Batman Superman: World’s Finest #10 takes the inevitable dark turn with Boy Thunder in the clutches of The Joker. Clark and Bruce’s rescue mission is obviously a race against time. Of course, an encounter with The Joker means that David will be given the ultimate test of morality, should he survive that is.
Dan Mora’s Joker illustrations are some of the best contemporary renderings of the character. It’s all in the beak-like nose, pointy chin, wrinkled and laugh-lined face, and radioactive green eyes that seem to have no eyelids. As Batarangs are to Batman, playing cards are to The Joker and we can see our heroes seemingly imprisoned in them. This cover lets us know that we are in Joker’s territory and playing his game now.
Mora is always busy with variants, especially this long-awaited Christmas cover guest staring legendary musician Paul McCartney doing a duet with Superman of his seasonal hit. Mora always draws celebrities in a non-exaggerative lighthearted way as if they were any other character, yet their likeness is subtly captured. This is absolutely the companion piece to his Jerry Seinfeld variant from issue #1.
It’s recently been confirmed in DC Universe canon that Superman ’78 and Batman ’89 take place on the same Earth. Dan Schoening celebrates this with his variant of the Christopher Reeves and Michael Keaton classics, both instantly recognisable in the artwork. Gene Hackman’s Lex Luthor and Jack Nicholson’s Joker also make appearances. Truly what could’ve been the World’s Finest motion picture of yesteryear’s silver screen. Schoening’s clear and clean style makes these Hollywood iterations charmingly comic book-esque – where these characters and their casts continue to thrive.
Even though 90s month is over, Brandon Peterson takes us back with his variant featuring fabricated World’s Finest trading cards. The cards here include the most modern iterations of the characters like Damian Wayne as Robin and Harley Quinn in her solo anti-hero outfit. Characters that have appeared in the series that have their own cards are Superman, Batman, Supergirl, and The Joker. The inclusion of the two Superman rogues Bizarro and Silver Banshee is great to see. You can imagine all these characters in a series illustrated by Peterson, seeing how he can be dynamic with both characters and backgrounds.
A.L. Kaplan gives us a wild ride (pun intended) with his variant. You’d want to run for your life at the first sight of it – it’s The Joker riding Doomsday. It would seem that whenever the monster that killed Superman is involved, it’s always a rousing variant. The blacklight palate of purple, black, grey, and orange ties it all together since those are these characters’ main colors. Kaplan could be a series regular as his art style fits right in with Mora’s. This variant is an absolute keeper for DC villain lovers or those just looking for a novelty cover that will make anyone double-take.
Boy Thunder has fallen into the clutches of The Joker and Key as they lock down Gotham City while Batman and Superman lead a rescue mission with the Teen Titans. Crime has also overrun a discombobulated Gotham which really cuts their work out for them. We see Superman with red eyes in nearly every panel in this issue as David goes missing. Still never cutting loose and always holding back, this is how he manages his anger. It’s always interesting to see Batman be calm and collected by comparison – especially with Superman. It’s also nice to have several teen heroes on the case adding some light-heartedness to an otherwise serious search and rescue.
The Joker is sinister with David in every sense of the word. I haven’t seen Joker panels this smooth, violent, and dark since Greg Capullo’s Batman run with Scott Snyder. The Key also has the main villain spotlight with the inclusion of his origin story – a twisted take on unlocking human potential. The road to rescue is wrought with puzzles and several crimes in progress, sort of like Arkham City. Most of all, David’s journey to a traditional superhero of the DC universe is about to veer off course.
Mark Waid, lettered by Steve Wands continues to captivate readers the same way Saturday morning cartoons did. The World’s Finest series continues to be a fan favorite series because of him. While this issue doesn’t introduce anything new beyond the last issue or tell us anything that we don’t know yet, Waid brings it all to a boiling point here as the next issue is designed to be the finale in the Boy Thunder story arc.
Dan Mora’s art is the highlight of this book. There’s no outstanding action sequence or fight scene, it’s all the faces and expressions. Mora shows how diverse he can be with expressions and emotions with The Joker and David in their panels together. He gets the shading just right on angry, glowing-eye Superman and terrifying Joker gas hallucinations – very intimidating and nightmarish. Tamra Bonvillain’s colouring definitely takes a dark tone overall, especially on those pages.
Batman/Superman: World’s Finest #10 offers some brutal Joker moments and some great Superman moments. Though the issue doesn’t move much, we can absolutely expect more come the next issue and final instalment in the Boy Thunder story.