These title cards are awesome.
In fact, the whole visual aesthetic of this series is pretty outstanding so far. Save for a few notable exceptions, I downright love the look of this crossover and will keep insisting that Jon Sommariva be given a new animated series-style Batman book and soon. It’s a match that makes perfect sense, and I hope this series is successful enough that he garners more attention.
But man, that title card. I liked the look of the one from the previous issue well enough, thinking that it would stay pretty much the same for the duration of the series. It’s obvious now, though, that the design will be changing with each issue, which is just further proof that the creative team cares enough about this mini to put a little more thought into things.
To a point, that is true, though it’s mostly on the visual end of the spectrum. As fun as it is and as great as the two properties are, the story just isn’t delivering yet.
The narrative shortcomings don’t come quite where you’d think they would, though. It’s easy to think that this would be derivative of the earlier, truly excellent Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles crossover. While there are obviously some similarities, Adventures doesn’t feel like a “kiddie” version of the earlier series. The similarities are in things that are almost impossible to work around, such as the need to get the characters to cross dimensions and universes to meet. No, where this book falls short is in the smaller details.
I mean, as small as the characterization of the Joker can be. And given that he’s, you know, Batman’s greatest foe, that can be a bit of a problem.
There’s nothing outright out of character or even awful about Matthew Manning’s Joker, it’s just a bit all over the place. When we first see him he’s lounging in his cell in Arkham Asylum and he seems pretty laid back. Just reading a book, chilling out. You know how it is.
He’s annoyed with Harley and her attempt to break him out of the Asylum, which is pretty consistently Joker, but there’s just something about the dialogue that feels a little off. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is, just that it doesn’t quite fit with Joker’s personality.
Until they break out, that is, and then he does one of the most Joker things you can imagine.
Using dimensional vortexes and unconscious guards’ bodies for personal branding? Love that Joker.
Manning’s script gets better as it goes along, for the most part, and once Joker and Harley meet up with the Shredder it’s as great as you’d expect. Joker is not the least bit intimidated by the guy who has knives glued all over his body and he’s not afraid to let him know. It’s a great scene to be sure, but it’s still indicative of the main problem with this story so far: there isn’t a lot that happens. This issue is mostly set-up and meetings, and I even had to go back and skim through the first issue to remind myself of what happened there. Really, there wasn’t much to that issue either: we meet the Turtles, we meet Batman, we meet some villains, and we find out about the portals. This issue has a little more meat to its plot, but it’s still a relatively light read.
That’s not to say it isn’t enjoyable, because it absolutely is. It’s breezy and funny, and there’s a surprisingly solid extended fight scene toward the end, but a lot of that credit should go to Sommariva, Parsons, Lapointe and Ito for giving the book a great visual style. By and large everything looks really good, aside from a few strange character models, and even then it still evokes the classic Animated Series style and feel. The lion’s share of the truly great jokes are visual, too, which helps because a few of Manning’s lines are… pretty rough.
Even with a script that’s a little shaky in spots, I still like what this team is doing. It’s planted firmly in the Animated Series timeline, as evidenced by both Robin and Batgirl’s looks, and even Batman is a little less intense than other iterations portray him. Sure, he doesn’t exactly take kindly to a giant turtle pawing at his face through a weird dimensional anomaly, but he allows himself a smile when he observes Robin and Batgirl’s totally obvious feelings for each other (#DickAndBabs4Eva) and is quick to recognize that the Turtles aren’t actually his enemies. He’s focused and serious about his mission, but he’s still a human and a good guy.
While this may not be the grand slam I was hoping for, it’s still charming, innocent fun. The stream of constant cameos makes for an enjoyable ride, and when it works it really works. This may not be at the top of my pull list, but few books put such a genuine smile on my face these days.
BONUS: A slew of fun variants. Here’s my favorite for this month:
And since I don’t believe I did one last month, here are some great picks for the first issue:
- You like Batman.
- Specifically, Animated Series Batman.
- You also like the Ninja Turtles.
Overall: This is exactly what you think you’d get out of an animated-style Batman and Ninja Turtles crossover. I wish it was more than just “exactly what you think”, but when it works it works well. While a few small but significant scripting issues keep it from being great, the overall visual aesthetic and tone make this an enjoyable read. Hopefully this book will find its own identity in the next issue so as to become truly memorable, and even if it doesn’t I’d still like to see more Batman stories done in this style.