Batman Universe #4 – Brian Michael Bendis, Writer; Nick Derington, Artist; Dave Stewart, Colorist
Ray – 9/10
Ray: With Batman Universe #4, two-thirds of the way into Batman Universe, I can safely say this team-up adventure is easily the best comic Bendis has written in years, and maybe one of the best of his career.
Fusing the sensibilities of the Silver Age with the tension of high-stakes modern storytelling, this issue takes place entirely in the old west as Batman and Hal Jordan team up with Jonah Hex to track Vandal Savage. I know there’s some concerns about the prominence of Hex lately given his ties to the Confederacy, but a big part of the character’s history is that he’s made a series of bad decisions he chooses – and signing on with the wrong side as a mercenary is one of them. May be time to change up the outfit, though.
It doesn’t change the fact that Bendis’ writing of the old-west merc is some of his funniest writing in a while, as Hex reacts to the ridiculous sci-fi presence of a Green Lantern with the exact mix of confusion, horror, and occasional vomit you’d expect.
The increased presence of Vandal Savage in Batman Universe #4 makes this maybe a bit less entertaining than the wildly fun previous issue, as he gives the issue a more serious tone and adds dangerous stakes. The wild west standoff in the second half of the issue divides each page into twelve-panel grids as Batman, Hex, and Savage square off with a band of futuristic ninjas in the mix.
Nick Derington’s art is stunning, packing a ton of detail into each tiny square. A mysterious disappearance for Hal and yet another unpredictable teleportation courtesy of the egg sends Bruce on another jaunt through time – this one to a more familiar but more traumatic location that leaves him vulnerable to an ambush as the issue ends. It’s easily the most visually stunning book in DC’s stable right now, and it doesn’t hurt that the story is both highly entertaining and a great way to take Batman out of his element.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.