Neal Adam’s Batman Odyssey #1 was too confusing to be entertaining. It’s unclear whether the book is set in the “New 52″ continuity or not. I haven’t read anything about this book and its relationship to the rest of DC’s books online yet, because I didn’t want to spoil my review with others’ opinions. Also, I don’t think I should have to look something up on the Internet just to figure out whether or not it’s in continuity or not.
The book seems to jump around from time to time. On the cover, it’s listed as the #1 issue, but after a 10 page prologue, the big splash page with the credits on it says that this is “Chapter 7.” Maybe the story is being told in reverse chronological order?
The first four pages of the book consist of a shirtless Bruce Wayne drinking coffee and ranting about conspiracy theories with some unnamed and unseen character. They seem to be in the Batcave. In fact, this section is drawn from the point-of-view of some unseen character who is never named. All we know is that he has a bandage on his hand. We can assume that he’s not Dick Grayson or Commissioner Gordon, because Bruce Wayne talks about both of them as he’s talking to the unnamed figure.
Then we’re treated to a scene in Arkham Asylum where Ra’s al Ghul’s son, Sensei, is breaking out of his room. Several goons seem to have some kind of bet with him about whether or not he can break out. When he finally does escape (as the Penguin and the Riddler observe), he has his four goons fight until there’s only one left standing. That one, he says, gets to accompany him under the earth.
Then we get the big double splash page, where Batman is flying on a giant bat, and several other characters are riding on dinosaurs. This is presumably another flashback. Batman eventually gets knocked to the ground, blood rushes to his head, and the scene changes again.
In THIS new scene, Alfred is serving Ra’s al Ghul tea in Wayne Manor while Bruce Wayne is doing some kind of gymnastics above his bed. Wayne takes Ghul to the Batcave, where Jamroth Bok, Primus, and Dick Grayson (Robin) are waiting. They’re planning an expedition to some kind of hollow earth which can be reached through the Batcave, but Bruce insists on leaving Dick Grayson behind, much to Dick’s dismay.
Ra’s al Ghul also stays behind, and Alfred gets mad at Bruce for “mis-using” Dick in such a manner. Alfred goes to Dick Grayson’s room and explains to him that Jamroth Bok is a neanderthal, and his sidekick Primus is a highly-evolved dinosaur. (I should mention that Jamroth Bok looks like a giant purple Batman, and Primus looks like a blonde Robin with slightly lizard-like features, but otherwise human-looking.)
The issue closes with another double splash page of Batman, Jamroth Bok, and Primus underground, looking around them in awe at the scenery.
If this DOES take place in the DC’s New 52 universe, then it must have taken place years ago, because Dick Grayson is no longer Robin in the DC Universe.
This comic book cost $3.99, and from the perspective of getting plenty of pages of story, it’s worth the money. There’s plenty of text on the page, and it was involved enough that I read it cover to cover twice. But I didn’t read it twice because I was entertained; I read it twice because I was confused.
I’m not sure what to make of this book. The art was nice, but this Batman doesn’t really act like any Batman I’ve ever read before. For that matter, none of the other characters act like themselves either–not Robin, Ra’s al Ghul, or even Alfred. The artwork was good, but what was happening and when should have been made clearer.
Neal Adams plotted, scripted, and penciled the issue. Inks were done by Bill Sinkiewicz, Neal Adams, Paul Neary, and Michael Golden. Colors were done by Ginger Karalexis, Cory Adams, and Moose Baumann. Ken Lopez lettered. Neal Adams also did the cover artwork.
So I just did some reading online, and apparently there were six previous issues in this series, so who knows why they started over with #1? Maybe because of the relaunch? The guys at ComicsAlliance compare the series to Tommy Wiseau’s The Room, which makes a certain amount of sense. The Neal Adams art is nice, but it’s bizarre. He’d make a better cinematographer than whatever hack was in charge of The Room, but this comic book is just as insanely awful,
Link to the Comics Alliance article that helped me start to understand: http://www.comicsalliance.com/2011/03/08/batman-odyssey-neal-adams-insane/