Let’s address the elephant in the room, yes, there is bat butt and more in this comic moving on. Batman damned (1/3) is the first comic to come out of the new publishing DC Black label imprint From DC Entertainment. It aims to gives premier talent the opportunity to expand upon the canon of DC’s iconic Super Hero comic book characters with unique, standalone stories that are outside of the current DC Universe continuity. They have also allowed the artists to get as provocative, edgy and graphic as needed, anything that adds to the story in any way stays. Giving heavy hitters like Frank Miller, Scott Snyder, Brian Azzarello, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Greg Rucka and John Ridley absolute creative freedom can only lead to beautiful story telling. They are going all out on the art work as well collaborating with John Romia Jr., Greg Capullo, Lee Bermejo and Phil Jimenez.
“DC Black Label offers leading writers and artists of any industry the opportunity to tell their definitive DC stories without being confined to canon,” explains executive editor Mark Doyle. “We are carefully crafting each series to fit the vision of the creative team. All of these creators are masters of their craft. I’m psyched to be working on a Wonder Woman story with Kelly Sue and Phil, helping to bring John’s vision of the other history of the DC universe to life and reuniting with some of the greatest Batman talents in the industry.”
Clearly there is a lot to look forward to from the label. Now that we have an idea of the labels general direction lets focus on Batman Damned. Although the book was reviewed on an iPad, due to availability. The print itself is of odd dimensions from what we can tell. So if you keep your single issues sealed after you’ve read them, heads up. The book is larger more pamphlet sized. The DC Black Label is very much aimed at a mature audience, there is nudity, murder and the entire scene is very dark. Batman Damned is written by Brian Azzarello and styled by Lee Bermejo. The art work is beautiful and the story so far is very interesting. Batman Damned is absolutely gorgeous and the story is interesting without being too technical. The tone of every panel and the emotions they try to convey translate perfectly and this could be the next Killing Joke, but we’ll have to wait for issues 2 and 3.
So the joker is dead and no one, including batman knows who did it or how it happened. We are greeted by a wounded batman surrounded by doctors who try to help him but, well he’s Batman. So obviously he assaults them and flees crying out to Alfred for help. This is where things start getting strange, John Constantine, Enchantress, Zatana (Doing the three card Monty on the street corner, hustling strangers. perfect) and Dead Man make an appearance, and there isn’t much dialog so you are kind of trying to figure out what is happening. Strangely this ambiguity works very well with the art style. There’s a lot happening and you get a sense of desperation shared by Batman himself. He wakes up to a cocky John Constantine, his wounds have healed and he hustles to the Bat cave. This is where the controversial nudity happens. He uses the Bat Computer to scan for injuries. Do you have to be naked for a scan? Probably, could you have avoided the male genitalia from the frame? Yes. But I think that’s the point DC Black isn’t worried about censorship and they have made it very clear. There are scenes of Bruce as a child being haunted by the Enchantress, she never really hurts him but asks if he would stay with her. Images of Thomas and Martha Wayne. Speaking of who, are unlike anything we’ve seen before.
There are few comic books that create such interest and by doing so DC has also raised our expectations for what is to come next.