Batman Off-World #1 is published by DC Comics, written by Jason Aaron, pencils by Doug Mahnke, inks by Jamie Mendoza, colors by David Baron and letters by Troy Peteri. Batman heads into space, finding a new challenge as he gets forced into servitude.
Set entirely out of the canon of the current Batman comics, this first issue provides glimpses at how Aaron embellishes the ridiculous. It doesn’t take long for Batman to present himself to the rougher races and ruffians of the galaxy. The exploration side of space travel is sidelined due to the fact that Batman has a mission in mind. The structure of Batman Off-World #1 tells stories that move in alternate directions. Batman’s tribulations in space take the plot forward, but are interspersed with flashbacks that move further and further into the past that explain why Batman is on a journey. This exposition isn’t complex, but it works on a conceit to purely drag Bruce Wayne from Gotham into the galaxy. The gritty reality of the extraterrestrial threat isn’t too dissimilar to the streets Batman rules, except the hierarchy has changed entirely. The pacing stutters slightly due to this structure, but everything is put towards a process of building and information gathering, as well as some sci-fi violence that fits the character, not the location, but it offers a great variety to what the bat usually comes up against.
What works really well within this first issue is taking Batman out of his element and narrating the adaptation to the new surroundings. Everything Batman knows and uses is being challenged, from artificial gravity to beings that he doesn’t know how to fight. It’s about as much of a fish-out-of-water tale as Batman could ever be. The description of injuries and punishment he faces on his interstellar voyage is brutal and intense. And yet he is still dangerous. The punishment he takes doesn’t appear to phase him, but is all part of his method to gain knowledge. Aaron not only delights in ridiculous situations, but chaotic and larger-than-life characters. Many of the aliens Batman faces are delightfully nasty, taunting Batman and his perceived frailty. It gives the book a cartoonish edge, one that embraces the bizarre nature of the story.
The art is fantastic and builds off of the chaos. The alien designs are a lot of fun, with particular effort made to make most of the creatures look as inhuman as possible. Some of them don’t even have discernible faces. The main villain, introduced quickly, is huge, imposing and detailed, and not the only one that carries a history of pain, misery and battle. The locations are not glamorous at all, but they create the dark atmosphere that is intended throughout the book. One of the aliens is a member of a recognizable race within the DC Universe, but unlike any other of their species that has been seen before. They now reflect the roughshod, downtrodden visuals of the setting. The intricate, immaculate detailing on their creation is superb, as it is in every single character. The ships and the other celestial elements in space all have an unfriendly and dangerous look to them, all with the mindset of being as unsafe for Batman as possible.
The colors are gorgeous and powerful. Extremely vibrant when needed for the creation of characters and the allure of space travel, but then dark when the story needs to be grimy and uncomfortable. There are times when the light from gun blasts are intentionally intense, ripping through the shadows that Batman naturally refers to as his safety. The lettering has several custom word balloons, with individual fonts and colors for text that are, at times, difficult to read.
Batman Off-World #1 is a chaotic cosmic adventure. Whilst Batman has been taken to territories where he doesn’t belong, the tone and the characters are representative of a world he is all too familiar with. The comic is violent and vicious, making the unruly expanse of space seem like the Wild West with how brutal it is. Aaron instils the steel and hardcore storytelling into every book he writes, no matter the frontier where the fighting happens. The art explores and exposes the fun and zany atmosphere that much of the comic contains, as Bruce Wayne is physically tested to an extent he has never been before.
Batman Off-World #1 is available where comics are sold.
Batman Off-World #1
Batman Off-World #1 is a chaotic cosmic adventure. Whilst Batman has been taken to territories where he doesn’t belong, the tone and the characters are representative of a world he is all too familiar with.