I’m not going to spend too long on the introduction since Batman: The World is a hefty book and there’s a ton to cover with each story. But if you haven’t heard of this graphic novel yet, it’s an anthology featuring stories told by creative teams from 14 countries across the world. Each story takes place in the home country of the creative team, and are all brand new stories.
I’ll be giving a short review of each one, with a score for that story, and then wrapping up the whole review with my thoughts on the anthology as a whole and a general score for the overall book. So let’s dive right in!
Global City- United States
The opening tale in this anthology is fairly short, and in general, I found this story to be just fine. The big running theme here is Batman essentially being married to Gotham, and the narrative tries to argue that this passion drives him to go after criminals, but I feel like it gets lost in the middle as he also talks about growing bored with Gotham, and seeking other things out, but then acts as if Gotham is the whole world. As an analogy I’m not sure that totally tracks, but it is an interesting idea to present, and it helps make this story feel like it’s introducing the general idea of Batman being a figure who visits places outside of Gotham.
Aside from the first and last page, the entire story is illustrated in double page spreads by Lee Bermejo. Each one highlights members of Gotham’s Rogues gallery as Batman tangles with them. The pages are gorgeous enough they’d make beautiful posters. Though, to me, they feel less like they’re adding to the story than simply being a chance to showcase some fun fight scenes. They are stunning to look at though.
All in all, this opening story really feels less like a full tale and more of an introduction to the idea of Batman engaging with the world. It acts as a kind of explanation of why he might branch out beyond Gotham’s borders and explore the rest of the world. I think if that was the intent it’s mostly successful, though it’s not something I’d find myself searching out just to read on it’s own.
This second tale is quite a bit of fun. It features Batman chasing Catwoman through a Paris museum. The dialogue and action here is a lot of fun as the two characters banter, protect art from each other’s attacks, and as it generally features an excellent chase. It’s a light, fun little tale that had me grinning more and more as I read through it.
The art very much fits the vibe of this story too. Thierry Martin did the lines, color, letters and cover and their style is really cool. The story is mostly monochromatic, done in blacks, whites, and greys, with a touch of color here and there only when it’s really needed like highlighting Catwoman’s lenses or Batman’s belt, and really comes into play when the museum director shows up in full color. The contrast is really neat, and something I enjoyed quite a bit about this story.
Overall, this was a fun tale that will appeal to any fan of Batman and Catwoman, or just someone looking for a nice chase story.
Closed for the Holidays- Spain
I liked this story a lot. It features Bruce Wayne taking a holiday to Spain after a particularly hard fight with Joker. There is very little text in this story, and what there is is narration from Alfred mostly describing the trip and the reason for it.
Paco Roca does everything here except the letters, which were covered by Delores Faraco. And since there is so little text, it’s really the art here that tells the tale. The majority of the pages are done in 9 panel layouts, three to a row to show each scene Bruce is in. It’s very hard to describe this story without really spoiling the whole thing, but it does an excellent job telling a quiet, reflective story about Bruce himself, and why he’s Batman.
If you’re looking for something quiet, well illustrated, and a just solid tale this one is something you should be sure and check out.
This is one of those stories you’re going to want to read twice. It explores the relationship between Batman and a young man named Cesare and how that relationship has progressed over the years as Bruce has worked to try and save the man from himself. It’s more than just that, but I think going into a lot of depth here will really spoil the story itself. The structure makes it a little hard to parse, and it could use a caption here or there to indicate years, but at the same time I really like how it’s structured.
The colors are very dark, but for the tone of the story they fit well. The art itself is great, and it’s really cool to see the Batman suit change through the years subtly. Something else I really love about the visuals here are the word bubbles for Inaus, he is a character of two minds and his word bubbles are distinct, both different from everyone else, and clearly different from his two sides.
This is a story that left me thinking, and that made me go and read it a second time right away. While it can be a little hard to parse on the first read, I do find myself still really liking how it was all put together.
A Better Tomorrow- Germany
Right off the bat I have to say I love the art style of this story. It’s gorgeously illustrated with soft brushes and paint strokes. The colors are muted to fit the snowy landscape, but also bright enough when they need to be. And generally the style is just really lovely to look at. Plus, I’m a bit of a sucker for stories told in snowy landscapes where the art feels painted onto the page, featuring characters that at the very least look like ancient scary beings from folktales. It’s right up my alley.
Unfortunately, the art was my favorite part about this story. The narrative itself explores the idea of Joker attempting to get members of a climate activist group –A Better Tomorrow– to kill a corrupt businessman. The idea behind it is fine, it’s interesting to see groups like this struggling with the idea of just how best to change the world. Where my problem with the story comes is in the fact that it’s Joker trying to make them do this. It just really doesn’t feel like a Joker story at all, to me there is no joke in any of this and no reason for him to travel all the way out here just to get some young people to kill a guy. The story would have worked better with perhaps a different member of the group, or even a villain more geared towards having radical views towards climate change like Poison Ivy. Joker just doesn’t make sense, and the narrative doesn’t really even try to make him fit either.
While the art here is beautiful, the story itself really loses me in it’s decision behind the main villain. If someone more appropriate had been selected I might feel different about this tale, unfortunately it just doesn’t do it for me.
Red Mass- Czech Republic
In this tale, we’re treated to a story about Batman hunting down a psychic killer in Prague in 1984. Again this is one with sparse dialogue, but this time there’s a lot of internal narration from Batman. It’s a pretty standard investigation story, with an interesting twist in regards to what’s really going on behind the scenes. It hits on a lot of great ideas such as Batman’s desire to save even bad guys. It also has a couple delightful humorous moments featuring kids realizing he’s real.
I really love the art in this tale as well. It has a very classic comic style to it, that feels a little like a cartoon. Michal Suchanek does everything on art, and there are so many things here to really love. The paneling is dynamic and really moves with the story, and he does an excellent job with the colors as well. One of my favorite aspects, is the way he does the onomatopoeia effects tucked behind the characters.
Generally this is a solid mystery with some humor, an interesting twist, and art that I really enjoyed throughout. All in all it was a good story.
My Bat-man- Russia
This is another story with art that gripped me from page one, and the story did the same exact thing. This tale is wholesome in all the best ways. It follows an illustrator through his life in Russia after becoming fascinated with Bat-man at an early age. And really, it’s just the tale of who Batman is to him, no matter what the world might say. I will admit that this story itself resonated a lot with me because his Batman is also very much my Batman and it was just lovely to see so many of my own thoughts and emotions shared on the page, from people totally different than myself.
As I said, I took an instant liking to the art. The colors are wonderfully bright and open, and the whole world displayed here feels full and bright. Not only does Natalia Zaidova show us the narrator growing and changing, but we also get to see his art style change as well through each illustration. Additionally, each representation of Batman himself is unique and interesting.
Out of all the stories in this anthology this is by far my favorite one. I love stories that look at Batman from an outsiders point of view, and to me this really illustrates how I too have always seen Batman. Overall it’s just a really wonderful tale with a good message.
The Cradle- Turkey
If you’re looking for a solid investigative story, look no further. The Cradle follows Batman on a quest to figure out the truth behind a mysterious organization shipping dangerous goods, who caused a lot of trouble in Gotham. He chases their clues through Turkey to get to the root of things. The story takes a wonderful dive into various cities, histories, and architecture all while using each part to provide clues to the mystery.
The art is really great here as well. Since so much of the story is focused on the settings Bruce is visiting, there’s quite a bit of emphasis on that, but there are also moments where things slow down a bit to just show off characters or activities. The panels are really well done as well, with some fun creative ways they’re put together through the story.
This story is an interesting mystery, with quite the twist at the end that I personally really enjoyed. So far, none of these stories have really been set ups for more, but in this one there are some elements I’d love to see picked up in future Batman tales.
Defender of the City- Poland
This story feels a little shorter than some of the others, but it’s still a good tale. Bruce, realizing that Warsaw has a very low crime rate wants to see if he can get that technology for Gotham to help with his battle against crime. To do so, he goes to visit the city himself and speak with the woman who owns the technology being used over there. Its’ got a good mix of Batman and Bruce being Bruce Wayne, which I always love to see.
Piotr Kowalski’s work on the art is gorgeous, especially the city scenes. Night or day, any time we get a visual look at Warsaw the whole thing is full of life. The colors ,done by Brad Simpson, are just really stunning as well, and play beautifully with the pencils.
Overall, this is a solid tale and an enjoyable story that gives us another look at how Bruce is always trying to make the world safer.
Funeral is another story that I think just really gets Batman and who he is. While on a business trip in Mexico Bruce happens to see a woman in a crowd being attacked, and of course he does what he does best and tries to help her. From there the story explores his investigation into what happened, all the while being led by a mysterious voice. It’s a sad story, but one with a meaning and an angle towards justice no matter what happens.
The art is dark, but often very cool. Batman’s costume here is all angles and sharp and the exact thing to strike fear into criminals hearts. Rulo Valdéz draws an excellent avenging Batman, and there are some scenes in here that are downright frightening in how they’re laid out. In particular there’s one where he’s looming over a criminal that sent shivers down my spine.
This is a more somber tale than some of the others, but I still think it has a lot to say about Batman and his quest for justice, no matter who you are or where you are from.
Where are the Heroes?- Brazil
This story takes a look at Wayne Enterprises’ attempts at expanding into Brazil, and just why it’s taking so long. The tale explores corruption and the idea that there won’t always be heroes like Batman, in a mask and cape, to save people from the wrongs of this world. It’s another one that is more somber with no easy answers, but overall it’s a good story and explores important ideas.
The art is also really good, there are some really nice action scenes as Batman works to take down some bad guys, and generally the city looks beautiful whenever rendered in the story. There’s one page, highlighting many of the elements of Brazil that’s really nice, with bright colors and each different aspect of the country rendered in a lovely way.
Overall, this is an interesting story that really focuses in on the issues it wants to talk about, while also highlighting Batman and the idea of heroes in society.
Muninn- South Korea
In Muninn Batman has come to Korea to help Dr. Min, a researcher there trying to retrieve technology called Muninn. This device would scan memories, and hopefully help her clear her brother’s name, and bring her niece some closure. It’s a fast read, but one that I really enjoyed, as we get to see Bruce try out a new Batsuit, and learn some surprises about the story we’re initially presented with.
The art does some really cool things as well. There’s a double page spread while Batman is fighting in “combat mode” that’s done totally in black and white, illustrating the change of fighting style. It also highlights the action here, as he moves through the crowd of thugs to try and find the missing tech. The rest of the art is equally enjoyable and, Jaekwang Park gives each location it’s own color scheme and feeling to it.
The mystery and story presented here are both quite interesting, and even as short as the tale is I found myself endeared to Dr. Min and her plight very quickly.
Batman and Panda Girl- China
In this tale while visiting China, Bruce meets the titular Panda Girl, a young Batman fan who works at a restaurant serving hot pots that Alfred recommended he visit. Along the way we find out that the whole street has been bought by none other than Wayne Enterprises, and to save her family’s restaurant, the young woman suits up to save the day. It’s a cute tale, but some of the dialogue reads a little rough and some of it doesn’t feel totally in character, such as Bruce flat out saying Batman doesn’t exist. The story itself has an almost rushed feeling to it in that events move very fast, where they could have probably taken a little more time here or there.
The art is really lovely, though the word balloons feel a little large in some places obscuring it. Batman gets a new design, this one very Chinese oriented, and it looks really cool. The fight scenes with him and Panda Girl against the various thugs are quite a bit of fun to read, as well.
Generally the story needs a little polishing to really make it shine. Even so, I had quite a bit of fun reading it. Any time Bruce gets an impromptu partner it’s always fun to see how things turn out.
Batman Unchained- Japan
Batman Unchained is the last story in the anthology and it’s a great one to go out on. This one is all black and white, with the art drawn like one would find in a manga. It tells the story of a city excited by tales of Batman in the news, and the police as they struggle to try and stop the idea of Batman being a hero from getting out of hand. The stories are made all the more popular because of the art associated with them, and it’s that very artist Batman has to rescue from the police.
The art is so dynamic in this issue. From the action, to the character’s expressions everything has a lot of life to it. I particularly loved Okadaya Yuichi’s Batman costume design. It blends the idea of Batman and Samurai together really nicely.
I really enjoyed how this story is really one about how Batman can inspire anyone, and how we shouldn’t try to put that idea away or hide it. Instead, let it grow and inspire others to do and be better.
- You want an anthology full of wonderful Batman stories
- Tales from across the world appeal to you
- Each of these has their own unique voice, but all still feel like Batman, and that’s worth celebrating
This anthology is a great collection of stories. With more highs than lows in it, each story here has a lot to bring to the table, and displays Batman in ways that are both familiar and new, and totally and completely Batman. Even the stories I didn’t enjoy quite as much are still wonderfully crafted tales you can tell had a lot of love poured into them. With so many excellent stoires and wonderful creative teams, you’re sure to find more than one tale in here you enjoy. Batman: The World really is a book worth checking out, if only to explore the vast array of countries and stories told within.
Overall Score: 8/10
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.