I bought this ‘Landmark 1050th issue for the World’s Finest preview, which is just as well, as the rest of the issue wasn’t my cup of tea.
If you’re going to use anniversary status – even a weird one no one’s ever heard of – to bring in new readers, the trick is to be accessible. The two stories here are not accessible. They’re both part four of Lord knows how many chapters. Neither makes any attempt to bring newcomers up to speed – if you’re not already following the Huntess serial or the House of Gotham story, forget it.
The main story seems to be part of a weekly Detective Comics serial centred on the new Arkham Tower replacement for Arkham Asylum. Huntress has been going mad due to visions, and I think Nightwing has sent her undercover as a patient while hoping she actually gets some help along the way because she’s too stubborn to submit to psychiatry. Or something. But some man connected to the tower is keeping Helena drugged for some reason. And Mr Freeze puts a hoodoo on Dick when he also goes undercover. Mariko Tamaki’s feature jumps around in time – starting years ago and showing events at various points within the past month, it’s confusing as hell. There are intense action moments, intense emotional moments, and so much swearing I wanted to send Tamaki a thesaurus. The only thing about the story I didn’t hate was the in-joke for old time readers that the Huntress is oddly like Batman. The art by penciller Ivan Reis, inker Danny Miki and colourist Brad Anderson is slick, the letters of Arisna Maher are terrific – I just wish all this craft were in the service of something less grim.
House of Gotham is better, if approached as a self-contained Robin flashback tale. The original Boy Wonder fends off an attack on Wayne Manor by Scarecrow-controlled kids. One ‘victim’ seems to be a Trojan Horse, someone who’s allied to the Scarecrow in the present day. Matthew Rosenberg’s story is readable, but he doesn’t quite capture young Dick’s punning ways. Fernando Blanco’s art, coloured by Jordie Bellaire, is pretty delightful, and Rob Leigh’s letters are, as ever, excellent. It’s a shame, though, that no context is given for the tale, we’re not even informed as to what the ‘House of Gotham’ is.
Finally, the main event, a preview of the upcoming World’s Finest revival which, because it’s starring both Batman and Superman is appearing in… a Batman book only.
The story is a joy, an extremely approachable opening chapter. Gotham gal Poison Ivy is on a day trip to Metropolis to protest at urbanisation.
She’s not the only adversary around, though.
Someone’s had a redesign, but this new-look – or perhaps old look, as the story is set some years ago – Metallo is refreshingly menacing as drawn by Dan Mora. And writer Mark Waid gives the Man With The Kryptonite Heart a fantastically fiendish plan that look set to launch the upcoming World’s Finest series in fine style.
I enjoyed this ten-page teaser hugely; Waid never disappoints, he knows the denizens of DC Universe like few others, while Mora’s dynamic stylings wring out all the drama from the script. Tamra Bonvillain’s colours are lovely, if leaning a little too far into the green part of the spectrum, with aqua skies aplenty. Rob Leigh’s letters are as elegant as ever. I can’t wait for the real launch of the new series – maybe we’ll see if I’m right about the identity of the shadowy villain at the end.
I hate the cover by Irvin Rodriguez. It looks to be a photo collage, and it’s very jarring. I don’t want to pretend I’m looking at a film still, comics are comics and films are films, and a Robin/Nightwing’s/I dunno who seems to be wearing a lady’s wig because he’s set into Batman’s shoulders is weird.
All in all, this is a frustrating comic, with one good-looking mess, one readable curiosity and one great story that doesn’t really have much business being in this book. Unless you’re a regular reader of this comic or, like me, desperate to read the World’s Finest preview, I wouldn’t bother.