Mild Mannered Reviews – Batman/Superman: World’s Finest #25

Batman/Superman: World's Finest #25

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Batman/Superman: World’s Finest #25

Scheduled to arrive in stores: March 19, 2024
Cover date: May 2024

“Meet the World’s Deadliest”

Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Steve Pugh and Dan Mora
Cover: Dan Mora
Variant Covers: Jamal Campbell, Dustin Nguyen, Dave Johnson, Joëlle Jones, Álvaro Martinez Bueno, Dan Mora, Christian Ward, Stevan Subic

Reviewed by: Tony Parker

Some years ago, in Gotham City, Superman and Batman team up to stop another Joker scheme. Superman expresses astonishment at Batman’s ability to handle The Joker. However, handing him to Arkham is a costly mistake, as it turns out that a familiar foe of Superman’s is interested in the Clown Prince of Crime: Lex Luthor.

Lex has a good reason to hire Joker: He has found a century old manuscript that details the location of a magical artifact of unspeakable power, but anyone who tries to decipher it turns mad. In other words, what better tool than the maddest of them all? Lex isn’t dumb, however. He straps an explosive collar on Joker. If Joker co-operates, he gets a cut of the treasure. But if he doesn’t, he’s dead. Joker insists that he and Lex are similar, even going so far as to shave his head bald. Lex isn’t amused, to say the least.

The two head off, and things get crazier and crazier. A passage through a wall, a train that shouldn’t exist, and an absurdist landscape within. Meanwhile, Joker asks why Lex hates Superman. Lex explains: To him, Superman makes also-rans of everyone, an alien making rules for a species not his own. Joker compares it to his problem with Batman: He is the chaotic artist to the stifling status quo upholder that is the Dark Knight. Lex mocks him slightly, and Joker blows up on him, stating that he hates people like him and Batman, as all he wants is to get his joy, whether it’s to get Batman to break his rules, or something totally random.

After that, the two continue, seemingly towards a test of character that drove the writer of the manuscript to suicide.They reach a secret cavern with many doors, statues, and clear traces of magic. As Joker leads them through a few accidental doors (one containing Jonah Hex), Lex loses his patience.

But finally, they find it: The Heart of Eternium, at the Rock of Eternity (home of the wizard Shazam). The challenge to be worthy of the treasure is to pass a creature, who claims that the secret that drives men to death is that no one will ever be worthy. Lex is almost eaten alive, but Joker manages to take the monster down with his umbrella (that he borrowed from The Penguin).

Finally, Lex holds the heart, seemingly about to get his dream world: A dead Superman. But Joker then shocks Lex, having threatened his men to break him out of the collar. Taking the heart, Joker shows Lex what world he wants. Even the greatest evil mind in the world is horrified beyond belief by the darkness in Joker’s brain. Reluctantly, he shatters the heart, anything to stop The Joker’s dream world.

And so, Joker is put back in Arkham, and Lex Luthor stares at his adversary from behind his building’s glass window, feeling worse than ever.

After all, for once, it really was Lex Luthor who had saved the world.

5Story – 5: An almost ridiculously fun villain team up, which manages to go deep into Lex and Joker’s personalities! I would never have chosen “Quest into the Rock of Eternity” as a Lex and Joker first meeting story, but it played off their dynamic perfectly!

I mean, Joker shaving his head to be “twinsies” with Lex? Lex’s genuine horror at Joker’s dream world? Their monologues about why they hate their adversaries? Just perfect characterization!

Lex especially (which is great considering who this site is for). A truly powerful portrayal that acknowledges that even at his worst, Luthor is a man of depth and paradoxes, ridiculously selfish yet still human deep down. Even he can’t grasp The Joker’s insanity, and there’s something truly tragic, almost heartbreaking, about those last panels. Sure, it came from his own machinations, but Lex truly did save the world, and due to his obsessive hatred of Superman, no one will know or care. A self inflicted punishment, but one still worthy of slight sympathy.

Plus, it’s just a really fun story between the two most iconic villains in all of fiction! What’s not to love?

Once again, World’s Finest’s “filler” arc proves to be a heapload of quality!

4Art – 4: I must admit, I was really impressed by Steve Pugh’s art here! It’s not easy when Mora headlines this book most days, but Pugh managed to portray the emotions of his two villainous characters perfectly, and the coloring adds an uneasy tinge to the bright madness throughout. Any artist that can make Lex Luthor pitiable deserves respect.

3Cover Art – 3: Decent art on The Joker but nothing that special.

5Variant Cover Art – 5: Beautiful minimalism.

2Variant Cover Art – 2: Kind of confusing. Just feels directionless.

3Variant Cover Art – 3: Cool action pose art!

1Variant Cover Art – 1: Batman looks okay but Superman looks terrible.

4Variant Cover Art – 4: Excellent contrast art, especially the Batman part in black and white!br CLEAR=All>

5Variant Cover Art – 5: PERFECT pencil-like sketch, the Clark running into a phone booth part is beyond description!

2Variant Cover Art – 2: Generic, coloring is nice, though.

5Variant Cover Art – 5: Can’t go wrong with a William Shatner cover!

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