Batman: Universe - Volumes 4-6
Written by: Brian Michael Bendis
Art by: Nick Derington
Colored by: Dave Stewart
Letters by: Josh Reed & Tom Napolitano
Reviewed by: Joe Bones
Genre: Comic Book
Issues four through six of Batman: Universe wrap up the story originally published in the Wal-Mart exclusive Batman Giant. This mini-series contains a fun Batman story in between a lot of scenes that feel like filler. In this mini-series Batman has been tracking a stolen Fabergé egg across both time and galaxy. There is more to the egg than is apparent on the surface, and it seems to possess strange powers. The final three issues continue the search for the egg and reveal the mysteries behind its origin and abilities.
In my opinion, writer Brian Michael Bendis excels at writing character scenes, but struggles with the storylines that actually feature those characters. The disconnect between these two literary staples is the biggest flaw with Batman: Universe. For a linear story, the pacing is often very slow. His dialogue is witty and there were many interactions between characters that made me laugh out loud. Although there are a lot of these cool character moments, I find the dialogue in this mini-series to be really flat. All his characters’ dialogue reads very much the same, regardless of their personal background or the time period in which they live. In a galaxy/time spanning adventure, it’s odd that all the characters would speak so similarly. I did really enjoy the final twist at the end of the fifth issue. The source of the Fabergé egg’s power was very surprising and led into an exciting conclusion.
Derington’s art in this mini-series is good, but rarely does it seem like the script gives him the chance to draw to his full potential. Most of the time he’s stuck drawing static scenes where the characters are just standing around talking to each other. Luckily, each issue of Batman: Universe has had at least one really cool action scene, and Issues Four through Six were no exception. Issue Four features a fight between cowboys and ninjas. I really enjoyed that this fight scene was done in a twelve-panel grid format. This format really granted this fight scene fluidity. Issue Five contains a well drawn two page spread showing Batman and Nightwing infiltrating a submarine. From an artistic prospective, this was probably my favorite scene in the entire mini-series.
In the last year, Bendis has really made his mark on the DC Universe with his work on Young Justice, Superman, and Action Comics. Batman: Universe was his chance to work his magic on the Caped Crusader. Unfortunately, I don’t believe he made the most of this opportunity. The story in this mini-series suffers from problems with pacing. Funny moments and high energy action scenes are interspersed with boring, exposition heavy dialogue. The artwork is what you’d expect from a main stream DC comic. Luckily, there are moments in each issue where the art gets a chance to rise above DC’s normal “house” style and deliver some expertly drawn action sequences. Fans of Bendis will assuredly enjoy this mini-series. For those who aren’t big fans of Bendis, or have never read any of his other works, it might be best to skip reading this mini-series.