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“Batman/Superman: World’s Finest 2024 Annual”

By | February 2nd, 2024
Posted in Reviews | % Comments

Step beyond the eponymous duo of this series with a look at the wider DC universe in the style of the World’s Finest themselves!

Cover by Dan Mora
Written by Mark Waid, Cullen Bunn, Dennis Culver, Stephanie Williams, and Christopher Cantwell
Illustrated by Edwin Galmon, Travis Mercer, Rosi Kämpe and Jorge Fornes
Colored by Edwin Galmon, Lee Loughridge, Andrew Dalhouse and Jordie Bellaire
Lettered by Steve Wands


As the battle against Magog rages on Earth-22, Batman and Superman discover a surprising secret by way of the 5th dimension!

Meanwhile, Metamorpho’s story picks up after the events of the Elementary arc as our hero journeys deep within an ancient tomb that may have a hidden, deadly connection to his secret origin!

Plus, Batman recruits the Challengers of the Unknown for a top-secret mission, and a special, sizzling story stars the Teen Titans’ most buzzworthy member, Bumblebee!

It’s a world tour of the World’s Finest in this first-ever series annual, curated by World’s Finest architect Mark Waid!

To call “Batman/Superman: World’s Finest 2024 Annual” a story about the eponymous duo is rather disingenuous. Instead, Mark Waid curated a veritable who’s who of some of the apparently smaller figures in the DC universe, taking an anthology approach with four different heroes or groups thereof. The “World’s Finest” line has been something of a sub-continuity within the wider DC universe, so while Batman and Superman barely have a presence, only being in illusions or a background shot, the story does not remotely suffer for it. However, in that light, how do the four tales perform individually, even if only tangentially connected to the Man of Steel or the Dark Knight? To address this question, it feels best to look at each of them individually.

First comes a tale in the Fifth Dimension regarding the various superhero-focused imps, which seems to be most tied to what is to come in the main comic, written by Cullen Bunn and Mark Waid. The overall feel is humorous on some level, but, along with the editor’s notes by Paul Kaminski (which permeate the issue in general), the majority of the characters seem to try too hard to be quirky and current, with the imps acting more like a bunch of annoying fans (which admittedly they are). The self-references such as to the 2014-2023 television show of The Flash feel overwrought and hackneyed, more in line with making fun of the DC fandom than moving a story forward. Further, the lack of anything even resembling focus becomes a bit much, to the point that readers are liable to side with Mister Mxyzptlk (pronounced “mix-yes-spit-lick”) about just wanting to get to the reason for him gathering them in the first place. Perhaps the dysfunction is the point in the narrative, but it seems to be more to stretch page count than to actually add to the story, to the point that it becomes something of a relief when outside forces make the hijinks unsustainable.

On both the artwork and apparently most of the colors, Edwin Galmon does his best to keep up with the wacky storytelling. The illustrations are high flying and impact heavy, with light touches that make the characters feel softer and more comedic in general. Meanwhile, the colors are bright and happy, making for a far lighter atmosphere than is common of some other worlds, and in the process helps make Mister Mxyzptlk’s difficulty in dealing with the group more understandable (as well as why he would spend so much time away from them).

When the story hits its final pages, Lee Loughridge’s darker palette makes what was once light and fluffy into disturbing and ominous. Even as people may have relief on some level from the ridiculousness, the shift toward a horror story of sorts may give the impression that readers were better off in less interesting times.

Dennis Culver’s Metamorpho story is heartwarming in odd ways, adding to Rex Mason’s backstory and giving him a bit more outside of the Stagg family and its associated characters to deal with. Culver already has experience with the weirder parts of the DC universe with his work on “Unstoppable Doom Patrol,” and while the super science of Stagg isn’t quite as bizarre as that team, he still proves very good at using the group for a quick one-off that leaves open the potential for more down the line.

Continued below

Travis Mercer’s style of illustrating Metamorpho and those in his orbit is very animated and very fun, fitting to a high flying pulp adventure as the story seems to be. Unlike with the first story, this one fits into more realistic proportions, and is thereby easier to take seriously. Andrew Dalhouse’s colors further enhance the piece, with the settings and characters both popping out and diving genuine emotion through hues, tones, and shades depending on both the scenes in question and the emotions they are meant to convey.

Bumblebee’s story plays out in a rather typical fashion for stealthy vigilantes without combat experience in a superhero “year zero” before they took up their established identity. Still, Stephanie Williams makes even the by-the-numbers plot come out as rather interesting. Karen Beecher comes across as an intelligent teenager who is out of her depth, with fun little gadgets and an interesting tie back to the Metamorpho story. In all it functions well as a standalone, and also feels like it could be used as a branching out point for her solo heroics if they had wanted to go that route.

For this tale, Rosi Kämpe does excellent work with the relatively slow pace. There is not immense detail, but enough to work as an origin story, with the overall appearance seeming rather rough, befitting Beecher’s unfocused aims beyond taking down the current conspiracy. While it does not have the sheer life of Mercer’s Metamorpho, Kämpe’s Bumblebee feels perfect for the “young hero” angle. Similarly, Jordie Bellaire’s colors emphasize light over shadow, giving an added impression of hope even beyond what the story already provides.

In almost direct contrast, Christopher Cantwell’s writing on the final story, about the Challengers of the Unknown, feels much bleaker. It seems hopeful on the surface, but overall it comes across as almost a deliberate slog to constantly live in danger and never rest. It is well written, but seems an odd way to end the “Batman/Superman: World’s Finest 2024 Annual”.

Jorge Fornes illustrates that last tale with plenty of psychedelic imagery, making the eponymous unknown feel all the more bizarre, and not in a negative way either. Meanwhile, Lee Loughridge shows that there is more to the colors provided than the horror of the first story, mixing things up between naturalistic coloration and bright, strange colors that can make a reader wonder if they as actually sober while reading the last few pages.

Final Verdict: 8.0– Aside from some annoyances toward the start of the anthology, there is a lot to love for many different fans.

Gregory Ellner

Greg Ellner hails from New York City. He can be found on Twitter as @GregoryEllner or over on his Tumblr.