Batman/Superman: World’s Finest #6
Scheduled to arrive in stores: August 16, 2022
Cover date: October 2022
“The Devil Nezha” – Chapter Six: “The Flying Grayson”
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Travis Modre
Cover: Dan Mora
Variant Covers: Terry Dodson and Rachel Dodson, Trevor Hairisine and Arif Prianto, Nick Bradshaw and Nathan Fairbairn, Rafa Sandoval and Matt Herms
Reviewed by: Tony Parker
Stuck in the past, specifically in 1892, Corto Maltese, Robin leaves a message on stone for Superman, Batman, Supergirl, and the Doom Patrol so they can track him, and looks for a place to stay in the meantime.
He eventually camps at Stratford’s world famous American circus, which, thanks to his past, feels like another home. Dick makes friends with the circus workers, but trouble has crept in. Two of the three new guys at the circus, Kenny O’Leary and Jimmy Beck, are both dead. Charlie Boyce, their friend, accuses the animals Cesar the animal trainer owns to be guilty.
Dick knows better. The blood would be on the fur as well, not just the claws. But he can’t prove it, lest he drives people mad with the advancements of future science. Instead, he has one day left to investigate, and he ponders about it and his past during an act.
Suddenly, Superman and Batman show up, pretending to be circus members too (Batman a trapeze act as well, sharing a soft moment with Dick, and Superman a circus strongman). The two managed to track down Dick’s message, but Supergirl chose not to come thanks to her guilt. Dick is happy to see them, but wants to solve the mystery first and protect the animals and his newfound friends. It’s too important to him. Superman and Batman acquiesce, and the trio look into it as they perform the evening show.
Then, fire strikes! As everyone runs off, Robin notices Cesar run off like mad, and following his hunch, finds Boyce trapped in a locked cage with the lion. Robin and Batman save Boyce, while Superman removes the fire, and Cesar is punished for his crime: Once he found out about Boyce, O’Leary and Beck’s robbery, and Boyce and Beck’s decision to off O’Learly, he helped kill Beck and then turned on Boyce to get the money for himself. What cost him was leaving the animals he claimed to love so dearly to burn without a second thought, and the locked cage, as he had the only key.
The mystery solved, the animals and people saved, Robin, Superman, and Batman leave for home…
To Be Continued…
Story – 5: Honestly, this was just an enjoyable romp! Felt very much like a story set in the Silver Age World’s Finest, except now we get a little more character depth, and the great, almost 1950s jungle novel shadow art of Travis Modre.
Robin returning to the circus is a goldmine of ideas and feelings. Dick being the, well, better balanced of the dynamic duo, can process his feelings on the past, and find the positives among the negatives. It leads to a great, subtle example of how Grayson is, in many ways, the heart of DC Comics (behind Superman, of course!).
Despite being trapped in the past, despite holding no obligation to any of these people outside of basic human decency (in a refreshing twist, not a single ancestor to be found in a story like this!), Dick chooses to help the circus in its hour of need, and in doing so, cements why he is so likable.
Of course, Superman and Batman do eventually show up, and seeing Batman’s bonding moment with Robin and Superman’s endearing humanity (his admiration for aerialists, his boyish joy at getting to act like a strongman, his removal of the fire that just looks so beautiful) were highlights of the issue.
All in all, this is a real banger. In a time where most stories are drowning in continuity, over darkness, and soon to be retconned poor attempts at shaking things up, it’s nice to see a story that simply shows what we love about these characters, has them take on a one shot case, and entertains us. This volume of World’s Finest continues to provide much needed levity, and character moments, without sacrificing quality, and I can’t wait to see what the next issue has in store!
Art – 5: I know I am praising this issue immensely, but I mean it when I say that to me, this could become a low key favorite among fans, this whole book in fact just provides fun and depth. And the art is no different! I’ll admit, I was a little sad that Mora wasn’t doing this one, but Modre’s aforementioned throwback look, full of shadows, of color, of a welcoming darkness, invites an amazing feeling, one the old books of the past wouldn’t have succeeded in. The seriousness of the matter isn’t lost, even with the lighter tone, and the heroes, just like under Mora, show a range of emotions. One can feel the life in Superman and Robin particularly, two people just so alive, and full of love. If Modre stays on this book, he will replace Mora brilliantly, and if he doesn’t, I hope I see more of his art soon!
Cover Art – 5: Indeed, this might be my best reviewed issue (alongside the “Superman vs. Lobo” mini series from last year)! This cover by Mora is STUNNING, poster material. It screams Dick Grayson, and it deserves all the plaudits!
Variant Cover Art – 4: Something about the art is a tad off, but seeing Supergirl and Batgirl together and apart is always a joy, so good score for this!
Variant Cover Art – 3: Slightly more serious one, and while Batman looks fine, I have to dock points for how goofy and odd Superman looks.
Variant Cover Art – 4: It reminds me of the Loeb “Superman/Batman” run of the 2000’s art (is it perhaps the one who drew Public Enemies?), and I will always praise that run, so yeah.
Variant Cover Art – 4: Adorable family art, what more can I say?
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