Batman/Superman: World’s Finest #20 review

A new arc, titled “Heir to the Kingdom,” kicks off in this issue. Previously, a new arc meant that it was also a good jumping-on point for new readers. This time, that might not entirely be the case, since it builds on the second arc of this series, “Strange Visitor,” which introduced David, a young boy who crash-landed on Earth and needed Superman and Batman’s guidance as he had to deal with his developing powers. At the end of that arc, David got zapped to another dimension. At the start of the current arc, we follow Batman and Superman to that other dimension—the world of Kingdom Come!

“Strange Visitor,” so far, is my favorite arc in this series because of the strong character work, plot twists and interesting conflict between our heroes and David. Since the conclusion of “Strange Visitor” promised a follow-up further down the line, I’ve been looking forward to it. On the whole, I really dig World’s Finest #20, and I will get to the good stuff, but first I’ll point out a couple things that I thought didn’t work as well for me.

I’m not fully onboard with the pacing. The issue opens with an extended sequence where Flash basically drops an exposition dump on the audience in which he explains what the Multiverse is. While it’s an okay read, I think that the explanation could’ve been a lot shorter. This is also not a Flash story, and the way the opening is presented makes it seems like it is. Furthermore, I think that most comics readers already know what the DC Multiverse is. And for newcomers it might not be as relevant as it might seem, because all they need to know (for now) is that the Kingdom Come world is a parallel universe—the specific designation of Earth-22 doesn’t add much narrative value to the overall story. In short, the opening sequence reads like fan-service over story development, and while that isn’t necessarily a terrible thing, I think some of that space could’ve been used to further flesh out the main story instead.

It’s also a bit of a slow issue, but I actually think that that’s where this issue’s strength is. For example, we find our Batman and Superman hanging out in their civilian clothes in the restaurant that we saw at the end of the original Kingdom Come. Waid writes subtle character interactions and conflict between them. Clark would rather just rush in and find and help David, whereas Bruce is a lot more calculated and wants to slow Clark down so they can get a better sense of the new environment. So the conflict between them is not a verbal or physical fight or anything like that; it’s simply that they have different perspectives on the situation and disagree on how to approach it. This doesn’t stop them from working together as a team, nor does it get in the way of their friendship. It’s refreshing to see this kind of subtle character work in a comic from a publisher that almost entirely seems to focus on boring, loud melodrama, especially in the Bat-department.

The comic does end with a fight sequence and the return of David. What’s cool about this sequence is how it starts off as a pretty straight-forward superhero brawl, where heroes have to save the day by punching villains, but then builds to a pretty epic cliffhanger: while it’s a plot twist that I saw coming, it still injects the comic with energy right at the end to make you hungry for the next installment. And while the reveal itself isn’t that surprising, I’m especially curious as to how Superman and Batman are going to deal with the repercussions of what happens here next month.

As for the art, today we see the return of Dan Mora on pencils and inks. As much as I loved Travis Moore’s work in the previous two installments, it’s awesome to see Mora on the job again. Besides the fantastic splash pages that Mora and Bonvillain render during the first couple of pages, every location that our heroes visit is highly detailed and filled with fun visual callbacks to Kingdom Come in the backgrounds. Every single panel has something interesting to look at, be it the sorrowful vision of all the superhero graves, or simply the interesting angles that Mora chooses for scenes that might have seemed boring and static in the hands of a different artist. It’s good stuff, and with an art team like this, you simply can’t go wrong.

Recommended if…

  • Kingdom Come is one of your favorite comics.
  • You really dug “Strange Visitor,” the second arc of this series.
  • You’ve been waiting for Dan Mora to return to the pages of World’s Finest.

Overall: World’s Finest #20 is a fun follow-up to both “Strange Visitor” and Kingdom Come. Even though I think the opening scene with the Flash could have been a bit more concise, this issue offers a great adventure into another dimension, solid character work, and a cool cliffhanger at the end. The artwork is topnotch, as always. This book is a lot of fun, and a beacon of hope in a sea of mediocre superhero books.

Score: 8/10

Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.