Let’s start with a round of applause for the cover. It’s delightful, with smiling heroes, a dastardly villain, a dizzying view of Metropolis and a glowing Super-symbol – it’s a complicated composition, beautifully executed in full-colour by Dan Mora.
The heroes aren’t smiling as we rejoin them in the latest episode of the ‘Devil Nezha’ serial, with said ancient demon on the loose and only one way to stop him for good.
There follows a flurry of heroes offering to sacrifice themselves, with the Doom Patrol especially keen given their low self-image. Before a decision can be made, though…
Ah, the old vulnerability to magic. There follows a feud of the titans between the Super-Cousins, with Clark saying some pretty harsh words to Kara.
Meanwhile, Elasti-Girl and Negative Man have also been taken over, leaving Robotman to make a desperate play.
Well what do you know, a tin man succeeds where a Man of Steel fails. Of course, this still leaves the original problem of whether someone will have to sacrifice themselves to keep Nezha away from the World of Today. Perhaps a classic piece of DC kit can save the day…
Writer Mark Waid and that man Dan Mora provide the answers in the conclusion – well, pretty much – to the opening arc in this series honouring the classic World’s Finest Comics. But where that book was generally Superman, Batman and Robin, here we’ve been treated to extra co-stars in Supergirl and the Doom Patrol. Kara has been, as we Brits allegedly say, a total brick throughout, always stepping up even when she’s got a lot on her mind
Those of us wondering just where the boy Dick Grayson is will find out next issue, as it’s going to be a case of ‘Let’s Rescue Robin’.
The Doom Patrol are given more respect by Waid than they give themselves, showing that it’s not just their pluck that’s notable, they are actually top tier superhumans, with none of them bystanders in the battle.
As for our villain, Nezha is a lot more impressive than previously, with more then one last-minute Hail Mary necessary to put him down.
It takes the wits and guts of all the heroes to beat the bad guy, with the final flourishes coming from Superman and Batman, as should be the case in a book with their names on it… well, at least when it’s the first storyline.
Mora’s magnificent art makes Nezha the meanest of monstrosities, constantly scowling at our heroes as he shows how tough he is. The layouts are again first-rate, taking us through the narrative at 100mph. While everyone looks excellent, I especially enjoy the intensity Mora gives Kara – no one seeing her here would see any merit in the possessed Superman’s insults. The action and emotion on display in this book work perfectly for Waid’s script.
That ‘skkKOOOM’ back there is a great example of the creativity of lettered Aditya Bidikar when it comes to sound effects, with another being the ‘FWASSU’ as he-heat vision meets she-heat vision… hot stuff. The creativity extends to captions and dialogue, it’s fine work.
Also worthy of praise is Tamra Bonvillain, whose first DC work was back in 2016 on Doom Patrol and it’s great to see the Bonvillain byline following them around. The shades chosen and applied ensure the big story beats pop, while there’s a blush to proceedings that adds a surprising warmth to a very serious story.
Edits are by Dave Wielgosz – who has been known to write the odd fine story himself – and Paul Kaminski, take a bow, backroom boys!
I don’t know how this issue would work for someone coming in without having read the previous four; I suspect they’d get along just fine, given the clarity of script and art. Read all five chapters, though, and you get a big, bonkers slice of DC Universe fun starring a slew of classic characters in the hands of creators at the top of their game. Perfection.