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World’s Finest (2009) #1 [Review]

World’s Finest Book One: Nightwing & Red Robin

Writer: Sterling Gates
Penciller: Julian Lopez
Inker: Bit
Colorist: Hi-Fi
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher
Assistant Editor: Harvey Richards
Associate Editor: Sean Ryan
Editors: Elisabeth V. Gehrlein & Michael Siglain
Cover: Phil Noto
Publisher: DC Comics

Granted, Tim Drake/Wayne lives in a world of the fantastic, where men and women with powers and abilities beyond those of Mortal Man abound. But in the half-year of comics (presumably far, far less than 6 months’ in-continuity time), this is AT LEAST the second time he’s up and jetted back home for one crisis (Black Lanterns) or another (helping Chris Kent in this issue). Seems somehow a bit disjointed to me.

This issue sees Red Robin dealing with a motorcycle gang, with a last-minute assist from who he assumes to be Connor (Superboy), but turns out to be Chris (Nightwing). Chris convinces Tim to return with him to Gotham to free Flamebird from Penguin’s captivity. The two have to work together to deal with this foe, who is aided by the Kryptonite Man (I do long for the days when Kryptonite was rare and precious commodity in the DCU!).

This is but the first issue of four, spotlighting interactions between the various characters that make up the “Superman family” and the “Batman family.” It’s a bit early (too soon, really) to know for sure where the overall story is going to go. As-is, I can’t help but wonder if this will read more as a series of one-shots than a single direct narrative.

The writing itself is quite solid, though–Gates seems to have a good feel for the characters of BOTH “families,” within the current status quo (though it’s beginning to seem like Flamebird and Nightwing are spending almost as much time being knocked out and one, the other or both being taken prisoner as Adam West and Burt Ward’s Batman and Robin did in the 60s tv show!)

The art’s good stuff here, and captures much of the feel of the characters involved as I’d tend to expect them based on reading them in their respective series of late. I do like the art, and find it a good fit for these characters in and of itself. Really no complaint there.

Since World’s Finest is here purpoted to be a mini-series–and thus one should be able to assume self-contained to the mini’s run–this would seem to be a good point to jump aboard and get a look at the various characters in the status quo of late, without having to invest in multiple lengthy, over-arching stories. Just four issues, peek in, get a feel, and go from there.

Based on that, this is worth giving a look-see. The creative team is strong, and we are given a glimpse at the potential held in bringin the characters from both “families” together. In some ways, this might just be “Superman/Batman Lite,” teaming the characters up without hijacking the individual titles.r

Story: 6/10
Art: 8.5/10
Whole: 7/10

Superman #693 [Review]

7734

Writer: James Robinson
Penciller: Fernando Dagnino
Inker: Raul Fernandez
Colorist: Blond
Letterer: John J. Hill
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Cover: Cafu, Santiago Arcas
Publisher: DC Comics

There’s a tone about the Superman family of titles lately. A lot of it’s visual–or at least, the visual that is associated with the unfolding story. More and more, I find my surface opinion, my initial thoughts toward these books colored by a disinclination TO like them in the first place. DC set out to do something that would drastically affect the feel or tone of the Superman books, and in that, they’ve succeeded. Whatever my feelings about the individual writers and/or artists, I’m beginning to feel like it’s a bit of a chore, following the main books.

This issue sees General Lane confronting Mon-El, trying to recruit him into the group made up of Metallo, Major Force, the Parasite, some magical character newly-introduced, and Atlas. When a plan to rebel is executed, a more “human” (or would that be “humane”?) side of General Lane is seen, with words exchanged between the two (and an editorial note indicating that Adventure Comics #2 takes place between the pages of this issue).

I have to admit I’m gladdened at the tighter continuity in the Superman books; the fact that while it’s not the same sort of direct continuation we had for over a decade with the triangle-numbering we’re still getting a larger well-connected narrative. At the same time, there’s a lot that I’m just not buying into. Chief among these elements is the “ressurrection” or “retcon” of General Lane’s being alive now, after the character’s fitting end in Our Worlds at War a few years ago. Though we see some of his human-ness here in this issue, it doesn’t do much to round him out, make him more than a caricature at present. To a large degree, this reads as “What If… General “Thunderbolt” Ross opposed Superman instead of The Hulk?” And while there’s no overt reign of darkness, the gathering of these “supervillains” as a military unit/black ops squad just reads as fairly ridiculous.

The art of the issue is not bad–it’s got its own style that sets it apart quite distinctly from others, and maintains a definite consistency with prior art teams on this book. While it admittedly not bad art by any means…the style just is not to my liking, which continues to taint the story as I have a hard time really getting into it, for noticing the art. If the visual style doesn’t bother you, or you’re a fan of the specific style, it may well be a great selling point. To the creative credit, I found myself quite surprised to discover that the creator credits on this issue seem to match those of the previous issue: something that seems quite rare in contemporary times, and as such, worth noting toward the positive.

This issue’s cliffhanger felt entirely out of nowhere–after an issue full of Mon-El dealing with Lane and 7734, we’re suddenly taken back to Metropolis and the Guardian leading the Science Police to engage the randomly-just-now-showed-up character likely to be the focus of the next issue. (We couldn’t get another couple pages of of Mon-El dealing with his place in the current status quo and end on that sort of note, with these last couple pages serving as a jumping-right-into-the-story kickoff for the next issue?)

Whatever the case, I find that it is presently the recollection of the last couple times I’ve tried to drop the Superman books that keeps me coming back–the idea that since it’s gotten GOOD within about 6 issues of my dropping the titles, hopefully I have but to wait out a few more issues.

As-is, if you’re not particularly invested in the current status quo flowing through the Superman books, this issue’s probably going to do nothing to “sell” you on the status quo nor to hook you into this title, to say nothing of the whole family of books.

Story: 3/10
Art: 5/10
Whole: 4/10

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