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Review: Batman: Odyssey #1

Neal Adams back on Batman. That's all you need to know.

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Neal Adams back on Batman. Before reading this issue, I had no idea what it was about. It didn't matter. 

The Good

You can easily say that Neal Adams is a classic artist. You could say he's a legend. The man's work is amazing. As soon as you open it, you almost feel like you're going back in time with a classic Batman story. What's bound to upset many of today's fans is seeing Batman carrying a gun. The issue begins with Bruce telling Dick about one of his first adventures. He carried a gun to boost his confidence. You can rest assured that he's not out to shoot the bad guys the way Jason Todd did when he recently tried taking Batman's place.  Adams' art has a rough yet stylized feel to it. By rough, I mean you can almost feel the action taking place in the comic. This isn't a campy Batman story from the past. This Batman will get hardcore if he has to. 
Batman's interaction with Dick isn't the watered down, "Hey chum" version. Batman is a serious guy. He's not playing a game. As the two prepare to take on the current case and assist Commissioner Gordon, you get a feel for the way Batman's mind works. He doesn't take the clues at face value. He has already analyzed the heck out of it. 
Along with the art and the flashback feel, certain things have been updated. Dick Grayson is wearing the Tim Drake Robin suit. The Batmobile does some things that we haven't seen Bruce's version do. Even when they use glider/capes, it just has a modern feel. I mentioned that I didn't know what this mini-series was about before reading. I wasn't sure if it was supposed to be a flashback story or an "elseworlds" type story. I simply got so sucked into the art and story that it didn't really matter.

The Bad

If anything, the story does get a little muddled. Again the fact that it's a little unclear when this is supposed to take place almost gives the story an out-of-continuity feel. Perhaps that was the point. Seeing Batman with a gun and using it is weird. Yes I know he carried one very very briefly in his first appearances. Seeing Batman act so...rudely to Dick felt weird as well (he calls him "Boy Blunder" at one point and says "Shut up, kid" at another). For me, I can easily overlook these things but the story could use a little more of a pull. Things are clearly being set up for the rest of the first six-issue arc.

The Verdict - 4.5/5

I wasn't completely crazy about the story but the art easily won me over. Reading this, you'll forget about all of the craziness currently going on with Batman and Bruce Wayne. It may not be clear when this is supposed to take place (if it's even in current Batman continuity). Even though Neal Adams' run on Batman was before my time, seeing it takes me back to all those old back issues I was able to pick up at cheap prices. If you've never read a comic with Adams' art, you need to pick this up. It's classic Batman in a slightly modern way. Because of the art and the warm feeling it gave me inside, I really enjoyed this book. I really hope the story picks up in the next issue and have a feeling this may be an arc that I'll end up buying in hardcover when it's released.