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Sunday, March 3, 2013

Batman & Superman: World’s Finest

Title: Batman & Superman: World’s Finest

ISBN: 1401200826

Price: $19.95

Publisher/Year: DC, 2000

Artist: Dave Taylor, Peter Doherty, Graham Nolan, Tom Morgan

Writer: Karl Kessel

Collects: Batman & Superman: World’s Finest #1-10

Rating: 2.5/5

Karl Kesel's
Batman & Superman: World's Finest is not the best of the Superman/Batman
team-up miniseries (I reserve that honor for Dave Gibbons and Steve Rude's
World's Finest). It does, however, does have an interesting premise in aligning
the disparate events of the Superman and Batman worlds into one cohesive story,
especially the death of Jason Todd with Superman executing the Phantom Zone
criminals, and "Reign of the Superman" with "Knightfall."

Gates's new World's Finest takes a similar approach, bringing together the
current "Batman Reborn" and "New Krypton" storylines. I
wouldn't venture there's anything earth-shattering here, but the book is big on
fun and Gates gets all the characters' voices right; for those of us who enjoy
understand how the DC Universe coincides, this is a satisfactory excursion.


Gates ducks some of the easier team-ups at the start of this book, choosing to
pair Red Robin with the Kryptonian Nightwing rather than with Superboy, and
absenting Mon-El altogether in favor of the Guardian with Robin Damian Wayne. I
might've liked to see Batman Dick Grayson's response to his new Nightwing
namesake, but I appreciates that Gates follows up on a small but poignant scene
from Kurt Busiek's Superman run, remembering the impact Tim Drake had on
Superman's adopted son Chris.

While the
story feels maybe mildly incomplete without Mon-El, the Guardian is the better
fit of the "Metropolis characters" to pair with Robin because of his
previous friendship with the Newsboy Legion. I liked that Gates didn't feel
compelled to have the Guardian or Robin learn anything, but rather part
mistrusting one another, not unlike Superman and Batman have in the past.

after Peter Tomasi's general mis-characterization of Damian Wayne in Blackest
Night: Batman, I had some concern whether Gates would get Damian's ten-year-old
assassin brattishness quite right; he does. As a matter of fact, I specifically
read World's Finest as the "next appearance" of the Stephanie Brown
Batgirl after Batgirl Rising, a book in which Damian is a key player; no doubt
Gates can write Batgirl, given that he ably handles Supergirl month in and month
out, but whether Bryan Miller's distinct Batgirl/Robin interplay seems much
harder to duplicate. Gates delivers, however, and even adds his own touch in a
funny end panel where Supergirl lectures Damian for calling Batgirl names. As I
mentioned in my Batgirl review, there's a way in which the "Batman
Reborn" characters are more of a family than they have been previously,
and I like this familial aspect a lot.

There is
not, at the end of World's Finest, any deep meditation on the nature of the
Superman or Batman families or their differences. If anything, whereas everyone
claims to miss Bruce Wayne, Superman notes he and Dick Grayson's first
"world's finest" team-up with the implication that Dick is perhaps
easier to work with than Bruce, and the reader knows it's true -- one wonders
if that's something Bruce will have to deal with, not being the
"favorite" Batman, when he returns.

As the
Super-titles are Gates's bailiwick, World's Finest ends with a connection to
"New Krypton," and really not at all with "Batman Reborn"
-- which is fine. I'm not sure either series will actually pick up on World's
Finest, but it's enough that World's Finest ties in to something both in terms
of the characters and the plot; the best team-ups, in my opinion, forward the
series of all the characters involved, and World's Finest does that
sufficiently as far as I'm concerned.

Rounding out
this collection are a DC Comics Presents Superman/Robin Dick Grayson team-up
from 1981, and Action Comics #865 by Geoff Johns, from 2008. The latter is a
prime example of what Johns does for comics; while other writers might have
scratched their heads (or started from scratch), Johns offers a fairly simple
story that returns Toyman Winslow Schott to his roots, preserving and at the
same time overcoming the violent Dan Jurgens story that saw Toyman kill Cat
Grant's son Adam.

This is one
of two previously uncollected issues from Geoff Johns's recent Action Comics
run -- included here because of the Toyman's role in this story -- and I
appreciate that DC gives it the light of day; only, I wish they hadn't left off
the last page. That page features Cat Grant just before Superman: Brainiac, and
while it wasn't relevant to World's Finest per se, I would have liked DC
keeping it for the issue's overall historical value.

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