Batman/Superman: World’s Finest #6 does things a little differently than the rest of the books thus far in the series with a new artist and main protagonist for this month’s arc.
One of the biggest loose ends to be tied up after the Devil Nezha was defeated was where Robin was displaced when he and Supergirl time traveled. It’s done nicely in a sudden, yet not unusual fashion and setting.
Dan Mora passes illustrating duties to Travis Moore for this issue, but he still does the standard cover. Robin, more specifically Dick Grayson, is in the literal spotlight here with Batman and Superman in the background. There’s no concrete setting here, but the stripes and confetti do suggest a circus-like theme which as we all know is where not just Dick, but the character of Robin originated. There was not a doubt in the readers’ minds that this Robin was anyone but Dick. Now more than ever, readers are seeing him reach new heights of greatness as Nightwing, but creators like Mark Waid and Mora remind us that he has been doing this since he was the Boy Wonder.
Trevor Hairsine of DCeased fame brings us a basic but welcome variant. Superman is in his usual flying pose with an outstretched fist while Batman swings in behind him, all set to a sunset Metropolis of Gotham City. A sunset city variant with the main characters often feels like an obligatory variant design, but illustrators are able to make it their own. Hairsine combines a smooth but duller style which has always suited the DCeased series. Still, he can draw the characters of DC with life in their eyes.
Another World’s Finest duo is showcased by Terry Dodson with Supergirl and Batgirl. Kara Zor-El and Barbara Gordon are and always have been a favorite superheroine team-up. While Barbara has yet to appear in this series, it’s great to see her get a shout-out. Since Dick is Robin in this series, it’s possible to assume that she is Batgirl also early on in her superhero life. Dodson excels with their faces as he gives them personality and charm. The background is a simple horizontal thunderbolt.
Nick Bradshaw takes us back to Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuiness’ ‘Public Enemies’ with Superman and Batman squaring off against Lex Luthor in his kryptonite suit. Bradshaw literally uses their Saturday morning cartoon-like designs from one of the best Superman and Batman adventures ever written. Lex Luthor actually looked like a supervillain despot with his enormous suit and not a cunning mastermind and it’s captured in all its green and purple glory.
DC’s swimsuit variant set has been a long-awaited summer fanservice for readers within nearly all of DC’s lines featuring the main characters of the series in their best pool and beach gear. Rafa Sandoval takes us to the Wayne Manor pool with Clark, Bruce, their sons, and Krypto. There’s a lot of fun stuff going on here – Damien Matrix diving and blasting Jon with water guns, Clark hitting the pickleball a little too hard and ruining Bruce’s paddle, and Krypto flying on his inflatable raft. Got to love that they wear swim trunks with their hero insignias, too.
In Batman/Superman: World’s Finest #6, the reader almost gets whiplash as they turn from the first page where they had seen Robin gather fruits before venturing off into the wilderness to the second where they see he has joined up with a late 19th-century circus. Any assumption that the reader had of seeing Dick enter a primal world of hurt set in a land of tribes and beasts is completely dashed.
But this can be a good thing as Robin is thrust into a mystery after circus animal attacks seemingly left two new members dead and management searching for answers. Dick is on a quest to prove the animals’ innocence, most of all a lion named Simba’s. He’s not lost in any strange world that time forgot, he’s right at home surrounded by a community he’s all too familiar with.
Clark and Bruce do make an appearance as well. Despite the fact that they would have to be creative in order to find him, it really was Dick that was the creative one – especially because he knew they would find a rock carving message he did in the future. How they traveled back wasn’t shown but rather revealed, meaning it wasn’t as terribly important as we all knew it would be done. Their presence enables Moore to do some really great visual work – some of these panels are truly keepers like the trapeze acts with Batman and Robin and the strongman stunt with Superman. Moore often draws Clark with warm facial expressions and more emphasis on facial structure all around. Readers will subtly notice this as they look at the characters’ faces for a second time.
While the setting of an old circus may seem jarring, it plays just right into how Waid tries to write this like a Silver Age story. In fact, a circus is antiquated in the same way that Silver Age comics are in the regard that they aren’t around anymore. Robin mentions the circus is one of the first to use live animals. Today, the majority of circuses have stopped using bigger animals like elephants, tigers, lions, and giraffes. One day there may be a Dick Grayson retcon where Haly’s Circus is wholly a stunt show. That would be unfortunate because as seen here, Dick as an animal lover regardless of how dangerous they are is one of his best traits as a born-and-raised carney.
No one could’ve possibly seen this story and setting in Batman/Superman: World’s Finest #6 when Robin was first lost back in time when they were fighting Nezha. While it seems like such a random and out-of-the-way plot choice, placing Dick Grayson in a circus is familiar and poetic. Is it often that a good Robin story comes from a Batman and Superman book?