Batman/Superman: World's Finest #24 marks the end of the title's momentous Kingdom Come arc, in which Superman and Batman have traveled to the Multiverse world of the original Kingdom Come story to try and find some redemption for Superman's former sidekick David Sikela, now known as Magog.
But things aren't so simple, and the threat rearing its head on the world of Kingdom Come has turned out to be Darkseid, seeking to conquer yet another world for the empire of Apokolips. This sets up a massive finale in #24 in which we'll learn the fate of Magog, and whether he'll find any kind of heroic arc after his fall from grace.
Newsarama spoke with World's Finest writer Mark Waid ahead of World's Finest #24's February 20 release, digging into the ramifications of David's transformation into Magog on Superman and Batman and how it all leads into the milestone World's Finest #25. We've also got some pages from the issue by artist Dan Mora and colorist Tamra Bonvillain.
Newsarama: Mark, World's Finest #24 is picking up from one hell of a cliffhanger in #23, with the arrival of Darkseid. He's one of the toughest villains in the DC Universe. Did it feel kind of inevitable bringing him up against Batman and Superman after all these issues?
Mark Waid: No, actually. I was actually avoiding it. I didn't think we would get there. I didn't think he was necessary. But as I got near the end of the story, I realized he was inevitable.
We didn't really see Darkseid in the original Kingdom Come. We saw Orion on Apokolips in his place. So we're seeing the Darkseid of this reality for the first time. When you decided to bring him in, were you thinking specifically about how this moment would tie into the overall story of Kingdom Come, with what we've seen before?
Well, actually, as it stands now, as the way the DC Multiverse is built, as it has been explained to me, New Genesis and Apokolips exist outside of the Multiverse. So there are no alternate versions of Darkseid. This is Darkseid.
Interesting. Okay. So this is the Darkseid, and he's coming to this Earth for maybe not the first time, but for a very momentous time.
Yes, for him.
How does that tie into what we saw in Kingdom come? Were you consciously thinking this is going to be part of the history of that world? Is it more one of those things that it's a little bit like comic book history where you can sort of squint your eyes at it?
A little. Like I said, he was a gametime call. As I was barreling toward the end of issue #23, I wasn't sure that he was needed. But then I realized something we could do with him that I haven't seen for a long time, which is to reestablish his physicality. That's in issue #24.
He's not just the guy who sits on the throne and shoots Omega Beams. He actually is a badass fighter.
Was it in Rogue One where Darth Vader was just walking down the hall?
That's what we wanted to evoke, is just that moment of Darth Vader walking down the hall, knocking Stormtroopers left and right without breaking a sweat. That's what we wanted to evoke with Darkseid.
So really, it's about putting a strong physical match in Darkseid against Superman and Batman. And you've got two Supermans and two Batmans. So you can kind of cut loose a little bit.
Plus we have all the other heroes standing there. We have Green Lantern and Wonder Woman. You know, the Captain - Shazam - and so many others.
The Kingdom Come arc is ending in World's Finest #24. Did we see in #23 the start of maybe a little bit of redemption on some level for David/Magog?
Maybe… But then again, if we're following the rules of Kingdom Come, and this is prior to Kingdom Come, "redemption" might be too strong a word because he still has a destiny to fulfill that will wind up being the domino that kicks off Kingdom Come.
The tricky part of the story is that I can't fully redeem Magog because his destiny is written in stone. At the same time, I couldn't put Batman and Superman in a position to fail at what they came here to do, which was find David and reconnect with him and guide him. So this issue is me threading that needle.
So how will we see that fallout in Superman and Batman in the story moving forward? How will we see the impact of this even after they return to their own world? That also seems like a needle that has to be threaded.
There are threads that we're picking up. One of the major ones that drives our Superman through the World's Finest Kingdom Come storyline, as we've already seen, is that our Superman sees how the Kingdom Come Superman failed to accomplish certain things, like, oh, saving everyone in the destruction of Kingdom Come, and it actually making him nervous.
You know, "He's just another version of me. Am I capable of that level of failure?" That will be nagging away at him.
Moving out of the Kingdom Come arc, you're going right into the milestone World's Finest #25. How does it feel to be reaching that kind of milestone in a day and age when it's hard to get to 25 issues, let alone, 26, 27, and beyond? And how does it feel having that kind of open road to keep telling the story?
Oh, it's thrilling. There is no substitute for writing an ongoing series. I've written plenty of close-ended series, plenty of mini-series. And you can do interesting things in those. But there's just something about writing an ongoing series that gives me flexibility. If I want the story to be three issues, it can be. If I want the next one to be just one issue, it can be. I don't have to play within a certain amount time and real estate and make it fit.
Solicits have shown that World's Finest #25 is all about a flashback to the first meeting of Lex Luthor and the Joker. Is this also going to be a portrayal of the first meeting of Batman and Lex Luthor, and Superman and the Joker? What's that dynamic like?
Actually it's not! The story concentrates almost exclusively on Lex and the Joker. There are moments with Batman and Superman, certainly. But you know, at no time in this story does Batman meet Lex Luthor, or does Superman meet the Joker for the first time. This is really about the two greatest villains in the DC Universe teaming up to accomplish something.
By the way, I do want to say, World's Finest #25 is not just the Luthor and Joker story. That's the lead story. But there's also a back-up by myself and Dan Mora that leads into the next story arc. And it's an arc that is based totally and completely on Dan's inexplicable desire to want to draw Bat-Mite. [laughs]
This is slightly off-topic, but when I talked to Jason Aaron about his Action Comics run a couple of weeks ago, he mentioned to me that he had some conversations with you about how to bring his vision of Superman to the page, and he had gained some insights from you. So what I want to ask is, what are the things about Superman that you're hoping to convey to not just readers but to other creators in your work across World's Finest, Kingdom Come, Superman: Birthright, and so many other stories? What do you hope they're taking forward from your Superman?
Great question… And by the way, Jason has been entirely too kind. It was a couple of phone conversations and some reading recommendations. Jason is perfectly capable of writing Superman without my help, as you can see in his Action Comics run, which is awesome! [laughs]
There's an optimism to Superman that translates on the comic page to being able to do the impossible. The first time we ever saw Superman, he was lifting a car over his head, which in 1938 was quite the sight. That kind of science fiction material wasn't really a thing in pop culture at the time.
He was created by two teenage boys out of Cleveland to do impossible things, and that is one of my guiding stars. When I write Superman, in every story, I really want to see him do something that seems impossible and still manage to pull it off. That, to me, is what his purpose is.
And that is one of the things that makes him unique. In the DC Universe, I can see Batman failing. I can see Wonder Woman failing. I can see Green Lantern failing. I cannot see Superman failing.
Speaking specifically about World's Finest, I think we've talked about Dan Mora every time we've had a conversation about this book or Shazam!. He's a workhorse. He and Tamra Bonvillain always put out stunning work on World's Finest. I did see that you and Dan were leaving Shazam! in a few months. Are you going to continue double Dan Mora in the future on a second title, assuming he's staying on World's Finest as well?
He's not leaving World's Finest! [laughs] Dan is perfectly capable of doing two books a month, and I am perfectly capable of writing more than two books a month. So we'll see how the math shakes out.
Fair enough! On that note, the last thing I want to ask is, is this story, for you, closing the book on Kingdom Come? Do you see yourself having more to say with those characters in that world in the future?
I would have said this was closing the book until I wrote the last issue. And in writing the last issue, I see that there is some daylight in terms of us, maybe possibly, someday revisiting this world for one last time. I can't guarantee it. I don't have a story yet. But without really intending to, I left myself that opening.
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