(w) Brian Michael Bendis (a) Nick Derington (c) Dave Stewart
As I may have gone a little overboard in the last Batman Universe review (Editor’s Note: I wouldn’t call that a “review”), I thought we’d get a little more “formal” and “professional” in this review. Spoiler alert, I still fucking love this series.
Fading up from black, Brian Michael Bendis sets the stage for Batman Universe #3 with a groggy Batman waking up in a dark space like room, void of anything but a chair and two small tables as a voice tells him to strip. They don’t exactly tell him to strip, but close enough, as they couldn’t remove what they call his “Battle Armor Cowl.” This isn’t the first time Batman will take his close off, or have a change of costume as he goes through multiple. One point to Batman Universe #3 from anyone looking for a shirtless Bruce Wayne, which Artist Nick Derington illustrates beautifully.
Learning that the sassy disembodied voices are that of the police force of Thanagar, Batman proceeds to inform them of his friendship with some of their locals, The Justice League, But neither of those affiliations free him. Instead it’s his acknowledgment of friendship with Hal Jordan that does the trick. This name drop isn’t just there for fun, but comes in play later. The scenes of interrogation is pretty hilarious at times as they take no crap, and are sassy to boot. But in these moments some Bendis Speak pops up, killing the momentum, which occurs a little later on with the same result.
Tumbling back to the present Batman arrives at a crumbled Gorilla City only to collapse after learning of Vandal Savage’s attack. Waking up, readers are then treated to another shirtless Bruce (thanks Derington!), as he is awaken by Cyborg and Green Lantern in a classic coma joke manner. Bendis’ characterization of Cyborg is of a teenager, akin to him still being with the Teen Titans, which is one of the better portrayals of him as of recent. From here Batman and Green Lantern team-up making there way to Dinosaur Island.
As it stands Batman Universe is starting to look like Bendis’ pitching a Batman: Brave and The Bold, which sounds pretty bat-tastic, plus Bendis does write a pretty cocky yet funny Hal Jordan. While the duo are teamed up Hal tries his best to make small talk, which falls pretty flat, especially when they tumble to the earth. But the best part between the heroes is when they arrive at the Island. In this interaction Hal learns that Batman is a huge fan of Dinosaurs, which should be obvious as he has a giant Dinosaur in his cave. On the subject of dinosaurs, let’s talk about Derington’s mythical art.
Through Batman Universe #3 Derington keeps the same level of fantastic art that has been seen in the previous issues, although it is void of unique paneling that he used in those. In issue three instead of those unique panels he treats the reader to a gorgeous two page splash of Dinosaur Island once the duo arrive. If someone took out Batman and Hal you could use this image as a postcard, or for a brochure. Hell the splash page is worth being a PC background.
The pleasing art isn’t limited to the lush green dinosaur landscape, as even when Batman/Bruce does mundane things Derington’s art stands out, amplifying the emotions. But these moments of beauty wouldn’t hit as hard if it wasn’t for the colors of Dave Stewart. While keeping most scenes bright, Stewart never colors anything to blinding, instead keeping the colors a more realistic shade. These shades of colors help keep the story grounded, even though Batman goes to space.
It seems Bendis is having more fun with Batman Universe compared to his other in-universe DC Comics, as he is taking more chances by writing the series in a manner that feels like older adventure based comics. This bodes well with the plot, as it seems serious, yet fun for the whole family. Derington’s art exudes the fun demeanor, while Stewart’s bright colors mixed with with an equal amount of dark further this feeling. This team may be a creative dream team for Batman, that is when they have the creative freedom to have fun, which it seems they did.
Memorable Quote: ” Jonah Hex, Vandal Savage? I want to hang with the cool people.” – Cyborg
You and me both Cyborg!