So I’ll be honest with everyone, World’s Finest wasn’t exactly what I signed up for when I joined the review team, but I took it on because it involves characters from Earth 2 and that’s more or less my wheelhouse here.  I hadn’t read a word of World’s Finest prior to about a week ago, so these are pretty much my raw reactions to issues zero through twenty-four, over two years-worth of comics in a short span of time.  Also, as I learned with my experience reviewing Earth 2, going through each and every issue is a major chore even when I greatly enjoyed reading it, so here’s a mega-sized review covering many aspects of the World’s Finest run.

The plot itself centers around two heroines, Huntress and Powergirl, who were originally from Earth 2.  Huntress, also known as Helena Wayne, was the daughter of Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle – the Batman and Catwoman of Earth 2.  Powergirl, going by Karen Starr, was originally Kara Zor-El – cousin of Earth 2’s Superman and formerly known as Supergirl.  If you’ve been reading the Earth 2 books or their reviews, you know that Earth 2’s Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman were killed in issue #1, with Helena and Karen flying through a portal and were presumed dead.

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The villains make this series slightly interesting

Of course, their story does not end there.  Helena and Karen are sent to Earth-Prime, five years prior to the events of the New 52.  Zooming ahead five years, Helena and Karen have been researching inter-dimensional travel and gathering resources that they believe will allow them to get home.  Karen has skyrocketed into the head of a major corporation and an international celebrity in that time, while Helena works behind the scenes to provide information about leads regarding their getting home.

Here’s where the first issue I’ve got comes into play.  Karen is openly exploring pathways into inter-dimensional travel and came out of (literally) nowhere.  There are even magazines that wonder where she came from and have nothing regarding her background.  That doesn’t call for any investigation by any hero?  She has a billion-dollar corporation, zero back story, and a host of scientists working around the clock for her.  No one thinks that’s weird?  Also, Helena has siphoned money from Wayne Enterprises, which raises the attention of Damian Wayne, but not Bruce?  I don’t know how they’ve escaped scrutiny for over five years.

So back to the story.  Helena and Karen basically spend twenty-odd issues trying to get home.  There’s a few side adventures, but overall the first few arcs meander and pander about with some C-grade stories with the only thing unique about them being the villains.   The mostly forgettable and generic tales usually involve Helena trying to do something stealthily and Batman/Catwoman-y but then she gets in over her head and Karen busts through a wall or a ceiling to save her.  I must have seen the “Powergirl breaks through a wall” panel a dozen times.

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Expect this scene over and over again

Seeing as how I mentioned them, the villains were probably the thing that has set World’s Finest apart from many other books.  Although most are making their first appearances in the DC Universe, they do feel a bit underwhelming, with all of their abilities being made specifically to weaken Karen.  As I was reading, it became a pattern: villain appears, Huntress fights them, Powergirl shows up, Powergirl is somehow less effective than Huntress was, Powergirl laments the weakening of her powers, the two find a way to stop the enemy.  It was a bit disappointing to see how weak Powergirl was, and how every villain was based around messing with her powers.

There’s a radioactive monster named Hakkou (which sounds a lot like Aku and made me realize this was a girl-centric version of Samurai Jack), who tries to destroy Karen’s research labs.  Every time he consumes radiation he gets bigger, which isn’t anything revolutionary, but it’s his origin from Apokolips that makes him an interesting foe.  Most of the enemies featured in World’s Finest are indeed from Apokolips, which has been the boogieman of the New 52.  Seriously, Apokolips seems to be behind most of the evil befalling at least my corner of the New 52, but we’ve seen so little of it that it’s beginning to feel like a villain in a 1990’s Saturday morning cartoon.  Each time you defeat the “main villain,” there’s always something else behind them, with that something else in this case being Apokolips.  All our heroes (or Wonders) are doing is stemming the infection, rather than defeating the virus.

Other villains include a terribly misused and cliché Desaad, who could kill the girls many times but instead chooses to gloat and let them live for some unknown reason.  A talking statue that gives people super-powers in the form of tattoos, which is actually really cool but only lasts for about two issues, and generic, anonymous robots from Apokolips.  It’s cool to see, and is one of the better parts of the series, but they feel underwhelming and out of place.  The artwork has been underwhelming as well, bordering on cartoon-ish and amateur.  The faces are far too smooth and round, the facial expressions frequently blank and generic.

The heroes feel even more out of character, and honestly, it feels as Huntress and Powergirl especially were written by a fourteen year-old boy.  Huntress is outright scared of Batman, granted she did have to watch her father die saving the world, but in a world that she is unaccustomed to, I’m confused why she wouldn’t go to one of the most brilliant men on the planet.  She’s the better-written of the two, however, as Powergirl is reduced to a bubblegum high school girl.  One of her first lines is “Astronauts are so ripped;” I’m all for girl-power and free-love, but turning one of the most powerful beings on Earth 2 into a ditz rubbed me the wrong way.  She and Huntress are flying off to save some corner of the world, and Powergirl says that she’ll be there to help “if I don’t find a cute guy first.”  It’s way too heavy-handed.

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Poor Art and Worse Jokes

There’ll be no Spoiler Section, but I’ll add any Bat-related information here, so feel free to skip the next two paragraphs if you really care that much.  Helena meets both Damian and Bruce, and both encounters are extremely out of character.  Damian is drawn all sorts of wrong, with his chin sometimes looking as if it takes up half his face.  I understand that he’s supposed to be arrogant and condescending, but the voice felt all wrong to me.  He’s borderline stupid throughout most of the two-issue arc, and one panel he’s literally kicked in the ass by Powergirl, who looks like she belongs in a Dr. Seuss book.  (Check out Issue #6, you’ll all agree with me)

Helena also meets Batman, and I’m not even going to go into it, but there’s a fist-bump involved and I checked out.

Powergirl’s encounters with her Earth-Prime counterpart and Superman are equally as frustrating.  There’s even a panel where Kara rockets into Earth’s atmosphere within visibility range of Supergirl, who has super-hearing.  There is absolutely no way Supergirl did not hear Powergirl blasting back down to Earth at a speed fast enough that her reentry set her body on fire.  She eventually meets Superman when her powers go berserk (you’ll have to read the series for the convoluted reasons behind that) and the meeting is not as interesting as I had hoped.  I guess I just have not been feeling this series, and hope that the connections between these characters improves.

The series has currently moved towards Karen and Helena heading back to Earth 2, as they have been collecting the materials needed to return.  With all the action going on in Earth 2, (READ THE REVIEWS, GO FOR IT) the combined strength of Powergirl and Huntress would be a valuable asset for the Wonders defending the planet.  I think that once the two finally get back home, I’ll be able to better appreciate and immerse myself in World’s Finest.  But until then, I’m just not feeling it.

Recommended If…

  • You want a shallow read with faux-girl-power.
  • You’d like unique villains.
  • You like the concept of a girl team-up book.

Overall:

The potential of these heroes is wasted on a thin story and even shallower characters.  I couldn’t imagine the daughter of Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle as well as the protégée of Superman would be reduced to whiners with the mentality of high-school airheads.   I’ve been pretty upset with the series so far, but with many signs pointing to a return to Earth 2, maybe we’ll get a more interesting book.

Score Rundown:

  • Story – 5/10
  • Heroes – 2/10
  • Villains – 6/10
  • Art – 4/10
  • Potential – 5/10

SCORE: 4/10