Batman/Superman: World’s Finest #5 is here and features our heroes deal a crushing blow to the Devil Nezha thanks to Mark Waid and Dan Mora. This issue has all the storytelling of a Marty Isenberg action animation you would watch after school on evenings or during the day on the weekends.
He wrote some episodes of Batman and Superman The Animated Series, you can understand how much that name is a term of endearment. At the same time, this series has felt like an animated series that never got made and was put into comic form considering how it has established itself as outside the main DC story arcs currently.
For a fifth issue, there are some pretty impressive ones, ripe with multimedia influence that are definitely keepers. Mora’s default cover has Superman putting the ‘super’ in hero as he clutches the fully revealed Devil Nezha by his necklace. Batman swings from a grappling hook in the background along with Supergirl and Robin. You got to love the little detail of Robin having the rope he’s hanging onto wrapped around Supergirl like a harness for support. Again, their inclusion in the series was entirely welcome since issue one.
Francesco Mattina brings us a cinematic realism variant complete with dark tones and motion blur to highlight the speed at which Superman is flying and Batman is swinging into action. In true Batman nature, Bruce Wayne is partially silhouetted as his dark trademark shape and long cape does all the talking. Mattina really shines here, pun intended, with Superman blasting his heat vision with a fierce expression that he brings to life.
Your eyes don’t deceive you. That is Superman and Batman One Million of the distant future where the Dark Knight is the warden of the prison planet Pluto and the Man of Steel is able to take on any pantheon of gods with one hand behind his back. Pete Woods takes us back to the future with Grant Morrison’s take on what the World’s Finest eventually becomes as the centuries pass. Set to the neon goodness of a cyber city, the two heroes spring into action with Batman in the front this time. The bold lines and colours suit these hard-hitting heroes extremely well.
Alexander Lozano has a knack for drawing superheroes with the likeness of their cinematic counterparts. He has done with several Marvel characters, giving them the likeness of the stars of the MCU. For his variant, he looks to television by giving Superman the likeness of Tom Welling from the Smallville series. Avid Superman fans will immediately recognise him. Batman can’t really be identified as any celebrity, but you can argue that he’s based on Robert Pattinson’s appearance in The Batman film. What’s cool about Batman here is that he seems to be made up of several smaller shadows in some parts. This combined with Lozano’s realism style and textures that look as though you can touch and feel them make for a very unique variant.
The World’s Finest and The Doom Patrol have the Devil Nezha on the ropes as they corner him into the tomb he was imprisoned in thousands of years ago. But as revealed in the last issue, someone must stay behind in order to make sure he stays sealed away. Here, we get our main (and only) theme of sacrifice throughout the issue. Since DC heroes are some of the noblest people in fiction, there is debate on who this should be. This doesn’t stop Nezha from counterattacking by possessing Superman, something he admits he should’ve done from the start. Fortunately, Supergirl is there to help which gives us some great Kryptonian action scenes. At the same time, The Doom Patrol comes through too as they fight to figure out Nezha’s weakness in true comic book fashion by strategising aloud and pointing out the can-dos and can’t-dos of established magic and science fiction.
Another major plot points the issue addresses and alludes to is the disappearance of Robin. Supergirl had lost him in the time portal they went back to Ancient China on the way back. There was no question of whether or not he was alive, but rather where he went. At least now we have some clues and it definitely sets up for what may be the next arc in the series.
If Batman/Superman: World’s Finest #5 was the finale of The Devil Nezha arc, then the last issue has it beat for spectacularism. The Green Lantern fight followed by the scuffle with Nezha has all the makings of a climax and feels much more like one than issue five – not to mention the sweet Batman and Superman combination. The theme of sacrifice helps add urgency to it, but it lacks some of the action it deserves. There is still stuff to love about it: Superman and Robotman have the best moments here as the heavy hitters and Batman as the brain. That kind of chemistry is what World’s Finest is all about.
Waid isn’t trying to break new grounds with these characters as Batman/Superman: World’s Finest #5 has shown so far. The Devil Nezha has given them a new villain, but how they tackle the conflict and challenges is in accordance with how they’ve been operating this whole time. This series could even somewhat pass as a sequel to Jeph Loeb’s original Superman and Batman run.