Batman: Odyssey hardcover review

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So you’re perusing the graphic novels at your local comic shop when something catches your eye, something you’ve never seen before: Batman riding a pterodactyl. You say to yourself “What the **** did I just look at?”

You’re certain you must have seen that wrong. It was probably a Man-Bat adventure of some sort. It was Man-Bat, right? Had to be. That at least makes some sense when you think about everything you know about Batman. But no! You look again and there’s Batman riding a pterodactyl, pulling the reigns strapped to the flying dinosaur coaxing it to soar ever higher. You are looking at Batman Odyssey, arguably the most insane Batman story ever written.

Content

There are a lot of Batman comics out there. Detective Comics, The Dark Knight, Incorporated, Arkham Unhinged, etc. etc. A lot! A wide variety to cater to everyone’s preference be it a campy Batman, a dark and gritty Batman, a Batman who brawls, or a Batman who uses his brains. It’s all out there, but none of them are anything like the 13-part acid-trip that is Batman Odyssey.

Everyone was excited for this thing to come out. It’s written and drawn by Neal Adams, after all! The man is Batman royalty. His work, particularly with Denny O’Neil, is legendary and the idea of Adams doing his own 13 part original story that would take us back to Batman’s early days had many fans salivating over what could very well be a classic in the making. The first images showed a Batman who even wielded guns like he did in a few panels back in 1939 and in Batman: Year Two

Beautiful. Everyone became even more intrigued with what was to come, but few readers really expected…this

And nobody, absolutely nobody expected THAT to turn into THIS in only five or six issues

When talking about Batman Odyssey, it’s very hard to know where exactly I should start. It isn’t so much a story as it is an experience to be had! Not a good experience, but an experience that you can say “Hey buddy, I survived Batman Odyssey!” THAT kind of experience. It’s a series of events that make no logical sense, each more ridiculous than the last. It’s something that you’ll want to be familiar with just so you can laugh about it with friends or perhaps other Batman purists, you could even use it as a test– if you ask someone who Jamroth is and they don’t know, well they haven’t been through the shit like you have! They’ve never seen Batman like this before. They’ve never gone on the odyssey!

It’s tough finding the right words to describe it and numbers to rate it. At first I gave each issue a 1/10. Absolutely terrible. It was a $4 comic and a struggle to read every single time. Yet as much as I hated it I also loved talking about it. Laughing about it. Eventually I stopped using my typical scale of 1- don’t buy, 5-flip through it before you make a choice, and 10-must buy and developed a new Crazy Points system. It wasn’t about judging it on traditional terms of quality, it was about seeing which issue of Odyssey was the strangest! Even now with the graphic novel in hand I like to flip to the most ridiculous sections and book mark them so I can show them off later.

How did it come to this? I don’t know. I don’t know in what world this would be a coherent story. It’s not for kids, it’s not for adults, it’s not for the grim 80s/90s crowd, but it’s not for the lovers of the silver age either. It’s all over the map! Writer and artist Neal Adams isn’t famous because he’s a writer, he’s famous because he’s an artist. And as we’ve seen with other Bat-titles, pencilers don’t always make the best authors–however, you’ve never seen such a drastic difference in creative ability as Neal Adams’ drawing and writing. Neal is an outspoken advocate of the hollow earth theory and when you take a man who believes in a hollow earth and give him the freedom to do whatever he wants in a comic book you really shouldn’t be all that shocked to end up with a story about superheroes traveling to the center of the earth narrated by a shirtless Batman.

It’s campy…

It can look unintentionally (or maybe intentionally) raunchy

It can be dark and gory one minute…

 And wacky the next!

With pop culture references

And surprises on every page

All gloriously played out by characters that look like a combination of this…

And this

See?

You want to know what Batman Odyssey is? Batman Odyssey is the comic book equivalent to a cult film. It’s the Batman fan’s The Room

Our Troll 2

Our Wicker Man

Batman Odyssey is a comic that is so BAD that it is GOOD.

For a more in depth look at each issue of Batman Odyssey, click here.

Supplemental Material

There’s a pinup image by Josh Adams, but that’s it.

Value

It’s in a nice hardcover and with 13 comic books in all it’s definitely got a lot of content that’ll take you a good long while to read. You’re also saving money by purchasing it as a hardcover because each individual comic was $3.99 making all those comics add up to $51.87 (not including tax) so it appears to be an alright deal. But wait, there’s more! Amazon is offering it for $17.64! That’s a savings of 41% off the cover price!

Overall

Batman Odyssey is so bad that it’s good. I’ll never read it again, but I’ll always want to open it up and flip to the most wacky parts and laugh at just how terrible it is. This is a comic that you’ll force your friends to read just so you can make fun of it together, it’s like seeing a truly disgusting internet video and then sharing the link with everyone on your friend’s list. It’s so awful that it is astounding.

SCORE: The craziest ****ing thing I’ve ever read.

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