Review: Batman Off-World #4

“I am the Storm”
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artists: Doug Mahnke, Jaime Mendoza
Color Artist: David Baron
Letterer: Troy Peteri
Review By Eric Lee
Minor Spoilers Ahead!

Batman: Off-World #4  continues to give wild, over-the-top action, but may feel slightly hollow due to fairly thin characterization.

This issue has the same good and bad elements as the previous issues. Readers are treated to the insane, hyperbolic action sequences of Batman versus evil aliens and, to be honest, seeing the Dark Knight whooping on evil aliens while riding a space wolf is peak entertainment. Writer Jason Aaron knows how to wring the maximum amount of excitement out of a superhero comic.

Thin Characterizations

However, that also brings the cons of the issue: the characters can feel quite one-dimensional. Even Batman himself feels a little rote. Yes, he’s still able to showcase that he’s a true hero, but these instances are small and fleeting.

This iteration of the hero feels way too competent and calculating for someone who’s only been a vigilante for a year or so. Outside of the brief mention of his rookie status, there’s little that distinguishes this version of Batman from the veteran, grizzled version we all know and love.

It seems like Aaron’s missing some dramatic opportunities to show Batman being overwhelmed by outer space and being exposed to alien cultures, but he never seems to be phased by any of it. There’s a lot of emotional resonance for a reader to latch onto with this iconic character that seems to be missing.

The only time we feel a sense of real emotion is during a quick montage of Alfred and Commissioner Gordon missing Batman. .. but that only lasted one page! It almost feels neglectful how little storytelling time is devoted to Earth. Yes, I know this series is called “Off-World”, however, I also am curious about the Earth-bound consequences that stem from Batman’s decision to stay in space. Has Gotham been overrun by villains? How has Alfred explained Bruce Wayne’s disappearance to the media and Wayne Enterprises?

Similarly, the interstellar villains are so grotesquely evil that it’s also difficult to relate to their motives in any tangible way. We see more teases of the ultimate villains’ powers, as well as how wildly evil they are, but that’s about it.

There’s not much more that can be said about how fantastic Doug Mahnke, Jaime Mendoza, and David Baron’s art is in this series. Their attention to detail makes every action scene pop. Every alien that’s shown looks bizarre and out-of-this-world.

Conclusion

While Batman: Off-World #4 continues the fun, smash ’em-up story, the main plot feels like it’s floundering, due to the lack of any real, in-depth characterization. The art’s more than worth the price of admission, but for me, this feels like ultimately shallow entertainment.

Images courtesy of DC Entertainment


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