Batman/Superman: World’s Finest #20
Scheduled to arrive in stores: October 17, 2023
Cover date: December 2023
“Heir to the Kingdom” – Part One: The Golden Calf
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Dan Mora
Cover: Dan Mora
Variant Covers: Bjorn Barends, David Nakayama, Rebecca Bohanan
Reviewed by: Tony Parker
Our story begins with The Flash (Barry Allen) mapping the multiverse, noting that while he told the Justice League it’s for strategy, really it’s for the fun of seeing how he and his friends change in those other worlds. Suddenly, Barry notices some concerning shadows, realizing something is afoot.
In Gotham City, Superman, Batman and Robin all tangle with Villainy Inc., a teamup of Wonder Woman’s rogues gallery, only for The Flash to round them all up suddenly so he can tell them what he saw. And what he saw was David/Thunder Boy, Superman’s lost sidekick from World’s Finest Vol. 2, only it seems something is very wrong with him.
After taking a moment to remember all that happened between them, Superman asks Flash to continue, Batman comforting his friend, the group now in The Batcave. Flash says that while he only saw him for a few millionths of seconds, he could see that he was being menaced by someone or something, and that he needs Superman. Flash has built a modified cosmic treadmill that should hopefully phase him onto what the Scarlet Speedster has designated as Earth-22. Flash admits that things could definitely go awry, and asks the World’s Finest if they are sure about this. Batman confirms they are.
And so, the two travel to Earth-22.
Still in phasing stage, Superman and Batman reach their destination, the former recognizing an adult David immediately. Batman however points out to him the strange happening before them: David is observing older versions of Superman and Batman: Their Kingdom Come versions.
The two older heroes are mourning (to Superman’s shock) Blue Beetle II (Ted Kord), Power Girl and The Ray. Superman expresses his sympathy at having to lay to rest 3 friends. Batman tells him to look around. It’s far more.
Atom Smasher. Alloy. Atlas. Captain Comet. Lightning. Peacemaker. Plastic Man. Offspring. Hawkman. Vigilante. Red Arrow. Green Arrow. Starman. Kid Flash. Black Canary. Judomaster. Captain Atom. Doctor Fate. Thunderbolt. Samurai. Nightstar. Wildcat. Dove. Red Hood. Elongated Man. The Question. Green Lantern. The Shade. Zatanna. Golden Guardian. The Creeper. Donna Troy. Batwoman. Phantom Lady. Joker’s Daughter. Jayna. Zan. Human Bomb. Jace Fox. Stars. And many, many more.
As Batman wonders in horror at what could have happened here, touching Red Robin’s grave, visions of the timeline come flashing at the two heroes, and they are sent back a few years in the same timeline, no longer phasing. Superman says they should talk to his counterpart, but Batman has a feeling it would be better to lay low for now and investigate.
And so, they head to Planet Krypton, a Superhero themed restaurant with a trophy room bigger than the World’s Finest’s combined. It is, of course, owned and managed by Booster Gold.
Clark is visibly and vocally concerned about David, wishing they could just find him. Bruce tries to reassure him, stating that if the Superman from this earth is anything like his, David had a guardian just as protective. Clark still wants to let David know he’d never abandon him. Bruce again tells him he has no need to worry, especially about leaving impressions, and asks him if he had thought about what to do with David once he comes back. He can’t leave him in his apartment, as Bruce explains. It was hard enough for him to take on Dick as a ward, and that was WITH his money and influence. Clark would have no chance. Then again, Bruce insists that Superman will find a way.
Clark, however, can’t handle the idea that he’s like this Superman, because what Superman would allow all that death to happen?
While Bruce tries his hardest to calm Clark down, the latter notices a strange detail in the history books of the place, having skilled them quickly. Earth-22 has never discovered the multiverse. Suddenly, Superman hears something in downtown Metropolis. It’s grown up Thunder Man, fighting a villain (Atom-Master) holding hostages. She implies that David has done some horrible things to Kraklow and Poseidon, and that she kidnapped a bunch of brilliant scientists to help her create Kryptonite, stopping Superman, who had come to help.
Batman manages to counter this by using one of his gas pellets to get Atom-Master to slow down, only for Thunder Man to burn her until she confesses where the hostages are (under Lexcorp tower), right in front of a shocked Superman.
Using his freeze breath, Superman stops the assault, and he and Batman reprimand David. David is annoyed at first, until he realizes it’s his versions of the two, and he happily greets an equally happy Superman, saying that he had given up hope he’d ever see them again. He had waited years.
Only for him to grab Superman by the throat and choke him with his electricity, destroying his cape!
To be continued…
Story – 5: What an excellent opener, it delivered everything I wanted!
A compelling premise? Absolutely, Superman and Batman going into the Kingdom Come universe (honestly, any universe) is thrilling enough as it is, but to do so in search of David, who was the star of my favorite arc so far? Captivating to the extreme! Plus, while I know very little of the original story, I’m able to follow this one so far, so good job on that!
Visceral action? You know it! David’s powers are as brutal as ever, I think they are some of the best depictions of Thunder and Lightning I’ve ever seen!
Character drama that actually explores our heroes? YES. A lot of these stories can feel a little empty in this department, but Superman’s concern for David and for this world are so well done, and Batman being the comforter of all people (and doing a good job at it) is quite pleasing to see!
I mean, how often does a comic surprise you anymore? Because David’s happiness at the reunion (which honestly gave me chills) only for him to choke Superman genuinely had me gaping.
A brilliant start, cannot wait for the next part!
Art – 5: It’s Dan Mora. See the final page. That’s all I gotta say.
Cover Art – 4: Quite nice! Love the color variety, the different variants of the characters, the almost anime-esque middle part of our four main heroes falling. Just wish the characters who weren’t in the book weren’t on the cover, but I know it’s a tribute, so I’ll be more forgiving on that than usual.
Variant Cover Art – 2: Never been a fan of statuette covers. This one is fitting since it’s Kingdom Come, but it’s just so… Fake.
Variant Cover Art – 3: A trick or treat variant with lil Superman and lil Krypto. Cute!
Variant Cover Art – 4: A very nice cover of Lois interviewing Catwoman, like that!
Variant Cover Art – 2: Another kind of boring and stock Kingdom Come one.
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