Tuesday, December 24, 2019

#IReadsYou Review: BATMAN: Damned #3

DC COMICS/DC Black Label – @DCComics

[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

STORY: Brian Azzarello
ART: Lee Bermejo
COLORS: Lee Bermejo
LETTERS: Jared K. Fletcher
EDITOR: Mark Doyle
COVER: Lee Bermejo
VARIANT COVER: Jim Lee with Alex Sinclair
48pp, Color, $6.99 U.S. (August 2019)

Mature Readers

Batman created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger

Batman: Damned is the three-issue comic book miniseries written by Brian Azzarello, drawn by Lee Bermejo, and lettered by Jared K. Fletcher that launched DC Comics' “DC Black Label” prestige imprint.  Published in an over-sized softcover format (8.5” x 10.875”), Batman: Damned #1 gained attention and created controversy when it was discovered that the art included a depiction of Bruce Wayne/Batman's penis.  There have been reports on various comic book news sites that the later issues of the series were delayed so that portions of the story could be redrawn to remove potentially controversial content.

Suddenly, what was supposed to be a “mature audience” imprint, DC Black Label, had to tone down its content and attitude.  Supposedly, some announced projects for the imprint were canceled or were being rewritten – to be toned down.  Sadly, Batman: Damned #2, which seemed like filler material, could have used the depiction of a good stiff penis (say, Deadman's) to liven up the proceedings.

The central focus of Batman: Damned is that The Joker is dead, and that maybe Batman is the one who killed him... But Batman cannot remember, and there may be some sinister and thus far unknown force that done the deed.  Are John Constantine and Deadman Batman's true allies in solving this mystery?  And why is Batman recalling such a horrifying version of his youth, especially concerning his late (and murdered) mother, Martha Wayne?

Batman: Damned #3 opens with Batman in a grave.  And Swamp Thing thinks Batman should not trust John Constantine.  Now, Batman must face his worst nightmares and the stunning truth about the death of The Joker.

I don't want to spoil Batman: Damned #3, although it has been out for about two weeks now.  I can say that the title is literal, and that it has a stunning ending.  I did suspect that Batman was an unreliable narrator, because he was dead, so...

I can also say that the art by Lee Bermejo's art is as beautiful ever.  In fact, in terms of story, Bermejo does his best work of the series in Batman: Damned #3 with this powerful graphical storytelling.  Jared K. Fletcher's lettering is simple, yet so evocative and powerful.  Brian Azzarello, after delivering empty, tattered Gothic trappings, gives us a powerful finale this is actual storytelling.

I think the problem with Batman: Damned is that Brian Azzarello had an idea for what is essentially a story that belongs in a Batman Annual or in one of those 48 or 64-page Batman “Elseworlds” comic books.  Anything more than 100 pages, which the total page count of Batman: Damned exceeds, is simply a story stretched too thin and is a consumer product that is not honestly released to consumers.

So, at least they got Batman: Damned #3 mostly right.  In fact, this last issue is good enough to warrant a sequel – of a certain page count, of course.

7.5 out of 10

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

The text is copyright © 2019 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.


No comments:

Post a Comment