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This is as sane an image as you're gonna get in this story.

Interviewer: Can you give us an overview of the plot?
Neal Adams: I cannot give you an overview of the plot.
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Describe Batman Odyssey here.

Well, we can certainly try.

Batman: Odyssey is a Batman miniseries drawn by legendary illustrator Neal Adams, one of the defining artists of Batman, and published in six issues from September 2010 to February 2011. On the downside, it is also written by Neal Adams, which leads to some... issues. It is very, very strange.

Over drinks, Naked Bruce Wayne tells a story to a friend sitting Behind the Black. The story he tells is meandering and bizarre even by comic-book standards, but eventually coalesces into the tale of Batman traveling Beneath the Earth to battle a deadly enemy, rescue Talia al Ghul, and solve an ancient mystery.

Followed by a quasi-sequel, Batman vs. Ra's Al Ghul, in 2021.


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Tropes:

  • All Myths Are True: Trolls, gnomes, aliens, wizards, Egyptian gods, cyclopse and the Roc, are all denizens of the Underworld.
  • All Trolls Are Different: The trolls encountered in the Underworld are scrawny, cowering humanoids with grey-skin, blue-hair, and green-eyes who "thrive on abuse and small rewards." They also happen to be the oldest upright creatures on the planet, and a product of "separate evolution". Whatever that means...
  • Artistic License – Biology: Primus and his people: They are a race of "evolved dinosaurs" descended from the raptor line with five fingers, ear flaps, hair, and mammary glands. Oh, and Neal Adams has no idea how bat anatomy works.
  • Artistic License – Paleontology: Adams seems to have a passing knowledge of paleontology, and gets a few things right, including the correct spelling of T. rex, and the portrayal of neanderthals as intelligent and human, but still manages to make some common anatomical errors in the illustrations.
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  • Author Appeal: Neal Adams believes the world is hollow, and thus Batman fights foes in a Lost World Beneath the Earth. Most of the characters which appear are also his co-creations.
  • Bad Boss: Sensei casually kills his own underlings, and even forces them to fight to death for little apparent reason. Batman is a pretty bad boss too, the way he talks to Robin and Alfred. Or the way he blows up Robin.
  • Bald of Evil: Sensei.
  • Bat Deduction: Batman deduces the name of an old lady on a train, Sylvester the wizard's musical instrument of choice, and the existence of the Egyptian gods! How? He's a detective.
  • Batman Grabs a Gun: Batman is shown packing heat when climbing on the train, due to the story taking place early on in his career as a crimefighter, although he never does shoot to kill. Interestingly, this actually is consistent with his portrayal in the first 2-3 comics, where he did carry a gun, although given that said period is considered Early Installment Weirdness, it's not surprising for modern readers to find this bit out of character for Batman, even in a story published after the Trope Namer Final Crisis.
  • Beast Man: Some of the Underworld's residents.
  • Beneath the Earth: Featuring trolls, giant bats, dinosaurs, wizards, and all-around weirdness.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Neal Adams likes playing around with foreign language translations of "Batman" such as "Senor Murciélago" and "Fledermaus Mann".
  • Brick Joke: Alfred's "Tiniest violin in the world" joke, and the ice axe Batman threatens the reader with, are both alluded to again near the end.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Talia verbally, and physically beats up Ra's al Ghul after she learns about how he used her.
  • Captain Obvious: Characters frequently point out things that the reader, and other characters can clearly see.
  • Carpet of Virility: Naked Bruce Wayne.
  • Covers Always Lie: The cover (see page image) shows Batman riding what appears to be a pterosaur. This never happens anywhere in the comic. There are pterosaur-like creatures in the underworld, but they look nothing like this.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Batman. Specialized weaponry? Check. Faux Death tricks? Check. Rigging Robin to explode? ... Check.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Alfred. Even more so than usual.
  • Denser and Wackier: By massive degrees. We can only hope that Neal Adams intended the dialogue to sound like it was penned by Lewis Carroll. Seriously, much of what happens in this story does not make sense.
  • Deus ex Machina: Aquaman shows up at the perfect moment to defeat Ubu, and is never seen or heard from again for the rest of the story.
  • Dodge the Bullet: Taken to eleven. Batman is able to grab a gun out of an aggressor's hand so fast that the tracer originates from a location the gun isn't even in anymore.
  • Doing In the Wizard: Impressively, Neal Adams manages to come up with an explanation for the Egyptian mythological pantheon that somehow manages to seem less plausible than them actually just being regular Physical Gods.
  • Dramatic Ellipsis: Sometimes more than a dozen on a single page.
  • Erotic Eating: Nude Bruce eating a bananna.
  • Fanservice: Bruce Wayne narrates the vast majority of this story while shirtless. Falls into Fan Disservice if you're not into how ridiculously hairy he is.
  • Felony Misdemeanor: Batman chews out some scientists he meets in the underworld for making their kids live in there with them, thus "denying them the surface world". To clarify: the underworld has wizards, living dinosaurs, mythical creatures, cool technology, and the freaking Library of Alexandria! Contrast this with the Crapsack World of Gotham.
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: Naked Bruce Wayne narrates the whole story directly at the reader. Although the ending reveals he's actually talking to Superman.
  • Giant Flyer: The giant bats used as mounts by the people of the underworld.
  • God Guise: The Egyptian Gods are actually ancient genetic experiments.
  • Gorn: Batman getting shot, El Maniaco getting shot, Batman getting shot, The Joker slicing a guys face open, Batman getting shot...
  • Heroic Willpower: Sensei is so incredibly badass that he can stem blood loss through sheer force of will. Even Batman is awed by his "discipline."
  • Hollow World: Neal Adams does not believe in plate tectonics.
  • Humiliation Conga: Poor Ra's al Ghul.
  • I Have Your Wife: Or rather, "I have your sidekick", when the bad guys capture Robin to threaten Batman. Batman responds by detonating Robin.
  • Inspiration Nod: In The Joker's introductory scene: at one point he stands in front of a poster for The Man Who Laughs, the original inspiration for the character.
  • I Take Offense to That Last One!: This exchange between Talia and Ra's al Ghul:
    Talia: I'm safe because my beloved crushed my kidnappers. Kidnappers my father paid. THAT MY FATHER PAID!
    Ra's: Daughter, control. What poison has this witless idiot been filling you with?
    Talia: PAID... so that I can be used for bait... to draw my aged brother... the Sensei, out. Why? Why? why? So he can humiliate you by killing me... YOU SCUM!
    Ra's: But... you escaped... I sent Batman.
    Talia: Batman? So he would kill my deadly brother... while you sipped ouzo and watched sports.
    Ra's: Sports? What? I don't...
  • King of the Dinosaurs: Inevitably, one of the prehistoric creatures encountered in the underworld. The dinosaur people traditionally ride, and even eat them.
  • Latex Perfection: Ruben Blades (later Irons) has this for impersonating the Riddler. Not that they needed it, because when the mask gets taken off, they looked identical anyway.
  • Macho Camp: Bruce's hirsute forearms take up 90% of his introductory splash pages. He's about as sharp as a Calvin Klein model (deploying the Dreamworks Face on numerous occasions), pitches fits and takes naps like an overgrown child, and arguably is a bigger threat to public safety than his rogues gallery.
  • Makes Just as Much Sense in Context: The whole thing. Let's just say the author actually believes that the Earth is hollow and filled with dinosaurs and it spirals off from there.
  • Mind Screw: A meandering plot that wanders from flashback to flashback, fights coming out of nowhere, Batman verbally assaulting Alfred, all narrated by a shirtless Bruce Wayne.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Bruce Wayne.
  • Multiple Gunshot Death: Batman's takes multiple pages and winds up looking like a very bloody dance number. Needless to say, it doesn't stick.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: At one point, Sensei gives us a disturbingly erotic-sounding play-by-play of him... unlocking a door.
  • Mythology Gag: Batman at one point actually says the line "Same bat-time, same bat-channel" from the 1960s TV series.
  • Nested Story: Naked Bruce's recollection is not the only flashback going on, which makes things rather confusing in the early issues.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Included among Batman's allies in the underworld are wizards, aliens, "evolved dinosaurs", neanderthals, "animen", and Egyptian gods.
  • Non Sequitur: So many. Arguably, the whole book is just one long uninterrupted example.
  • Off-Model: When Batman begins threatening to shoot a train full of civilians (It Makes Sense in Context... kinda), it scares the mustache right off the conductor! This was fixed in the collected edition.
  • Offhand Backhand: Batman does this at one point with his shoulderblades.
  • Offing the Offspring: King Epochh kills his own son out of some vague sense of honour. Ra's al Ghul plan is to manipulate Batman into killing his son Sensei.
  • Only Sane Man: Deadman's role seems to be to comment on the ridiculousness of the situations in the comic, and the Batman franchise in general.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: The thugs hired by Sensei can not decide what accent they speak with.
  • Our Gnomes Are Weirder: They're wiry, pointy-eared humanoids with bulbous noses.
  • Our Hero Is Dead: Batman is killed by his one weakness. Bullets. From a gun. He's faking it.
  • Out-of-Character Moment: The whole comic is an extended one for Batman and pretty much everyone else.
  • Pintsized Powerhouse: Sensei.
  • Ptero Soarer: The creature ridden by Batman on the cover, as well as the one that attacks Robin are never explicitly identified, but they certainly fit the criteria.
  • Random Events Plot: Oh boy. Trying to figure out a coherent narrative with this comic is like trying to figure out quantum physics. First, it's a naked Bruce Wayne recounting an adventure to Clark Kent about recounting an adventure to Robin about a robbery on a train. Which soon becomes a story about him trying to stop the Riddler. Except it wasn't actually the Riddler, it was some guy never even brought up before. Then a Man Bat shows up. Then Aquaman shows up. Then some guy in another bat costume shows up. All while there's Flashback Within a Flashback stacked ontop of one another. Then they go to a hidden underground world underneath the Earth. Then Batman blows up Robin when he's captured but Robin is inexplicably unharmed. Also Egyptian Gods. It's almost like a silver aged comic. On copious amounts of acid.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Though the Joker is depicted as a genuine threat, he accuses Batman of wasting his entire life chasing and arresting circus clowns. Bruce searches his mind for a rejoinder and can't come up with one.
  • Reckless Pacifist: A big theme of the story is that, no matter what, Batman will not kill. Doesn't stop him from unloading multiple clips into a crowd of civilians on a train (that's about to blow up) to incentivize them to get off it, though.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Throughout the story, new characters show up with no introduction, and everybody just acts like they've always been there. The most blatant examples have to be Sylvester the jive-talking beatnik wizard, and the Roc, which had apparently been terrorizing Jamroth Bok's people for years before Batman blew it up.
  • Reptilian Conspiracy: dinosaur-men from the Hollow Earth walk among us! And Batman's sidekick Primus turn out to be secretly one of them!
  • Retcon: "El Maniaco" goes from being the person helping Batman to stop the train from blowing up to being the one blowing up the train between issues. Practically lampshaded, as when the thugs jump off the train, he notes "it's as if they were never here", which from a plot perspective is pretty much true.
  • The Reveal: The person who Naked Bruce is telling his story to? It's Superman.
    Superman: WHHHOOOSSSSHHHH.
  • Sadly Mythtaken: One of the Egyptian gods is an anthropomorphic hippo who does not resemble anyone in particular from Egyptian mythology. To make matters more confusing, he is addressed as "Wepwawet". Wepwawet was a wolf, not a hippo.
  • Seinfeldian Conversation: Not exactly on an "irrelevant" topic, but one issue has most of a page devoted to various characters', in various time periods and layers of the narrative, discussion about "shooting [Batman] in the face".
  • Shoot the Hostage: Or rather, blow up the hostage. And the hostage is Robin.
  • Slasher Smile: BATMAN, of all people, gets one, right before he blows up Robin.
  • Smoldering Shoes: A variant. In the infamous scene where Robin is blown up, the victim's still-intact boots and mask are seen being flung from the blast. Subverted though, as the Robin comes back in the next issue, with the explanation that he was wearing "directional explosives" and so was safe from the blast. Where he got the spare pair of clothes from is never explained.
  • Snake Talk: A very sssstrange example from Batman of all people.
    Batman: Sssssscum! Stay with me.
  • Sociopathic Hero: Batman, and - to a lesser extent - Robin both come across like this. Even Alfred has his moments, where he offhandedly states that he'd willingly kill Ra's al-Ghul.
  • The Starscream: Sensei wants to take over Ra's Al-Ghul's underworld empire. It turns out "underworld" is literal.
  • Stripperiffic: Talia's dress. It even changes shape between panels, to better accommodate the Male Gaze.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: A train blows up in the first issue, and the explosion lasts several pages! A much gorier example happens later when Batman blows up the Roc. Between the two, Robin.
  • Superdickery: Several examples, but the one where Batman detonates Robin after Robin gets himself captured takes the cake. Naked Bruce explains in the next issue how he designed Robin's armor to self-destruct without harming him... somehow.
  • Superhero Packing Heat: The younger Batman in one of the flashback sequences carries guns. And uses them. Outside(?) of the flashbacks, he decides the best way to teach Robin not to use guns is to give him one.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Seems to be the driving theme of the story (as much as it has one). No matter how murderous everyone else in the story is, or how many people around him are trying to convince him to kill, or how many absurdly dangerous situations he gets himself into, Batman refuses to kill anyone. Even Sensei in the end is merely turned back into a baby. Of course, he pretends to kill Sensei to put the fear of Bats into the Arkham crowd, which makes it a Broken Aesop, but...
  • Unstoppable Rage: Batman nearly beats a fake Riddler to death after he believes that he shot a little girl.
  • Verbal Tic: This is really the only trope which this can go under, but everybody has absolutely bizarre speech patterns, being generally grammatical but just utterly weird.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Batman gut-punches a thug, causing him to throw up.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Narrator!Bruce for the first few issues.
  • What's a Henway?: A good way to beat a "civilized psychic psyclops" apparently.
  • Wizard Classic: Sylvestor, and his fellow wizards.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: The real Riddler.
  • Writer on Board: Neal Adams is an advocate of "Expanding Earth Theory".

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