Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Review: Batman/Superman #27

Since it's inception, the Mark Waid/Dan Mora Batman/Superman World's Finest has been a revelation. It has been the most entertaining book on the rack, the perfect blend of adventure and fun, all set in an Else-When continuity that seems to be a mix of Classic DC and current continuity set in the past. I suppose with it's callbacks to pre-Crisis Bronze DC, animation, and Silver Age stories, it might be written for readers of a certain vintage like me.

Which brings us to Batman/Superman World's Finest #27, the next chapter in the Bat-Mite/Mr. Mxyzptlk arc. This is perhaps the craziest issue of the lot, amping up all the things I said I love about the title to 11. I get the sense you are either going to love this issue or hate it. And I loved it.

Waid continues to show us a world where every super-villain suddenly has a helpful 5th Dimensional imp. This is a world threat meaning Waid and Mora get to give us a deep dive into the DCU. Mora continues to show a complete mastery of comic art and the characters in the universe. Waid continues to make this a Who's Who book with Batman and Superman stirring the drink. 

And yet there is whimsy in this book. From Batman The Animated Series, the filmation Batman, to the wonkiness of Silver Age Jimmy Olsen, there is comic joy amidst the action battles. 

How can someone mix world-threatening plots and near omnipotent 6th dimensional overlords with the insanity of early comics successfully? This way I guess.

On to the book.

When the opening page is a Bat-Mite riff on the opening of Batman the Animated Series, I knew I was in for a winner. 

(I am pretty sure this gag was used in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold cartoon series too!)

We get to see those deep dives again. Wonder Woman fighting a classic Cheetah and her imp. Metal Men fighting Chemo and its imp. Firestorm fighting Killer Frost and her imp. 

And in the battle, we learn that there is some 6th dimensional being pulling all these strings to find the greatest hero to fight in a cosmic battle to the death.

Now we know who that bad guy was we saw before and why all this is happening.

Have to include Dan Mora Supergirl any time he draws her. Literally the best.  Even if she is getting pounded by Zha-Vam (someone so deep I needed to look him up). 

Give Mora a Supergirl solo book!

Last issue Superman and Batman were turned two-dimensional. 

Bat-Mite pulls Robin out only to be sucked in.

We get some great pages of the characters in their full Filmation glory, including the green skinned Batmite from that cartoon. 

Another deep cut. Will younger readers appreciate this? I know I loved it.

Travis Mercer does pitch in for some wonderful pages were we peek into the 6th dimension and hear again about the 6th dimensional being who left this place to pursue this battle.

I don't know what Batman has sussed out here! But his 'doesn't it' is perfect, especially with the raised eyebrow of cocky intelligence.

With the villains winning, Mxyzptlk needs to find someone to fight the good fight.

So why not split Jimmy into all the insane transformations he has had in the Silver Age as an Olsen Squad!

I can't say how broadly I smiled when I saw this page. Words can't state it. 

I love this. It is a wonderful look back, keeping the action high and the silliness intact. Flamebird!!!

Mora is just so fantastic!

I think even Waid knows he is walking the tightrope between real tension and nonsense by having the Wolf Jimmy say 'This is serious.'

It works as both a joke and a reminder the stakes are real.

In the meantime, we learn more about Zha-Vam who has been pounding Kara in the background all issue. 

A many-armed Jimmy can touch all the pieces of the belt becoming a true pantheon!

The Olsen Squad indeed turns the tide.

Maybe too well.

What a great ending as the 6th dimensional imp thinks Jimmy is the Earth's best hero meaning Mr. Action will fight this being to save the world.

Jimmy's 'cool .... what?' is just classic dialogue from Superman's Pal!

What can I say? I read comics to be entertained. I have been reading comics for nearly 50 years and my mind is stuffed with ephemera. The art is just stellar. This book just sings to me.

Overall grade: A


Martin Gray said...

I agree, this was a delight from start to finish. Glad I wasn’t the only one who didn’t know much about Zha-Vam!

Anonymous said...

This issue was basically pure joy in printed form. It's arguably both the best thing DC has published so far this year, and probably also the best issue of this series (though the Kara/Dick date issue would be a serious competitor). Waid's ability to transform many of the Silver and Bronze Ages' objectively more weakly thought out and excessively silly ideas into genuinely compelling and fun plot points is remarkable, while Mora is doing an amazing job visually representing the enthralling vivacity and weirdness of the DCU at its best.

This story also convinced me that a hallmark of writers who get Superman and his world is an ability to do a good job of portraying Jimmy Olsen along with other characters like him who at first glance might seem like they're just goofy distractions from the main event of the superpowered action centered on Clark and the other Kryptonians. They definitely can be that in the hands of a bad or mediocre writer. In the hands of a good writer however, they can be effectively utilized to add a touch of enlivening meta-reflective humor and relatability to the intrinsic weirdness of Clark's life that would most likely otherwise be lacking. That was evident in the Fraction and Lieber take on Superman's Pal: Jimmy Olsen, and it was also prominent in Bendis and Johnson's runs on Action Comics as well as Williamson's current run on Superman and even Morrison's All Star Superman. Passing what might be called the "Jimmy Olsen Test" isn't necessarily a prerequisite for being a good Superman title writer, but it does seem to serve as a remarkably good indicator that a creative team will deliver good overall Superman related stories.

I have no idea what will happen to Waid and Mora once they end this run on World's Finest, but given that they've passed that test with flying colors I hope DC puts them on a Superman related title. With the possible exception of Philip Kennedy Johnson, there just isn't anybody else who seems like they would do as good a job at the head of Action Comics or some other title linked to Superman. Regardless of whether this duo goes on to do that, I'm very glad to be the owner of an issue that simultaneously features a beautifully rendered depiction of classic, red skirted Kara; a mega-fight featuring Zha Vam, Giant Turtle Man Jimmy, as well as an imp version of the Deborah Domaine Cheetah; and as a cherry on top the outstanding closing lines, "James Bartholomew Olsen you are Earth's Mightiest Hero! Prepare to Die!" paired with Jimmy's priceless reaction to this announcement.

Anonymous said...

I actually have the original ACT#352 and 353 issues of Zha-Vam.
I probably got them because of the 2 Kara stories (Jimmy Olsen's
Two Brides and The Cosmic Collectors) but I still really liked the
Zha-Vam concept, probably because of the Mt. Olympus Gods involvement.

Anonymous said...

Yeah kudos to Mark Waid for a serious deep dive on silver age Superman lore (what's next, Dr. Supernatural, Acid Master, Grax...??). And if Supergirl got pummeled by the IMProved Zha-Vam at least she retained the presence of mind to tell Jimmy the secret of the bad guy's super powers...that rates a one on one show down between Zha-Vam and Supergirlwhen the rubble settles in my books!


Anj said...

Thanks for all the comments!

Love this book. Glad everyone is enjoying!