Batman/Superman: World’s Finest #19 is one of Superman and Batman’s first adventures but also one of their most intense ones with the Phantom Zone involved. The Riddler was just the calm before the storm as the World’s Finest must defeat the Kryptonian criminal Jax-Ur. With Batman now trapped in the Phantom Zone, teamwork is more important than ever as they learn the ropes as younger heroes in this flashback story.
There’s always something satisfying about Riddler iconography. The question mark, the green and black, the “riddle me this” –they all go hand in hand like Superman’s red and yellow. Dan Mora includes these and more on his cover. Superman and Batman are leaping through a background of literal mazes to reach The Riddler in the foreground. If they were taken out, then this would actually be a really cool Riddler-centric piece.
This variant has had the internet buzzing and now fans can get theirs. Mora’s Nicholas Cage Superman variant is finally here. He’s done Jerry Seinfeld and Paul McCartney and continues to capture celebrities’ likenesses in these awesome variants with them in guest starring roles. In the Batcave, Superman, and Batman outfit Cage with Super and Bat gear alike. He even gets his own shield emblem.
Helene Lenoble put the World’s Finest on a retro lunar adventure with her variant. Both Clark and Bruce are outfitted in atomic-era space suits that also act as their super suits as they confront an unseen alien monster on the moon. The tendril-like creature can be made out from its shadow, just a little. Lenoble’s bold and smooth art style lights up the moon’s surface like a football stadium. The red glow in Superman’s eyes is a nice detail along with the subtle addition of their belts from their suits.
Two other great variants have been done by Tony S. Daniel and Alexander Lozano.
The person who has been telepathically using The Riddler has been revealed to be Jax-Ur from the Phantom Zone. The disappearing Gothamites were a result of it malfunctioning and it seems Jax-Ur used that to his advantage. Now, Superman must take on a Kryptonian killer with a grudge against both him and his home planet. Meanwhile, Batman meets Alfred and the Gothamites in the Phantom Zone and must find a way to escape and help Superman.
That’s really all there is to it. From there, all the reader can do is sit back and enjoy the endless action that this issue is from start to finish. Jax-Ur is no General Zod, but he can be just as much of a problem. In fact, Jax-Ur was responsible for the destruction of one of Krypton’s populated moons after defying the planet’s laws on space travel and ship testing – his reason for being in the Phantom Zone. Like everyone in the Phantom Zone, he has it out for the one who pressed the button who sent him there – Jor-El. There’s no huge villain motivation for him here, just hatred for the House of El.
Even if the story is just one or two issues, Mark Waid has universal appeal in the comic book world. This is one of those stories where we get to see how Batman and Superman learn to work together based on their areas of expertise and strengths. At no point is there any animosity between them and any snappy remark is actually feedback on how they can get better. Letters are done by Steve Wands.
Travis Moore, the artist who often fills in for Mora in this series, is on this issue. Superman fans will love this one with endless Man of Steel and Superman: The Animated Series-esque action as he takes on Jax-Ur, who is drawn in his appearance from The Animated Series as well. This actually may be the most action-heavy work we have seen Moore do in this series thus far and much like Superman, the hits are pretty hard. Colors are done by Tamra Bonvillian.
Batman/Superman: World’s Finest #19 is heavy on Superman action and uses one of his lesser-known villains, so it’s an ideal pick for fans this week. It also goes to show that not all Batman meets Superman stories have to be a question of “vs” or “who would win?”