Boy Thunder has been a character to watch since his arrival on the pages of Batman/Superman: World’s Finest. We’ve seen his origin and how he arrived on our Earth, a sorrowful meeting with this version of his parents, and now he comes to Gotham City. As soon as the solicit for the issue arrived with that cover, I was worried about Boy Thunder’s fate. Yet, that is the exciting drama that Mark Waid, Dan Mora, and the rest of the creative team can bring from just a cover.
SPOILERS AHEAD for Batman/Superman: World’s Finest #9!
What is fun about this drama is that the Joker seems to be the one in the spotlight, but if you’ve been reading, the Key is the character to watch. I can’t wait to see his motivations come to light as his master plan comes together, but that should play out in time. The opening of this issue is taken to the next level by Tamra Bonvillain’s colors as she gives depth to the sewers. I like the use of blues and purples as they add to the darkness, but strangely, they give me some Batman Forever and Batman and Robin vibes thanks to how neon Gotham City can be. That neon vibe helps to showcase Gotham City as a darker, scarier Las Vegas in my mind.
I like the use of Ratcatcher as a villain to open the issue. I know the character of Ratcatcher got a sizeable spotlight in The Suicide Squad movie, but still, it plays to Mark Waid’s encyclopedic knowledge of DC Comics and how he is getting Dan Mora to draw as many characters as possible. That mastery of DCU characters is another bonus to this issue, as we get quite a few heroes to appear. If the last issue’s use of Teen Titans had people wanting a miniseries with Dan Mora’s art, this issue will crank that desire up to eleven. The characters are also not there just for eye candy’s sake; I love how the teens interact with Boy Thunder in questioning or encouraging his methods.
Not only does Boy Thunder have to deal with how the Teen Titans react to his work, but he also has to deal with Superman and Batman. Here, Mark Waid plays it perfectly to show that these two heroes care for the young hero, but they do so in their way. Batman plays to protect yourself without making mistakes, while Superman is about controlling your powers to save others. I like how their views on being a superhero clash and dovetail simultaneously. A great thing about this series set in the past is that neither heroes have children, but both have been mentors to Robin and Supergirl. Superman and Batman still have that unease about training but aren’t the experienced versions of themselves yet.
Even better than Superman and Batman training the young hero is how Robin is watching his back. There is a scene with Robin realizing that Boy Thunder will get called out by Superman, but he manages to let out a whisper to get Superman to understand how detrimental it would be to do this in front of all the gathered heroes. Waid writes a wise and profound Dick Grayson, using the scenario to have a moment with Boy Thunder opening up more to Superman, which cuts deep into survivor’s guilt and makes you feel bad for the kid. Mark Waid and the team open up your feelings about Boy Thunder, and then they bring in the Joker at the end.
The saga of Boy Thunder continues as we look deeply into his origin and more interactions with heroes that will either build him up or shut him down. The issue adds to the emotional roller coaster you’ll be on right before the significant drop, which is the Joker.
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