This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Superman/Batman: World’s Finest
Fifteen years ago, I picked up this book when I had first moved to Canada and I was looking for something to read that wasn’t Marvel related. Volume one of a series seemed like a good enough place to start, and despite knowing very little about DC’s comics at the time I was more than aware who Batman and Superman was in the general sense from the movies and TV shows that had been released at the time.
The story was also adapted for DVD in 2009 or so under the title Superman/Batman: Public Enemies. Because I’m not talking about the adaption today, I’m referring to the story under the comic book title.
No, today I wanted to revisit a story I hadn’t read in years because my wife picked me up a Batman blind box recently, and this was one of the books within the box. I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed reading it until I flicked through the softcover collection again.
Collecting the first six issues of the series, Superman/Batman: World’s Finest was released in April 2004, and was written by Jeph Loeb with art by Ed McGuinness and colours by Dexter Vines. The story features a then President Lex Luthor, the framing of the man of steel for Metallo’s murder and a fantastic twin narrative device that allows Loeb to use the internal monologues of both Batman and Superman to great effect. It is often the source of my laughter when reading the book, as both men have some diametrically opposed viewpoints on things, and their thoughts in the moment are almost mirrored.
It’s honestly worth reading for that alone.
The story itself is largely free of any major continuity trappings from other series, by which I mean at the time I was able to go into this entirely blind about the state of the DC universe in 2004/2005 and still thoroughly enjoy the story. And my introduction to a cast of new characters like Captain Atom, Black Adam, Major Force and others I had never heard of before.
Although there have been a lot of really good Batman/Superman stories since this came out, the writing of Loeb and the way he has the two leads play off each other makes this collection stand out. If you’re not that keen on reading yet more stories featuring two of DC most popular heroes, then that’s fine. But you’ll be missing out on one of the coolest and most underrated aspects of this collection – I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it happily again – the dueling monologues of Superman and Batman highlight Loeb’s understanding of the two characters and their relationship.
The only downside is that as my introduction to DC comics, this remains one of the finest examples of that relationship I’ve read to this day.
You can find this collection at your local comic shop; it’s still in print so shouldn’t be too hard to find if you’re looking for it. I highly recommend checking it out when you get a chance.
Join us next week when we look at something else that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.