Batman: Europa by Brian Azzarello

details
Title: Batman: Europa.
Writer(s): Matteo Casali & Brian Azzarello.
Illustrator(s): Giuseppe CamuncoliJim LeeDiego Latorre & Gerald Parel.
Colourist(s): Alex SinclairGiuseppe CamuncoliDiego Latorre & Gerald Parel.
Publisher: DC Comics.
Format: Paperback.
Release Date: December 24th 2018.
Pages: 144.
Genre(s): Comics, Science-Fiction.
ISBN13: 9781401285555.
My Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆.

thoughts

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.

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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.


EXHIBITA

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Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada and DC Comics for sending me a copy for review!

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16 comments

  • Very interesting concept… I like the idea of the different settings and how the hero and villain adapt accordingly. But too bad it didn’t reach it’s potential. What is it going to take to freshen up that relationship?

    Liked by 1 person

  • With respect to Lashaan and Bookstooge, I thought the artwork displayed was quite striking. I liked the unusual style and use of color. It is good to take chances. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but it still good to try new stuff. As you say, the artists were attempting to convey the decay of both mind and body in the art. In my reading of this article, it seems that the lackluster finish hurt more than the confusing artwork.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahah no worries, Icky! I do agree though. I love when artists take a chance and do things differently. The artwork wasn’t the major reason why it didn’t work as well as it could’ve for me, it’s definitely the ending. But the way the artwork explores the decay was brilliant. I would’ve still liked a much more “clearer” artwork at times to better understanding where things where heading too though.

      Liked by 1 person

  • Ah dang for the ending because the artwork is just fantastic! Compared with your previous review of Venom I prefer this drawing and coloring!

    Liked by 1 person

  • Before reading your reviews I had never really thought before about the impact of the artwork when it comes to graphic novels – which is stupid really. Obviously it’s pretty important, haha! The deliberate changes the artists make sound really interesting, especially in this case even though it ultimately didn’t really work out for you.

    I am not a huge Batman person but I have seen the old joker movie (the Jack Nicholson one?) and I am intrigued by the idea of Batman and Joker having to join forces for a minute. Complicated villains are always my absolutely favourite so this sounds to me like a really interesting scenario. It’s a shame the ending sucked though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ahhhh artwork is so important when it comes to comic books/graphic novels/manga. And it’s how they convey the story that really draws my attention. Sometimes it looks mediocre at first, but once you read the story, you’re amazed at what the artwork was able to add to the story. In this case, the shift in artwork with different artists actually had a fascinating idea behind it all. I just think that some of the style needed more time to really sell what it was trying to sell.

      Ahhh Jack Nicholson gave us one of the best Joker characters of all time too! Glad to hear you got to see him in action. 😀 But yes! The relationship between the two is formidable and quite unique. It’s why the Joker is such a beloved villain. The bond between the two is really well explored in The Dark Knight too, an all-time favourite of mine. 😀

      Thank you for reading, Lydia! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  • Awesome review, as ever, my good friend – wonderful and impressive use of language, I had to admittedly look ‘concomitant’ up (I always love adding to my vocab)! I seem to remember “Europa” getting mixed reviews when the individual issues were coming out and although the concept sounds intriguing – and you definitely heightened that for me here – I think it was the rotation of artists that dulled the interest for me, if Jim Lee had drawn all of it then I probably would’ve dived straight in because I also usually find Brian Azzarello reliable (DKIII, Joker, Lex Luthor: Man of Steel and more recently, Batman: Damned).

    It’s always a shame then when the denouement disappoints and doesn’t live up to the whole, still I might possibly wait until it’s cheap in a digital sale and check it out for curiosity’s sake!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Chris! Hahaha that’s very research-oriented language. I think I wrote the review right after assisting a conference or something. Explains why I used such a word. 😀 And yes, I remember how hyped I was about the Azzarello-Lee combo, but then got saddened by how short this story is (4 issues) and how the artists changed from an issue to another. However, the rotation here is actually sort of justified, but I don’t think it was the most mind-blowing direction. The overall story, especially the ending, is what really dampened my enjoyment, but it’s definitely worth exploring someday, for cheap indeed.

      Liked by 1 person

    • It has an excellent premise and explores some pretty cool ideas, but man, the ending really took away a lot for me. If it was a bit longer, it could’ve easily been a fantastic story with little flaws! 😀 Thank you!

      Like

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