Batman: Universe #1 is a story that was originally published by DC Comics in Batman Giant #3 and Batman Giant #4, the Walmart exclusive Batman book. The story is written by Brian Michael Bendis (Superman, Action Comics), with art by Nick Derington, colors by Dave Stewart, and letters by Josh Reed.
The comic follows Batman as he chases down the Riddler after he steals a priceless Fabergé egg. Along the way, Batman must contend with the Riddler’s various riddles including beating up a group of stuntmen who are dressed like him. However, it becomes evident to Batman that this isn’t the Riddler’s usual gig and someone is using him. After Riddler’s escape, Batman investigates the origin of the egg tracing back to its owner: Jinny Hex, the descendant of Jonah Hex.
The comic is delightful and I am happy that it is available for a larger audience since the Walmart comics were often hard to get a hold of. The opening panels of the comic feature some of the best Alfred and Batman banter I have seen in a while. In addition to Alfred quips here and there, the comic has a lot of laugh-out-loud funny moments.
Batman: Universe #1 is a much more light-hearted Batman book compared to what else is currently on shelves. Bendis’ crafts a traditional Batman story but peppers in a lot of humor and heart which keeps it fresh. And since this was originally published as a story with Batman Giant, it acts as an excellent jumping-on point for news fans of DC Comics and Batman. You don’t really need previous knowledge of the Dark Knight to enjoy this story and a lot of the humor is reminiscent of the Batman: The Animated Series, meaning it is a lot more kid-friendly than current Batman books.
The light-hearted feeling of the book also translates into Derington’s art. Derington’s style is unique and has qualities within it that feel like a throwback to Kirby and Ditko. Additionally, the design of Batman’s costume also feels like a throwback to Bill Finger and Bob Kane’s original design for the Caped Crusader. Even with the throwbacks, the darker color palette created by Stewart firmly makes this a Batman book. Stewart does well to balance the backdrop of the Gotham night with the brighter parts of Batman’s costume and gadgets – the Batmobile’s steering wheel is blue with yellow accents and the Batsuit has the classic yellow accents.
A lot of these coloring choices are also seen in the lettering. Action words are painted in the same color as brighter parts of the page. Reed does an excellent job of choosing fonts that fit the overall aesthetic of the book. The words often appear cartoony and feel like the words that used to pop up on the screen during major action scenes in the 1960s TV show, Batman, with Adam West. A lot of the word bubble choices are very clever, particularly Alfred’s dialogue. Since some of the characters Batman is speaking with are not on the panel, these visual clues help readers connect where the characters are.
Overall, Batman: Universe #1 is an absolute delight. The story is hilarious and has a lot of heart. It is a great read for any Batman fan no matter how many comics you have picked up previously. I am happy to see these previously Walmart exclusive books hitting comic stores, allowing more readers to enjoy them.
Batman: Universe #1 is available now wherever comic books are sold.
Batman: Universe #1
Batman: Universe #1 is an absolute delight. The story is hilarious and has a lot of heart. It is a great read for any Batman fan no matter how many comics you have picked up previously.