Overview: In Bruce Wayne: Not Super, a young Bruce attends a school for the gifted where everyone has superpowers except him. How will he fit in?
Synopsis (spoilers ahead): Bruce Wayne: Not Super Chapter One: The Worst Place in Gotham. Gotham, as a whole, is an awful place to live. Crime is rampant, the cops are not effective, and the politicians are corrupt. There is a place that can be considered the worst place in Gotham, though. It is hard, as there are a number of contenders. There is Crime Alley, Blackgate Penitentiary, Slaughter Swamp, and, yes, Arkham Asylum. All pale in comparison to Gotham Preparatory School for the Really Gifted. At least from the viewpoint of high school student Bruce Wayne.
The school is a place for all those with powers to learn. Students range from Clark Kent, Dianna Prince, Selina Kyle, Oswald Cobblepot, and Barry Allen, among others. All have some kind of power ranging from super speed and super strength to talking to fish. In general, in order to be enrolled in this school, the student must possess some form of superpower unless of course, you are Bruce Wayne. Bruce does not have any special powers and abilities like his other classmates. One could wonder how Bruce got admitted to this school.
Bruce’s previous school could be considered worse than Gotham Prep. Because Thomas and Martha Wayne paid for everything in Gotham Prep, Bruce was allowed to enroll. Bruce still is not happy; without powers, he is considered a nobody. He kind of stinks in sports when compared to Barry Allen’s super speed and Arthur Curry’s swimming abilities. His academics are also not as good as his peers. His grasp of history gets him an A- but when compared to the likes of Lex Luthor’s A+ grades, they just do not compare. Bruce’s grades in French also do not compare. Brainiac’s A+ mastery of the language in two days does not compare to Bruce’s B- work. With competition like Pamela Isley in science, Bruce’s work does not compare. When it comes to cheating, Bruce is also at a disadvantage.
Take a math test, for example. Clark Kent needs to look at Bruce’s work, but Bruce prevents this by placing his body between his paper and Clark’s eyes. The only problem is that Clark can use his x-ray vision to see through Bruce’s body. When Bruce threatens to tell a teacher, Clark just looks at Bruce’s underwear and then announces to the class what the boy is wearing to everyone’s amusement except for Bruce that is.
One day, Bruce is told by Mr. Fries that the vice principal wants to see him. Now Bruce is sitting in front of the vice principal. One of the students’ assignments was to fill out self-evaluation forms outlining what their aspirations were for the future. Most reported playing football, marine biology, or even a veterinarian specializing in cats.
That is not what Bruce Wayne says. Bruce wants to be a vigilante. He wants to fight for truth and justice and maybe even avenge the death of his parents. The vice principal just tells the boy that he is a wimp with no powers. How can he fight for justice? Instead, the man suggests that Bruce looks into philanthropy. After all, it is safe for him to do, and besides, he needs a new coffee maker. He even blackmails the boy into his demand by saying that he is accusing Clark Kent, the strongest student in the school, of cheating.
He sends the boy to his next class, which is PE. PE is not one of Bruce’s favorite classes, especially when they play dodgeball. Despite the cheers from an observing Selina Kyle, Bruce is slaughtered in the game.
Bruce Wayne: Not Super Chapter Two: The Worst Kid in Gotham. In the distance, a hooded figure watches Alfred Pennyworth pick up Bruce Wayne to take him home. This boy is none other than the other student of Gotham Prep without powers, Jack Napier. Jack, however, got into the school by lying. He faked a power on his admission. He stated that he could see and talk to ghosts. During his entrance interview, he diverted the counselor’s attention and then shattered her window with a slingshot and a marble. He then convinced the woman that he could tell the ghost to stop destroying her office. Jack is a bully, and unfortunately, it is not easy to find an easy target at Gotham Prep, with all the students being super-powered.
Because of this, he decides to target the kids at Gotham Prep Elementary School, mainly the acrobatic Dick Grayson. Jack takes the only money the boy has been able to get, three dollars. This is witnessed by Bruce Wayne, who then buys Dick an ice cream to help him feel better. Dick is grateful, but Bruce wishes he had done more during the incident. The two boys are now at a nearby playground where Bruce is lamenting to Dick about wanting to do more to help people.
Unknown to Bruce, Jack is also nearby, and he has picked a new target, a little girl. He moves in, and Dick is able to get Bruce to notice the incident. Bruce takes this chance and moves in to defend the girl. Unfortunately, he stumbles into a mud puddle. This causes the boy to fall into the merry-go-round, which launches Bruce into the air while his face is covered by the hood of his hoody that he is wearing. He crashes into Jack, knocking him over. Jack runs away without even knowing who knocked him over. Bruce and Dick also run away as Diana Prince arrives. The girl Bruce saved is Donna Troy, Diana’s sister.
Bruce Wayne: Not Super Chapter Three: The Birth of the Bat. Bruce runs home; he is so excited as he finally realizes his dream of fighting for truth and justice. He realizes he needs help in designing a costume. He asks his butler to help him, but he needs some idea as to how to hide his identity. He decides he needs to choose an animal that strikes fear. He tries ideas using a shark, a hippopotamus, a tiger, a cobra, a spider, and a panda. Nothing seems to work. Alfred opens a window, and a bat flies in. This causes Alfred to run in terror, and this inspires the boy as to what type of costume to use.
At the school, Jack decides that he needs a little muscle to help him if he should encounter this vigilante again. He approaches the large kid Bane. Back at Wayne Manor, Bruce tries out his new costume; this will work perfectly with the lair he is going to use under the mansion. He decides to name the cave the Batcave; after all, he is a bat, and this is the home of bats. He decides where he will place his weapons locker and his workout gym. Strangely enough, it will be next to a huge pile of bat guano. He also starts work on designing his weapons, including bat-bolas, bat-lasso, bat-taser, bat-hook, batarangs, bat-chloroform, and his bat-bat.
In Gotham City Park, Dick stumbles across Jack and Bane, planning the crime of the semester. Jack plans to rob everyone at school during the football game. Everyone will be at the game, leaving the school empty for Jack to strike. Bane is there to make sure the vigilante does not interfere. Dick races to Wayne Manor to warn Bruce. Bruce takes Dick down to the cave to show him what he has put together. This inspires Dick to want to be his sidekick and call himself Robin. He is deathly afraid of the bird since he was pecked by one when he was really little. When Dick tells Bruce Jack’s plan, they are interrupted by Alfred, who forbids Bruce from interfering. He even grounds and locks Bruce in his room. He then drives Dick home.
Bruce Wayne: Not Super Chapter 4: The Dark Night of the Dark Knight. The game is a blowout. After all, every member of the team has a special ability. Bruce, however, does not care about the game. He just wants to stop the crime of the semester. He decides to sneak out and go to the gave and suit and gear up. Meanwhile, Alfred drives Dick through the streets of Gotham, where muggings and worse are happening. Alfred decides that he cannot take it anymore. After stopping an unlikely mugging, Alfred decides to turn around and go back to the manor. He still does not want Bruce to become a vigilante, but he can still be more supportive.
At the game, Donna needs to go to the restroom. She wants to use one in the school since Stinkbomb Starkwell just used the portable one by the bleachers. She is not the only one going into school, however. Jack and Bane are also on their way. At the manor, Alfred realizes that Bruce has left his room and the cave. He and Dick race to the school.
Jack created a heat ray. He uses it to melt the doors off of the lockers so he can steal all the contents. Donna stumbles into the area where Bane grabs her. Suddenly a voice shouts to let the girl go. In the skylight is the Batman, and he crashes into the hall. Bane rushes him, and Batman pulls a batarang, but unfortunately, his pants fall to his ankles. He is now at the mercy of the criminals.
Bruce Wayne: Not Super Chapter Five: Super After All. Bruce and Donna are both at the mercy of Bane and Jack, but Bruce comes up with an idea. He talks Jack into taking him to the science lab for a larger score. Outside, Alfred And Dick rush in. Dick will look inside the school while Alfred will look around outside. Diana realizes that if there is something wrong in the school, her sister is in there.
Inside the lab, Bruce secretly turns on the gas on the burner. Bruce tells Jack that in order to get into the closet, they are going to need to use his heat ray. Jack has Bane throw Bruce out into the hall. He snatches Donna, and they run down the hall running into Dick. Jack turns on the heat ray, causing a massive explosion that Bruce and Donna escape from. Dick is caught in the rubble, but he is rescued by Diana, looking for her sister. The day is saved, giving Diana the idea to start a League of Justice, which is shot down immediately by the other kids.
The final scene reveals that the vice principal is Hugo Strange, and he tells Jack that he engineered Jack’s admission to the school. He has ideas for what they can do together. He has a plan on how to handle the vigilante.
Analysis: This is a hilarious little story full of Easter eggs and sight gags. I admit that none of the characters are written according to standard storytelling, but in this story, that is easily overlooked. Clark Kent, for example, is written more as the class bully. There is even a liberal use of what is considered a superpower. For example, Dick is depicted as having a superpower by being an excellent gymnast. Harley Quinn is shown in the book as having superpowers.
The story is a fun little story focusing on Bruce Wayne and his ultimate realization that his intelligence is his superpower is just as powerful as super strength, invulnerability, and super speed.
The art here is fun. The character designs are whimsical and fun. Clark is drawn as buff and very athletic, which fits with his characterization of being the star quarterback. Bruce is designed as not necessarily nerdy but definitely much smaller and less imposing than some of the other characters.
The only quibble, if that is fair, is the reveal of the vice principal. It was not surprising that the character was Hugo Strange, so when he is revealed laughing at his desk, it was not a surprise. The desire for a surprise fell a little flat, but it did not take me out of the story.
Editor’s Note: You can find this comic and help support TBU in the process by purchasing this issue digitally on Comixology through Amazon or a physical copy of the title through Things From Another World.
Bruce Wayne: Not Super
This is a fun story to read, especially when one can put aside decades of continuity. I believe this story accomplishes what the creators wanted to accomplish.