Batman: Overdrive

DC Comics. Mar. 2020. 136p. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781401283568.
Gr 3-5–Detailing the origins of the Batmobile, Fontana tells a story of family legacy, vigilante justice, and high-tech detective work—with more than a few action spectacles. Teenage Bruce Wayne is set on restoring his late father’s black ’66 Crusader (complete with a bat flying out from under the hood) and taking his war on crime to the next level. Fast friendships with the mischievous Selina Kyle and gearhead Mateo Diaz propel them into a mob mystery, unearthing Wayne family secrets in the process. DiChiara’s layouts give Bruce and company plenty of room to take on auto repair and stealth missions, along with clear framing for hand-to-hand combat and car chases. The teenage cast’s expressions and dialogue veer toward the childish (“Ooooh, farts” is one of the book’s catch phrases). Young readers get to have their dark knight and analyze him, too—Selina notes Bruce’s privilege, and Alfred and Mateo challenge the budding young superhero’s lone-wolf image. Sycamore’s cartoon illustrations rely on blues and tans for more calm scenes and alarming reds and oranges when danger is afoot. Violence includes swordplay, smoke bombs, and martial arts, all bloodless—even a flashback to Martha’s and Thomas Wayne’s murders restricts the use of red to a single panel.
VERDICT Giving Bruce Wayne cool friends and some personal growth, Fontana tricks out the Bat mythos, crafting a high-octane adventure that young Batfans will love.

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