Batman/Superman: World’s Finest #8 continues the story of the newest addition to the DC Universe and Superman’s first sidekick – Boy Thunder. While this week’s installment sees plenty of costumed action and the appearance of a Silver Age JLA villain, some readers may have to push to find something to be excited about in comparison to other issues. That’s not at all saying that World’s Finest doesn’t have some fun moments. 2
Boy Thunder’s introduction enables artists like series regular Dan Mora to give Superman a cover treatment he seldom receives –the dynamic duo treatment. Covers like these came around with Batman and Robin and always juxtaposes the main hero and their sidekick leaping into action with the hero in the foreground. Mora does with Clark and David set to a Gotham City beautifully separated into yellow and black halves – representative of Batman and Robin. This point is further driven home with the inclusion of them in larger blown-up positions. They aren’t silhouettes of a city skyline, but rather average rooftops with a water tower and radio antenna – clearly not Metropolis. The original Teen Titans also make appearances alongside Robin, given their role in Boy Thunder’s superhero upbringing on Earth-Prime. Mora’s drawing and Tamra Bonvillain’s colors continue to give this comic series the Saturday morning cartoon feel rather than a hard-hitting graphic novel – a style that suits this storytelling and tone well.
There are plenty of variants this week featuring some of our favorite villains from Batman and Superman’s rogue gallery and Travis Mercer and Jordie Bellaire bring us one of them. The Joker and Harley Quinn vs. Lex Luthor and Mercy Graves have been the World’s Finest of supervillain matchups since Bruce Tim’s animated special that brought Superman and Batman together for the first time for many. Nowadays, Harley Quinn isn’t running with The Joker as much –so Mercer and Bellaire give the match-up an update with the addition of Punchline. While she’s new, Joker’s long nose, pogo stick, and rubber chicken antics are all classic stuff. Mercy shows up in her work uniform as she always does and Lex is in his power armor firing rockets. It’s a little bit of overkill for The Joker, but maybe he did something to really peeve him off.
Clayton Henry and Marcelo Maiolo’s variant should be bought with Mercer and Bellaire’s, they just go so well together if you love Superman’s and Batman’s villains. It’s a perfect yin-yang style cover as well. The World’s Finest functions as the borders here with Superman’s rogue’s gallery on the top portion and Batman’s on the bottom. Superman’s includes all the best – Brainiac, Bizarro, Parasite, Darkseid, Mr. Mxyzptlk, Lex Luthor, and Metallo. Appearances by Batman’s iconic villains are Manbat, Two Face, Penguin, Joker, Catwoman, Riddler, Scarecrow, and Mr. Freeze. Henry’s smooth art style is boldened by Maiolo’s color here.
Taurin Clarke creates a pop art realism blend for his variant with a simple white background featuring just Superman and Batman. The Man of Steel flies into action with his lower body in a hyper-speed blur with Batman brandishing a Batarang. Batman has a more realistic bulk build and the subtle costume wrinkles help illustrate it. It almost kind of feels like Adam West was used as a reference. His belt and gear and really defined while Superman and his costume are more laminated and simplified. The colors and shading are on point for this one.
We last saw David, now known as the new hero Boy Thunder, going to the Teen Titans to learn to control and harness his powers better and that’s exactly where we see him now. As mentioned in the last review, the original Teen Titans before the team was reinvented by Marv Wolfman and George Perez are rarely seen together and interact nowadays, so each moment we see them is a gift. David is beginning to show real progress and is called into action when JLA villain The Key locks down Gotham City for ransom.
David works hand-in-hand with Superman as the two race around rescuing trapped people as Batman and Robin work to find The Key locked within the Batcave. Along the way, Superman continues to give him sage advice on what it means to be a hero – typical mentor stuff. David literally and figuratively has to enter the innermost cave when he has to rescue trapped miners from a methane gas leak in what is the highlight of the whole issue. The major problem is that his powers are heat-based.
Clark and David are in the heroic spotlight while Batman and Robin take more of a supportive issue. But everyone’s, even the Teen Titans, involvement and influence on David as a newcomer are some of the more story-driven highlights. At some point in the issue, Supergirl also has a nice heart to hear with David, offering her unique insight into his situation. However, Wonder Girl’s warning to Robin that there is something about him will also stick with the reader and may confirm some others’ suspicions.
Compared to other issues, issue #8 of World’s Finest feels like its lacks some of the explosive ‘oomph.’ You see the characters doing what they do best – Superman saving people, Batman strategizing how to save people, and David becoming acquainted with it – and not much else. Still, David in the mine is an integral part of his hero’s journey as it is his “innermost cave” as previously mentioned. The inclusion of The Key is nice and his scheme of locking everything is very Silver Age-esque. Since the 1990s, he’s been appearing as a pale ghoul obsessed with keys while his original 60s incarnation is more of a flashy costumed crook with a key-shaped gun. Mark Waid absolutely meant to use a Silver Age villain as David’s first big bad, keeping in theme with the series’ overall 60s comic book tone.
The more I look at Mora and Bonvillain’s art, the more I can see it being animated as a DC animated feature. They continue to zoom out on action scenes so you can observe the whole scope of it and zoom in on emotional scenes so you can closely get invested. This issue also has a nice little Spider-Man reference to Superman. In one panel where he’s rescuing people, he can be seen in the Amazing Fantasy pose.
Batman/Superman: World’s Finest #8 gives David a major development in his hero’s journey, but it feels like it could’ve been done in a more spectacular and bigger way to the issue more memorable than it already is. But, it’s always great to see Superman and Batman work their way around a villain’s scheme.