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The ’80s Revisited: Worlds Finest #323

worlds_finest_comics_0323Afraid of the Dark

Writer: Joey Cavalieri
Penciller: Jose Delbo
Inker: Alfredo Alcala
Letterer: Duncan Andrews
Colorist: Nansi Hoolahan
Editor: Janice Race
Cover: Denys Cowan, Dick Giordano, Tatjana Wood
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: January 1986
Cover Price: $0.75

I don’t know that I know exactly what I expected from this issue…but this sure wasn’t it!

Metropolis finds itself in the grips of a magical darkness…which means that even Superman can’t do anything about it–though he still tries to at least help, even if he can’t solve anything with it. but he quickly gets taken down by Nightwolf and his magical darkness-wolves (werewolves? dire wolves? magic-wolves, whatever). Nightwolf then parades around proclaiming himself king of the world (essentially) with the beaten Superman as a symbol of his own power and abilities. Meanwhile, Batman does the detective leg-work of the piece, tracking down the origin of this Nightwolf, learning a weakness he can exploit, and ultimately saving the city (and Superman) from the magical threat. In the aftermath, Batman rejects Superman’s attempted thank-you, lecturing him on how he could’ve been killed, and can’t just rush into stuff with FORCE. Batman leaves things at the fact that he’ll SAVE Superman any time, but will not help write his epitaph. And thus, the World’s Finest team has broken up, paving the way for the adversarial (despite mutual respect) relationship of the later 1980s and 1990s that pretty much remains in 2016, 30 years after this issue saw print.

The art is not bad, as Superman and Batman both have a very familiar look, very much what I associate with them for the early to mid 1980s "bronze ange" and such (so much so that as I read Batman’s lines, I heard the voice of the actor from the Untold Legend of the Batman comics-on-cassette!) By extension of THAT, I got a bit of Superman’s voice from the Man of Steel comics-on-cassette stuff as well. My only real problem with the art stems from the time this was published: Superman vs. magical wolves that leave him beaten, costume shredded, and basically unconscious…yet there’s no blood. I don’t need to see a bloodied, shredded almost-corpse, but for the level of threat this supposedly was, it’s odd as a mid-30s adult to read this and see Superman just so "simply" taken down but the only thing INDICATING any harm is holes/tears in the costume with nothing but clean, unmarred skin beneath.

Story-wise, again, this isn’t bad, but it’s certainly DATED. For one thing, someone successfully taking over even a city, and Superman going down, and Batman having to track down the villain’s origin and figure out a weakness and actually take the guy on and such–this would CERTAINLY be a 6-issue arc in terms of contemporary deconstructed/padded/written-for-the-trade comics. And with as much as I have read of modern-day contemporary comics published in the last 15-some years, the "modern sensibility" being drilled into me constantly for all this time–this issue feels ultra-compressed to the point of there being no real character to it…and I’m disappointed at how "filler" and ARBITRARY it felt. I mean, there’s a lot of potential here, but as a now-2016 reader reading this cold some 30 years after it was published, even the hints of characterization and depth that could be picked up on just doesn’t "work" for me as a single issue.

This does not feel like it’s picking up from a cliffhangered previous issue, and as the final issue of the entire series, there’s no cliffhanger (at least not in the "To Be Continued…" sense, though it leaves the Superman/Batman relationship hanging to be developed from its now-broken pieces). As such, it feels like it could be set "whenever," and has no real hook on a specific point in continuity, based on the story itself. And for the flimsy/abrupt splintering of the "partnership" between Batman and Superman, that comes outta nowhere–no internal narration or thought balloons of Batman wishing Clark hadn’t rushed in, and that he’s always doing this and never thinks ahead, whatever. As such, the final couple pages could have been tacked on as "epilogue" to virtually ANY story in which Superman "almost died" and Batman got to "save the day."

The cover as well is a bit out of sync with my personal expectations as well. It seems to indicate the split, a farewell between the two heroes, but no real indicator of cause nor actuality. Given Batman’s small wave, it seems more a casual thing between old friends than any real split or breakup or animosity.

Perhaps adding to my feelings on this issue is also the modern day sensibilities in comics–something as "crucial" as the friendship between Batman and Superman, their partnership, the way they’ve been the best of friends (to this point) coming to an end? This would have been hyped and hugely played-up, with an extra-sized issue with at least another short story following each character and exploring their feelings on the matter and where things are likely to go, etc. (I think of Cyclops vs. Wolverine with Prelude to Schism as its own mini-series to set up the conflict, then Schism itself as another mini to have them actually fight, and then the outcome split into an entirely new ongoing series and a renumbered version of a 48-year-old series).

Something this big just seemed like the issue should have FELT bigger, felt more important, felt Earth-shattering…but instead, it feels like a whimper, or like some tv show that was told it was getting another season, is preparing to film a season finale, but gets told the pre-finale episode is their last, but they can film another minute or two’s worth of story to "wrap things up."

I was quoted $2 for this issue, minus a 20% discount, so figure I paid roughly $1.60 for this…and its cover price is $0.75, so 30 years after its publication, as a "key issue" (final issue of a longrunning series, the "breakup" of the Superman/Batman team), I barely paid more than twice cover price, which itself STILL made it half the cost of a current Dc Rebirth issue, and only a little over 1/3 the cost of a contemporary Marvel issue. The reading experience took longer than contemporary comics, and I’ve sunk however much additional time into typing and preparing this review, so I certainly got my money’s worth out of this for time-to-expense considerations (and I was "prepared" to pay around $6 for this, too!).

Aside from having some desire to read it for yourself, to "experience" the issue as a whole for yourself, this was a real letdown and not something I’d recommend seeking out. Still, there are worse issues, and if you’re (like me) a huge fan of Superman, and even the Superman/Batman stuff, this is worth picking up if you can get it cheaply.

Back Issues – September 1st, 2016

After yesterday’s grousing over not being able to get the cover I wanted (the standard/basic/regular/NON-variant) of TMNT Universe #1 at either of the comic shops I went to*, I pulled up Diamond‘s web interface of a comic shop locator thing and found one I didn’t even previously know existed, that was relatively close by.

(* since being laid off, my usual shop is over an hour’s drive away instead of the 8 minutes one-way from the office, and so I’m having to adjust…)

And so, early afternoon, I set off to find this shop, having confirmed their continued existence via Facebook and saw by a photo they’d posted that they did indeed (at least initially) have the issue.

They had it (more on that later/in another post), but as a “new to me” shop, that meant a new selection of back issues to peruse.

I found that they had a number of issues of note that I’ve looked for elsewhere with no luck…as well as a similarly disappointment in holes in their collection. Still, that’s comics for ya, and these “holes” were more ’80s, with a surprising presence of ’90s stuff (though no Ultraverse issues, unfortunately).

However, I was quite put off by the absolute lack of any sort of price sticker.

Which suggested ok, they’re subject to whimsy of the owner/staff or at least price guide valuations…something I loathe when browsing back-issues! Still, in further browsing I spotted the new (recently-released here in 2016) Overstreet guide for sale, and taking a couple minutes, I paged through and looked up several of the issues, and decided that even at “full Guide value” I was willing to pay the prices, and knowing the “guide value” I would not feel bad passing on them if asked for more. Plus, they’re having a 20%-off sale for the weekend with the holiday.

back_issues_worldsfinest323_donatelloleatherhead1and2

I was VERY pleasantly surprised when the owner didn’t even look around for where he’d left the guide. Just looked at the issues, quoted me $2/ea, applied the 20% discount, and rang me up.

That alone means I will make a point of going back (hopefully sooner than not) to snag some other issues I saw of interest…as well as look for stuff I forgot, like Spawn and DC Comics Presents.

Just under $6 for World’s Finest #323 (final issue) as well as Donatello and Leatherhead #s 1-2 is excellent pricing! Certainly above cover price, but considering one issue’s 30 years old and the other two are probably 20, I’m happy with the price.

I was expecting the three to run me about $14.

While I “get” collector-pricing and such, and supply-and-demand…as someone collecting for completion with virtually zero expectation of reselling anything of significance, I don’t need stuff to be pristine “Mint” or “Near-Mint” condition, nor do I have any real interest in anything “slabbed,” such that I’m happy with a 25-cent cover’s-off, pages brittle and whole thing beat-up issue for the sake of having it than something that’d fetch $100-$200+ in solid positive condition. These issues more than exceeded that, and while I don’t even know what they’d be “graded” at even in general, for me they fit “reading copy” and are not “bad” so I’m good with ’em.

back_issues_worldsfinest323_donatelloleatherhead1and2_ziggy

From behind the scenes: Ziggy photo-bombing my blog-post-prepping.

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

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