The DC Omniverse Edition: World’s Finest #1 (Vol 5)
A new DC Omniverse needs a new edition of a comic which has been thrilling readers since 1941: World’s Finest!
A long-running series, World’s Finest has been around since 1941, but didn’t get its current name until the second issue of the series. The first issue was called ‘World’s Best Comics.’
The series has always featured Bruce Wayne as Batman (Robin was often close by) and the alien visitor from another planet, Kal-El, as Superman. The comic started as a way to get more Batman and Superman into the world, but it would also act as a feeder magazine, showcasing other heroes who did not have their own books such as The Crimson Avenger, Johnny Thunder, Zatara or Hawkman.
Lightning in a Bottle
While Superman and Batman have maintained multiple titles across the decades, including Detective, Batman, the Brave and the Bold, Adventure Comics and Superman, when they were together, there was a magic which has spanned eight decades.
World’s Finest Comics was an ensemble of stories, a collection of tales of various heroes until World’s Finest #71 (1954) when the tone and tenor of the book changed. No longer would Batman and Robin toil alone in their own tale while Superman fought the good fight in his own story. As the hype pronounced: “Featuring your two favorite heroes together in one adventure.” This would become the catchphrase of this book as the taste for the two heroes together eclipsed everything else. I am certain there are a host of other reasons those comics died out or lost the attention of comicbook fans, but the popularity of these two heroes was certainly a factor. The writers quickly found fertile ground in creating dynamic tension between the two heroes styles of crime-fighting.
It would also showcase a slowly-growing, but deep and abiding friendship between the two heroes Batman and Superman whose techniques, ideals and methods of crimefighting clashed in every conceivable way.
Yet the stories managed to showcase how similar these two men were, almost like brothers, whose perspectives, while very different allowed them to come to the same conclusions: protecting the innocent was something they could agree on.
Often their adventures were about the nature of their solutions to problems, each learning from the other; analyzing their methods, manners, procedures, techniques; both became greater than they were individually.
Volume One of this series ran from 1941 until 1986 producing 323 issues of DC’s iconic heroes defining the beating heart of the DC Universe, dynamic, active, heroism. Superman and Batman had become almost godlike; they were Zeus and Pluto of the DC Universe, opposing forces who worked together for an even greater good. I was sad when the series ended. Its end heralded the beginning of the end of the DC Universe in Crisis on Infinite Earths.
Thirty-five years later DC has rebooted its continuity once more in its Dark Nights: Metal series. This reboot allows DC to tell any kind of stories they want, with an extended multiversal structure as well as a clearly defined set of worlds which can house the closest and best parallel realities held aside as tiny experiments in waiting. DC’s Omniverse makes room again for parallel realities unconnected with Prime Earth.
This transformation makes room for Vertigo’s stories (even though that reality managed to stay separate from DC’s more heroic reality they were presumed to be the same Universe since the Spectre appeared in both).
Their reboot reconciles all the past stories, even the Pre-Crisis ones, all the future stories, any reference to a parallel reality such as the Convergence or Hypertime, they are all welcomed back into the fold making the best decision they could make for their Omniverse.
Having made this decision, DC can do no wrong by putting the World’s Finest back together. A recent press solicitation reveals a bit about the next incarnation of this venerable publication:
“Two of the greatest Super Heroes the world has ever known are together again in an epic new series. In the not-too-distant past, Superman’s powers are super-charged from a devastating chemical attack by the villain Metallo… and the only ally that the ultra-powerful Man of Tomorrow can turn to in this turbulent hour is Gotham City’s own Caped Crusader: Batman. A nearly fatal burst of power drives Bruce Wayne to his own extreme measures to help his friend, driving him to seek the Doom Patrol’s help.”
Wait – The Doom Patrol?
One of the more successful television DC properties, the Doom Patrol has enjoyed a resurgence with a popular, R-rated, television series. The series features a collection of doomed heroes who were recruited by eclectic genius, Niles Calder. Robotman, a former race car driver whose brain is transplanted into a robotic exoskeleton. Former actress, Rita Farr, mysteriously afflicted with a plastic form capable of many superhuman feats, when it works. Radioactive Man, a human and an alien share a body with mixed superhuman results.
And then there’s Jane. Multiple personality disorder afflicts the most powerful member of their band of misfits, making her completely unpredictable and unreliable. She can apparently do anything she wants. If she wants. She doesn’t, usually.
A more modern version of the superteam includes Victor Stone, a.k.a. Cyborg among them. I enjoy this series and have always had a place in my heart for them. For them to be joining the World’s Finest lineup is in my opinion, a step up for them. Only the best show up in this series.
Who will be appearing on the team is anyone’s guess, but I suspect we will get at least some of the core team including Robotman, Rita Farr and Radioactive Man, along with at least some of the second generation of the Doom Patrol.
Mark Waid, who has the writing chores for this new version of World’s Finest, has decided to resurrect the Doom Patrol, a team which has not had its own book for quite some time. He will be joined by the artistic talents of fan favorite, Dan Mora. Mora knows his way around the DC Universe having drawn for half a dozen popular DC titles including Batgirl, Teen Titans, The Flash and my personal favorite: Adventures of the Super Sons.
The latest iteration of World’s Finest will showcase an even more powerful version of the Man of Steel, somehow affected by an alien technology which will make it too dangerous for him to operate without support from the Dark Knight.
Will Damien Wayne be there? I hope not. I still don’t like the character, but it may be the best thing for him as the shining model of Superman’s heroism may have a positive effect on his superheroic development as it did the previous Robin, Dick Grayson, who is now Nightwing.
As for Jon Kent, the son of Superman, who was protecting Metropolis at last reading, he may have returned to the future and the Legion of Superheroes, only research will reveal his fate. I don’t think the present of the DC Universe can support more than one Superman but clever writing may prove me wrong.
Batman/Superman: World’s Finest Vol 5, #1 will hit shelves on March 15, 2022, with variant covers by Mora, Jim Lee, Stanley “Artgerm” Lau, Jason Fabok, Evan “Doc” Shaner, Lee Weeks, and twin covers from Chip Zdarsky.
Thaddeus Howze is an award-winning writer, editor, podcaster and activist creating speculative fiction, scientific, political and cultural commentary from his office in Hayward, California.
Thaddeus’ speculative fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies and literary journals. He has published two books, ‘Hayward’s Reach’ (2011), a collection of short stories and ‘Broken Glass’ (2013) an urban fantasy novella starring his favorite paranormal investigator, Clifford Engram.