Quarantine Book Club – Batman: Overdrive

Welcome back to the Batman News Quarantine Book Club, where this week we will be covering two books! For the price of none, no less! The first book on our list Batman: Overdrive, by Shea Fontana and Marcelo Di Chiara. This story follows a fifteen-year-old Bruce Wayne, who’s on a mission to repair his dad’s old car… and while he’s at it, solve the mystery of who killed his parents. I actually had the honour of interviewing Shea Fontana back in March, and it was a genuinely wonderful (and educational) experience! Please give it a look if you have the time, as it will work as a companion piece to many of the topics we discuss here, as well as showcase some of Fontana’s other work.

Now, the discussion! 

Josh: We always start with me asking everyone’s opinion on the book selected for the week, and while I want to know that, I also want to know your general thoughts on covering some young reader titles.

Michael: I haven’t read many of DC’s young reader offerings up until this week, but was excited to see how writers would adjust some of Batman/Bruce’s darker aspects for children. 

Josh: Same here. I’ve only read one prior to this, and it was to assist Matina with a review back when she first started. I shared your excitement for seeing how they’d translate the Batman/ Bruce for children though. 

Casper: I generally don’t read young reader books, either. There are probably a few exceptions, but I’m just not really interested in reading these kinds of comics for myself. This book, in particular, has some aspects that I like, but overall it’s still not really for me. I can see some younger readers having fun with this, though.

Nick: I feel like I often enjoy comics geared to younger audiences much more when I take the time to give them a chance. Reading Overdrive is something I did for an interview with the writer, Shea Fontana, and I honestly had a great time with it – so I was excited to suggest this for the club.

Matina: I’m the odd one out here in that I enjoy exploring the young readers titles DC’s been putting out. I’ve had mixed feelings about a lot of them, especially some of the earlier titles, but I think they’ve started to find a groove lately in a lot of them. My first introduction to Batman was as a kid, and I can’t say for certain that I’d be reading Batman today if I hadn’t been fascinated with him as a child and I think that’s probably the same for a lot of people. So I love the idea of telling these stories for a younger audience. Plus, I think it provides another sandbox for writers to play in and a different kind of story to tell. 

Casper: What you say about it providing another sandbox is true! That’s definitely a good thing, and I’m all for it.

Josh: And I think we can honestly say that we all probably stumbled onto Batman as kids, whether it be through comics, animated series, or live-action films/ television. But, yes, it is nice to have something targeted towards specific audiences, especially if you’re a parent. It can give you some peace of mind that you’re giving your child something age-appropriate. Or, perhaps you just want something that the entire family can share. 

Batman: Overdrive gets to have a lot of fun, because while it does feature elements of Batman’s mythos – as well as a strong focus on Bruce’s youth – cars are front and center here! What are your thoughts on using cars as a… vehicle… to drive this story. 

Nick: Boo.

Michael: I’m not really a car guy, but I did think the concept of Bruce reconnecting with his father by rebuilding his old car is a great device. 

Josh: I’m not a car guy either, which is ironic because my dad and brothers are, but I agree. I loved that the creative team used cars as the catalyst for Bruce to find and discover a “living” connection to his father. It’s a little cliche, but it makes sense and feels believable for Bruce. 

Nick: Vroom. That’s me, Nick Finch, giving you the scoop on cars. 

Matina: I also enjoyed this aspect of the story. I like not only that it explores him connecting with his dad, but also just that it kind of shows his aptitude for cars and fixing things that could eventually turn into him as an adult working on a real Batmobile. 

Casper: Yeah, good point. That adds more of an emotional weight to the Batmobile too, when you consider that Bruce learned how to build and fix cars while working on his dad’s old car.

Josh: Exactly! This is one of the things that I never thought about, but if we’re going to look at Batman today, in the standard comic medium, and him having all of his talents, he would’ve had to have started young with basics. This covers the car aspect perfectly, and opens up a plethora of narrative options to explore, while also creating a practical, and emotionally resonant, foundation to Bruce’s knowledge and love of cars.

And now I can’t help but think of the line, “It’s the car. Chicks dig the car.” Haha!

Nick: It’s also nice to see it as a gradual progression. It’s not one sudden upgrade, but gradual tinkering until it becomes something more recognizable as the Batmobile we see today. I wasn’t sure about the Batmobile as the book’s central motif, but I honestly like the fresh way it presents the narrative for an audience.

Michael: It is a shame again that Bruce’s mother is once again shunted aside for more father-son trappings but I digress. I could have done without a bat flying out of the hood and being called the Batmobile almost immediately.

Casper: Bruce’s connection to his dad and cars is one of the things that I did like in this book, but I agree that it’s a shame that Martha is pretty much left out. On the other hand, I do appreciate that Bruce is able to connect with his dad through this activity. It kind of gives Bruce a purpose and a way to focus his emotions in a meaningful way.

Josh: Yeah, we always here people talking about what to do with a character that’s been around for 80 years. Well, I think some newness could come from exploring Martha a little more. There’s no denying that. I do get the father/son aspect, but I do think there’s plenty to explore with Martha as well. 

Nick: I get the motivation Shea Fontana might have to explore a father-son dynamic in this book – DC Superhero Girls obviously spends most of its time on the women of DC, and I think tapping into a relationship like this was a wise call for both something new and for trying to branch out in the dynamics you’re writing. 

Josh: I can see that! Casper, you commented on Bruce finding a way to focus on his emotions in a meaningful way – and we will definitely touch on that later – but I feel as though he’s also able to do this through his friendships with Mateo and Selina. What did you all think of these two and their roles in the book?

Matina: As often as we hear Batman works alone, he never really works alone, and that’s true here. Selina and Mateo worked really well in this story to push Bruce into opening up, trusting, and growing from the sullen character we meet at the opening. They’re one of the biggest driving forces behind his character development in this story, and I feel like without them this would have been a much harder read. 

Casper: I didn’t pay as much attention to them, but that makes total sense. I definitely appreciate these characters in this book a lot more now. Especially Mateo.

Nick: Mateo is a great addition to Batman’s allies, especially in this universe – someone to help him build that Batmobile also makes a nice thematic connection to Bruce rebuilding a relationship with his father. I like the variety his presence added, especially when comparing his family dynamics to Bruce and Alfred’s. His hero name is a bit lame though.

Michael: I liked Mateo a lot, though I do wish we got to explore his personal life a little more. There’s a lot of off-panel developments with him and his home life that were mentioned but never delved into. It makes sense since he’s a side character, but there was a potential to dig a little deeper. 

Casper: I think that’s exactly the kind of depth that I was missing for Mateo. I think, as it stands, he’s a relatively forgettable character for me, but that kind of depth would’ve made him more memorable. I guess it’s a bit of a missed opportunity, but at the same time I don’t think that it hurts the overall story too much, if at all.

Josh: Yeah, part of me suspects that the intention is to possibly make these young reader lines a series. It’s what they did with Superhero Girls – which Shea Fontana is well known for – so it would make sense that DC would approach this as potentially being able to become its own brand as well. That might allow for more development there. I also think we need to keep in mind that the length of the book is crucial when writing for children as well. We’re more disciplined at our age, so it’s not as hard to maintain our attention. 

Any thoughts on Selina?

Michael: Selina was fine too and her mini-arc was fun to track if not wholly predictable. I just wasn’t too crazy about seeing all of Bruce’s later rogues as kids.

Josh: Yeah, the rogues were a little odd – especially Lady Shiva – but they were probably there for a fun nod more than anything else. As for Selina, I actually loved what Fontana did with her here. She kept the core elements of the character that has spanned decades. She’s a thief that straddles the line between what’s right and wrong, and also has an interest in Bruce that is complicated by both of their lifestyles. If there were ever a way to translate Catwoman for children, this felt perfect. 

Nick: Yeah, agreed. The hand-holding scene is one of my favourites in the book, and the chase scene where Selina calls Bruce out for how he’s acting is a really strong moment – Selina not being in the book would really have lowered my enjoyment of it.

Josh: I think my favorite supporting character in the book is Alfred though! I mean, I may be biased because I love Alfred, but still. 

Casper: Alfred was probably the one character that I really appreciated in this book as well. He’s just good old Alfred, you know? 

Matina: Yes! I loved Alfred in this. You’re right Casper, he was good old Alfred, and Alfred brightens up any book for me. 

Josh: Definitely! From the cookies, to his connection with Bruce, and to the eventual reveal pertaining to Alfred and the car. I loved all of it. But… The angle of Bruce suspecting Alfred of murdering his parents… We have to talk about this. 

Michael: It was infuriating at first when Bruce started suspecting Alfred as being behind his parents’ deaths, but once I reminded myself I’m dealing with a teenage Bruce in a YA book I chilled out. If you get past some of the bratty behavior there’s a great arc to Alfred and Bruce’s relationship, particularly in the reveal that Alfred had been helping Bruce on his mission all along.

Josh: Something he will, no doubt, be doing for years to come. Haha!

Casper: I think it’s a fun reverse of the typical “the butler did it” scenario that you see in some older “whodunnits,” which just works particularly well in the context of a book for younger readers. However, I do have to say that Bruce suspecting Alfred for a while didn’t entirely work for me either, and that’s not because I dislike that in itself, but really because I already knew that Alfred didn’t do it. So, the whole thing became a little bit tedious to read. I guess it works better for readers who have little to no experience with Batman stories.

Matina: Yeah, I generally wasn’t a fan of framing Alfred as a suspect in this story. In the world of the story I totally get how Bruce would come to that conclusion, but that really goes against how I typically view them, which is very close, even when Bruce was young. 

Nick: Bruce, in general, is very prickly in this story, a lot more so than I was expecting – and that really shows when he’s interacting with Alfred. I’d almost say it borders on mean-spirited if it weren’t a short book that does a nice job of tying it all together near the end. As an aside, I love the way the chapters are structured, with little symbols relating to different characters on a car dashboard. I’m reminded of it now because of the final chapter being very Alfred-focused!

Josh: Casper touched on something that I hadn’t thought of, and that’s the fact that younger readers probably don’t know much about Alfred. That reality changes my entire stance on all of this thread way more juicy than I’d originally imagined it being. 

That being said, I was going to say that I feel this moment could have been more effective if Bruce didn’t necessarily think Alfred killed his parents, but just questioned the trust he had for Alfred. Again… Casper dropped a bombshell realization on me, so I’m torn now. 

Matina: One more thing. The change in Alfred’s backstory also bothered me a bit? 

Josh: Haha! I love that you phrased that as a question! I’m sorry, go ahead.

Matina: Haha! Yeah…I mean, I get why it was done but at the same time I think things could have still worked if written slightly differently. The way a lot of these titles for younger readers insist on changing origins/backstories is one of the biggest problems I have in general with a lot of these titles because it makes it harder for readers to jump to other stories that stuck with original backstories (or changed them again). 

Josh: I wasn’t bothered too much by any of Alfred’s backstory. By this point, I’ve read so many different interpretations of Alfred that I’ve grown to approach every book wondering how that team will utilize him as a character. 

I’m going to assume that his past as a driver for the Falcone family is what you’re referring to. I didn’t mind that. I can’t remember what book it is, but there’s a story that touches on Thomas Wayne being called to patch up members of the mob as an “on call” doctor of sorts. It’s almost presented in the same format. It sets it up as if he may not have been this knight in shining armor as presented, but ultimately he was forced into an ultimatum of help the mob or risk his family getting hurt. This almost felt like a nod towards that. 

Nick: After having played the Telltale games, I feel pretty good about backstories that link the Waynes to the Falcones – it’s instantly a compelling dynamic, so I liked how Alfred was the compromised character in this book.

Josh: And speaking of the Falcones… Let’s talk about them and the overall “mission” in this book. 

Michael: For me this was the weakest part of the book. The character interactions and general themes were pretty good, but the actual plot left a lot to be desired. I don’t necessarily think tying Bruce’s investigation of who killed his parents to the car theft storyline was the best angle to take. It adds a certain degree of stakes, but to me the two stories never really felt like they gelled together. I do like that Bruce never finds out who killed his parents and that the Falcones had nothing to do with it though. I think Fontana gets a lot of things right in her delicate handling of Bruce’s trauma and its potential to never be resolved. I just wish the actual plotting was more engaging. 

Josh: I agree. Bruce’s detective work to find his parents’ killer, and the plot connecting the Falcone family with cars felt clunky. In general, I thought there was more that could’ve been done with the Falcone family, even if it was just through the son. Honestly, I think Alberto’s role in the story was what really let me down. The first thing we’re introduced to in the book is Bruce’s struggle with Alberto. I wish the team would’ve played into that more when Bruce found out the Falcone’s were behind the chop shop, and during Bruce’s final confrontation. I mean, he never beat the kid in martial arts class. We should’ve seen some hints of self-doubt during these moments. 

Nick: I understand a lot of that, and I think if the book had more time I really would have liked to see that dynamic more personal, to see Alberto and Bruce’s opposing themes directly clash, as opposed to their battle being primarily plot-driven. There are hints of a deeper layer to Carmine Falcone and Alberto’s relationship, but it isn’t explored as much as I’d like it to be. That said, I like using them as villains instead of the typical crowd!

Josh: Seems we’re on the same page! I want to talk about Bruce’s overall depiction. I think there’s a lot to unpack here, so I’m interested to hear each of your thoughts.  

Michael: I always enjoy getting a look at Bruce’s early days and generally think the time after his parents’ murder but before his Batman days is ripe for further exploration. If anything, I think his relationship with Alfred is the key to mining the most depth out of a young Bruce and thankfully Overdrive does explore that.

Nick: y e s .

Josh: I completely agree. Usually when we see Bruce in his youth, it’s prior to his parents’ death, immediately after it, or of him as a young adult after he’s already started training to become Batman. I like seeing him during these more formative years. 

Casper: I’m actually not a fan of the way Bruce is written here. There were moments that I felt like I was reading Damian instead. I don’t imagine a teenage Bruce to be this kind of smug and sometimes arrogant; it just doesn’t work for me because I don’t see this version of the character becoming the Bruce Wayne that we all know and love. To be clear, I like Damian and I have nothing against a protagonist with these traits, but I just didn’t feel like I was reading a Batman comic most of the time.

Matina: You know, I wasn’t too bothered by his smugness reading through the book. I read it as a defense mechanism against a lot of his insecurities, and something he would eventually set aside as his relationships with those around grew stronger. I do agree that this Bruce doesn’t feel like one who might grow into the canon version we see, but in a book aimed at kids, I don’t read it as too much of a problem. The book still touches on a lot of good elements of him.

Casper: For kids, it might not be that much of a problem, but I’d still like to see at least some level of consistency. Like I said, I really don’t see this kid growing up to become Batman. He’s still a fun character in the story, but it just doesn’t really match the idea of Batman for me. It’s one thing to write a kid version of a well-known superhero in the way that you like, but I think the real challenge lies in figuring out exactly who that superhero would have been as a kid. Even if it’s not as much of a problem for younger readers, the writing still needs to be on point.

Matina: I get that 100%. It’s my biggest problem with the younger readers titles, and maybe it’s because I’ve read some stories with much worse character assassination than this one that I’m giving it an easier time. But I do get the desire for consistency, I’ve lamented to friends many times that I want these titles to have to follow similar rules to those of regular comics i.e. keeping the characters consistent because it doesn’t do the character justice or give readers the right expectations if they’re going to explore other titles. Still, I feel like this Bruce did have elements of future Bruce that I enjoyed and felt hinted at a future Bruce, like his detective skills (even if they were off the mark from time to time) and his desire to do good.

Michael: I’m somewhere in the middle on this topic. 

Josh: Same. 

Nick: 🎵Matina to the left of me, Casper to the right, here I am, stuck in the middle with-🎵 no actually I agree with Matina a little more, but I see Casper’s point. I honestly like seeing Bruce, who is ultimately still a teenage rich kid, be a little arrogant, stuck-up and isolated; especially after what he went through. He reminded me of a lot of my friends, and how it’s really a phase people go through – and how good it is to see them come out the other side.

Michael: It didn’t necessarily feel like Bruce to me, but viewed through the lens of a YA book this version does tick a lot of boxes of that type of protagonist. I don’t think it was a good idea to try and shoehorn a lot of the bat-themed imagery into the book if we’re going to be so far removed from a more traditional Bruce. If anything, it just calls more attention to how different this book’s take is.

Josh: Oh, see, this is where we depart. Haha! I loved the bat-themed imagery. I have to imagine that kids are going to find all of that super exciting. More than anything, I thought Bruce was a little impulsive here, but I also have to remember who this is written for, and how that audience thinks. As kids, we process and understand things differently, so I agree with what Matina mentioned earlier about Bruce’s reactions being a defense mechanism. Plus, we need to keep in mind that as kids, everything always seems and feels more dramatic than it actually is, which, as a result, creates a more dramatic reaction out of them. 

Matina: Something else I want to talk about regarding young Bruce is how the book deals with his trauma. In a kid’s title I really wasn’t expecting it to focus so much on how Bruce is dealing with losing his parents, or dive into this idea of survivor’s guilt with him. But I think it’s done really well, because there are a number of moments across the story where I, as a reader, wasn’t really expecting him to have a flashback –like when he’s in the kitchen trying to cook– and that to me feels so real. I think it’s good of the writers to have included it, because it shows an example to kids who might also be dealing with trauma of some kind that they aren’t alone. 

Michael: Yeah I was surprised that the book touched on some of the deeper issues with surviving such a traumatic event. I think it’s good that a book for younger readers doesn’t shy away from these topics, but it can be very tricky to balance the tone. I thought Fontana did a good job in that aspect.

Josh: You know, this surprised me as well, and I wasn’t sure how I felt about it at first. I actually sat on my couch for a while processing this because the subject matter is quite mature, and the book, tonally, is much more light-hearted concerning everything else. It made me wonder if Fontana was almost straddling two different age groups here.

Ultimately – and I’m about to get incredibly personal here, so I apologize – but I lost my cousin about ten years ago due to murder. She has two sons, and they were both under the age of seven at the time. When I thought of it from that perspective, it didn’t feel as though Bruce focusing on the loss of his parents was too heavy. Who knows how they felt growing up. So, there are kids that probably need this. And it doesn’t even need to be murder. Any kid that loses their parent(s) at an early age goes through something that I’d say most of their peers can’t connect with. So, yeah… It’s deep, but I thought it was handled incredibly well. 

Casper: I think we shouldn’t underestimate what sorts of topics kids can handle. I think it’s good that a topic such as Bruce’s trauma is presented to them within the safe context of a comic book. This is the power of art: it can teach many concepts, especially to children, that otherwise might be hard(er) to explain to them. I agree that the creative team did a good job here, because it’s definitely not easy to pull off!

Josh: Good point, Casper. I agree that we shouldn’t underestimate kids. Also, I grew up in a generation where sharing your feelings was kind of taboo, and I think we’re seeing now that’s not the healthiest approach. But, yeah, I don’t envy writers who focus on content for young readers. When I first started writing professionally, I was asked what I thought was the hardest thing to write, and I said “content for children.” It’s so challenging. You’re essentially trying to write something on two levels – for children and their parents – and then you have to consider the subject matter, how to handle it, what is and isn’t age-appropriate, etc. The creative team definitely handled this well. 

Nick: Honestly, it’s definitely one of the better depictions of the Wayne flashback that we’ve covered so far, if only for the fact that the impact really carries through the story, yet stays accessible for its audience. It’s a very difficult balance, and I appreciate you shedding some light on why that works with your own story, Josh. 

(I really should mention though, not a week has gone by where we haven’t seen the Waynes being shot in this Book Club.)

Josh: Who knew we would go so deep on a children’s book!? Haha! 

Alright, we’ve already touched on this to a degree, but how do you feel that Batman: Overdrive represents the Batman franchise for younger audiences? Do you find this portrayal beneficial, or do you think that it could turn readers away as they age because it doesn’t align with who/ what Batman really is?

Matina: I think it does an okay job of introducing big or familiar elements of Batman, like his parents’ deaths, the Falcones, the car, Alfred, Selina, etc, but as a good representation of what we see in the comics? No, it’s not that world. It’s fun, it’s cute, it tells a nice story but in the end, if you’re looking for Batman comics or an introduction to what you’d see across the board this isn’t it. I think it’s definitely written more for parents who want to get their kid a Batman book but might not typically pick up a trade or walk into a comic book store, and for readers with far less familiarity with the character.

Josh: Matina, sometimes I think we share a brain. You hit everything I was going to touch on. Anyone else?

Michael: I agree. I think Fontana does well in introducing a lot of elements of Bruce and Batman but can definitely throw some readers off since it’s a unique interpretation. It’s a kid’s world, which sometimes feels a little incongruous to the darker aspects of Bruce’s childhood and past, but it does well enough in establishing some core Batman tenets.

Casper: Honestly, it really just depends on the reader. In that sense, it’s a case-by-case thing, I suppose. Personally, I don’t know if this is the best introduction to Batman for younger readers because I don’t think that this includes many of the elements that are typical for a Batman story. But if younger readers have read other Batman comics before this — comics specifically for younger readers or otherwise — this could be a fun read for them, especially if they are into cars. As for older readers, I think it depends on whether or not they want to try out a different take on Bruce Wayne and Gotham. Or maybe they have kids and they’ll read it together.

Josh: I’m hoping the latter is occurring. I know if I were a parent, I’d be seeking out whatever Batman related content I could for my kid to read with them!

Nick: The first piece of Batman content I ever read was an old children’s book about Joker leading Batman through an abandoned amusement park/deathtrap. I think back to that story and then compare it to the Batman and Joker stories I read now, and I don’t see a huge connection beyond the surface aesthetic. I have to wonder if I would have had a stronger or weaker impression if I’d read something like this first instead – where the aesthetic is different, but the heart is there. Maybe that doesn’t matter though, because kids will know who Batman is at a very young age – this could be their first step into understanding how different creators can portray him.

Josh: One last topic before we share our final thoughts. We’ve discussed the various tones and subject matter of this story, and we’ve even touched on whether the themes may or may not be too strong for children as far as Bruce investigating his parents’ murder. In all of this, I think the one constant that helps keep the book from ever becoming “too dark” for this age group, is the art. What did you all think of Marcelo di Chiara’s work?

Nick: I just want to say that I am a huge fan of Marcelo’s character designs – while some scenes are very strong for me with the simplistic/cartoony art style and some fall flat, the characters look incredibly interesting and unique, while still retaining a familiar flair. I think Batman’s hood is particularly inspired, so I hope to see more costumes if they make a sequel.

Michael: Subjectively, I’m not a fan of this style at all but I think it’s appropriate for its target audience. If I had one major complaint it’s that I thought everyone was much younger until Bruce’s age was explicitly stated.

Josh: Yeah, I had that same thought concerning age. I wish they had been younger, but then that would’ve eliminated the entire driving element and completely knocked the wheels off of the story… Pun intended. 

Matina: I like the art. I agree it feels appropriate for the target audience and that the characters read as much younger than they are. I think that’s part of the struggle of trying to draw something aimed at a younger audience and also display characters in their mid-teens. Something I really enjoyed about this was the character’s expressions. I think that even in a more cartoony style the more serious moments play well.

Casper: You mention “cartoony,” Matina, and this kind of art style did remind me a little bit of the cartoons that I watched as a kid. There’s a quirky friendliness to it that might appeal to some younger readers, if that makes sense.

Matina: It does! There’s a number of moments that really take advantage of that cartoon style to exaggerate some of the character’s expressions I think kids would really enjoy. Like near the end when Bruce is confused about “Mateo rules” where he’s got a wide open eye and a squinty one. 

Josh: Exactly! We’ve discussed this before about how emotions can convey better when art steps away from hyper-realism. Uh, in general, I thought the art was exactly what it needed to be. Visually, every page felt fun, even in the heavier moments, and I think that plays to the story’s benefit. I also like that Chiara’s work, while very simple, has a distinct look to it in his design for characters. Fontana and Chiara felt like a perfect pairing here. 

Alright, let’s move on to our final thoughts. 

Michael: Overall I enjoyed reading Batman: Overdrive but I have a few major reservations. I didn’t care for the art, but that’s a more personal case of taste as I thought it was well done on a storytelling level. The main issue is that I thought the actual storyline wasn’t all that engaging, but for younger readers, I can imagine it being more compelling. The book has a great premise with Bruce reconnecting with his father by rebuilding his old car that I almost wish that was the entire story without adding on a murder mystery angle. As an introduction to a new Batman reader, I feel like there are better books to start with, but for anyone with a cursory knowledge of Batman mythos, this is a fun side-book to read.

Matina: I liked this book. I thought it was cute and fun and an enjoyable read. Story-wise it could have used a little more depth, but I still think it’s enjoyable for a younger audience. Where the book shines for me is in the relationships and how they develop through the story and watching this Bruce come out of his shell and find a brighter future. It’s not quite typical Batman, but it still leaves you smiling at the end. 

Casper: This isn’t really my cup of tea, but there are some things that I like about this. Alfred is great, Bruce connecting to his father through the car is a nice touch, and both Selina and Mateo add to Bruce’s character development, as good supporting characters should (even if they miss some depth themselves). The artwork is fun, too. Overall, I think younger readers might enjoy this one.

Josh: While I had reservations about jumping into some young reader titles, I found myself enjoying this way more than I originally expected. Fontana and Chiara take a number of liberties and play heavily in the world of cars, but it works in establishing some key components of Bruce Wayne’s youth, while also nodding to a foundation of skills he’ll use later in life. Overall, the book explores themes such as friendship and eath, while never diving too deep to push out the target audience. If you have kiddos, especially kids who are interested in Batman or cars, this is the perfect book for them!

Nick: This is a big reason I was hoping we cover this book! Stuff like this takes me by surprise – it’s never something I’d typically read, yet in doing so I found a lot of fun in it, especially in the new dynamics Bruce has with his family and friends. It’s a refreshing, if strange, take on the story, so definitely give it a shot if you want something you can bond with a younger family member over.

(But if that kid knows about cars and you don’t, god help you.)

Thanks for joining us for our discussion of Batman: Overdrive! Make sure you check back tomorrow for our discussion on Batman: Nightwalker.