Egad! As a follow up to the audio podcast of the same name, Batman: The Audio Adventures has expanded from audio to visual. The new comic adventures present a world of lighthearted noir, now sans-Chris Parnell and audio in general.
Audio dramas like The Lone Ranger, The Adventures of Superman, or X-Minus One were once apart of a cutting edge media recipe. It supplemented the contemporary heroes of the time, and introduced the world to characters like Jimmy Olsen. Television would eventually replace radio drama’s place in the mutual partnership. Today, the success of series like Wolverine: The Long Night and it’s tie-in have influenced a return to these partnerships.
The podcast’s writer and showrunner Dennis McNicholas makes his comic book debut with this first issue. I found it easy to compare his experience as a writer for SNL’s Weekend Update to the radio drama. However, to write Batman outright, he has to flex an entirely different muscle. Putting faces to the voices shrinks the room to appeal through imagination or improv. With nobody but his artist to rely on, McNicholas’ Batman bears the burden of making solid first impressions.
Anthony Marques’ Batman passes the taste test design-wise. Though far brighter than the sometimes edgy podcast, the cast of characters harken back to the family friendly art style of Bob Montana (Archie). A tried and true tactic that worked for the animated adaptation of The Brave and The Bold to appear vintage. The deliberate bright colors pop and the classic cel shaded character designs attract. Every character design or scenario seems primed for fun and humor, but none of it odious or dark. Jeffrey Wright’s detective has a bit more winking to the incarnation, but that isn’t a bad thing.
The main story is tied into the first episode of season one. Batman and Gordon attempt to solve a mysterious B&E tied to King Scimitar. When a few low level goons inherit King Scimitar’s swords with delusions of grandeur, they also inherit his enemies. What works about this is that it puts Batman in the middle of a conflict with ties to the other medium. It expands and promotes the universe for the readers and listeners of both. At the very least, it is a comforting but rare low-stakes detective story.
What doesn’t work for me is some of the stranger liberties with the characters. For instance, Audio Adventures‘ version of Harley Quinn has a ridiculous spin on her origin surrounding a love potion. This means Harley’s connection with Joker is reduced to a chemical reaction. The potion also plays a part in the Killer Croc not-so-well-worked-in side story. Croc’s vicious demeanor disappears as the potion emasculates him. It could lead to potentially funny gags for some readers, but it isn’t even well integrated into the story or layout. The worst executed part by far involves Batman badly justifying why he sneaks up on people all the time. It is unnecessary and complicates something as simple as “Batman just sneaks up on people because he’s good at being quiet.”
- You are a listener of Batman: The Audio Adventures and are looking for extended media until Season Two.
- The “Bright-Knight” or lighthearted Batman stories interest you.
Batman: The Audio Adventures #1 is a successful first issue. It maintains a look and tone consistent with something like IDW’s TMNT. The book suffers from a couple layout and character problems, but nothing severe enough to call it terrible. In fact, the humorous tone and spirit of the book is enough to recommend to a specific kind of Batman fan looking for quaint adventures like these. The other kind of fan won’t easily accept a “McBatman” from McNicholas any time soon. As for the rest of us, we will be deep diving into each death-defying chapter of the audio/visual adventures of Batman!
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purposes of this review.