Batman/Superman: World’s Finest #1 review

It’s a few years ago, and Batman, Robin and Superman are fighting Poison Ivy and Metallo in Metropolis. Metallo gets the better of Superman for long enough to inject him with a cocktail containing a blend of red Kryptonite rocks.

A few years before that, the three heroes are forging a friendship over a battle against the Penguin and the Weaponers of Qward.

Back… er, forward… in the almost present, and Superman is suffering one Red K effect after another, putting the people of Metropolis at risk.

Robin, though, stumbles upon a possible path to success.

Who ya gonna call?

None of the new arrivals are the requisite mad scientist, but they know a man…

So, welcome back World’s Finest. It’s a quarter of a century since the original team-up title ended. Since then we’ve had mini-series using the title, a New 52 move-the-apostrophe Worlds’ Finest, and only this month a Nightwing/Superman Jr team-up titled World’s Finest Sons. As an Old Fart Fan, I’m thrilled to bits that Superman and Batman (forget the cover, it should always be Superman first) are back under the World’s Finest banner. And it’s not just, ‘your two favourite heroes, together – just like in the good old days, the Boy Wonder is in there, too. If I’m reading the costumes correctly, it’s Dick in the older flashbacks, and Tim in the later ones.

Then again…

That’s a Flying Grayson, right there. Maybe in this week’s version of DC continuity, Dick quickly added tights.

It doesn’t matter, does it, in the face of a madly entertaining DC Universe story featuring the World’s Finest Trio, the World’s Nastiest Villains and the World’s Strangest Heroes? Having the original Doom Patrol show up to save the day was a lovely surprise, and a very good showing they make too. I especially enjoy how Negative Man Larry Trainor solves the Red K smoothie problem… I didn’t know he could do that with his power (he said, trying not to spoil a fun moment).

Regular readers will know I’m not a big proponent of non-linear storytelling – too often it’s not only confusing, it’s pointless. Here, it’s neither, because author Mark Waid knows what he’s doing. The older flashback resets the modern Superman-Batman relationship as having been pretty collegiate from the earliest years. The later flashbacks establish that Waid wants to write Robin, but not Damian Wayne.

Well, that’s my theory. It also allows for that classic DP line-up, I can’t wait to see what Waid does with leader The Chief next issue. Remembering what a bang-up job he did when the DP guest starred in Waid’s woefully underrated Brave and the Bold series – which had a similar vibe to this issue – I can’t wait to see more.

It’s terrific to have Waid back at DC, he knows the characters and the universe so well. Few writers would give us little moments like this, for example.

Batman wants help from not just Robin, but Jimmy Olsen too – that has to be a nod to the occasional teaming up in the Silver Age World’s Finest of Jimmy and Dick.

The art from Dan Mora and Tamra Bonvillain is spectacular. Mora provides the illustrations, page after page of beautiful action starring classic renditions of, well, everyone. The expressiveness is exceptional, while the flow of the fights is first rate. The environments are equally convincing, with both Metropolis and Gotham perfectly evoked. Cute Easter eggs like a tiny Action Comics #1 homage add to the fun. Did you spot it?

Bonvillain’s intelligently considered hues are wonderfully applied, with highlights such as Superman’s power freakout the calling card of a great colour artist.

That’s fine lettering, too, from Aditya Bidikar, capturing the confusion and fear of the afflicted Man of Steel.

The only art piece I’m not delighted with is Mora’s cover; I like a montage but this is far too packed. The logo by Kenny Lopez is pretty cool, though, with its subtle inclusion of Super and Bat iconography.

Nevertheless, if I were a ratings fellow, I’d give World’s Finest #1 the full five stars. It’s a beautiful looking, smartly written comic book that any superhero fan would enjoy. Not only do we get 22 brand new pages of story, DC is kind enough to include the ten-page preview that ran in Detective Comics #1050.

Welcome back to DC, Mark Waid, the universe is a better place for your presence. And welcome back World’s Finest – you’re living up to the name.

10 thoughts on “Batman/Superman: World’s Finest #1 review

  1. It was amazing! I used to not be a fan of Mister Waid but for the life of me I can’t recall why! I love his hallmark of taking a very established property and coming up with some new twist that everyone uses going forward like it was foundational. Speed force and Reed making the Fantastic Four celebrities so he can atone for costing them their previous lives but there are more examples. Larry’s logical new use of established power fits that.

    Either Flashpoint/Barry Doing What Heroes Do When A Villain Changes Time But Johns Ignored That or Rebirth showed Dick quickly out of the ridiculous tights.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love writers finding new ways to use powers, especially when the power bearer previously seemed limited – I think my favourite examples of this are Dream Girl’s predictive fighting and use of the flight ring, under Paul Levitz.

      Like

  2. A terrific book! And yeah, that’s Dick Grayson all the way through the book — though the change from short pants to tights was a nice signal to show which time period we were in. I think Waid probably suggested setting this in the recent past simply so that Superman and Batman won’t be shackled by whatever event is going on; he wants to write the icons AS the icons, not as Jon and Jace or whoever takes up the various mantles next. And DC is finally smart enough to recognize that’s his strength, and confident enough to let stories exist outside of the “right now,” so they let him run with it. Writing Dick Grayson as Robin is the cherry on top of the sundae.

    And like you, I don’t think Larry & Negative Man ever did that before, but finding new wrinkles in established powersets is definitely a Waid hallmark. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great review of a great book.

    As has been said. Waid knows how to write the iconic versions of these characters. Setting this story back a ways allows him to do that without having to worry about Dark Metal Final-est Crisis etc.

    I agree that Waid loves writing Robin/Dick Grayson and I think that Robin is our POV character. I also think he will be sort of the narrator as the story progresses.

    Love that Jimmy has a part here. Love that Supergirl is mentioned. Didn’t know Negative Man could do that but I can roll with it. Love classic Doom Patrol right down to the logo.

    This was comfort food reading. Can’t wait to read more!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I really liked this, too. A return to the classic Daily Planet cast! What fun. I did get lost on the flashbacks once or twice, and am not a fan of this structure either, but I’ll try not to be such an old man about it. Works fine on second read, and it’s worth of the second pass.

    Waid does great Superman. I loved Birthright, a great updating of the familiar origin, and was sorry that it was instantly retconned, or de-retconned. I felt conned, anyway.

    I’m looking forward to more there, and more reviews here. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I bought Waid’s run but like the Grell and Conway runs, I did it for Legion love only. Waid has written some amazing things but the Threeboot left me cold until Shooter took over. I still hate that it was cut so short, especially since the Final Crisis Legion mini was so delayed we should have gotten six more months of Shooter’s work.

        Liked by 1 person

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