Bruce Wayne: Not Super

DC Comics. Mar. 2023. 160p. pap. $12.99. ISBN 9781779507679.
Gr 4-7–After the death of his parents, Bruce Wayne is enrolled in Gotham Prep, the school they had bankrolled to educate superhuman youth. Bruce feels alienated, not just because of his lack of powers, but also because while every other student is being directed toward a normal profession where their special abilities would be a boon, he wants to fight crime. DC Comics has a long “Elseworlds” history of alternative universe (AU) works reimagining their characters in different settings, and this middle school–focused take is a showcase for Pekmezci’s clear, energetic art. But while it can be a mistake to look for character continuity in AUs, especially in child-friendly environments (q.v. Franco and Balthazar’s “Tiny Titans”), there’s little joy to be found in seeing supporting character Clark Kent as a cheat and casual bully, or Bruce Wayne himself as a klutz who accidentally shows his bat-boxers during his first outing in costume. There may be readers glad that a young proto-Batman also went through a relatable awkward stage, giving them hope for a dashing and confident future, but that comes across as less of the focus than the convolutions of the AU setting and mild gags about superheroics. Despite Bruce’s claims of isolation, the story skates past many other “supers” filling out the school who are likewise powerless, further diluting the premise and character arc.
VERDICT As an original superhero satire, this might have had some appeal, but for fans of these well-known characters, it lacks sufficient charisma, conceptual cohesion, or fresh commentary on the source material.

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