Not sure about y’all, but sometimes I find myself so fed up with current runs (Tom King, why). During these times I need a break. I stop reading what’s going on. Mentally, I unsubscribe and shelve it for a later date. When that’s happening, I find myself reaching for a miniseries and that is what this weekend review is all about. Batman Universe and The Batman’s Grave. Both series are very much opposites. If you’re looking for a break from DC’s more adult, grim-dark themes, read on about Batman Universe. If you’re in the mood for a darker, solo Batman story with some takes on the real world, skip ahead to the segment on The Batman’s Grave.
First on the recommendation list is this short and sweet Batman miniseries from 2019. Batman Universe. At 6 issues, Batman Universe is a breeze to read and can fill a gap in your schedule, though be prepared to spend some time with it. And it’s a heavy hitter for everything I look for in Batman: Fluid art, engaging dialogue, a more social Batman (read: he works well with others), a unique story line, and brimming with hearty zingers. Even better, this series (unlike the one I will be recommending next) is already complete, so pick up the single issues or a gorgeous hardcover from your Local Comic Shop!
Does your mind need a workout? Look no further than a detective comic kicking things off with a Riddler heist! Bendis will keep you guessing as he throws Bruce through the DC Universe, keeping a quick pace as we run alongside The Bat in his otherworldly adventures. Doesn’t look like we’re in Gotham anymore…
Don’t worry though, you’ll get your bearings as Bruce gets his. Also, what’s the deal with that Fabergé Egg from the front cover? Aren’t jewels more of Catwoman’s gig?
Nick Derington and Dave Stewart work together and present us with a series that is visually compelling. Your eyes will be carried across pages in the exact way they are meant to, no guessing as to whether or not you’ve just read that right. But don’t take my word for it, just take a look for yourself!
The engaging page flow is brought to you by balanced colors and well planned layouts. Perspective is a main feature of the opening pages, and we have a chance to see the world as Bruce does through his cowl. Talk about being sucked into something, right? Batman Universe will have you hooked.
Plenty of panels with real-feel body movements and witty dialogue to keep your eyes and mind busy. We aren’t left without the more classic, big action Batman panels either… such as when Batman heaves his body through a window, shattering glass all over the venue and surprising diners while on his chase for The Riddler. Inside you’ll also find numerous splash pages and two page spreads. There’s a lot to take in, so give yourself a treat and go slow. Check below for my personal favorite page:
This series takes the cake on proper pacing! There is just the right amount of suspense behind every action (big or small), and dialogue maintains a smooth, natural flow throughout the series. The creative team behind Batman Universe also takes advantage of one of comics’ most powerful features: the page turn. You’ll know what I mean when you pick up a copy and see for yourself!
But it doesn’t stop at the plot and art…This Bruce plays well in the sandbox. Bendis sprinkles in a healthy dose of other characters here and there, and while he doesn’t use many folks from the beloved batfam, that’s a-OK. The DC Universe has plenty of other colorful characters to chose from, all of whom Batman can capably work with well. Oliver Queen gives Bruce a surprise visit beginning in #1, and while they didn’t mean to be working together, sometimes your targets just land you on the same case. I guess that’s just how it is in the world of vigilantism.
Hal Jordan finds himself unexpectedly dragged along with Bruce, where they are taken to Dinosaur Island and discover the true master behind the mayhem! Yet, Hal and Bruce never have the opportunity to execute a plan. One moment they’re crouching in a cave, and the next they’re hastily tossed through time, only to be promptly discovered in the Wild Wild West by none other than Jonah Hex! For anyone wondering what a vigilante bat and a brightly dressed intergalactic lawman would choose for their cowboy threads, look no further. Additionally, for those of you missing that good Dick, there is plenty to be had here. The Ric Grayson arc has left many fans wanting for more, and in Batman Universe we have ourselves some time with good ol’ Dick Grayson. He’s here, he’s fun, and he’s down to do perform sweet acrobatics for our amusement. But it doesn’t just stop with Dick. Alfred is alive and well, dishing out nonstop sass and talking to Bruce along the way. Be ready to laugh as Alfred speaks his mind on Bruce’s character.
Overall, Batman Universe is a fast paced, lighthearted story that doesn’t take itself too seriously. While many may know DC for that grim-dark feel, Batman Universe gives us a break from all that. Interestingly, while Bruce goes all over the place and works alongside many of his friends, Bendis maintains the feeling that this is a Batman story… Not something where Batman’s a side piece (such as Justice League). Bruce remains front and center, but can still share the spotlight.
SO, SHOULD I BUY IT?
While I can’t tell you what to do, I would certainly suggest adding this series to your Batman collection. This is something I’ve already found myself going back to again and again, and each time I find myself smiling and laughing. If you don’t want to drop dollars on the hardcover, the single issues are fairly easy to get your hands on at less of an expense to your wallet. Also, if you have the DC Universe app, this series is released monthly (currently on #2)!
THE BATMAN’S GRAVE
The Batman’s Grave draws you in with a soft opening featuring our most beloved caretaker, Alfred, as he tends to garden graves. There’s just enough panels to evoke a pause before the action heats up in the streets of Gotham. Nothing remains quiet in Bruce’s world for too long, after all. Still, Gotham’s alleyways are not the prime focus of this detective story…Alfred leads Batman elsewhere and the chase begins.
This mystery unfurls slowly, at times like molasses rolling downhill (#2 scarcely has dialogue, but if you love watching Batman punch a baddie for 10 pages then have at it). Aside from beating up villains (and trust me, Batman goes HAM), Warren Ellis gives us a peek into how his Bruce moves his way through a case. Bruce breaks down the clues and explains his thought processes quite clearly, even stepping into the lives of the victims. Which is a treat for those of us in the audience. In The Batman’s Grave, Bruce does more than sit at his Bat-computer in the Batcave before coming to a quick conclusion and solving the case with ease. This story’s villain and his motives remain unknown for some time, and Bruce struggles with putting the pieces together. Both in and out of costume, the caped crusader reviews the case and his ideas with Alfred, but Alfred isn’t only a sounding board and expert suturer. As always, Alfred has a mind of his own, helping Bruce to some interesting conclusions as the series continues. Though, none of this is without some quick quips at Bruce’s expense.
There are some nice little nuggets in Ellis’s writing when it comes to the other characters we meet as Bruce gathers more information. Bruce quiet nature acts as a perfect sounding board for the thoughts, opinions, and jokes of others. All of which he takes in stride…such as when The Bat pays a visit to Arkham…and is greeted with a question.
What psychologist doesn’t want the chance to psychoanalyze a grown man, dressed as a bat who “gets hit in the head 28 times every night?” (Superman’s own words, y’all.)
The Batman’s Grave, without a doubt, is jam packed with action! Fists fly constantly, and there is no shortage of batarangs slicing through the air or their targets. But don’t expect to see any other baby bats or birds flying around Gotham at Bruce’s side… This detective story is as solo as it gets for Batman, save for a brief run through Arkham Asylum with Police Commissioner Jim Gordan. Still, unlike other mysteries Batman faces, The Batman’s Grave is a little more cut and dry, Batman doesn’t exactly need anyone else working with him too closely… At least not yet. #10, #11, and #12 are yet to be released!
Interestingly, Ellis dives a bit deeper into Bruce’s nighttime gig as The Batman, often using Alfred and Jim to talk about Gotham’s (and Bruce’s) problems. Here and there writers have mentioned the corruption within the GCPD, but Ellis goes a little further. Specifically, we have panels where Jim is asked to walk away from a scene, but Batman doesn’t throw him any shade for it. Jim always has and always will do his best for Gotham. He can’t fight everyone, we have Batman for that. Meanwhile, in the cave, we are given a closer look at Alfred’s concern for not only Gotham’s crime problem, but Bruce’s choice in just how to address it. Ellis gets a little more personal with Bruce’s motivations to be The Bat, as well as the true to life problems happening around Gotham city. Sure, we don’t have super villains running around in the real world, but corruption isn’t a new concept to us.
Bryan Hitch’s pencils and inks are always a treat, and he gives a real life feel to every character he puts on the page. Take care as you read through, there is a lot to see when it comes to background details and subtle facial expressions. Not a single detail is forgotten (unless you count the mishap from #9). Hitch also performs an incredible artistic feat… For the numerous amount of action panels we find Bruce blowing through, none of Batman’s moves have a recycled feel to them. Each fight is as fresh as the last!
Just how will Batman face off against this new villain now that he’s finally put the pieces together? #9 saw a big reveal and Bruce shed some light on just who we’ve been chasing after. Bruce created Batman to level the playing field… but what if that’s what this criminal feels they’re doing. Can Gotham City Police Department, Jim Gordan, and Batman handle a foe who is waging war against Gotham’s justice system (or what’s really more a lack of)? We’re all going to find out together because that’s where September’s issue will pick up!
SO, SHOULD I BUY IT?
The Batman’s Grave is a series I selected on a whim, looking to spice up my monthly dose of Gotham’s favorite cryptid creature. This series is ongoing, but by the time this story is published we will be nearing 10 out of 12 issues, with the hardcover coming out in March 2021. If you don’t want to wait that long, I’d say pick this up! Things were really heating up for Batman at the end of #9 and I’m dying to know where that leads him in #10! The Batman’s Grave features some fantastic variant covers, so if you’re on the hunt for single issues instead of waiting for the hardcover, definitely take a look around.
AND WITH THAT, THANK YOU
My Local Comic Shop has informed me that this week’s shipment of DC has been delayed due to some unfortunate weather related circumstances. Talkative Tuesday #2 will be moved to Thursday, but I will still be posting this coming Tuesday regardless of delays. Normally, I’d give y’all some sort of idea, but even I don’t know what will replace Tuesday’s issue review. Guess we’ll find out. Thanks for reading and see you Tuesday!