT...I think this story gets us a step closer to a full on revised Silver Age Origin of Supergirl with the backstory of her adoption by the Danvers'. Anyway Jax Ur is a C-Lister at best, usually kowtowing to Zod etc, this time it's the Aethyr...ho hummm.