The Complete and Utter Insanity of ‘Batman: Odyssey’ Part 5
Illustrated by legendary Batman artist Neal Adams and written by legendarily terrible Skateman writer Neal Adams, Batman: Odyssey launched in 2011 and quickly established itself as hands down, the most insane comic we have ever read. After their shell-shocked review of the initial run, Laura Hudson and David Wolkin have returned to recap the second volume in a continuing attempt to do the impossible: make sense out of the descent into madness that is Batman: Odyssey. The voyage continues.
Laura: I feel like every introductory page in this comic is like a late-night commercial for some random product: bananas, weird protein shakes, ice climbing axes, Keurig coffeemakers. And now, chewable Vitamin C.
David: Neal Adams’s favorite vitamin.
David: So before we officially get started, I want to put something on the record: I got most of these comics the day they came out, tried to read them, and then threw them across the room within 3-4 pages. Being forced to finally read them all the way through has been… enlightening. Whereas in the first volume, it was just a kind of crazy storyline, it is now a Batman story whose content appears to be sponsored by Coast to Coast AM. It’s like someone took their top five favorite conspiracy theories and shoehorned them into Batman mythology alongside random product placements. Like, I am legitimately expecting Obama’s birth certificate to show up at some point.
Laura: In the meantime, after Bruce is done foisting pills on the Exposition Hostage, there is a moment where it seems, briefly, like he might be taking off his shirt again, and it’s very exciting! But it’s all just a fakeout so Bruce can show off his killer triceps, right before he leans in to give us the eyebrow and a little of his Blue Steel.
David: Bruce absolutely has the body language of a dude at a bar who is trying to work The Game on a lady… not that I’d know.
Laura: This entire comic book has just been Bruce Wayne negging us, I am pretty sure.
Laura: And in today’s issue, we also learn about the secret reason that blowing up didn’t hurt Robin.
David: Yes: “shaped charges.” Robin is always outfitted with bombs that explode outward without hurting him.
Laura: You know what this reminds me of? That time when a guy aimed a gun point blank at Batman’s face and fired numerous bullets into it, except later we learned that Batman was actually fine because he has an invisible voice-activated bulletproof visor that he can lower onto his face at any moment. Was there ever any explanation for the extensive blood spatter if the bullets weren’t hurting him?
David: Both Batman and Robin’s costumes also come with blood packs. These guys really should be bulky like Liefeld heroes, if you think about it.
Laura: BLOOD PACKS sounds like it should have been an insane New 52 comic written and drawn by Rob Liefeld. Just blood-filled pouches as far as the eye can see.
David: Blood Pack was a DC comic, Laura.
Laura: NO. Did I just invent the past with my mind? When was this? Was it the ’90s?
David: Of course it was.
Laura: On a team that included heroes like “Sparx” and “Razorsharp.”
David: Don’t forget Jamm, a “prodigious surfer-dude.” I wish you were still Editor-in-Chief of ComicsAlliance so you could force Chris Sims to review all of these. Seriously, I will bribe Joe Hughes.
Laura: Meanwhile, back in the underground lair, everyone still thinks Batman blew up Robin because Batman refuses to explain himself, which leads to Anubis — who looks oddly like a bat — shrieking madly while Batman makes his o-face. Man, how much do I love Neal Adams’s happy Batman? He’s like a living emoticon whose eyes transform into triangles of joy.
David: Happy Batman is like Yotsuba Wayne.
Laura: And now it’s time to play the recurring Batman: Odyssey game that I like to call Decipher This Series of Words: “BLAST YOU BOY, you scared the string out of my knees!” What could that possibly mean. Batman’s knees are full of string?
David: Oh yeah, for some reason everyone talks like idiots.
Laura: I just Googled the phrase “scared the string out of my knees,” and it appears no one has ever said it outside of this comic, right now. Oh wait, I stand corrected: It was also used one time in Volume 1 when Batman dropped LSD.
David: It is literally not a figure of speech.
Laura: Also, Deadman is now apparently possessing the body of Anubis, the Egyptian jackal death god, and asking totally non-sequitur questions like, “How do you do that?” To which Batman replies, “Right-handed.” What exactly does Batman do right-handed? Do we really want to know?
David: It’s filed under “other stuff.”
Laura: Can we back up for a second?
David: Can we back up forever?
Laura: Last we saw, Robin exploded in Sensei’s distant lair while Batman watched on his iPhone. Seconds later, Robin appears in the cave where Batman is. How is that possible? I mean, there has to be more to escaping from the fortress of an evil supervillain and making your way across Dinosaur World than just detonating yourself. “How did you escape?” “I blew up.”
David: Maybe he used the force of the blast to fly closer to Batman. Don’t forget, they both have gravity-based superpowers now, so maybe he’s got superspeed too.
Laura: So Robin explodes so hard that he flies across the Underworld and arrives in the next room from Batman. That is the resolution to the cliffhanger. I… accept this.
David: Have you ever tried to join a cult?
Laura: No, but one time I signed someone I really hated up to receive literature from the Scientologists.
David: Or like, say you hear your friends joined a cult, and so you’re like “Yeah, I’ll check this out, but it’s totally nonsense so it won’t work on me.” And then after a full day locked in a hotel lobby without food or water you start thinking, “Hey, maybe this sort of makes sense and maybe I have been doing everything all wrong?” It usually happens in the 8th hour of the experience. For you, the moment you said “I accept this” was the 8th hour of your Batman: Odyssey experience.
Laura: It’s easier once you accept it, David. You’ll see.
David: This entire time, you’ve looked at everything with an utterly rational mind, and you’ve said, “hold the phone here.” And now you articulate something completely senseless and say, “well, sure!” In this moment, Neal Adams becomes Paul Thomas Anderson, and you are his Joaquin Phoenix.
Laura: I still have issues with the ridiculous gender bullsh*t in this book, if that makes you feel any better. Basically, the only women in this comic are the girlfriends of Batman and Jamroth, one of whom — Tatsinda — we’ve never actually seen, and she was summoned into existence off-panel solely so that a man could be angry at another man for taking her. The only reason women even exist in this book is to be dangled out of reach like narrative carrots and make men want to fight people.
David: I’m pretty sure that Jamroth Bok’s woman is actually Ruben Blades.
Laura: Oh man! That would mean that Batman actually tried to kill Jamroth Bok’s woman back in Volume 1! And they’d have to fight! It’d be totally like the surprise ending of Double Dragon II!
David: Maybe Jamroth’s lady is the old lady from the train?
Laura: It literally doesn’t matter who she is. She has a vagina and she is in another castle. From now on, let’s pretend that “the women” are some sort of really beloved collectible item, like a pog. Someone stole their favorite pogs, and they have to get them back. Absolutely nothing about the story will change except that it will make me less angry, I’m pretty sure.
David: Anger and confusion. I’m sure that’s what Adams was going for here. I hope that ends of up the front of the hardcover. “This book made me feel confused and angry!” -ComicsAlliance
David: Can we get to the spread where Batman gives the crazy speech about taking down the Sensei? Because that crowd needs to be explained.
Laura: You’re welcome to take a shot at trying. For some reason this reminds me of that crazy cave rave scene in the second Matrix movie. Except there’s no women, so it’s so just a bunch of dudes and animal-dudes shrieking and shaking their sticks around a fire about how they need to “reclaim their mounts.” Do you think they mean the T-Rexes, or the women?
David: In this splash page I see: wizards, scientists, trolly people, Egyptian godthings, and standing with his arms folded is… maybe the little devil boy from Seven Soldiers?
Laura: Totally plausible. Also, when Batman asks who will join him, why does Jamroth Bok says that the BLINDERS HAVE DROPPED FROM HIS EYES and he is totally in now? This is a guy who was already acting like Batman, dressing like Batman, calling himself by the same name as Batman and referring to Batman as “master.” Pretty sure he was already on board!
David: Then Batman and crew basically launch an aerial dinosaur attack against some very generic soldiers who, despite being mercenaries or something, have no idea what to do when being attacked.
Laura: Remember, in Batman: Odyssey, everything surprises everybody.
David: Sensei’s assassins are not prepared for being attacked. THEY ARE ASSASSINS.
Laura: That guy in the middle panel is the new stand-in for the reader, David. “I don’t know… I DON’T KNOW!”
David: Seriously, on the League of Assassins final exam (there’s a written test), I know there’s a question that asks what to do if someone attacks you and the correct answer is not “I DON’T KNOW!”
Laura: This is totally the guy who picks all the obviously wrong questions on tests. Like on the driver’s exam when they ask, “What do you do at a red light?” this is the one guy who chooses D) ACCELERATE.
David: And I will never get tired of seeing a hippoman shooting guns.
Laura: How could you get tired of that? It’s like looking at the craziest Doom 2 mod ever.
David: “SET IS USING MP5’s LIKE COLT 45’s”
Laura: Oh man. I just read the page where Batman explains what happened to the women — pogs — that were stolen by Sensei.
David: They weren’t stolen by Sensei.
Laura: Of course not. It turns out they were actually stolen by R’as Al Ghul. But he doesn’t have them now either, because he gave them to the engineers. Except the engineers don’t have them either anymore, because they gave them to the gnomes.
David: Yes, now the gnomes have their things. And by things, I mean women. But I say things because Batman calls them “things.”
Laura: HOLY SH*T DAVID they actually do call the women “things.” I thought you were kidding. HOLY SH*T.
David: Batman and company trade the mystery key for the ladies, and then Batman asks Talia on a date, and somehow she is inexplicably dressed for exactly that.
Laura: She is wearing a… Garment of Improbability. I do not think it has sides. Also, I’m not really sure why I’m even asking this question, but why did the women get given by R’as to the engineers, and then by the engineers to the trolls? And then after the Troll King gives the women back, why do Batman and Bat-Man have to fight the trolls again?
David: I think there was a convoluted betrayal of some sort.
Laura: I… accept this. I think the troll king kills his son for rebelling against him and fighting Batman, although it’s hard to say because it makes no sense and also I don’t care? But this is apparently another CLIFFHANGER.
David: Just step back and take a look at that panel of the crying troll and tell me thats not something special.
Laura: His word is his bond, David. This is certainly a gnome who is ready to pour out a forty. So, is the comic over now? It says “TO BE CONTINUED,” but they already got the women back and the rebellion is over. What are they going to do for the next two issues?
David: I think issues 6 and 7 are just Batman on a date with Talia. Wait, what if Nude Bruce has been talking to Talia this whole time?
Laura: Telling her this story over drinks? Nude Bruce is the most obnoxious date ever. He’s totally that guy you go to dinner with who does nothing but talk about himself the whole time and then three hours later tells you what a great conversation you had.
David: But seriously, just so we’re clear: This comic does, in fact, get crazier from here on out.
Next time on Batman: Odyssey: Who the f*** knows?