I figured I should review this before the reboot since no one is going to give a damn about it for a good long while. To be honest, I don’t know much about how this book came to be. I'm fairly certain it was a mini, but when it was released and all that eludes me simply because I don't care. The idea behind this book is interesting, but it’s one that really needed to be explored in a story that was more than four chapters. Batman in Europe is the basic idea, but instead of letting him get a feel for the city and ultimately comparing it to his mistress Gotham, we’re instead handed a few set pieces and thrown some typical action. Oh and the Joker is there… he’s Batman’s partner… it’s a team up book… Batman and Joker do Europe… I fucking kid you not.
If you’re not turned off by this story yet I will continue to tell you that this was clearly DC’s attempt at recapturing some of the magic from Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee’s “Hush” storyline. That right there should tell you the idea behind the plot which is a long time Bat villain pulling all the strings until the final reveal. If you want to know the ending, I won’t spoil it here, but you can listen to this episode of the CBMFP to find out the answer. I recommend that over reading this book.
You’re probably wondering why Batman had to team up with Joker? Well as he puts it, they’re both been given different pieces of the same puzzle. Which is true for about a minute. When they team up it stops being true because they’re just teamed up and stopped receiving different parts of the puzzle anymore. They’ve both been infected with a virus and the solution is really stupid… I mean I figured it out in the first chapter of the story and yet the world's greatest detective had to have his hand-held and told the solution. Just goes to show that Batman doesn't detect anything anymore and that DC should maybe give that moniker to Ralph Dibny in the reboot.
Aside from the terrible team up of Batman and Joker, a lack of time spent with the cities that the story takes place in and just the overall flawed premise of those two things combined; there’s still more that’s poorly executed with this book.
The story is trying to answer the question of whether Batman will sacrifice himself to stop the Joker. A question that should never be asked, much like “what’s the Joker’s real name?” And while the story takes four chapters to set the stage for this question, it’s already answered it by having Batman team up with the Joker. Which begs the question of what the fuck is wrong with the writer’s writing this Batman story? Everything about Batman in this story is uncharacteristic of him. Sure we can say that this is out of cannon and excuse it, but when it’s using so much collective knowledge about the character it ceases to be an excuse. You don't get to pull from the collective identity that is Batman, but then fuck up all his decisions and say "whoops, it's not canon Batman."
The art is pretty whatever. I imagine that there’s some talent here and that it was a big opportunity for the artists to be on the book. Personally I only liked the Jim Lee stuff, but even then it was colored like shit. None of it was spectacular or that special and if you read a lot of comics, like anyone that picks this up is likely to do, then you’ll see styles you’ve seen before. Before the age of the internet when you couldn’t see a lot of comic book fan art from across the globe, this would have been cool and interesting. Now… I’d rather look at one of the many dedicated art sites and see better art and frankly better visual storytelling.
If you haven’t already checked out Batman: Europa, then I wouldn’t. I say that as a Batman fan. I say that as someone who was honestly curious about this book who picked it up and had everything he liked about the character and his cast just slapped in his face like a pie from a malicious clown. I’m all for trying something new with the character, but when the only thing new you add is compromising what makes the character great… well that’s not really new is it, it’s just misguided writing looking for a cheap shock.
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Batman: Europa Writers: Matteo Casali and Brian Azzarello Artists: Giuseppe Camuncoli, Jim Lee, Diego Latorre, Gerald Parel Publisher: DC Comics Price: $22.99 Release Date: Format: Hardcover; Print/Digital