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Review: Batman/Superman: World’s Finest #2

Batman/Superman: World's Finest #2

Batman/Superman: World’s Finest #2 strikes the right note between nostalgic and modern storytelling. This is a comic where time travel happens by vibrating at the right frequency (Not the Flash in this case.), the Negative Spirit can detoxify one’s blood from colored kryptonite infection, and an enemy can be handled by whistling at, again, the right frequency. However, it also features bold colors from Tamra Bonvillain and a story that can be followed on a panel to panel level from artist Dan Mora leaving writer Mark Waid to throw in jokes, the aforementioned comic book science, and explore the relationship between Batman and Superman when they were truly “Superfriends”.

Even though World’s Finest #2 is ostensibly a Superman and Batman (and Robin in the tradition of the original series) team-up comic, Waid and Mora pepper the story with guest stars that drive home the seriousness of Superman’s kryptonite poisoning as well as build up the Devil Nezhan as a villain and generally make the reading experience a little richer. The Doom Patrol are great in their own little corner of the DC Universe allowing creators like Grant Morrison, Rachel Pollack, and Gerard Way to play with the surreal (and in some cases Dadaist) side of superheroes, but they work nicely in this issue as the team you call when what you need to do is slightly weirder than your usual fisticuffs. The opening page sequence is played deadpan with Niles Caulder and Robotman operating on Superman like it’s just another episode of a medical drama until complications happen as Bonvillain uses flat palette when Negative Man tries to clean out Superman’s blood.

Dan Mora also cuts between the operating table and flashbacks of past Batman/Superman team-ups to show the fear that the Dark Knight feels that his friend won’t wake up. He and Waid continue to organically show the true camaraderie between Batman and Superman from Batman’s goofy/creepy grin when Superman wakes up to them kicking Felix Faust’s ass together. They also use the characters’ strengths and weaknesses creatively like Superman being weakened by magic bonds being counteracted by Batman’s escape artist skills with the Man of Steel finishing the fight with a very Silver Age ability that was seemingly invented just for this story.

If the highly entertaining, free flowing World’s Finest #2 does have a flaw, it’s in the villain department. After featuring baddies from Batman and Superman’s vast rogues galleries in the previous issue, Mark Waid and Dan Mora create a new villain the Devil Nezha that is rooted in Chinese history and mythology and connected to a 16th century BCE Chinese superhero team. In a similar manner to how Waid whitewashed the Vietnam War in History of the Marvel Universe, the Devil Nezha and House of Ji seem more like exoticization than cultural appreciation. There’s nothing blatantly racist in Waid and Mora’s work, but the flashback sequence with the Devil Nezha does feel like reading an old comic with a villain whose most prominent characteristic is “foreigner.” But to Mark Waid and Dan Mora’s credit, the Devil Nezha has an incredibly messed up motivation as he’s angry at his father for blowing the family’s wealth to resurrect him. He sits in his anger acting the opposite of what anyone would do if they had another shot at life before Mora sets up the bigger spreads and more complex layouts to show his evil at work.

Underwhelming villain and potential cultural insensitivity aside, World’s Finest #2 is a celebration of the weird and wonderful in the DC Universe. Mark Waid, Dan Mora, and Tamra Bonvillain get to play with all of the toys in this 84 year old sandbox, and this book has everything from blockbuster fight scenes to quick-witted one-liners and banter and the Robin/Supergirl dynamic is especially entertaining.

Story: Mark Waid Art: Dan Mora 
Colors: Tamra Bonvillain Letters: Aditya Bidikar
Story: 7.7 Art: 9.0 Overall: 8.3 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Purchase: comiXology/Kindle – Zeus Comics