When writer Brian Michael Bendis moved from Marvel Comics to DC Comics, many readers were eager to get his take on Batman. While he has spent most of his time at DC reshaping Superman’s story, Batman: Universe is his take on Bruce Wayne, Batman, and several other DC characters. It is a fun story that can be enjoyed by mostly anyone since it is outside of DC continuity. These stories were first released in special Walmart magazine editions and they are well worth a look.

Batman tracks a stolen decorative egg from a museum. It appears that the Riddler has stolen it and Batman sets off on a globetrotting, time-traveling adventure to get it back. Every chapter involves another hero and other villains. It becomes clear that the egg is a powerful device that can move people through space and time. Batman ends up across the galaxy on Thanagar at one point, and travels through time to visit Jonah Hex in the Old West during another. Batman discovers that the immortal Vandal Savage is looking for the egg in order to control its power. Batman and friends must get the egg from Savage to save the world. The big reveal of what’s in the egg is entertaining and leads to more hijinks. Of course, the heroes save the world in the end, but getting there is quite a ride.

This book is a showcase of all the fun DC characters, locations and villains that Bendis can cram into it. Seeing how Batman banters with Green Arrow, Green Lantern, and Nightwing is a treat. This is a lighter Batman who jokes while he works. Bendis’s penchant for witty dialogue serves him well here, and though there are a few anachronisms when Batman is in the Old West, they are easily forgiven. Another draw is the incredible artwork by Nick Derington and coloring by Dave Stewart. Derington has a similar style to Darwyn Cooke and he leans into the influence here. The drawings are clean, yet highly detailed. Some of the panels are the best I’ve seen in years, particularly full page spreads where Batman and Nightwing fight their way through an underground structure and one where Batman sneaks around Gorilla City. They are stunning. Derington gets to draw Batman in multiple costumes, western attire, and other unique settings. There are dinosaurs, jungles, crazy action sequences and more. The fight choreography is particularly good. It is a feast for the eyes as well as a solid story.

This book is a must-buy for any public library as it’s a great introduction to DC and these characters. You don’t have to know a ton of backstory to enjoy this story. DC clearly planned this as a way to introduce new readers to characters beyond Batman through Walmart stores and it shows. Highly recommended for any teen or adult collection.

Batman: Universe
By Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Nick Derington, Dave Stewart
ISBN: 9781401294847
DC Comics, 2020
Publisher Age Rating: Teen (12-up)Title Details and Representation
NFNT Age Recommendation: Teens
  • Mark

    | He/Him Young Adult Librarian, Cedar Mill Library

    Reviewer

    Mark Richardson is the Young Adult Librarian at the Cedar Mill Library in Portland Oregon where he selects adult and young adult graphic novels, YA fiction & nonfiction, video games and adult music for the library. He also plans lots of activities for local teens ranging from art contests to teen trivia to Pokemon parties. If this sounds like a dream job, it is. Sometimes he has to pinch himself to make sure he really gets to do all of this. He’s been reading comics for as long as he can remember and has been known to present an occasional conference sessions on graphic novels at the Oregon Library Association’s annual conference.

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