I don’t know that any recent Batman story has made me feel more joy than Batman Universe. Together, writer Brian Michael Bendis, artist Nick Derington, and the rest of the Batman Universe team have crafted a humorous, action-packed story that positions Batman as a reader’s guide to the wider DC Universe – which is a wondrous place packed full of Hawkpeople, dinosaurs, immortal villains, telepathic super-gorillas, and so much more.
If I listed everything that happens in Batman Universe (which I won’t – this is a review, not a spoiler session), you’d likely question whether Universe is too busy or dense for non-regular comics readers to enjoy. But I found that I easily kept up with Batman as he traveled from Gotham City to Dinosaur Island, Gorilla City, Thanagar, and beyond. Universe‘s creative team does a fantastic job of swiftly introducing and defining each new character Batman encounters, and Derington and Stewart’s art compels readers to keep turning the page so they can learn more. While reading this book, I never slowed down to question a story choice or figure out “exactly” who a character was. Instead, I kept flipping forward to see what would happen next – what wry joke Batman was about to crack, who he was about to meet, or what new costume he was about to wear.
It’s this propulsive energy, as well as the book’s earnestness and lightheartedness, that sets Batman Universe apart – and will ultimately make it a Batman story that I return to again and again. I enjoy watching Batman play the straight man to the weirder, wilder denizens of the DC Universe. I enjoy watching the stranger aspects of that universe set Batman out of his depth, forcing him to rely on his wits, humor, friends, and family to prevail. And if you enjoy seeing Batman have fun being Batman and exploring the DC Universe as he does so, then you’ll also love Batman Universe.
You Will Like Batman Universe If:
- You enjoyed Batman: The Brave and the Bold (or you just like seeing Batman interact with the larger DC Universe).
- You enjoy colorful, kinetic, and expressive art.
- You think sassy Alfred is best Alfred.
- You appreciate toyetic Bat-gadgets and costume changes. (As an example, check out Derington and Stewart’s rad Batman of Thanagar below.)
You Will Not Like Batman Universe If:
- You do not enjoy seeing Batman smile, crack jokes, or talk about how much he loves dinosaurs.
- You do not enjoy the weirder, non-superhero corners of the DC Universe.
- You prefer Batman stories that feature grim ‘n gritty artwork.