Written by: Brian Azzarello
Art by: Lee Bermejon
Batman Damned is a new 3 issue mini series that DC have launched as the first edition of their Black label imprint. It’s written by Brian Azzarello and drawn by Lee Bermejo and is over sized with around 50 pages of stunning art. I managed to grab a copy in the UK and it retailed at £6 which I thought was pretty good value, as this looks more like a graphic novel than a comic. It’s painted artwork is stunning and the book feels very nice, with a stiff card cover and square binding. DC have launched this imprint to allow creators to write stories that don’t have to worry about the ongoing continuity of the cast involved.
So Batman Damned starts with a very dead Joker, and a batman that isn’t suffering from PTSD after being jilted at his wedding. Yes, that’s Batman 2018 folks, it’s no wonder DC launched this.So the story seems set to drop Bats into the supernatural side of the DC universe, and we see John Constantine, Deadman, The Enchantress and Zatanna all in this story. For me, it’s great to have real john Constantine back, not the watered down version we were left with when they cancelled his Vertigo book and turned him into Derren Brown.
The story sees Batman in a bit of trouble before encountering John, but just like the reader, Bats doesn’t seem to know much of what has happened before hand, We find Bruce badly injured in an ambulance in the first pages, and when they try and get the mask off, he lashes out ending up in the dark Gotham streets, desperate and trying to get hold of Alfred. There’s plenty of creepy flashbacks with young Bruce, and Constantine is back on form although it’s nice to see Batman do the disappearing act on him.
The artwork is brilliant and atmospheric, but it’s very much in the shadows and the colour pallet is very muted. A quick look online though has confirmed what i thought would be a point of interest. Do you remember when watchmen came out and everyone was talking about Dr Manhattan letting it all hang out? Well it’s happening again here, as we see the first appearance of the Bat-Tackle, speculators take note. It’s a shame though, as it seems that this aspect has over shadowed the actual story. I’m not sure if it was Azzarello’s idea to show the Bat-a-Wang (not my joke, I stole that) or Bermejo’s but I guess if you are going to do grown up comics, the least you can do is show Batman’s privates. Welcome to DC comics in 2018 folks. On the whole though, this is a real great dark Batman story that has a nasty supernatural twist to it and some very controversial imagery involved, not for the faint hearted but a must have for a collector.
POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD
Now just for fun, do you remember Alan Moore’s Killing Joke? At the end of that story, that Moore didn’t like, there’s a theory that Batman kills The Joker on the last page of the story, It’s a theory that Grant Morrison put forward in an interview with Kevin Smith a few years back. Now on the second page of Damned, there’s a line of dialogue that refers to The Killing Joke, leading me to conclude that this story may in fact be based in the same continuity as The Killing Joke, and that perhaps Batman did in fact kill Joker at the end of that story. I could be wrong but i’m hedging my bets just now.
If you are over 18 and a Batman Constantine fan, this is for you.
Rating: 8 out of 10