Review by Ian Keogh
Michael Green and Mike Johnson supplied a veritable chocolate box of treats over single episodes during the course of The Search for Kryptonite, and they tweak the formula slightly for Finest Worlds. One difference is that there’s no artistic consistency: a new story equals a new artist. And then after an opening, prolonged single chapter, we have a two-parter and a four-parter.
The creative team open with four different artists drawing part of a story that cleverly delves back into Batman and Superman’s family history, coming up with something that affects them both. It’s a neat idea that will surely be forgotten as no-one bothers to keep track of all the slight tinkerings with background and origins any more, but here it works apart from some artists having styles that don’t fit well alongside others or that are too great a departure from the previous look of the series.
Rafael Albuquerque’s sample art is from two chapters where cartoon versions of the Justice League turn up on Earth believing they’re the genuine articles and that Superman and Batman are threats. It would be funny if the tykes didn’t have the powers of their larger counterparts. If you think Albuquerque’s mini Batman and Superman are cute, that’s just the tip of the iceberg, and he manages the stylistic contrast between humans and cartoons effectively. Readers versed in Superman’s history are going to have a fair idea of who’s behind the problem, but the fallacy consistently making the story work is the way the human heroes underestimate their mini versions.
The longest story starts with Batman and Superman each considering the other’s home town as per sample art from Rags Morales. He’s that good all the way through a continuing contrast of Superman and Batman, which is very creative with a good reason for the opening pages. Magic is again required to weaken Superman, a path Green and Johnson have now taken several times over two volumes of shorter stories, but what develops is enough to forgive the repetition. It’s actually a story that could run longer than three chapters, with the idea of Batman finally acquiring the means to clean up Gotham once and for all barely explored. The route taken, though, is equally interesting, yet one might imagine a little more soul-searching about what’s happened would be required at the end, although acknowledging it’s unlikely to be very interesting.
Finest Worlds is three very different stories, but all of them entertaining, and, crucially all offering some new view of at least one of the title characters. That doesn’t happen very often these days.
This content was later combined with other stories not previously collected as graphic novels in Superman/Batman Vol. 5. In this continuity, Green and Johnson’s work continues with Night & Day.