Batman: Damned #1
Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Lee Bermejo
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher
Review by JonahVark
This review may contain some spoilers and mature content.
First and foremost, Batman: Damned is a mature book. This means it is for 18+ readers. Do not let children and teenagers read this book. DC already put censorship on future reprintings of this and future issues. Please stop letting young readers read adult content and then complaining that they read it.
Now that I am done with my soapbox, this book is phenomenal. Let’s first discuss the art. This is one of the grittiest books I have read, in a good, long while. The color scheme is dark and dingy, as reds, greys, and blacks spread across the pages. The shadows and lines are drawn hard and abruptly, while the characters are slightly set apart from the background.
In my opinion, the most important part of this book, are the characters and their coinciding actions. There is blood, loads of it, and I am sure there will only be more blood to come. However it is tastefully drawn, and not gore for the sake of gore. If you picked up a first printing of this, I am sure you’ve seen or heard about Batman’s… more connected team member. It is the only nudity in the book and who knows if there was going to be more. I don’t think it was necessary, but it has definitely been a fun talking point on the internet.
The story is right on par with the art. We start off with Batman bleeding out in an ambulance and unconscious. The stupid EMT’s decide to take his mask off and pay a price for their foolishness. Batman runs away, all the while a narrator speaks. That dialogue seems to be all over the place. It is a little confusing and seems slightly disconnected, but hang in there. Batman crashes into a pile of trash, but as he falls, the panels shift and he is falling off of a bridge. He is still bleeding, as he starts to drown. As he resurfaces above the water, he briefly sees his parents. Something’s not right here, and Batman clearly doesn’t have his wits about him.
We quickly transition back to the alley and we are introduced to the narrator, John Constantine. Now we know things are going to get crazy and mystical. Sure enough, we get a flashback to young Bruce crossing paths with a young Enchantress. In this flashback, she talks about being his secret, and him being hers. Also appearing in one other flashback near the end of the book, she tells Bruce not to be afraid. In fact, she states she is afraid of Bruce, holding up a bat in front of him. A bunch of foreshadowing that I am excited to read about later on. However, I am a little tired of the “when Bruce was young” stories. This guy’s mental blocks must be numerous and impenetrable.
As the story continues, Bruce wakes up in Constantine’s care. It is revealed that the Joker was killed on a bridge. Remember the bridge Batman fell off, stabbed and bleeding? Did Batman finally kill the Joker? Unfortunately, Batman does not remember. He returns to the Batcave, making sure his computer examines his health, and there is no evidence of his stab wounds. While in the cave, Bruce’s suit comes alive, reaching for him and Bruce falls to the ground cowering before it.
Bruce goes out to research the Joker’s death and finds a con artist playing tricks with cards. When he asks about finding his “friend”, she draws a Joker card and asks, “Is this is him?” The final scene shows Batman looking into a kidnapping at a church where Constantine is waiting for him. The odd thing though, is that the crucifix with Jesus has a Joker face painted on him. Joker’s calling card?
This book hooked me from the beginning. I cannot wait for the next issue. I think you will feel the same way. It is a very dark Batman, but in my opinion, that’s the way it should be. This is the Batman book we deserve, and also the one we need right now.