I can’t tell you how excited I am that Batman: Wayne Family Adventures even exists, let alone got published not only as a Webtoon, but got a physical release as well. This comic has been my number one favorite thing DC comics has published since it’s initial release back in September of 2021. I’m delighted to get to present you all with a review of the first full trade edition of the comic! So without further ado, let’s dive in!
Batman: Wayne Family Adventures is written by CRC Payne, and features the Batfamily as a whole as they have a variety of adventures that shift between the mundane and very silly. This book doesn’t follow a single coherent narrative, instead the structure is much like that of Li’l Gotham in that it is a series of brief stories collected together in one volume. There are occasional multi-part tales here, like Duke’s whirlwind romance with a classmate, but for the most part each “Episode”, as they are called, is a contained story in and of itself.
The opening story serves as both an introduction to readers and its featured character: Duke Thomas to the Wayne family as a whole. It features Duke’s first full tour of the manor, a brief introduction of various characters, and the first taste of what kind of stories you’ll be able to expect going forward. The only real connecting thread through the whole book is this very light focus on Duke’s newness to the family, featured mostly when characters need to explain a tradition or drop some lore on the readers.
For the most part, these bite sized stories are lighthearted. There is very little tension or conflict in the story that isn’t aimed at sparking a laugh or smile. There’s a reason this series has been the light of my Wednesdays, I’m always excited to see a new silly adventure with my favorite vigilante family, and here so many of those stories are collected together. The focus of this series is a mix of comedy and genuine heartfelt stories. Characters are wildly expressive, situations can be hilarious, and sprinkled throughout are moments of tenderness between characters that can’t help but make you smile.
Occasionally, there are a few more serious episodes that touch on elements like heartbreak or family trauma, but overall this is a book aimed at readers who simply want a lighter, fun read. It is, as the title suggests, adventures of this large dynamic family. There are also very few moments of action or proper vigilantism here, so if you’re looking for a Batman book that features in depth investigation or thrilling battles this is not the book for you. Instead it focuses on elements around the greater Gotham narratives. School, after patrol cookies, and even who gets to ride shotgun in the Batmobile after a case has been wrapped up.
Tied in with the lighter nature of the narrative, the stories work as an introduction to the Batfamily as a whole. They’re less focused character pieces that flat out tell you who the character is and what their backstory is, and instead glimpses into the lives of these characters and what is important to them. The episodic nature of the book makes it easy for the story to highlight individual characters as well, better working to showcase them to the audience.
This is the first volume in an ongoing web series, so there is certainly more to look forward to in the future from this title. In fact, the second volume is set to release in just a couple months on October 3. Still, that doesn’t mean it ends on a cliffhanger. Instead, they choose to end on a lighter note, in a way that would leave readers satisfied, and happy to see more.
I wanted to highlight the art specifically in its own section for two reasons. The first is because I love Starbite’s art that much. The second I’ll expand more on in the next section of this review, but is because of the general differences in the digital and physical editions of this title. For clarity’s sake, most of the images I’ve used in this review are from the digital version of the series, because they’re clearer and show up neater on the web. I will be showing an image or two taken of the book in the next section though.
The art in this book is a delight, much like the stories themselves. Starbite has a bright, expressive style that works really well in this type of story. They create really really dynamic characters and emotions from playful rivalries to genuine sorrow. It’s not just the expressions either, but the characters whole body language that you can feel these emotions in, and in a story that is all about the characters these visual cues are so incredibly important to have.
The style is definitely more cute and cartooned than serious or hyper-realistic, but that is exactly how it should be. Frequently Starbite will create create a series of panels that feel like fast shifts from one character to another as they raise their hands or shift into action. The art will also shift from more structured to chibi style, where characters are more round and cute. Sometimes this is in the form of a pop up, one off, instance, and other times it’s for the comedic element. Shifting styles to indicate characters have realized their mistake or found themselves embarrassed by something.
Digital vs Physical (and the shift between)
I felt like it was necessary to take time in this review to discuss the differences between the web version of this comic, and the physical one. I also wanted to give some insight into the digital one in case you are unfamiliar with Webtoons or webcomics as a whole.
Originally, on Webtoon, Batman: Wayne Family Adventures follows a scrolling type of structure. Panels are not laid out side by side, but instead are scrolled through like you would scroll down on any webpage or app you’re reading through. This means that frequently there will be just a few panels to a page, or even just one to feature a highlighted scene. This structure is not replicated in the physical version of the comic. Instead panels are re-worked to flow as a regular graphic novel would flow, and adds more panels to each page, while still attempting to keep the dynamic nature of the comic intact. Some text is also altered from the webcomic version to the physical version, with word bubbles shifted around, shrunk, or otherwise altered to better fit the formatting of a physical book.
Overall, I think this restructuring is done well. For the most part, the story still flows as normal, and beats of humor or tension hit in much the same way as they do reading through the webcomic. The production team who worked on shifting the title over did a good job making sure there weren’t any huge open spaces that were white and empty, and kept pages from feeling too cluttered.
What did not work as well was the shifting of the art from digital to physical. It feels very much like whoever created this book pulled the images directly off the web to put into the comic instead of using original files. The book is rife with issues of pixelated images, random artifacts cluttering the art, and obvious quality differences from panel to panel. The issue with the art is by far the most disappointing element to this whole comic, because like I’ve already discussed, Starbite’s art is absolutely delightful. Their lines are clean, crisp, and the colors lovely. Here, moments that should have weight to them –comedic or otherwise– are almost ruined by opening up a page to a huge, blown up jpeg image that is blurry.
Here is a an example of the problem. Keep in mind that it’s hard to share exact details when I’m taking a photo of a page in a book, but I hope it will work to illustrate what I’m talking about. The top image was taken from my physical copy of Wayne Family Adventures and the one below it was taken from the web version as a screenshot. There are some differences that are obvious at first like repositioning of the text box and some cropping. I have no qualms with those changes. But the scene itself feels wrong. Too blown up without enough quality, the image stretched in a way that feels like it shouldn’t.
In my experience, this kind of problem is not common for books that have shifted from webcomic to physical medium. I read a lot –and I mean a lot– of comics on Webtoon and have purchased a number of their printed volumes. Never have I seen such a drop in quality between the two mediums before. There are obviously changes that need to be made when making this transition: sometimes images need to be cropped, and text shifted a bit, but the art as a whole very rarely suffers from the change. Here it is not only noticeable, but a clear shift in quality. I can’t help but feel terrible for the creative team who worked so hard to put together this comic, because it should be enjoyable to look at both in the book I’m holding and on my phone’s screen.
All that said, I am happy to have a physical copy of this comic, and I will buy the next one, because it’s a great way for me to show support to the creative team who has brought a ton of joy to my life from week to week. Despite the dip in the quality of the art, it is still an absolutely delightful title to read, and something I will revisit time and again in the future.
- You want to laugh, cry, or just read a good Batman story
- Lighter, more character focused stories are your thing
- Batman’s sidekicks are your favorite characters. Seriously, it’s more about them than the Bat himself
What is my final verdict on Batman: Wayne Family Adventures Volume 1? Well it’s a delight. It has been since I first laid eyes on it, and continues to be to this day. The art struggles a bit in the shift between digital and physical mediums, but as a whole this book is a ton of fun. It is easily something I’d recommend to anyone who wants to dip their toes into Batman comics, kids and teens interested in superheroes, and frankly anyone who just wants to sit down with something that will lighten their day. There’s a ton of comics out there that are serious and focused on the grittier elements of Batman’s day to day existence, and those have their merits. But if you’ve been waiting for something else with the flavor and delight of Li’l Gotham, this is the book for you.