Batman: Overdrive by Shea Fontana, Marcelo Di Chiara (Illustrator)

Batman Overdrive


Goodreads: Batman: Overdrive
Series: None
Source: Library
Publication Date: March 2020


Bruce Wayne will shortly turn sixteen. All he can think about is restoring his dad’s old car and finding out who murdered his parents. His friends worry he is living in the past. But Bruce is desperate to blame anyone for that night–anyone but himself.

Star Divider


My reading preferences tend to lean more towards Marvel than DC, but I have recently attempted to get into the DC world by reading some of their newest releases, graphic novels aimed at the YA and middle grade audiences. The journey so far has been somewhat uninspiring. I enjoyed Sarah Kuhn’s Shadow of the Batgirl, but had more mixed feelings about other reads. The difficulty is that, while I am broadly familiar with DC characters, I am not well versed enough in their histories to feel like I can appreciate all of the recent releases–not without more background information.

Batman: Overdrive neatly solves this problem, however. While it does feature an array of characters from the Batman comics, it also works as an origin story, an introduction to Batman and what makes him tick. I appreciated the ability to jump into a story without feeling lost, as well as the emphasis on character development. The story explores Bruce’s reaction to his parents’ deaths, and his desire to do something to feel connected to them and make them proud, while showing the creation of the Batmobile. This allows any reader to dive in without needing to know Batman’s history, but also gives a twist to his origin story so seasoned readers have something new(ish) to enjoy.

Batman: Overdrive is clearly aimed at a younger audience, featuring a soon to be sixteen Bruce Wayne who is restoring his dad’s old car, while also investigating who may have really been behind his parents’ murder. The illustrations straddle a fine line. They are clearly for children, but they are not cutesy. Neither are they really gritty, however. They seem to seek the approval of preteens or young teens, trying to exude an aura of “cool.” For the storyline, featuring classic cars and road chases, the style works very well.

For me, however, the real draw is the characters. Bruce is trying to find his place in the world, as well as someone else on whom he can blame his parents’ deaths. He was the one who asked to go to the movie theatre that night, so he still feels guilt. Only by discovering that their deaths were part of some greater pattern or plot will he feel exonerated. But he is living in the past, as well as in his father’s shadow, and he is missing out on all the good relationships he has in the present. Bruce’s growth is a key part of the story, the part that made it more about looking cool, the part that resonated with me.

Batman: Overdrive is a great introduction to the DC world for those who are new to it. Its sympathetic characters, however, will appeal to old fans, as well.

4 stars

4 thoughts on “Batman: Overdrive by Shea Fontana, Marcelo Di Chiara (Illustrator)

  1. Michael J. Miller says:

    I did something similar recently, trying a novel as an introduction to DC’s larger world (I know this is a graphic novel but my goal was the same). After seeing (and loving!) ‘Birds of Prey,’ I wanted to know more about Harley Quinn as a character. I knew her from watching ‘Batman: The Animated Series’ in my youth but those memories are waaaaay foggy now XD. I had NO IDEA where to start but I ultimately went with the novel, ‘Harley Quinn: Mad Love.’ It was an adaptation of Paul Dini (her creator)’s origin story of Harley Quinn written, in part by DIni but largely by Pat Cadigan. I really enjoyed it! I found it a surprisingly welcome door into this character’s world.

    I read a beyond-brilliant Captain Marvel novel not long ago (an original story, not an adaptation) that I really loved, too. I’ve thought of doing a post about superhero novels and how the characters work in a different medium. But I’ve WAY digressed from the point of your piece! I’m glad you enjoyed the graphic novel and, even more than that, I’m glad you enjoyed Bruce Wayne! He’s a character I’ve always struggled to get connect to so any author that can make me care about him is one worth checking out.


    • Krysta says:

      I’m kind of interested in Birds of Prey now that I’ve been reading up a bit on Batgirl/Oracle! Maybe one day I’ll be a DC AND a Marvel person!

      Ooh, what was the Captain Marvel novel? I’d love to see a post by you on superhero novels!

      I think maybe it helps Bruce is 15 in the story. He’s a little angsty, but it feels more natural in a teen. And I think the muscle car subplot adds a certain energy to the story, so it’s not too dark. Bruce is a kid who loves cool cars!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Michael J. Miller says:

        The novel is ‘Captain Marvel: Liberation Run,’ by Tess Sharpe. I was so impressed with it, I’d consider recommending it as a starting place for new readers who have never encountered her character before. It’s an original story and it’s sooooo good. I read it in a day or two. I just couldn’t put it down. The author clearly gets what’s special about Carol as a character and what people respond to in her, what she represents. She also doesn’t run into any of the “problems” you and I have often lamented some writers seem to find with her character. Tess Sharpe gets Carol Danvers and she knows how to write her in all her complexity. I’m realizing now I’m in danger of hyping it up too much XD. And if I inadvertently do that I’m sorry!!! But I do think it would be well worth your time.

        I’m sure you can one day become as well versed in DC as Marvel. Or rather, as long as the right quality of stories come along to hook you! As I’m sure you know, Marvel will always be my first, deepest, and true love :). But I started flirting with DC because I was just so blown away by Patty Jenkins’ ‘Wonder Woman.’ That movie was a game changer for me so it made me begin dipping my toe in the DC waters. Thankfully my love of Marvel is such that they know they’re always first in my heart and they don’t have to get jealous or anything.

        OH! And I didn’t make this connection as I read your post but it hit me as soon as I read your comment. I, as someone who’s never really enjoyed Batman, find it fascinating that this more exciting story comes out of them writing a Batman story essentially without Batman. They took the character of Bruce Wayne but approached him before the moody, sullen hero persona fully set in. I am legitimately intrigued.


        • Krysta says:

          I’ll have to keep an eye out for that one! Once the libraries reopen! (I really wish I had checked out more books now!)

          You’re right! It seems like DC is doing a number of books before the hero becomes a superhero. The Oracle Code features a Barbara Gordon who never seems to have been Batgirl and Shadow of the Batgirl features Cassandra Cain as she thinks about taking up Batgirl’s mantle. These are some of the stories I have enjoyed the most, interestingly, perhaps because they seem more character-driven and less about punching bad guys.


Leave a Reply! We'd love to read your thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.