Batman/Superman: World’s Finest #5
Scheduled to arrive in stores: July 19, 2022
Cover date: September 2022
“The Devil Nezha” – Chapter Five: “Sacrifice Play”
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Dan Mora
Cover: Dan Mora
Variant Covers: Derrick Chew, Freddie E. Williams II and Riley Rossmo and Ivan Plascencia
Reviewed by: Tony Parker
Superman, Batman, Supergirl, and the Doom Patrol find themselves at a crossroads. The only way to trap The Devil Nezha is with an enchanted talisman that must be held by one of them inside his tomb with him, dooming one of the heroes for eternity. Superman immediately nominates himself, as do the rest, refusing to allow any of the others to make the sacrifice play. Supergirl especially feels she deserves it, and Batman asks where is Robin.
Suddenly, Nezha attacks, with a possessed Superman by his side. The heroes react with alarm, but also immediate action, Supergirl flying into Superman while Batman and the Doom Patrol try to give all they’ve got against the unstoppable odds.
However, things get instantly worse. Elasti-Girl and Mr. Negative are also possessed and turn on Batman, who gets beaten quite badly. Supergirl tries to stop Superman with her heat vision, but he counteracts, and states that she is just a faded echo of him.
Robotman, wanting to go out swinging, decides to hell with it, and takes on Nezha. To the surprise of everyone, he manages to punch him out, releasing Superman, Elasti-Girl and Negative Man from his control. Supergirl, realizing what this means, orders Robotman to continue attacking, as Nezha’s magic is only attune to powers from his era, meaning strange technology is his weakness. Batman joins in with a shocker gadget, but Nezha manages to start adapting anyway.
Superman, however, realizes what needs to be done. Zooming to the Fortress of Solitude, he grabs a Phantom Zone projector and traps Nezha in it. The dust seemingly settled, Supergirl confesses that Robin got hit by a time storm, and is now lost in the time stream, who knows where and when. Batman is taken aback, but Superman reassures him they will find him.
Suddenly, Nezha rips a tear from the phantom zone, adapting himself to Kryptonian tech. Realizing they still need the talisman, Superman, Batman and Supergirl all race to sacrifice themselves first. Superman is fastest, however, and flies in, trapped forever.
A distraught Batman and Supergirl argue over what could have been done, but the Doom Patrol manages to calm then down. Just before they can mourn, though, Batman realizes that the projector is gone. Superman has a plan, and they must act immediately, as they see the rift that Nezha opened is still slightly present. Using Negative Man’s powers, they keep the rift open long enough to rescue Superman.
Staring off into the distance, Batman perpares himself to save Robin.
Meanwhile, years later, a Robin of currently unknown identity is at Nezha’s original tomb, at Lazarus Island…
To Be Continued…
Story – 5: Climaxes are usually difficult, especially in comic books. The meat of arcs usually hangs in the quiet parts, and endings don’t regularly afford that, as we get a whole book spent on the final battle.
But this run manages to round off what had been a fun, pleasant journey with some great in character moments, excellent serial escalation, and some great emotional moments, specifically from Supergirl and Batman. Add in Robotman’s unexpected but very appreciated hero moment, and this last issue is a pleasing finish that never underpowers its villain.
Nezha has been overpowered the entire story, and with us as readers knowing no one was going to truly be sacrificed, it was up to the writers to come up with a way to beat him that didn’t feel like a fast one was pulled. Thankfully, using some clever foreshadowing and callbacks, Nezha gets taken down a peg, only to adapt, only to get taken down again, only to adapt once more, only to finally be taken down, and only just. Rare, but satisfying in a one shot villain like this.
Also satisfying is the ensemble cast. While the book is advertised as a team up of the world’s finest, it grants us a larger ensemble with the Doom Patrol, Supergirl, and Robin. What impresses me so much is that those characters never overshadow or get overshadowed, and justify their presence even in the final issue, with Robotman, Negative Man, and Supergirl all providing key info.
Emotional moments are also hard to find in these climaxes, but seeing Batman and Supergirl’s anguish and guilt at the losses of Robin and (temporarily) Superman remind us that these heroes are people, and cement the importance of one of the title characters, who, let’s be honest, DC tends to undervalue in comparison to the Dark Knight.
I also appreciate that the characters just feel like themselves. Superman is kind, full of life and humor, determined, selfless to a fault, and smarter than people give him credit for. Batman is a tactician, but driven by the need to make sure no one else is hurt, hitting his care for Superman and Robin even further. Supergirl is a beacon of light, but not without her angst or worries, and unlike a certain run I reviewed recently, actually felt like Supergirl. And I honestly feel more interested in the Doom Patrol than ever thanks to their fun and key appearances.
This book is thankfully still going, and I am honestly excited to see how our heroes track down Robin. While I didn’t rate every issue a 5 out of 5, I rate this first arc a 5 out of 5, and highly recommend it. It won’t shatter any minds, it’s not some genre defining story. But not all of them have to be. Sometimes, we just want to see our favorite heroes do what they do best, and show us their humanity. And you get that here in spades.
Art – 4: As ever, very solid, well lit, well colored, and cool without bordering on edgy. The battle is well choreographed, never feeling confusing, and the usage of very harsh blues reds and blacks really worked wonders!
Cover Art – 3: Classic cover, nothing that special, but it made me smile.
Variant Cover Art – 2: Nothing that special, to be honest, a little too bland for me.
Variant Cover Art – 4: Quite the nice realistic imagery, is that supposed to be a Smallville Superman?
Variant Cover Art – 1: I am frankly so tired of angry heat vision Superman.
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