April 19, 2024

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Noteworthy Issues: Batman/Superman: World’s Finest #18 (August, 2023)

In a series that is already set in the past, the storyline goes even further back to show how Superman and Batman first teamed up.

The first time Superman and Batman appeared together as a team was in a Golden Age comic where, by a somewhat bizarre set of circumstances, both journalist Clark Kent and billionaire Bruce Wayne found themselves sharing a cabin on a cruise ship when things went wrong.  That story was even retold by Joe Kelly at one point, only his version also involved Deathstroke, the Crime Syndicate, and the Earth-3 version of Deathstroke who looked and acted a lot like Deadpool without ever getting to say his name at any point.

Well, Mark Waid is retelling the first meet-up again, and there’s no sign of a cruise ship this time.

Issue:  Batman/Superman: World’s Finest #18, August 2023

Writer:  Mark Waid

Artist:  Travis G. Moore

The Plot:  Superman and Batman meet up for the first of their legendary adventures together!

Commentary:  What could possibly bring the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight together?  The answer is the Riddler.  Or, more accurately, the Riddler is writing riddles at crime scenes in Kryptonese, the language of Krypton that Superman knows and the Riddler shouldn’t.  That involves Superman taking a flight to Gotham, a meeting first with Commissioner Gordon and then Batman, and a team-up where Superman will compliment the Dark Knight’s teamwork, followed by Batman’s saying Superman should not get used to it.

Besides, Batman has his own case:  random people across Gotham are disappearing, fading away, often in full sight of other people.  Is there a connection?

There actually is, and it’s one that works.  What also works is how the two get along.  Though initially a bit stand-offish, Bruce Wayne offers the Daily Planet an exclusive interview with Clark Kent, only to reveal the whole thing is a minor set-up to prove Clark is Superman, and this comes after Batman has already pointed out Superman has a Kansas accent and, judging by the times he’s most active, a day job.  It’s obviously easy enough for Clark to figure out Bruce’s secrets even as Bruce was offering to just give them up as what might be seen as a superhero quid pro quo.

Furthermore, the case as set up really is something that requires both heroes to work together.  Superman can read the Riddler’s clues, but he can’t figure them out.  Batman can, but he can’t read them.  If that weren’t enough, there’s a chance the Riddler is just as much a victim as anyone else involved.  Oh, and there’s a nice bit of duel crimefighting as the two heroes take down some costumed baddies together for the first time.  It’s a fun issue with promises of more fun, but that’s basically what this series has always been anyway.

Grade:  A-