February 8, 2023

Gabbing Geek

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Noteworthy Issues: Batman/Superman: World’s Finest #4 (June, 2022)

Batman and Superman battle possessed friends as Supergirl and Robin return with answers to stop the Devil Nezha.

The Devil Nezha has great magical powers, but the World’s Finest team of Batman and Superman have, so far, been able to stop his supervillain minions.

What about less willing minions?

Issue:  Batman/Superman: World’s Finest #4, June 2022

Writer:  Mark Waid

Artist:  Dan Mora

The Plot:  After taking down some of Nezha’s supervillain followers, he dispatches some possessed superheroes to finish the job.

Commentary:  The Devil Nezha has, among his repertoire of powers, mass mind control.  It was how he almost took over the world in ancient China, and it makes sense that he would do the same in the modern world.  The previous issues showed Nezha’s forces were attacking superheroes.  These were supervillains who willingly sided with Nezha to gain additional power, and while they seemed to remove Shazam, Wonder Woman, and the Flash from the board, that’s just three heroes.  So, while the Doom Patrol went looking for the site of Nezha’s tomb/prison, and while Supergirl and Robin time traveled to the past to find out how Nezha was originally defeated, it fell to the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel to stop those bad guys.  That accomplished, Nezha moved up the ladder and sicced Hal Jordan on them at issue’s end.  He was far less willing, obviously, but the power of a Green Lantern ring runs off willpower, and Hal, even possessed, has plenty to spare.

That willpower thing turns out to be the big weakness here, and saying what that solution is would actually ruin the fun of the issue.  It’s a creative and fun method, in a very Silver Age sort of way, for Clark and Bruce to defeat Hal, and then take on a whole host of other possessed superheroes.

That, in many ways, is the real joy of this series.  Mark Waid has always had a reputation for his encyclopedia knowledge of old DC and Marvel characters, finding new ways to bring out old ideas that don’t make them seem particularly hokey.  This is the guy who invented the Speed Force, a downright ridiculous concept that wouldn’t have seemed too out-of-place in the Silver Age and is still very much a factor in Flash stories today.  Do I expect this method that Clark and Bruce use to stop Hal and the others to become a regular thing?  I would actually prefer it not, but it still had that flavor, as does the general relationship between the two heroes as friends and partners who trust each other at all times and always have each other’s back.

Oh, and that includes trusting each other to have each other’s back.  Each of the pair just trusts the other will come through as needed, and it just so happens that they’ve always managed so far.

The issue ends with a somewhat classic cliffhanger that implies one character will need to make the ultimate sacrifice to stop Nezha.  Will they?  I suspect not, but I like the way they at least pretend one of them will.

Grade:  A

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