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‘Batman Universe #1’ (review)

Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Illustrated by Nick Derrington
Published by DC Comics



Hey have you heard?

Brian Michael Bendis is coming to DC!

And right out of the gates he’s doing a Batman project.

Wait, what, that’s already happened, you say? And what Batman project you say?

Batman Universe. It’s the name on the book.

And Bendis has been doing these stories, right out of the gates, since first he started publishing with DC in January of 2019.

All the Batman stuff though was released only in the exclusive multi-story books made for Walmart by DC this past year, and not – until now – pulled together into individual issues for their own run.

That all changes this month however, as all the rest of us get a front row seat for a Batman saga that’s been taking shape, almost literally behind the scenes, all this time.

And what a saga.

What I’ve always loved about Batman is that he’s got a type, but he’s also got a genre. Which is to say that his brand may be the dark of shadows, gritty, face-punching guardian of Gotham, but his genre is the endless possibilities of comics. It allows for flashes of color, wonder, and even the absurd to enter the Batman’s life, in ways that mirror his time on the pantheon of the Justice League.

Bendis seems fixin’ to take advantage of those possibilities, and while it’s a pleasure that he begins in the familiar Batman terrain of high larceny and fisticuffs, it’s equally enjoyable that at the heart of what sets things to action is a mystery, one that spans both time and space and commands the attention of a foreboding, unknown antagonist.

Because, of course, Batman does mysteries well.

What Brian Bendis does well is tell comics. Here, he strings together a series of pulp-classic vignettes and cameos to take max-advantage of a set up like this one. One that clearly has infinite possibilities, just beginning to get scratched.

Good thing that what Nick Derrington does well is art. What a joy. This book looks fantastic. Stylized, fun, with a pulp adventurer’s eye for detail and high kinetic action, Derrington’s work is a showcase of what excellent comic art should be, and shows us that he deserves a book just like this one. Does not hurt at all to have the wonderful coloring talents of Dave Stewart to back him up. That is one fantastic cover there, gentlemen.

And that’s just getting started.

Bendis’ script shows a respect for his title character, while bringing in a striking amount of humor at the same time. Not a simple feat, and one I look forward to seeing more of. Batman’s like the ultimate straight man, and it’s nice to see that Bendis gives the rest of the script room to breathe with deft characterization and snappy dialogue, including a quick scene with Jinny Hex, pre-Young Justice, with yet one more curiosity from great-great-grandpappy Jonah Hex’s inheritance into the mix.

Interesting that Batman’s been caught up in his own version of that storyline for a little while now already. Guess we have some stuff to catch up with.

Glad to have things well in hand with a top-notch team. It’s a classic Batman adventure of mystery, challenge, old friends, and new ones too. And some pretty damn good fisticuffs actually.

Because Batman’s on the job. Batman’s the boss. Heck, it’s all just Batman’s universe… we’re all just lucky enough to live in it for a while.

This is what we love comics for everyone. Go buy this book.

Next Issue: Brave and the Bold


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