I have to admit, Bendis’ first Batman series at DC surprised me. Rather than the urban noir style that he approached similar properties like Daredevil and Moon Knight with, Bendis’ first Batman comic is more in line with The Brave and the Bold cartoon than any current version of Batman. The result is an absolute wonder to read.
Batman: Universe #1 follows the dark knight as he discovers a conspiracy that will take him to different corners of the DC Universe, and it all starts with the Riddler. After that, the conflict Batman has found himself involved with only continues to grow in scale.
Bendis’ script for Batman: Universe reads like a celebration of Batman’s character, crafting a story that blends together different interpretations of the character.
Whether it’s the Batman’s demeanor or visual throwbacks to the Adam West series, this series embraces the entirety of Batman’s history. In doing so, the writer crafts his own unique version of the character — one that is cleverly self-aware and not adverse to team-ups.
Bendis’ story takes Batman outside of Gotham, allowing the Dark Knight to interact with characters outside his own series. Seeing Batman interact with characters who don’t take him seriously is always fun, and works perfectly with Bendis’ lighthearted approach to the story. The guest heavy nature of the comic also allows Batman: Universe to stand out amongst the other Batman comics being published. As enjoyable as Batman going outside his supporting cast can be, Bendis doesn’t ignore the Bat’s established supporting players.
The dynamic between Alfred and Batman is both humorous and touching when done right. As far as i can tell, Bendis writes the duo superbly. Their back and forth in Batman Universe is clever — with Bendis poking fun at a now common method of how the duo operate in the field. To my memory, no writer has really done this in the last decade or so (could be wrong, if so let me know), and the result is pretty funny. The rapport between Batman and Alfred is also emblematic of one of Batman: Universe’s biggest strengths, Bendis’ dialogue.
Bendis’ dialogue is really strong in this book — and surprisingly restrained. The wit is there, as well as some other Bendis dialogue trademarks, but there aren’t as many speech balloons on the pages of Batman Universe. The most likely reason being that a heap of dialogue would slow down the action scenes that Nick Derington has paced perfectly.
Batman: Universe #1 is a good comic book, and that wouldn’t be possible without Nick Derington’s art. His use of perspective and pacing is incredible. The opening pages alone are worth the cover price of this comic, with a sense of movement between panels and pages that compliments Bendis’ energetic story. Derington’s storytelling is something to Marvel at, and exemplifies the strengths of comics as a medium.
Batman: Universe #1 is a joy to read, offering readers everything a good superhero comic should: thrills, laughs, and, of course, Batman. The comic also offers readers a nice break from the psychologically heavy work being done in the main Batman books. The phrase is cliche, but “variety is the spice of life”.
Side note: I have no idea if stating that something is a cliche before actually using said cliche is clever.