“The Origin of the World’s Finest” – Part Two
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Travis Moore
Color Artist: Tamra Bonvillain
Letterer: Steve Wands
Review by Bryant Lucas
With Batman trapped in the Phantom Zone, Superman must face the deadly Jax-Ur alone in this month’s Batman/Superman: World’s Finest #19.
With last month’s revelation of Jax-Ur’s manipulative control over the Riddler and Batman’s unexpected imprisonment in the Phantom Zone, this issue shifts from a simple street-level crime-solver to a high-stakes rescue mission. The Dark Knight, trapped in an otherworldly prison, and the Man of Steel, battling a mass murderer from his homeworld, must navigate challenges both internal and external.
Familiar Territory, New Twists
While Mark Waid has frequently utilized flashback techniques to bridge arcs, this issue is distinct. Unlike the captivating narrative of World’s Finest #12, which many consider a series highlight, this particular story has a more somber and intense tone. It’s not Waid’s strongest, but it certainly has its moments, especially with the unexpected role reversal of the two iconic heroes. The previous issue focused on Superman navigating the criminal streets of Gotham City, while World’s Finest #19 features a Batman who’s clearly out of his depth.
In fact, Batman’s vulnerability is one of the major highlights of the story. Often, Batman is portrayed as the all-confident “Bat-god” who always has a plan and is never rattled. However, Waid’s Batman is a younger man who’s still relatively new to the Superhero scene. He’s spent most of his time punching street criminals, not traversing dangerous alien landscapes. Watching Batman openly doubt his capabilities is oddly refreshing, as it leads to a poignant moment between Bruce and Alfred in which the older man plays the typical surrogate father who encourages his surrogate son, amidst the hero’s self-doubt. It’s a nice reminder that even Batman had to take time to grow into himself.
Moore’s Mixed Blessing
As is the norm for World’s Finest filler issues, a guest artist steps in to give Dan Mora a breather. This arc features Travis Moore: a servicable artist whose work, while good, doesn’t hold a candle to Mora’s (just my opinion and personal taste). Moore’s version of the Phantom Zone is indeed intriguing, but his depiction of Superman comes across as somewhat distant and stoic, a contrast to Mora’s more emotionally charged version. This isn’t to say Moore lacks talent; it’s simply a challenging standard to meet.
With regards to the rest of the creative team, Tamra Bonvillain’s color palette for the Phantom Zone captures its haunting nature perfectly, and Steve Wands ensures the lettering guides readers smoothly through the intricate narrative. The tandem of the three talents effectively underscores the dire circumstances in which both heroes find themselves.
Batman/Superman: World’s Finest #19 is a decent entry, but it doesn’t soar to the series’ usual heights. Waid’s narrative remains engaging, even if it’s not groundbreaking. Moore’s art, while proficient, doesn’t quite capture the emotional gravitas the story demands. However, filler arcs present unique challenges for creators due to their transitional nature, so it’s understandable if not every issue is a home run. We’re undoubtedly in a brief lull before the next major arc erupts, and knowing the series’ history, it promises to be a thrilling ride.
Final Verdict: A solid issue, but not a standout.
Images Courtesy of DC