THIS WEEK: Mark Russell and the Allreds present another look at DC heroes against the backdrop of history in Batman: Dark Age #1

Note: the review below contains spoilers. If you want a quick, spoiler-free buy/pass recommendation on the comics in question, check out the bottom of the article for our final verdict.

Batman: Dark Age #1

Writer: Mark Russell
Artist: Michael Allred
Colorist: Laura Allred
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Cover Artists: Michael Allred Laura Allred

After the success of Mark Russell and the Allred‘s (Mike and Laura) previous partnership on Superman: Space Age, it makes sense that they’d move into a fresh take on the Caped Crusader next. And just like Space Age, this book takes a completely new look at Bruce Wayne and recontextualizes his story for a totally new world.

This is a fascinating world, one where Thomas Wayne is akin to Walt Disney, and Bruce Wayne is decidedly not your typical brooding Batman. In fact, the Bat barely appears in this issue, save for a few establishing scenes before an elderly Bruce tells us the story of his life, or, as much as he can remember it in his old age. This is instead a Bruce with quite a bit of wit to him, and one who is more likely to screw around than help people. Granted, much of what we see here is a teenage Bruce, but it was surprising to see him as a goofball rather than scheming and honing his body to perfection.

Russell excels at this character-focused storytelling, giving us a front row seat to this Bruce’s psyche and the things that drive him. Though Bruce doesn’t care about the world around him, that apathy is driven by the same guilt that drives his mainline counterpart to become a man in a bat costume. It’ll be interesting to see how/why Batman comes to be, and if this Bat leans more camp (here’s hoping!).

The Allreds elevate this to another level, balancing a clean, EPCOT-like World of Tomorrow with the gritty, grimy atmosphere we’re used to in Gotham. Mike Allred has fantastic control over facial expressions and body movement, with strange, bendy people and well-differentiated faces. Laura Allred uses a color palette that harkens back to the bright hues of pre-digital comics, while also pushing further into bright and bizarre in a slightly off-putting way (this is entirely complementary!). Dave Sharpe‘s lettering only adds to this, tying together the time period and setting with strong, gothic (no pun intended), fonts. 

Pariah being here makes me wonder how connected this story is to Space Age, although his role is more adversarial than beneficial to Bruce’s life. This mini feels much more grounded (relatively speaking) than that one, so it’ll be interesting to see whether this becomes a bit headier as things continue. Placing this both in the fifties and 2030 also makes me wonder how quickly we’re about to move through time in this series, but I think this creative team is utilizing both settings well. This is a solid start to Batman: Dark Age, and I’m looking forward to seeing this world further fleshed out.

Verdict: BUY


  • The final issue of Amazons Attack puts a bow on this team, and their struggles dealing with the anti-Amazon fallout from the current Wonder Woman series. Josie Campbell has done a great job bringing this team together, and it would be great to see a longer story told with these characters. Vasco Georgiev and Alex Guimarães made this book feel bright and exciting throughout, and paired well with Becca Carey‘s top notch lettering (Asylum’s balloons!). Hopefully we see this team back, especially with Absolute Power around the corner.
  • I missed Primer when it initially came out, but having it released in single issues is a good way for a fresh crop of readers (like me) to check it out for the first time. Gretel Lusky‘s art is gorgeous, and she uses colors so well on the many spreads in this book. Jennifer Muro Thomas Krajewski are a solid team together, telling the story of Ashley Rayburn and her drive to find herself and a sense of belonging. The power set is incredibly unique, and captures that feeling of being a kid coming up with your own special abilities. I had a blast reading this, and I’m excited to keep going with it as these single issues come out.

Miss any of our earlier reviews? Check out our full archive!