Batman Universe #2 – Brian Michael Bendis, Writer; Nick Derington, Artist; Dave Stewart, Colorist
Ray – 9/10
Corrina: Effective Adventure Story
Ray: Brian Michael Bendis’ DC work has been a mixed bag since he arrived at the company, but this former Walmart exclusive comic has shown off all of his strengths – namely whip-fast dialogue and a great sense of tone and place – with none of the weaknesses in Batman Universe #2. Essentially a globe-trotting Batman adventure with a lighter tone than the Dark Knight’s usual fare, it has strong Bendis writing coupled with brilliant art from Nick Derington. When we last left off, Batman had tracked Riddler around the world to recover a stolen Faberge Egg, teamed up with Green Arrow, and found Edward Nigma a shell of his former self. He can barely put a riddle together, and the problem seems to be in the egg. After a chase segment and a brief battle with a brainwashed and violent Green Arrow, Batman is able to analyze the unique radiation coming from the egg – and Riddler is able to deliver his prize to his boss, an oddly older-looking Vandal Savage.
The second half of Batman Universe #2 is the stronger one, as Batman resumes his hunt for Riddler and it takes him to one of the most unique sites in DC Comics – Gorilla City. There’s a great gimmick here involving a “mobile Batcave” that Batman takes with him at all times through virtual reality, and Derington pulls off some stunning double-page spreads. The dialogue when Batman tries to win over the king of Gorilla City and get his help is maybe a bit too Bendis-esque – some of the snarking feels much more like Spider-Man – but it somehow never gets overwhelming. We don’t have too many answers yet, but it seems like every issue of this story is going to reset the table and place Batman in a different, unpredictable situation. That makes it both a perfect Batman story for new readers, and a very unconventional one that provides something we rarely see. It’s easily one of the best surprises out of DC recently.
Corrina: This feels like old-school Batman, complete with guest appearances from other snarky heroes, such as Green Arrow. I’m not that big on the Riddler, given his mass murder from the War of Jokes and Riddles, but this seems to be an alternate universe old-school Riddler, a man who has a compulsion to commit crimes but also to taunt Batman as he does. That’s always an effective take on Edward Nigma and it works here too, especially given his boss is Vandal Savage.
Sometimes it’s also fun to take Batman and plop him into the most non-Gotham-like setting as possible and that’s what happens with Batman in Gorilla City. This time, Bendis’ dialogue works well because Bruce is in over his head and he knows it.
It does, indeed, seem like this is an old-school serial, with a cliffhanger each issue. As an introduction to Batman for all-ages, it’s effective.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.