The World's Greatest Super-Heroes

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Not to be confused with The World's Greatest Superheroes, a syndicated newspaper comic strip featuring DC Comics characters.
The World's Greatest Super-Heroes
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Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
Genre
Publication date July 6, 2005
Main character(s) Superman, Batman, Captain Marvel, Wonder Woman, Justice League of America
Creative team
Writer(s) Paul Dini and Alex Ross
Artist(s) Alex Ross

The World's Greatest Super-Heroes is the name to the oversized slipcased hardcover collection, consisting of six oversized graphic novels all done by writer Paul Dini and artist Alex Ross. The graphic novels are; Superman: Peace on Earth, Batman: War on Crime, Shazam!: Power of Hope, Wonder Woman: Spirit of Truth, JLA: Secret Origins, and JLA: Liberty and Justice. The artwork is of Ross' very own photorealism, and the books themselves were created after the success of Ross' and writer Mark Waid's famous Kingdom Come.

This shouldn't be confused with The World's Greatest Superheroes, the syndicated newspaper comic strip that ran from April 9, 1978 to February 10, 1985.

Superman: Peace on Earth[edit]

After helping to start the Christmas season in Metropolis; Superman finds a starving young woman that leads to him look up the topic of world hunger. Wanting to help, Superman proposes to the United Nations to help to end world hunger through the gesture of spending a day delivering as much food as he can to settlements that need it anywhere on the planet, an idea met with significant controversy but ultimately given the go-ahead. With tankers filled with food, Superman flies to starving and impoverished locations all over the Earth, and is met with varying levels of gratitude, praise, fear and frenzy. Eventually, Superman arrives in a country whose militarized government warns against his help. In response to his persistence, they fire a chemical-weapon missile at where he is, with civilians below. He attempts to save the people by sending the cloud of poison into space, but the tanker is damaged and the food is poisoned. In the end, Superman makes a statement to the press, quoting the old phrase Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man how to fish and he eats for a lifetime. His message to the world is for everyone to share their knowledge to anyone in need. He asks for the world to inspire others in hopes for true peace to live on.

The story in Peace on Earth was conceived based on the Superman stories from the 1940s, specifically, the World War II-era stories where Superman would go out and fix the world's problems. In explaining the reason why he fails, Alex Ross said that the lesson Superman learns in Peace on Earth is that he leads by example, instead of becoming the brawn that humanity doesn't and shouldn't have. The artwork gave Superman another nod to which he has been alluded: a stand-in for Jesus Christ.

Batman: War on Crime[edit]

Bruce Wayne is in a business meeting with corrupt Randall Winters, as he proposes to replace the Bayside area. That night in Bayside, Batman hears gunshots in a store and captures the mugger. When he checks the bodies, he notices something familiar and unexpected: a boy who saw his parents die. The boy, Marcus, is seen by Batman as a mirror to his eight-year-old self. The next night, Batman takes care of a gang with Marcus as one of them, and he runs off. The very next night, Batman stops a drug location and confronts a gun weiding Marcus. Talking him down, asking him not to become what killed his parents, and he lowers the gun. Having given Marcus new hope for the future, Bruce Wayne decides to make changes without the mask by helping rebuild Bayside, not replace it. Randall is not so happy, but due to other things going on, Randall is arrested. Batman knows he is fighting a war he cannot completely win, but the small victories encourage him to keep trying, and hopes that soon he'll move on from his pain.

Shazam!: Power of Hope[edit]

Billy Batson's baseball plans are shot when he is asked to check out a mailbag filled with letters to Captain Marvel. One letter asks if Captain Marvel could stop at a hospital for sick children, and then, as Captain Marvel, meets with the Wizard Shazam who tells him about a child who will need his help. Arriving at the hospital, all the kids are happy to see their hero, except for one in a wheelchair who Marvel thinks is the kid who needs his help. Captain Marvel decides to talk to the kid as Billy, and the kid asks if his father would ever hurt him. Later, Billy meets with the kid's father, and after getting nothing, threatens him as Captain Marvel, telling him not to hurt his son anymore. After his visit is over, Marvel learns from the Wizard that it was himself who needed help, and it is himself and the children that he has given hope towards. Happy as ever, Captain Marvel continues his adventures with Billy Batson playing ball with the kid in the wheelchair.

Wonder Woman: Spirit of Truth[edit]

Stopping a terrorist attack, and other heroic deeds, sends Wonder Woman to return to her homeland of Themyscira. Following that visit, she attempts to end the civil war in Asia, where Wonder Woman stops a tank when it carelessly almost kills a woman. The woman looks at Diana, and after asking who she is, disagrees that Diana is like her or one of them. This continues in the Middle East where rocks are thrown at her when she asks for their help. Talking to Clark Kent, she decides to work with humanity instead of above them, and learns things she wouldn't have as herself. Returning to the Middle East, she poses as one of the Muslim women before stopping the men from using women as shields. Freeing them, the reactions are better and she is accepted as one of them. Wonder Woman notes that she is a heroine, demigoddess, and a warrior, but only in part, as she is like everyone else; a human being. She then prepares herself to be more part of the human world.

JLA: Secret Origins[edit]

The origins of The Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Aquaman, Green Arrow & Black Canary, Plastic Man, and Hawkman and Hawkgirl, along with the origins of the other four super-heroes presented in the previous one-shots, are all told, ending with the origin of how Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman, and Martian Manhunter, followed by Superman & Batman, formed the Justice League of America.

JLA: Liberty and Justice[edit]

Wonder Woman comes to Martian Manhunter with the urgent news from The Pentagon. With the other members with them, the heroes learn of a virus in Africa that led to a seize in communications. In Africa, the JLA find out that the virus is alien and has made the victims alive but prisoners in their own body. Flash races back only to fall ill from the virus. He is saved by Aquaman, but he falls ill too until Diana saves them both. With panic over the news, Superman and J’onn prevent jets from bombing Africa. In the Batcave, Batman and The Atom find a cure after a voyage into Flash's body: the virus adapts the brains impulses, but can't if they are increased. by increasing the impulses, it can't adapt. Flash helps in making more of the cure while the entire JLA handles the panic across the globe. Back in Africa, thanks to the powers of Flash and Green Lantern, the virus successfully goes back into space. By J'onn addressing the United Nations, trust is restored between the humans and the superhumans, and J’onn and Superman take what's left of the virus and send it off. Even with differences, J'onn knows Earth sees the JLA as their hope and strength, because that's what Earth gives to the JLA as well.

Production[edit]

  • In creating his Batman, Ross based his take from the 1939 version by having him not have his vehicles like the Batmobile, and have him just appear on the scene. The reason was, at the time after the release of Batman & Robin, Batman had gone too hi-tech, and Batman is scarier if he just appears. For the mask Ross came up with the concept on having the mask act as a second skin by having the eyeholes come right up to the upper and lower eyelids so the mask becomes the face.
  • Alex Ross faced a challenge in designing Wonder Woman by making her feminine and physically imposing at the same time because she is an Amazon. Ross says that the only person he can identify with Wonder Woman is Lynda Carter, just as much as George Reeves is who he identities with in regards to Superman.
  • Alex Ross' inspiration for his Justice League of America came from their Bronze Age of comic books version, as he grew up reading this version of the team.
  • As part of an April Fool's Day gag in Wizard Magazine, issue 104 featured a mock cover and synopsis for a Wonder Twins themed book, titled Wonder Twins: Form of Water. The fake story involved the teen heroes using their powers to stop a drought and save their monkey sidekick Gleek.

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