THIS WEEK: It’s classic team-up time in the debut issue of Batman/Superman: World’s Finest! We look at how the Dynamic Duo and the Man of Steel’s latest group outing fares.
Note: This piece contains spoilers. If you want a quick, spoiler-free buy/pass recommendation on the comics in question, check out the bottom of the article for our final verdicts.
Batman/Superman: World’s Finest #1
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Dan Mora
Colorist: Tamra Bonvillain
Letterer: Aditya Bidikar
Cover Artist: Dan Mora
If you’re anything like me, you’ve been waiting for Batman/Superman: World’s Finest #1 to arrive since the day it was first teased. It was five months ago today that DC released their January 2022 solicits, with a look at artist Dan Mora’s designs for the Caped Crusader and the Man of Steel and a tease for Mora’s team-up with legendary writer Mark Waid. December’s official announcement for the series, which revealed that the book would be set “In the not-too-distant past” and feature what appeared to be the Dick Grayson Robin, only intensified my excitement for this book. Now that the first issue is finally here, it’s safe to say that it more than lives up to the hype both from DC and from my own brain.
I have been a fan of Mark Waid’s writing since early in his ‘90s run on The Flash, but its his well-known passion for DC lore and for Superman that had me incredibly excited for this book. Interestingly, though, the first issue of World’s Finest focuses more on Batman & Robin, with Superman somewhat sidelined as a result of Metallo’s Red Kryptonite attack*. It was a surprising choice, but entirely effective, as it highlighted something I’ve been wanting to see more of from DC for years: a classic-style Dynamic Duo. Outside of titles like Batman ‘66, Batman & Robin haven’t really teamed up in a traditional sense since before Knightfall (and arguably not since Jason Todd’s death), and it’s a dynamic (no pun intended) that I’ve been dying to see handled in new stories with more modern sensibilities. Waid writes the team as a well-oiled machine, partners but with Batman still clearly a mentor to the younger Robin.
(*That may seem like a huge spoiler, but it’s already been seen in the pages of Detective Comics #1050; I was mildly disappointed that the first ten pages of this issue were those exact pages, but I quickly got over it because they’re so good.)
But the focal point of the issue is, as expected, the relationship between Batman and Superman, as Batman must talk Superman down from a series of Red Kryptonite-induced hallucinations that threaten the people of Metropolis. A flashback to an early team-up between them establishes early on the basis for the characters’ collaborations, setting a tone between them of mutual respect and, most importantly, friendship. Post-Crisis on Infinite Earths we’ve seen a lot of Superman and Batman as begrudging allies, but less of the two of them as people who actually like each other. It’s a refreshing change of pace compared to the last almost forty years of stories.
Enough cannot be said about how perfect a match Dan Mora and colorist Tamra Bonvillain are for this book. Mora’s storytelling is sharp as ever, with clean lines, dynamic figures, and exciting action throughout (and make no mistake: this is an action book through and through). Bonvillain’s colors fit the tone and the time period of the story beautifully, with a Batman clad in classic blue and grey, and Robin’s bright red, green, and yellow uniform standing out against both Batman and Superman’s suits. Mora and Bonvillain also present a spectacular version of the original Doom Patrol (a team Waid must have a fondness for, as they appeared both in 1998’s JLA: Year One and an issue of 2006’s Brave and the Bold series). Everyone in this book, from the heroes, to villains Poison Ivy and Metallo, to the supporting cast of the Daily Planet, looks absolutely iconic, giving the whole thing a timeless feel that sucks the reader in immediately.
Batman/Superman: World’s Finest #1 gave this reader everything he could’ve wanted from it. This is classic superheroics with the most instantly-recognizable versions of the best-known superheroes in the world, written masterfully and illustrated in a way that feels both retro and incredibly modern. Waid’s return to DC is an absolute triumph, and his team-up with Mora and Bonvillain is sheer perfection. Here’s hoping this book runs for a long, long, long time.
Final Verdict: An emphatic BUY.
- It was really a great week for team-ups in the DC Universe, as Nightwing #90 featured a team-up between best friends Dick Grayson and Wally West, aka The Flash. The “Get Grayson” storyline has been really entertaining so far, but with Bruno Redondo pulling double-duty last month on both Nightwing and Superman: Son of Kal-El, writer Tom Taylor and colorist Adriano Lucas are joined by artist Geraldo Borges, which I was worried at first might feel like a disruption to the story. Thankfully that was not the case, as Borges’s linework fit right in with the tone of the story Taylor, Lucas, and co. have been telling. Taylor also has a real knack for writing Wally West and his family, something I hope we get to see more of beyond the end of this two-part team-up.
- Speaking of Wally, this week’s issue of The Flash is the third part of the War for Earth-3 mini-crossover event. During our discussion of the first two parts a few weeks ago I pondered aloud how what is essentially a Suicide Squad story would bring in titles like The Flash and Teen Titans Academy, and now I have my answer: really smartly. This is essentially just an issue of The Flash with characters from War for Earth-3 running through it, and it’s an utter delight. If you come into this issue without having read the previous two War for Earth-3 issues you’ll be just as confused as Wally is throughout, and that seems just fine to me.
- Elsewhere in crossovers, Trial of the Amazons continues in Wonder Woman #785. Diana continues to investigate the murder of her mother, and champions are named for the titular trial. DC has done a fantastic job over the last year of defining the Amazons not just within the DCU but among themselves, and this storyline is shaping up to be a great continuation of that. I never knew I could care so much about politics on Themyscira, but here we are.
- And finally, Brian Michael Bendis‘s run on the main Justice League title comes to a close with an issue that is quintessentially Bendis. At this point you either love him or you hate him. I enjoy him, so I enjoyed this issue, and I’m glad we’re still going to get to read more of his League for a little while in the pages of the Legion of Super-Heroes team-up book.
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