Writer: Mark Waid
Art: Dan Mora
DC Comics, 2022
’ll be honest: I feel tremendously burned out on Batman comic-books. He’s a character that, at least in my opinion, has been so overutilized by DC, and so exploited for all kinds of events, that I no longer feel thrill when a new Batman story is announced.
This applies, especially, to books that are not set in the main DC Universe, and therefore try as much as humanly possible to avoid allowing even a smidge of silliness into their pages. God forbid a man dressed as a bat who fights crime with his underpants inside out is allowed to be silly, right?
Batman/Superman managed to make me smile because, as it happens, it’s a Batman story that takes full advantage of the fact that it is set in a universe full of colorful, absurd, and even funny characters.
Granted, it’s not as self-aware as something akin to, let’s say, the Grant Morrison run on the Caped Crusader, but it’s not trying to be, either. It’s a Batman and Superman story in which they’re allowed to share feelings of friendship, to fight diverse villains, and to team-up with some of the strangest heroes the DC Universe has to offer.
The plot is simple: Metallo manages to infect Superman’s blood with red kryptonite, causing his powers to quickly get out of control. He begins to attempt to fight Batman, his brain severely affected by the hallucinations the red kryptonite is causing him, but is quickly stopped by the Doom Patrol, who offer their help to cure him.
What follows is more classic comic-book shenanigans, with Batman and Superman trying to find out why villains all over the world are getting access to specific weaponary to kill heroes: time travel, magic, and a collection of fun interactions between characters such as Robin, Elasti-Girl, Supergirl, and Negative Man.
Keeping it simple, this book is the most fun I’ve had with a mainstream superhero comic in a while. It’s colorful, full of character, and completely unafraid to play with and around the tropes of a superhero story. Mark Waid is known for his more lighthearted and uncomplicated approach to writing superhero stories, so it’s no surprise that he can deliver on a plot that is simultaneously classic and very refreshing to anyone that has been following DC Comics for the past few years.
It’s not just light-hearted, though, it’s funny. And not in a cheap MCU Whedon-speak kind of way, no, the book actually twists the expectations of what a superhero comic-book is supposed to be and pokes fun at the tropes of this kind of stories, without seeming mean-spirited or pedantic in any way. The comedy comes from a place of appreciation and sheer love for the craft.
The art is, of course, a standout feature of this issue. Dan Mora is capable of delivering beautifully drawn panels that, through fairly traditional layouts and a precise, clean line art, perfectly complement Waid’s dialogues.
The relationship between Bruce and Clark, which has been explored to varying degrees of success across both Rebirth and Infinite Frontier, is one of the main focuses of these two issues. The story does nothing particularly innovative with this, at least not just yet, but it does reinforce how good friends these two are, and have been ever since they met each other. All in all, the book does an amazing job at depicting both the cheerful optimism of Superman and the more serious and stoic personality of Batman without having to sacrifice one in favor of the other, which is an issue many modern stories struggle to avoid.
Finally, and as mentioned above, the Doom Patrol make an appearance in these two issues. Since the cancellation of Gerard Way’s Weight of the Worlds back in 2020, which can only be blamed on the writer’s lackluster priorities and lack of organization, the team have been completely absent from DC’s publications, meaning this is the first time they appear in the Infinite Frontier timeline.
Considering the characters’ own TV show has been nothing short of a massive success, at least in terms of multimedia DC productions, it’s astonishing to me that they have waited this long to introduce these iconic but niche characters back into the continuity. Nonetheless, I’m happy their reintroduction has been through a book of this quality instead of a lackluster event that barely allows any of the individual members to shine.
World’s Finest is, in conclusion, a refreshing book full of small surprises that will keep both new and older readers entertained, as it organically integrates many elements that make both the relationship between the main characters and the unfolding action interesting and compelling without having to rely on shock value or overutilized gimmicks.