Batman/Superman: World’s Finest #2
Scheduled to arrive in stores: April 19, 2022
Cover date: June 2022
“The Devil Nezha” – Chapter Two: “The Devil Himself”
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Dan Mora
Cover: Dan Mora
Variant Covers: Dave Wielgosz, Jorge Jimenez, and Tim Sale
Reviewed by: Tony Parker
At the Doom Patrol’s mansion, Dr. Niles Crane attempts to perform surgery on Superman, as Batman, Robin, and the rest of the team watch on and or help. Unfortunately, Crane realizes that Superman’s entire blood stream is the problem, and he has minutes to live. A Hail Mary from Radioactive Man just manages to cure the Man of Steel (much to Batman’s relief), but the problems have just begun for our heroes.
As the heroes sit in the living room, and Superman recuperates, Batman and Crane deduce that a sword the Doom Patrol had found belonged to the mythical Devil Nezha, and that he is behind what nearly killed Superman. The Patrol relay the tale, of Li Jing, a powerful warlord who lost his son, Nezha. Desperate to resurrect him, Li Jing spent a decade first threatening, then working down to his skin and bones to find a magical cure. Finally, he received one, but the now immortal Nezha found his father pathetic, and killed him on the spot. Obtaining magical weapons and a thirst for total conquest beyond all known history, Nezha became The Devil Nezha. He was eventually defeated and imprisoned by The House of Ji, a group of magical warriors, but as Crane reveals, it seems he has escaped, and his latest target is the world’s superheroes, from The Flash, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern, to Shazam.
Deciding to deal with the situation, Superman and Batman go off to Philadelphia to help Billy Batson, who has been magically silenced by Felix Faust, while Supergirl and Robin (who seemed to have had a bad team up in the recent past) travel to the past to find The House of Ji and learn how they defeated Nezha in the first place.
Things don’t go well, though. The House of Ji deduces that Robin and Supergirl are in legion with Nezha, due to Robin carrying his sword, and Superman, Batman, and Billy are cornered by Faust, who is stronger than ever thanks to his allegiance to Nezha…
To Be Continued…
Story – 4: Another fun chapter in what is proving to be a real throwback story for me! This really brings to mind the Jeph Loeb run from the mid 2000s (as I mentioned last month), perhaps with less character arc, but that’s not really a problem in this engaging, exciting, and entertaining yarn!
I think sometimes we forget, in a Cinematic Universe world, where we see heroes team up all the time, that it’s still such a wonderfully fun and novel concept. I feel like team ups can sometimes drag when there are so many characters, because it can lead to ‘whedonspeak’, where everyone sounds the same because let’s face it, it’s hard to write so many characters.
This story so far has averted this wonderfully, by doing what, I think, all non super team team ups should do: Less is more. Issue one had a decent amount of guest stars, but rightfully split the book into two acts: Act 1 focusing on Superman, Batman, Robin, Poison Ivy, and Metallo, Act 2 on Superman, Batman, Robin, and the Doom Patrol sans Crane, allowing us to get a feel on what the Patrol is like in Mark Waid’s pen. Now, in Issue 2, we get another excellent split, more 2/3 then 1/3 then half half, but still paced well enough to not cause any problems. At first we focus most on Crane, the only member from issue 1 not to get anything major to do, with small bits for Batman, Superman, Robin, and Negative Man, and we end up on a split focus, Supergirl and Robin on one end, and Superman, Batman, Felix Faust and Billy on the other. This gives the book time to breath, and rather than focus on 8 dialogue balloons a panel, or excessive fighting, brings on the natural character moments: Batman showing concern and genuine joy at his friend’s successful operation, Superman commenting on Batman and Crane’s ‘smartest guy in the room’ tendencies, the patrol telling us the lore of the baddie, Robin and Supergirl’s squabbling, etc.
Thanks to this, the book feels alive, like few books of recent times. And when it comes to Superman, that is massively important. Superman has become an icon, not just for his powers or his foes or his imagery, but for his heart. Superman Smashes the Klan, arguably the defining Superman book of the last few years, proved once more that Superman’s true strength is in his heart, and while this book isn’t focusing on that as much as say, Superman vs. Lobo did, it is definitely allowing us that great pleasure of seeing Superman work with other heroes in the DC universe, and while the stakes are high, for once it feels like we’re enjoying the ride, rather than rushing to the conclusion so we can set up the next event.
So, in other words, check this out, if you want a good book for a lazy afternoon, because THIS is fun storytelling at it’s best!
Art – 4: A little higher from last time, simply because I feel a little more affinity to the style now. That, and the flashbacks were well made. Not much else to say.
Cover Art – 3: An average cover, not sure about the Metro Man esque Superman, but it’s okay.
Tim Sale Variant Cover Art – 4: Love me some Tim Sale! Real throwback!
Pete Woods Variant Cover Art – 3: Decent old style look, but that’s it.
Jorge Jimenez Variant Cover Art – 2: Just a little lazy, to be honest. Did we need three variant covers with basically the same pose?
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