Batman/Superman: World’s Finest 2024 Annual is a treat of an issue because it’s a treasury issue with an anthology of four different stories by different creative teams. Some are tales that fly directly out of the World’s Finest series while others focus their attention elsewhere in the DC Universe with no appearances from Batman or Superman. The best part is the characters that are featured in each one.
Series regular artist Dan Mora’s cover features the main characters of some of the stories in juxtaposition to Superman, Batman, and Robin. Metamorpho returns for a story of his own after the Newmazo episode while the Challengers of the Unknown and Bumblebee get their turn in the spotlight. While the cover may put on the impression that the cast of World’s Finest interacts with them, the big list of creators in the lower left-hand corner lets you know it’s going to be an anthology issue.
John Giang creates a unique variant in terms of style with what is just a great Superman and Batman piece. It’s rough and slim like a Jae Lee piece and works the colors in a similar fashion too. It’s also great to see Batman with claw-like gloves making a comeback. Of course, it has the classical light and dark juxtaposition with doves for Superman’s background and bats for Batman’s.
Jamal Campbell shows how Superman and Batman make the best of a perilous situation in their own ways. As spiked walls close in on them on either side, Batman’s slide grapples out while Superman handles them directly. Some of the spikes break apart by heat, so he may be also buying Bruce some time. With no roles in the issue, these covers are the best World’s Finest pieces we are getting this week.
Other incentive variant covers are available from Gerald Parel and Mark Spears.
The Batman/Superman: World’s Finest 2024 Annual starts with “Imperiled” takes place in the Fifth Dimension as Mr. Mxyzptlk and Batmite meet with their fellow imps, the Just-Us League. All the members, like Batmite, are huge fans of their respective heroes (except Green Mite, who gets both Green Arrow and Green Lantern). After they cartoonishly argue which hero is the best, Mxyzptlk reveals that he sought their help because something big is coming – and if it has all-powerful fifth-dimensional imps in arms it must be unlike anything ever seen. This will be the next story arc in the ongoing issues of World’s Finest. Series writer Mark Waid along with Cullen Bunn write this prologue to what comes next in World’s Finest with art by Edwin Galmon. Drawing the Just-Us League must be fun because it means drawing the Justice League as cute, big-headed chibis. However, it’s not all funny and cutesy in the Fifth Dimension as we would imagine. Galmon also handles the colors with some help from Lee Loughridge.
“The Ties that Bind” focuses on Metamorpho right after the Newmazo story arc that began with him being framed for Simon Stagg’s death. Now, it looks like he does odd jobs for Stagg as he continues to be with his daughter Sapphire. Stagg is after a Gallo-Roman relic from the ancient past, the only problem is that the temple it’s said to be in is under an active volcano. Suited for the job, Metamorpho goes in but this archeology dive takes him on a blast from the past. Dennis Culver pens Metamorpho in his element as an archeologist turned hero with a story that the character so needs more of, considering we need more personal stories about him. Travis Mercer illustrates while Andrew Dalhouse colors – the result is a very smooth Jim Lee-esque series of pages and panels.
“Sting Like a Bee” is about Bumblebee, Karen Beecher, of the Teen Titans – at least before she joined and was just getting started as a hero. She runs an electronic workshop out of her home with her mother in hopes of it being a store one day when a customer comes in with a faulty prosthetic limb from a bigger electronic store chain that has seemingly been suffering break-ins since it opened. Karen, with the first set of Bumblebee gear she ever got, sets out on one of her first missions. Stephanie Williams pens this small “Bumblebee: Year One” story and shows that superheroes like Karen don’t always need a tragic origin story. It also provides a look into her world that we often don’t get to see in the pages of Teen Titans with her often as a supporting hero. Rosi Kampe’s art and Jordie Bellaire’s colors give an urban spy aesthetic to this budding superhero.
“Time Check” is a story about the Challengers of the Unknown – DC’s team of cosmic explorers created by Jack Kirby in 1957 for those not in the know. It’s said that Kirby would rework their basis in later years with Stan Lee in what would become the Fantastic Four. Recently, Kyle “Ace” Morgan, Matthew “Red” Ryan, Leslie “Rocky” Davis, and Walter “Prof” Haley have been recruited by Batman for a top-secret mission. This is that mission. Christopher Cantwell creates a real mind-bending with this story, and that seems to often be what Challengers of the Unknown stories are. When a supercollider and space-time are involved, it’s going to get surreal. At the same time, one reading this story might not be able to shake the fact that they are missing something. The art and color work of Jorge Fornes and Lee Loughridge respectively give these retro heroes the Doom Patrol treatment.
Batman/Superman: World’s Finest 2024 Annual features an anthology of the latest tie-ins to both the ongoing series and from some unexpected places, but it seems that there’s something pretty obvious missing… the title characters. The fact that this series also has an annual implies that it may run for an additional year or so.