1. World’s Finest Comics (No. 172, Dec ’67, DC) – Jim Shooter, Curt Swan & George Klein
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is the official title for the upcoming Man of Steel sequel. The immediate fanboy response to the breaking news last week was near unanimous: Why?! What happened to the working title of World’s Finest? For the uninitiated, World’s Finest was a DC comic book series published from 1941 to 1986 that prominently featured Superman and Batman with the occasional appearance of Robin. Long before Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns depiction of Batman battling Superman, the World’s Finest pairing that caught my imagination was issue 172, an elseworld issue that posited how the two superheroes would’ve gotten along had Jonathan and Martha Kent adopted Bruce Wayne, so that Clark Kent could have a brother. An excerpt of the aftermath following the murder of Jonathan and Martha Kent:
SUPERMAN: I came as soon as I heard, Batman! I know how you feel — they were my parents, too!
BATMAN: You . . . couldn’t possibly know, Superman! This is . . . the second time! Two sets of parents . . . murdered by criminals! I can’t stay here! I’ll dispose of my property . . . leave Gotham City!
SUPERMAN: No, Batman! You’re still in shock! You need medical care! Later . . .
BATMAN: It would be the same! There are too many memories here! I’m leaving . . . for good! You can administer The Wayne Foundation as Clark Kent! I’ll just keep traveling . . . till I find a place where I can be at peace!
2. The Amazing Spider-Man (No. 2, July 2014, Marvel) – Dan Slott, Humberto Ramos, Victor Olazaba & Edgar Delgado
The newest issue of The Amazing Spider-Man only reconfirms in my mind that writer Dan Slott may very well be the best writer of all the Spider-titles of the last 30 years. Virtually every issue written by Dan Slott is packed with set-up for future arcs, development of key relationships, references to continuity, and an overall affection for the Peter Parker character. I have yet to feel ripped off after reading Slott’s Spider-man – and this issue is no exception.
3. Coffin Hill (No. 1, 2013, Vertigo) – Caitlin Kittredge & Inaki Miranda
Chris Carter’s Millennium meets Twin Peaks, Caitlin Kittredge’s new series follow the journey of Eve Coffin, an unlikely cop from one of New England’s most affluent witch families. When teenagers start disappearing and a coma victim miraculously awakens, our heroine will be forced to revisit her family’s past and the increasingly restless demonic forces that haunt Coffin Hill. Issues 1-7 currently available in trade paperback, avoid it if you’re the least bit squeamish.
4. Hulk (No. 3, July 2014, Marvel) – Mark Waid, Mark Bagley, Andrew Hennessy & Jason Keith
Perhaps the ultimate comic book representation of the Id in all of its semiotic pre-Mirror stage glory, artists Bagley and Hennessy do a fine job in this issue of introducing what is arguably the purest comic book representation of the Superego (i.e., Captain America, Iron Man, Captain Marvel, etc) to break up the devastating psychogeographical fight between Hulk and his robotic doppleganger – The Abomination.
5. The Doom Patrol (No. 1, Oct ’87, DC) – Paul Kupperberg, Steve Lightle & Gary Martin
Before The X-Men, there was The Doom Patrol. Although Days of Future Past is clearly the best X-Men movie having cleared up all of the continuity problems of the prior three X-Men episodes, there is still a better iteration of the mutant team up movie to be had. If DC’s Justice League movie never gets off the ground, one can only hope that Warner Bros’ considers reimagining more peripheral characters like Negative Woman and Robotman for the big screen.