Before he donned a mask and cape to fight crime in the streets of Gotham City, before adopting the mantle of the Dark Knight, a thirteen-year-old Bruce Wayne struggled to fit in with his peers at Gotham Preparatory School—a special school for kids gifted with superpowers. In this reimagined, alternate vision of the Batman, Stuart Gibbs (Spy School) and artist Berat Pekmezci introduce a refreshingly amusing and misshapen childhood of Bruce Wayne in Bruce Wayne: Not Super.
In a setting similar to Dr. Xavier’s academy of X-Men mutants, Bruce Wayne feels out of place at a school specially geared to train young students to harness and control their extraordinary powers. While Clark Kent wields super strength, Diana Prince moves with grace and dexterity, and Barry Allen zips by past the speed of light, Bruce lacks natural powers he can boast. Instead, he resorts to designing his own costume for a disguise through trial and error and invents his own set of gadgets to fit in with his classmates. On Career Day, he desires to become a vigilante to battle crime in the name of avenging the murder of his parents, much to the disappointment of the school principal.
In reconstructing a light-hearted rendition of Gotham City, Gibbs and Pekmezci create a world replete with amusing escapades and pranks among superheroes and villains alike. As a middle grader, Bruce Wayne tackles a coming-of-age role whose diffidence, clumsiness, and shyness gives way to hidden, innate ingenuity. While navigating the rocky landscape of interacting with his peers, he encounters comical situations and a montage of goof ups amidst an undercurrent of danger and brooding mystery rendered by Pekmezci’s deep shades of navy blue and indigo. Whether fending for himself in a game of dodge ball or masquerading as a vigilante to stop a theft in progress, each antic-packed panel captures a less than perfect crime fighter in the early stages of his quest to uphold truth and justice. Most charming are the quizzical expressions and persona of a young Batman who gradually discovers his true strength and latent abilities.
Highlighting the wonder years of adolescence, Bruce Wayne: Not Super delves into evolving themes of fitting in, developing self-esteem, doing the right thing, and finding one’s strengths and purpose. On his path towards discovering himself, Bruce Wayne learns that some powers emerge not from spectacular feats of strength, agility, or speed, but from within one’s natural abilities. This graphic novel infuses a fresh foray into a longstanding iconic superhero of the DC Comics universe, ushering in a welcome addition to middle grade collections and challenging young readers to discover their superpowers.
Bruce Wayne Not Super Vol.
By Stuart Gibbs
Art by Berat Pekmezci
Publisher Age Rating: 8-12
NFNT Age Recommendation: Middle Grade (7-11)
Creator Representation: Turkish,