The story opens in Amsterdam (don’t you wish you had Tim Drakes frequent flyer miles?) with Red Robin in hot pursuit of the Walewein Motorcycle gang. As we find out later the gang has something that is very important to Tim. As Tim engages the gang he finds himself severely outnumbered and about to be run down. Suddenly the attacker’s bike disintegrates and Tim easily subdues the assailant. This serves as the introduction to Chris Kent aka “Nightwing”. In a nice panel Chris is shown hovering above Tim with a full moon looming behind him. An effective use of perspective. Throughout this story the pencils by Julian Lopez, ably assisted by “Bit” with inks, gives us a mature if not noir-ish look as opposed to the cover of the book which lent itself to more of a Sunday morning comic aesthetic.
The story quickly shifts to Gotham City where the top hatted terror known as the Penguin is shown to be in possession of the Flamebird, the other half of the “mythical” Nightwing and Flamebird duo. This story is written by Sterling Gates and as we shift back to Chris and Tim the story is given over to some dry exposition that dilutes the tempo just a tad. Chris catches Tim (and the reading audience) up on his origin, what’s happened to Flamebird and pleads to Tim for help. Tim tells Chris (and us) he’s too busy to help people and that he is on a mission from God (oops, sorry, that’s Blues Brothers). But Tim quickly relents and agrees to help Chris when he finds out that either Earth or New Krypton will be destroyed. But the real clincher was when he learned that Nightwing loves Flamebird, “with all his heart.” Phew! Good thing for both planets that Tim is a romantic.
Back to Gotham we go. (Maybe Tim can use his mountain of frequent flyer miles to “time” travel and rescue Bruce. Just saying!) Red Robin, after striking a rather Spiderman like pose, rather clumsily enters the auction house where the Penguin plans to offer up Flamebird to the highest bidder. He is discovered and a fight ensues. He is bailed out again by Nightwing who encases the kryptonite infused Dr. Abernathy (who is holding Flamebird in stasis) with lead that he employed on a tip from Tim. Our heroes rescue the lovely Thara/Flamebird and fly back to Amsterdam. Man, I got jet lag just reading this story!
In a bit of continuity to the Red Robin books that I appreciate, Tim tells “F&N” that he was out to intercept a 200 year old letter mailed from old Gotham to London. That can only mean it is a clue to Bruce Wayne’s location and another step in Tim’s quest to find him. I actually liked that. Flamebird and Nightwing soar off to Metropolis to continue their own story and we end with the kryptonite soaked Dr. Abernathy being “rescued” by the Toyman fresh off his stint in a recent episode of Smallville. Kidding!
Ok, I’ve had a little fun at the expense of this book but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it. I like the fresh take on the “World’s Finest” team up, the art was good and the “youthful” approach to the dynamic worked well also. Continuity to the other books got a nod and we get a nice little cliff hanger that leads us to the next chapter where Robin and the Guardian pick up the action. (And Tim piles up Frequent flier miles. Sorry, I had to say it again.)
World's Finest #1:
Reviewed by Dark Knight Dave