Neal Adams is an American comic book icon, he has a place in both the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame and the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame, and his work drawing Batman in the 70s has reverberated through the decades. And so it is no surprise that only a man with such a respected name in the industry could write such a god-awful POS like “Batman: Odyssey” and still find someone to publish it.
It seems to me like a complacent artist syndrome. We saw it with Frank Miller in comics and George Lucas with films. I mean, after the guy brought us Star Wars and Indiana Jones it’s not like anyone was going to raise their hand and say “Are you sure this midichlorian thing is the right way to go, George?” Sometimes creative people need outside input, some sort of criticism to keep them from going too far but creative minds that have been this successful for this long end up living in a bubble in which they think they can do no wrong because no one is willing to criticize them.
Comic book publishers have a real problem with thinking that a great penciler is automatically a competent writer. That’s rarely ever the case. And with Batman: Odyssey you get dialogue that looks like Super Dickery material on cocaine. And more disappointing than that is that the art should at least be good. It isn’t. Everyone in Batman: Odyssey looks like James Woods at least once per issue (no offense to James Woods). And all too often the characters have this weird donkey-hee-hawing agape mouth facial expression.
As far as the dialogue, inner monologue and prose go…not only is it bad…but there’s SO much of it. As we all know, a key part of Batman’s character is he’s a bit of a chatty Kathy, right? Wrong.
Batman never shuts up. He talks more than Deadpool! And he hate hates wearing a shirt. Oh, and he uses annoying tween girl phrases like “I hate hate ____” all the time. And the other characters are no better. Whenever someone isn’t talking, they have anywhere from 2 to 3 thought bubbles floating out of their ears. And this isn’t like rich, crime noir inner monologue stuff, either. These thoughts show us that these are idiotic characters existing in a world that uses dream logic.
THESE ARE ACTUAL IMAGES FROM BATMAN: ODYSSEY
THAT IS SERIOUSLY AN UNALTERED IMAGE FROM THIS SERIES
If you look at that pic of Alfred and instantly think he’s playing the “world’s smallest violin” then you clearly have a cleaner mind than I do.
I ordered this series on eBay about a month ago and it’s taken me this long to read them all. Each issue is more taxing that the last. After finally catching up I feel bad for ever giving any other comic a score close to a 1/10 because THIS is the new gold standard for a bad Batman comic…or should it be “brown standard” (poop joke! Yes!). This book has all the characters (and I mean ALL of them) you know and love, but they don’t act like themselves and they live in a world where everything is random and everyone over-reacts.
HOWEVER, watching a terrible movie and making wisecracks about it amongst a group of friends is a fun experience and if this was a film or a mini-series I would whole heartedly recommend it as something “so bad it’s good”, and maybe if you read this comic in a room full of friends who are all reading it at the same time or maybe displaying it on a projector/slide-show you could have a good laugh. But it’s just…it’s just bad. Let me break down what the plot is about. Well, let me TRY, because this thing…every time I finish an issue I say to myself “What the heck did I just read?!”
(Keep in mind that all of this happens over just 8 issues)
A shirtless Bruce Wayne is sitting in the batcave talking to an unseen person (could represent you or Neal Adams, we probably won’t know until the final issue). He sits there gabbing about his great odyssey which begins in his early days when he was a gun-toting Batman who had no armor incorporated into his suit. He boards a train and tries to take down some bad guys but gets shot. Then we start cutting back and forth in a nonlinear narrative in which Batman is now telling this story about the train to Robin (Dick Grayson) in order to teach him that guns are a hindrance. Then Man-Bat flies into the batcave, disrupting the dynamic duos’ training session and flies away with Robin. Batman doesn’t seem to care. Robin keeps chatting with Batman while all this is going on and ultimately brings Man-Bat down.
Batman and Robin have to fly to the pier (in the batMOBILE) because Riddler gave a riddle recently that’s answer was “mint” which means he’s at the mint, but Batman thinks that’s a distraction or something and goes to the pier instead. They leave Man-Bat unattended in the batcave where he is accosted by a larger man-bat that is really Ubu, Ra’s Al Ghul’s right hand man. There’s a bunch of bad guys at the pier who have the inventor of a hydrogen car and his daughter held hostage and they want to blow up the hydrogen car. Batman stops them then lectures them on why the hydrogen in this particular car will not explode.
Gordon catches the Riddler and brings him to Batman, but Batman figures out that this isn’t the real Riddler but an imposter. The imposter pulls out a gun and shoots the little girl and Batman gets so mad that he almost kills the guy…until someone else pipes in that she’s not really dead, she’ll be okay. We also cut back occasionally to Batman on the train and how he rescued an old lady and the folks on board thanks to scaring them with guns, but the train still blew up.
Talia Al Ghul shows up and says that the dinosaur bones boxed up on the pier belong to Ra’s Al Ghul and then a giant Neanderthal dressed as the Huntress shows up along with an evolved humanoid dinosaur Robin side-kick.
The Man-Bat-Ubu shows up too, and Huntress-Neanderthal wants to fight him and then Aquaman shows up and calls a sting ray out of the water to lance Ubu in the chest. Batman gets mad about this and dives into the water to retrieve Ubu. ARE YOU STILL WITH ME?
Ubu lives, the Neanderthal & Dino-Robin leave with Robin (I think that’s what happened…can’t remember), Aquaman leaves, and Talia shows Batman a family photo album that proves that the Waynes and Al Ghul’s are family friends and that Bruce and Talia knew each other as kids when Ra’s and Thomas tried to get in the oil business…or something.
Then we cut for no reason what so ever to a museum in which the Joker along with 3 other henchmen who look identical to the Joker brutally carve open the face of a guard. Batman arrives too late. But then Deadman takes over Joker’s body and they all go to Arkham Asylum where they find that the warden is the Sensei, Ra’s Al Ghul’s son. And that Sensei gave one of the Arkham doctors access to all the super villain weaponry and that turned the doctor into a super-villain named Trigger. Batman beats him up and then leaves.
By issue #7/#1 (because they were re-numbered with the start of New 52), Batman starts his odyssey. That’s right. It didn’t even start yet! The Neanderthal, Jamroth Bok, wants Batman to accompany him and dinosaur Robin to the “underworld” where dinosaurs and other long extinct creatures still exist. Ra’s Al Ghul shows up and tells Batman that he needs to stay behind because Sensei wants Ra’s dead because Ra’s didn’t tell Sensei about the Lazarus pit until he was too old to truly be “young forever”. Also, Batman’s supervillain fighting has been part of a larger plot to keep Batman distracted so he doesn’t foil crimes around the world…or something.
Alright, you’re all caught up now so I guess this should all make sense now, right? Right?…right?
ISSUE #8 REVIEW
Let me say one good thing about this book: I like the cover.
It’s interesting looking. But as interesting as it is, I don’t’ want it to be the cover of a Batman book. It’s much like how as interesting as this painting is…
…I don’t want it to be the Presidential portrait. Now, on to the book itself…
Ra’s Al Ghul kidnapped Jam Rock’s girlfriend and now Sensei has Talia captive in the underworld. The true odyssey begins as Jamrock and Batman team up to rescue their ladies.
This is an outrageous comic where Batman rides giant bats and T-Rexs, but it has none of the fun of Batman: Brave and the Bold and the events are so random that they carry no excitement or dramatic value. It does, however, have Bruce Wayne wearing a shirt on the intro page which is a Batman: Odyssey first.
What is also a first in the series is that it’s the first time that the content itself is repeated. I’ve never seen this happen in a comic before. It’s not that Neal Adams is recapping, but that he is showing us the exact same moment again, but with the captions and page layouts tweaked slightly. I mean, we saw Batman and Jambroth flying on bats in the last issue…yet here Batman is discovering the bats for the first time. In the last issue, Batman brought down a team of Sensei’s cave-men riding on T-Rexs…yet here Batman is discovering them for the first time. And the moment in which a T-Rex grabs his cape is lifted directly from issue #1/7!
This is followed by a scene in which Batman charges at the T-Rex while thinking “I don’t like this. I don’t like this. I don’t like this. I don’t like this! I don’t like it. I REALLY don’t like it.” Which, funny enough, is the same thing I’ve been thinking the whole time I’ve read this comic.
I don’t know…criticizing the logic of the story is a waste of time. It’s Batman going to the center of the earth where there are lost species that all speak English because they have TV and radio down there and…this is just stupid and I can’t enjoy it at all. And I don’t see how anyone looking for a Batman story could enjoy it either. There doesn’t seem to be a point here and the fact that it’s going to continue for another five issues is insane. Even DC doesn’t seem to care about this book. Look how long of a hiatus this thing went on between issues 6 and 7—almost a year! And judging by how this issue features identical panels as issue #7 it looks like the editor doesn’t even read this book. It’s as if everyone feels obligated to give Neal Adams a series of his own because he did so much good in the past. Everyone is obligated to give him his own series no matter how awful it is. What’s most offensive is that this whole center of the earth “Earth expanding like a geode” nonsense we’re getting into in the series seems to be Neal Adams attempt at turning Batman: Odyssey into a soapbox for him to preach about the “theory of an expanding earth” making this series offensive on multiple levels.