Overview: In Batman/Superman: World’s Finest #14, Superman, Robin, and Batman uncover a plot that goes much deeper than the “murder” of Simon Stagg.
Synopsis (spoilers ahead): In Los Angeles, what appears to be Metamorpho threatens to murder a villain named Doc Dread.
Meanwhile, Superman communicates with Batman from the Fortress of Solitude. Batman, sitting in the Batcave, is upset that Jimmy Olsen and Clark Kent wrote that article accusing him of murdering Simon Stagg (see Batman/Superman: World’s Finest #13), but Superman notes that not even he could have convinced Perry White or Jimmy of Bruce Wayne’s innocence.
Though Bruce is clearly upset, his conversation with Superman is sympathetic. Both make their case, though Bruce, at first, confesses that he believes Clark’s blunder has hobbled Batman. However, the real killer feeling at ease may have given both of the heroes an advantage. When Batman tells Superman that it would be nice for Big Blue to have a detective, Superman notes that he already has a detective at his disposal — Robin (Dick Grayson).
Just then, Oliver Queen calls for Bruce Wayne, asking about artificial intelligence from Waynetech’s R&D department. Bruce, taken aback that Queen, who has rejected their industries previously working together, digs for information, then ends the call.
On their way to investigate, Robin rides on Superman’s back, looking at updates on Metamorpho’s villains. Doc Dread, from the opening of the issue, was found beaten up in Southern California, and some other villain named Stingaree was arrested in Nicaragua. Robin deduces that Metamorpho (Rex Mason) must be heading south, projecting Venezuela as their next destination, which is the home of El Matanzas and his “robot army.”
In Venezuela, Metamorpho is busting up El Matanzas’ automatons. Superman joins the fight against the machines while Robin ropes up the villain. El Matanzas confesses that the robots are malfunctioning and going rogue, but Robin doesn’t believe it. Meanwhile, Superman and Metamorpho are putting out fires caused by the machines and saving civilians. Before Metamorpho can turn his abilities toward the villain, Superman intervenes.
Rex Mason tells Superman that he’s been looking for which goon Wayne paid to frame Metamorpho. Superman tells him that Wayne did no such thing.
Meanwhile, Bruce gets in contact with other industrialists about a business venture. Clark Kent and Rex Mason both head back to the United States to attend Simon Stagg’s funeral, which Clark covers in The Daily Planet.
Bruce calls Clark, revealing that he’s been calling dozens of business magnates. Each one doesn’t sound like themselves, especially Oliver Queen, who would never have an interest in artificial intelligence. Clark then uses his x-ray vision to look at Stagg’s body, noting that it isn’t a human cadaver in the coffin.
Batman, Superman, Robin, and Metamorpho convene together, and Batman lays out that all of the replaced billionaires’ bank accounts have been funneled into an offshore account. He believes that they’re dealing with Profess Anthony Ivo, creator of Amazo.
In the Allegheny Mountains, Superman and Robin bust into an android lab, where they find a partially completed duplicate of Bruce Wayne. Suddenly, a bunch of Ivo’s machines turn on, threatening to kill Robin.
Meanwhile, Batman and Metamorpho travel to upstate New York in search of Dr. Will Magnus, a genius who invented the Metal Men and created the ability to give robots personalities. At the lab, Batman sees signs of a struggle and one missing Magnus. Something in a vat of burning chemicals cries out for help, and it must be the Metal Men.
Back in the mountains, Superman and Robin bear witness to Ivo’s greatest creation — a doppelganger that can mimic the powers of Metamorpho and so much more!
Analysis: Batman/Superman: World’s Finest #14 rushes the murder mystery set up in the previous issue to its penultimate conclusion. The art from Dan Mora and Tamra Bonvillain, as always, make this series shine. Each panel is gorgeous and eye-catching, and the two can make even the smallest moments sparkle. A back-and-forth between Batman in the Batcave and Superman in the Fortress of Solitude can feel poetic and like a wonderful visual treat. A funeral with Clark Kent’s newspaper article overlaid can strike a somber yet reminiscent lightness of the Silver Age with ease.
The art is simply wonderful, but this second part of what is presumably now a three-part story felt like an exposition dump. In the final few pages of the last issue, Bruce Wayne was just accused of murder. In this issue, Bruce is “sidelined,” but it doesn’t come across that way to the reader. Rather, he hangs around the Batcave and Wayne Manor for a bit, then suits up when the team of heroes quickly realizes that billionaires are being replaced by android duplicates. This wouldn’t be a dealbreaker if the story hinged on something other than the plot. However, unlike the last issue, which balanced itself on the intriguing plot and the difference between Superman and Batman’s approaches to those accused of a crime, this follow-up is solely plot-driven.
As a result, the rushed, low-stakes discovery of the true culprit is a little lackluster. If it weren’t for the awe-inspiring art from Mora and Bonvillain, this issue would thud under the weight of its rushed investigation. There are no real trials. No queries or problems that take longer than two seconds to solve. Bruce, despite being accused of murder, is just hanging around until Superman lets him don the cape and cowl again. At one point, Superman and Batman even make a joke about how quickly Wayne was out on bail. It really kills the excitement of what should be an engaging team, and compared to the rest of this incredible series from writer Mark Waid and team, Batman/Superman: World’s Finest #14 comes up short.
Editor’s Note: DC Comics provided TBU with a copy of this comic for review purposes. You can find this comic and help support TBU in the process by purchasing this issue digitally on Comixology through Amazon or a physical copy of the title through Things From Another World.