Batman: Universe by Brian Michael Bendis

details
Title: Batman: Universe.
Writer(s)Brian Michael Bendis.
Illustrator(s)Nick Derington.
Colourist(s): Dave Stewart.
Letterer(s): Alw’s Troy Peteri.
PublisherDC Comics.
Format: Hardcover.
Release Date: March 24th, 2020.
Pages: 176.
Genre(s): Comics, Science-Fiction.
ISBN13: 9781401294847.
My Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆.

thoughts

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.


EXHIBITA
Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!

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25 comments

  • I really liked Brian Michael Bendis when he was still at Marvel. His Avengers and Jessica Jones storylines were some of my favorite comics. I had heard about his move to DC comics through your blog (what else is new right? 😂) but haven’t yet read any of his DC escapades yet. You know me and comedy don’t mix very well anyways when it comes to movies, tv shows, and other stuff, so reading this review I can’t say that I’m in a hurry to pick this one up. Especially not because I have so many more (better ) DC comics still lying in wait for me. Agreed though: the art really does look very cool!😀

    Liked by 1 person

  • Ah I haven’t read these comics since years, if any.
    Bad about dialogues and good about graphics. You made me see comics in a different way. Maybe I should get some.
    Batman is an icon… When did his first comic come about?

    Liked by 1 person

  • I almost wish someone would write a book about how the Culture shapes Batman. I think back to the Adam West tv show and the cartoon from the Scooby Doo era and Batman was synonymous with “camp”. Now? He’s Mr Grim and Broody.

    I just think it would be interesting if someone actually tracked down the curve of the change.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Honestly, I think there might be a non-fiction book about this that was well-received in recent years. I’d have to hunt it down to see if it covers this transformation. I have nothing against the grim and broody Bats of today though, actually quite happy about it. 😉 Have you seen the recent trailer for the upcoming The Batman movie? It’s 100% the grimiest and broodiest Batman you’ll ever see on the silver screen. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  • The cover has a bit of a humorous feel to it so I could see the story attempting to include that, as well. I will admit to missing the campy TV Batman of older days with all the dialogue balloons throughout the episodes.Somehow, though, I suspect I wouldn’t enjoy it as much today as I recall enjoying it as a kid. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • The one show that stands the test of time, so far for me, is Batman: The Animated Series. It is brilliant through and through. As for the Adam West era of Batman, I find it goofy but fun to indulge sometimes (not too much). I doubt we’ll ever see a return to that iteration on the silver screen anytime soon! 😀

      Like

  • Hm, despite generally being a fan of Bendis, for some reason I just don’t fancy this…he’s not always the best at jokey dialogue and it sounds as though it doesn’t quite hit the mark here. I’m not totally against a bit of goofy Bat-fun (sometimes I just want to stick an episode of the Adam West series – or the movie which is a riot – on for that very reason) but ultimately prefer the more serious, dramatic take on our favourite Dark Knight!

    Awesome review sir…I now crave a cup of tea haha…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep… I think you’d feel the same about this one, especially with the sense of humour he employs. There were so many scenes where I had to facepalm at the odd monologues too. But I can tell that it can have an appeal to newcomers or those looking for a fun time. Thanks for reading, Chris! I appreciate it! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  • I think it’s so interesting that Brian Michael Bendis is writing for DC versus Marvel. I’m not sure if this Batman storyline is for me because I do enjoy a grittier Batman than a funny banter Batman.

    Liked by 2 people

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