Superman/Batman: Finest Worlds, Michael Green and Mike Johnson's second volume of the series, hearkens strongly back to the classic World's Finest series. In the spirit of the kinds of adventures where Superman and Batman competed for the heart of an alien princess or Bruce Wayne joined Clark Kent at the Daily Planet, Finest Worlds offers three tales, almost Elseworld tales, that mix and mingle the elements of Superman and Batman. But while the wackiness found within well distinguishes this volume, it does unfortunately hurt the overall relevance of the stories.
The main story, "Superbat," finds Superman's powers accidentally, and magically, tranferred to Batman. What follows is by and large exactly what you'd expect: Clark Kent tries to adapt to a normal life while Batman uses his new powers first to clean up Gotham, and later to try in a fit of stark raving madness to eradicate all crime everywhere, until Superman and the JLA must step in to stop him. The writers get no points for bringing any new insights to the characters of Superman and Batman, but yet the story is filled with lots of little moments: Superman teaching Batman to use heat vision, Supergirl's surprisingly moving grief when Superman is injured, Super-Batman fighting both Bane and the Justice League. The story benefits overwhelmingly from art by Identity Crisis's Rags Morales, giving it the semblance of a weight it otherwise wouldn't deserve.
The difficulty with "Superbat" -- and also the funny, charming "Lil' Leaguers" story that sees Superman and Batman teamed with cartoon dopplegangers -- is that they're magic-based stories where all the toys go back in the toybox at the conclusion. Possibly this was editorially-mandated (and possibly, I've heard, the reigns will be looser on Superman/Batman post-Blackest Night), but the writers' previous volume, The Search for Kryptonite, had no such problems. Kryptonite was surprising and interesting and deeply rooted in the current events of the DC Universe; Finest Worlds is a satisfactory volume of Superman/Batman, but it lacks the "oompf" of the previous book.
That said, I must praise the writers for "The Fathers" (which marked the fiftieth issue of Superman/Batman). Surely Green and Johnson aren't the first to posit a meeting between Thomas Wayne and Jor-El, but I loved the mid-issue tease that it all might be a dream -- and finally the revelation that the meeting in fact took place. I hold no illusions that any other writer will ever reference the event ever again, but I credit the writers for "going for it" and not taking the easy out found in the book's other two stories.
The truth is, despite that Finest Worlds is another step away from the direction Superman/Batman needs to go if this title is going to last (read: relevancy), the book is plain, old-fashioned fun. The outlandish campiness of the parallel Superman/Batman narrations (begun by Jepf Loeb and continued here) virtually ensure these stories can't be taken seriously, so there's no choice but to sit back and let them wash over you. Ultimately I decided to view these stories like episodes of the Superman or Batman cartoons, and only then did I feel I really "got" their intended tone.
[Contains full and alternate covers]
Superman/Batman: Finest Worlds is a fair collection for completists, but those waiting for Superman/Batman to really "find its feet" might want to wait for the next team to take over this book (more details recently announced.)