(Batman + a deadly virus + a Joker team-up) * Europe = Batman: Europa. So far the story has been adequate, but the art is spectacular. How does issue 3 of this 4 part series go? Is it good?
Batman: Europa #3 (DC Comics)
Last issue Batman and Joker took on marionette robots in Prague. They’re on the trail of the guy who poisoned them both with a deadly virus, which has lead them to Paris in issue #3. The virus is warping their senses and making them lose it a bit, but they’re closer…so, there’s that.
Why does this book matter?
This series is turning into artist Guiseppe Camuncoli’s next best portfolio for new work. While the first issue was partly drawn by Jim Lee it was Camuncoli who finished the pages. Issue #2 was all Camuncoli, and it’s the same case with issue #3. Last issue was visually stunning and this issue appears to be no different, but in an all new way. Instead it’s psychedelic and odd, with a 3D double image thing going on to convey the effects of the virus on our characters. It’s trippy fun as both Joker and Batman die on the page and once again it’s gorgeous. This might be due to Camuncoli doing the layouts and Diego Latorre finishing off the pages!
Now that is gorgeous!
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This issue opens with Batman narrating about Paris and how it’d be his home if Gotham didn’t exist. Clearly writers Brian Azzarello and Matteo Casali are opening this book with a very confused and out of sorts Batman. His senses are messed up and he’s losing control and thus having a hard time keeping it together. It’s a rare thing for Batman to be in this situation, which is made more obvious by Joker’s ability to navigate and keep his cool. Feeling out of sorts is a normal thing for Joker, who narrates over iconic images of Paris and is generally himself in this issue.
This issue introduces a secret society called the Le Cirque Du Roi Des Clowns who worship Joker. Showing this society, the writers reveal an interesting and slightly sophisticated side to Joker. It’s a cool aspect that seems to suggest he’s beloved across the world, but isn’t given much attention aside from the society helping our protagonists move through the city.
Meanwhile the dynamic between Batman and Joker is quite interesting, largely because Bats has never been so subdued before. He’s hanging back and trying to get his bearings which makes Joker take charge. It’s a matter of trust and support of each other that’s rarely seen and that’s cool.
The art by Latorre and Camuncoli is quite different and unnerving in its blurry and 3D-without-glasses sort of look. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if 3D glasses would work on some of the panels in this book. When faces and bodies do come into focus there’s a lot of detail which draws your focus to specific elements in a panel. This is aided by the blur being used throughout, but it gives everything a kaleidoscope effect that’s interesting. You’re guaranteed to feel disoriented like Batman is, which is a cool effect. There’s also an interesting use of texture in images, from Batman’s cowl to the Moulin Rouge. At times it’s as if there’s a thumbprint running underneath everything.
It can’t be perfect can it?
The disorienting effect is cool and all, but it also makes some panels difficult to decipher, especially the climactic pages to end the book. The effect works that’s for sure, but it’s almost too much, making the action sequence a bit of a muddy mess. The goal of shrouding the big bad works, but it makes the experience dull.
They are crazy!
Is It Good?
Give DC credit: they go all in with a very disorienting look and feel to this issue that perfectly conveys what our characters are going through. It’s definitely a cool look and completely different from the last issue even though it’s the same artist, but it does muddy the waters a bit and make this issue too disorienting at times.