Title: Batman: Universe.
Writer(s): Brian Michael Bendis.
Illustrator(s): Nick Derington.
Colourist(s): Dave Stewart.
Letterer(s): Alw’s Troy Peteri.
Publisher: DC Comics.
Release Date: March 24th, 2020.
Genre(s): Comics, Science-Fiction.
My Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆.
Batman hasn’t always been the darkest and more broody superhero of all time. Although he’s taken much more seriously nowadays, he was once a caped crusader who delivered campy humour alongside his trusted sidekick. But, sometimes, if you look in the right places, you’ll find that some creators have offered the world an interesting balance of comedy romps and detective stories (see Batman: The Brave and the Bold). Writer Brian Michael Bendis (Superman, Young Justice, Pearl) and artist Nick Derington (Doom Patrol) teamed up to deliver a quirky and adventurous odyssey with Batman throughout the DC Universe. Collecting all six issues of this limited mini-series, this graphic novel sends Batman on an adventure through time and space to retrieve a mysterious yet powerful object before it falls in the wrong hands.
What is Batman: Universe about? The story focuses on The Riddler’s latest crime as he orchestrates a theft to bamboozle Batman and get away with a priceless jeweled Fabergé egg. As Batman tracks down his eternal archnemesis, he discovers that the egg possesses strange powers that meddle with one’s mind and realize that it might also be the source of great danger if he doesn’t stop The Riddler from giving it to the person who hired him in the first place. As he embarks on this journey to reacquire the egg, he finds himself teaming up with fellow heroes, from Green Arrow to Green Lantern, while also encountering unlikely villains.
“I’m Batman.” — Brian Michael Bendis
I thought writer Brian Michael Bendis had an interesting idea within the palm of his hands with this story, especially when it was the first time since his arrival at DC Comics that he has complete control over Batman for his own self-contained story outside what’s going on canonically. Although it is fun, sending the Dark Knight on a relatively standard mystery, with a twist that will have him go through various eclectic worlds within the DC Universe, it turned out a bit zany, unexpectedly delving into some of Green Lantern’s lore for a science-fiction surprise for fans as well. What really kept me at a distance throughout this story is the dialogue, which unfortunately turned out to be the weakest element of writer Brian Michael Bendis’ story. More often than not, I was unmoved by the jokes tossed around, often repeated throughout the story too. I simply couldn’t get behind the banter between the heroes and the villains, as it felt like there were joking at themselves, ridiculing their existence in the process.
On the upside, it was Nick Derington’s artwork that made this a lot more tolerable, giving the story a cartoon-like quality that screamed fun and thrilling. The character designs also retained the iconic designs often imagined for these various heroes. While some characters are less known to the general population, there’s enough information drawn into this story to know what and who they are. It was also clear that the creative team behind this graphic novel had fun playing around with Batman’s gadgets and vehicular arsenal; the creative designs made sure to emphasize Batman’s versatility too. Dawning a relatively vivid and brighter colour tone to the story, it was clear that the abundant comic relief was meant to feel integral to the story, despite it not being my cup of tea.
Batman: Universe is an entertaining but not particularly impressive wild-goose chase across the DC Universe.