Family Comic Friday: Batman: Overdrive
Written by Shea Fontana
Illustrated by Marcelo DiChiara
Published by DC Comics
If you are familiar with Batman, then his origin story should be old hat. As a youngster, Bruce Wayne watches as a robbery gone wrong takes the lives of his parents. Now an orphan, Bruce channels his rage into one day finding the killer. Through intense physical and mental training, Bruce becomes The Batman, the world’s greatest detective.
But how did Batman get his Batmobile?
That question is answered in this all-new graphic novel by Shea Fontana (DC Superhero Girls) and Marcelo DiChiara (Smallville). Batman: Overdrive is framed similarly to the Fox TV series, Gotham. Both have a teenaged Bruce Wayne becoming acquainted with many of the characters years before he would when he becomes Batman. Yet like Gotham, as much as such a plot makes my brain itch. Shea Fontana makes it work.
We don’t see Bruce Wayne being directly involved in the origins of villains such as Two-Face, Mister Freeze or The Joker. Instead, Bruce engages in characters that for the most part could be in Gotham City pre-Batman. Of course, there’s Selina Kyle as an orphaned cat burglar roaming the streets of Gotham City. Pamela Isley and Harleen Quinzel are here too. The only character I objected to was in the inclusion of a teen version of Lady Shiva. I think it would have made more sense having that character be Katana instead.
Overdrive introduces fans to an all-new character in Mateo Diaz. An expert mechanic, it’s him that inspires Bruce to soup up his Batmobile into a fearsome automobile fortress. Whereas Lucius Fox is the real character who did this in the comics, Fox is also too old for a 15-year old Bruce to be going out in the middle of the night to fight crime with. Plus, Mateo was a very well written character that I would like to see pop up in the pages of the adult Batman books.
The main focus of this book is the relationship between Bruce and Alfred. It’s uneasy as Bruce doubts his butler’s sincerity as a caregiver. A real mystery is uncovered when Bruce discovers evidence that Alfred used to work for crime boss Carmine Falcone at one point! Could Batman’s faithful butler actually be behind the death of Thomas and Martha Wayne?
If you love cars, you will love this book. There’s dozens of great automobiles and several Bullit-level car chases in this graphic novel. In fact, I think I like Marcelo DiChiara’s illustrations of the machinery way more than I did of the characters. They looked a little too generic for me. But those cars! Even the Mateo’s hunk o’ junk VW Beetle looks pretty sweet.
Batman: Overdrive gives small little nods to the rich 80-year plus history of the Dark Knight. But there’s several Easter egg nods to the 1966 Batman TV show that I enjoyed the most. This graphic novel doesn’t seek to rewrite the history of Batman. But it does modify it just as Bruce and Mateo do with the ‘66 Crusader that is destined to become The Caped Crusader’s most trusted ally!
An entertaining book that builds on decades of comic book lore while not being stale. This is a graphic novel that Batman fans of all generations will love!
Batman: Overdrive debuted in print and digital formats on March 3, 2020.
For more Family Comic Friday and other reviews, check out my blog: Madman with a Book!