Two original graphic novels with two vastly different takes on Batman have been announced by DC Comics, and they both sound delightful in their own ways. Next spring will see the publisher release Stuart Gibbs and Berat Peckmezci’s Bruce Wayne: Not Super and Jim Benton’s Fann Club: The Batman Squad, both of which are aimed at middle grade readers. The former takes a somewhat common trope– reimagining heroes and villains as students in a very unique middle school– and drops young Bruce Wayne into a “school for supers.” The only problem? He… doesn’t have powers.
It sounds like a lot of charming fun, aiming for that sweet spot that a lot of these middle-grade books have managed to hit: light, easy to read, and not the least bit cynical, taking familiar characters and locations and putting a spin on them to attract the next generation of comic fan. Can’t really argue with that.
And then there’s Fann Club: The Batman Squad, which sounds… amazing. Its tagline is “the justiest justice of all” which just fills me with no end of joy, and the synopsis is bananas. In short, Batman superfan Ernest Fann rallies his friends (and dog) to train in super important hero things like Standing Mysteriously on a Roof, only to find themselves having to investigate a robbery… perpetrated by a werewolf.
Check out more details below, including the covers for each book and some of Peckmezci’s interiors for Bruce Wayne: Not Super.
DC Announces Two Middle Grade Books for Spring 2023
Next Spring, two new DC middle-grade graphic novels will introduce new takes on the iconic Batman—one through the eyes of a young Bruce Wayne, just discovering how he can be a Super Hero, and one through the eyes of a young Batman super-fan, who is learning how he can be like his hero.
On sale February 7, 2023, Bruce Wayne: Not Super follows a 13-year-old Bruce Wayne as he attends an exclusive prep school for the gifted. But, in this book written by Stuart Gibbs (SpySchool) with art by Berat Peckmezci (Flash), this school is for the super-gifted. Bruce doesn’t stand a chance of winning a race against the future Flash, or a swim meet against the future Aquaman, and he always gets picked last for dodgeball.
It’s hard enough being in middle school, but it’s even worse when you’re the only kid at your school who doesn’t have super-powers. Bruce does have a goal though: he wants to make a difference in the world. But how can he do that when he doesn’t have any powers? While the Future-Supers are currently content to simply use their gifts to glide through school and court popularity, Bruce struggles to figure out if he has any gifts at all — and if so, how to use them. His challenge comes when he discovers fellow student Jack Napier and his hired bully Bane shaking down lesser-powered students for money, including that hapless kid Dick Grayson. Someone must stand up to them and somehow, it’s going to be Bruce!
Bruce Wayne: Not Super represents an alternate origin story for Batman and a number of other iconic DC characters, imagining them all as school age kids and with Bruce as the misfit. Filled with a lot of humor, this is a light-hearted take on a well-known and beloved character.
Then on June 6, 2023, Fann Club: The Batman Squad takes on the neighborhood. Written and drawn by satirist Jim Benton (Dear Dumb Diary), the book follows the adventures and misadventures of Ernest Fann, a boy who idolizes Batman.
With no particular training or superpowers, Ernest decides to set up a crimefighting unit consisting of his immediate friends and his dog. Ernest takes on the name of Gerbilwing, his best friend Jack becomes Nightstand, his sitter Harriet is dubbed Nightshadow, and his dog Westy takes on the crime-fighting alias of Night Terrier.
Their very important training exercises—all designed by Ernest, of course, consist of Scowling, Standing Mysteriously on A Roof, and going on neighborhood patrol. But things get complicated when Ernest and Jack—a.k.a Gerbilwing and Nightstand—visit a bank that happens to be in the middle of a robbery. And not just any robbery, but one that’s being committed by a werewolf! What’s his connection to a number of “disasters” that have been going on in Ernest’s neighborhood? Will The Batman Squad taste defeat on their very first day of crime-fighting?
Fann Club: The Batman Squad is a great send-up of the Batman mythos as well as a series of silly adventures fill of great, tongue-in-cheek satire for readers of all ages.
Bruce Wayne: Not Super will hit comic shops and digital retailers on Feb. 3, 2023, with Fann Club: The Batman Squad following on June 6.