Review: World’s Finest #1

Worlds Finest 1

I’ve heard a lot of good things about Sterling Gates in the last year or two, largely to do with his revitalization of Supergirl.  With that in mind, and knowing that he’d be writing next year’s Kid Flash title, I figured I’d give his newest mini, World’s Finest, a shot.  I’m still not sure how well Gates will handle the notoriously difficult Bart Allen, but World’s Finest #1 offered a quick, entertaining adventure.

For those unfamiliar with the premise, World’s Finest is a team-up book in which each issue features a different pairing between the Gotham Knights and Team Superman, all tying into a larger story.  Gates does a satisfactory job of that here, introducing all his players with a relative minimum of exposition – though he goes a bit overboard with the new Nightwing, especially given that the title page already talks about his origins – and giving us a done-in-one story connected by the presence of a malevolent figure revealed in the book’s final pages.  His dialogue is simple and to-the-point, and he manages to slip in a fairly clever action beat that lets them wrap up the issue’s big fight quickly.

Artist Julian Lopez does some fairly solid work here as well.  See how thrilled Tim looks when he thinks the tactile telekinetic help he gets mid-fight is Conner, or the otherworldly nature of the Nightwing costume the first time we see it, or, perhaps most impressively, how he manages to make Tim look his age again in a single, relaxed panel as he contemplates something he loved and lost.  Lopez’s action sequences look a little stiff, but, for the most part, he provides clean, simple art that works well with Gates’ script.

World’s Finest isn’t particularly revolutionary, but it is fun. A reasonably solid action comic with a brief, reluctant touch of drama, it’s opening issue provided a nice bit of superheroic escapism.  The good guys prevail, an even bigger bad is revealed, and in the end, everything stays the same.  Slight, but engaging.

Grade: B

– Cal Cleary

Read/RANT

Review: Action Comics Annual #12

Action

Due to the arcane financial mechanics of the pull list – and the fact that I got slammed with work after last Thursday and didn’t have time to take Action off my pull as I said I would – I got stuck with this: the 5$ Action Comics Annual #12, dedicated to fleshing out the origins of two characters Rucka made me not care about at all.  Of the many books I got this week, this was the one I was most regretting having bought.  When I finally freed up some time, however, I sat down to read it and was pleasantly surprised.

Illustrated by Pere Perez, the comic has very little dialogue, instead zipping through the history of these two characters with a great deal of narration and some detailed, enjoyable art.  Going from youth to their current state and covering half-a-dozen Superman and Action Comics stories from the past three or four years, Rucka’s guided tour through the lives of these two characters is not only interesting, but it actually makes seemingly trite interactions in previous issues of Action stronger and more interesting.

I won’t say that the issue was was worth every penny – despite the extended length, $4.99 is a huge price tag – but if you’re invested in Action Comics at all, I would say that this is a must-read book that will improve the overall tone of the main narrative considerably and introduce a lot of interesting places that the book could go in the future.  Despite its excellent character-building and strong narrative, it hasn’t changed my mind about dropping Action fro the duration of the so-so “Sleepers” arc, but it does mean I’m leaving on a high-note… and it does mean that I’m willing to give the book another shot if I hear it’s picked up in the next arc.  I’m glad I’m not leaving bitter.

Grade: B+

– Calvin J Cleary

Read/RANT

Review: Action Comics #876

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Greg Rucka and Eddy Barrows team up to bring us an Action Comics without Superman, a risky move that, last month, offered us an excellent issue of comics as we were introduced to the concept of deadly sleeper-Kryptonians spreading xenophobic sentiment amongst humanity in an effort to start a war. We also met Thara Ak-Var and Chris Kent, the new Flamebird and Nightwing pair who are protecting Earth from Kryptonian abuse in Superman’s absence.

Yes, last issue spoke volumes for a world without Superman, but this issue falls back on weak cliche and so-so action to fill its 22-pages. Ursa, mother of Chris and one of the masterminds behind the sleepers, comes to Earth to destroy Nightwing and Flamebird before they can cause any more damage than they already have. Ursa’s internal monologue is compelling, a tightly-wound madwoman with intelligence and skill, but the conflict of the issue – Ursa beating the tar out of Thara for her betrayal until Chris shows up to save her and defeat his mother – is trite and cliche. There is some genuine emotion there, especially in the tormented Thara Ak-Var, but not enough to save the lackluster action, and not enough to redeem the issue for abandoning an interesting arc so quickly.

Eddy Barrows continues to improve. His art in Teen Titans was fairly generic, and though he has yet to come truly into a style all his own,  he is certainly getting better. He illustrates the action competently and offers a few particularly lovely panels, but ultimately, like the rest of the story, fails to distinguish in any meaningful way.  I hardly noticed on first read-through that multiple artists worked on the book – the blend is well-handled and does not distract.

Grade: C