Title: Batman: Europa.
Writer(s): Matteo Casali & Brian Azzarello.
Illustrator(s): Giuseppe Camuncoli, Jim Lee, Diego Latorre & Gerald Parel.
Colourist(s): Alex Sinclair, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Diego Latorre & Gerald Parel.
Publisher: DC Comics.
Release Date: December 24th 2018.
Genre(s): Comics, Science-Fiction.
My Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆.
The cathartic relationship that has always defined Batman and Joker solely drives me to constantly steer my way towards their stories no matter the risks of it being unoriginal, of it missing its mark or of it losing focus and writers not having a good grasp on the iconic character’s psychological strife. With each of them deemed to pursue their lives with completely different lenses, their trajectories help us vividly distinguish their singular abilities to cope with their past and to mold their madness into actions that are either pro- or anti-social. Over the years, Batman and Joker have come to realize that their existence is concomitant and that one cannot exist without the other. While it is often characterized as a rivalry, their subtle comprehension of each other’s mind also highlights their interwoven destiny and the inescapable collateral damage that often comes with their chicaneries. But what would happen if the two had to shake hands?
Batman: Europa is a four-part limited miniseries that brings together some of the greatest talents of American and European comics to tell the mysterious story of Batman and Joker joining forces on their escapade outside of Gotham to discover the one thing that could obliterate their greatest threat yet. Thus, when Batman realizes that he has been infected by a mysterious and deadly virus, he is brought to chase down the Joker for answers until they both figure out that they are suffering from the same fate but have different clues to their ultimate cure. It’s in hopes to saving themselves from death that they go to various different European countries looking for the person responsible or a solution to their problem, but things aren’t looking too good for the both of them as they struggle to remain sane, or as insane as they originally were, throughout their adventure.
Although short, this miniseries proves to be quite a memorable ride that brings the Dark Knight and the Clown Prince of Crime to take a trip outside of their hometown. With a quick history lesson at the beginning of each issue to introduce the latest country they’re about to visit, the story escalates and explores deeper into the psyche of both our characters. The banter between them is truly intriguing and continuously stimulates your curiosity as you feverishly scratch your heard trying to figure out whose behind everything. In fact, Brian Azzarello and Matteo Casali have a wonderful understanding of their characters, although it can sometimes venture a bit outside of the box. Their exploration of Batman and Joker with this overarching premise brings them to test our level of comfort and tolerance, but when you look between the lines, you can see that their ideas explore the rawest form of both of these character’s dynamic. What really drags this stand-alone story into the mud however is the ending. The reveal had no flair to it and felt like it deflated a balloon with a sharp pin.
As the story progresses, the mind and body of both Batman and Joker evidently deteriorates at a steady and synchronized rate. To translate this, the artwork also changes from one issue to another and perfectly captures their physical and psychological decomposition. While the change of artwork has always been a tricky game, it’s safe to say that its purpose was observable in this story and it holds great promise to a reader who pays attention to it. I unfortunately had a tough time with some of the artwork style, especially with chapter 3 drawn by Diego Latorre. While isolated, it is a truly unique and fascinating style, but within the story, it made for an overly-ambitious, messy and chaotic experience. It was indeed almost impossible to figure out what was going on at times. The different visuals were intriguing to some extent, but they often left a lot to desire upon reaching the end.
Batman: Europa is a voyage across Europe as Batman’s and Joker’s repartee paints an exciting adventure that unfortunately falls short at the big reveal.
Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada and DC Comics for sending me a copy for review!