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.
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.