“The World’s Finest”
Writer: Jeph Loeb
Artists: Ed McGuinness (p), Dexter Vines (i)
Publisher: DC Comics
Metallo’s search for his flesh and blood body brings the heroes together while a Kryptonite asteroid the size of Brazil threatens Earth.
Loeb opens the book by spelling out the dichotomy between the titular characters in terms anyone can understand while at the same time providing a good amount of insight into their respective psyches. There is almost nothing similar about Batman and Superman, and Loeb does an excellent job of selling that point with two conflicting caption boxes on page 4. In no uncertain terms, this writer knows these characters like a parent knows its child and that familiarity is evident in every facet of the book.
The big draw of the book to me is to see their interactions, not to see them tackle the villain of the week. This book should be about their relationship, not about Earth threatening conflicts that only they can solve; DC publishes JLA for that. Loeb doesn’t disappoint in that regard, as their dialogue and basic attitude toward each other is as close to perfect as I’ve seen. They differ in almost every way two people can, and yet they’ve managed to become friends. OK, so Batman doesn’t really like Superman, but the feeling isn’t mutual at least and even though the Dark Knight may not like Big Blue, he does care about what happens to him.
It does my heart good to see Ed McGuinness once again drawing the Man of Steel as with one issue he immediately becomes the best artist currently drawing Superman. I realize that his figures tend to be bulky and overly muscled, but I think that’s how Superman should be drawn. He can give Jim Lee a run for his money when it comes to drawing the Caped Crusader, even though I don’t think Batman should be the same size as Superman. There’s detail packed into every panel (like Metallo’s fist print on Superman’s face or surface features on the face of the planet Neptune) that exemplify the amount of effort he brings to the table.
Unfortunately, the premise behind their meeting is wafer thin, and I don’t really buy much of the story. Did Metallo break out of prison (when the last time we saw him he had been put back there after fighting Zod over in Action Comics)? Did Loeb take his change of heart in that fight and apply it here, because I’m confused as to why he doesn’t want to kill Superman any more? Why is his body buried in a Gotham City cemetery, and why did he think it would be in S.T.A.R. Labs? I understand that Metallo broke many a law in his hunt for his corpse, but did Bats really need to attack him without provocation? Lastly, why would Superman fling a fallen radio tower away from the city rather than placing it somewhere out of the way?
The big question surrounding this title has to be “Was it worth the wait?” Loeb and McGuinness answer that with a resounding “Yes” as Superman/Batman is off to a fast start even though it contains its share of problems. Jeph Loeb pretty much owes his comics career to the two title characters, and it’s clear with this first issue that he hasn’t lost his feel for DC’s two biggest icons. Fans of either Superman or Batman should enjoy this title as the characters serve as the perfect foil for one another.
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