When it comes to superheroes Europe is not a location they visit often. Usually heroes stay in their respective cities (unless you count the recent globetrotting version of Spider-Man), so it’s compelling to see Batman hop across the pond to check out, in this issue, Berlin. That alone isn’t enough to make a winning comic though, so is it good?
Batman: Europa #1 (DC Comics)
This issue opens with Joker and Batman dying. It appears they’re in a fight and they’re both badly bleeding. We then cut to Batman fighting Killer Croc and narrating on how he feels weak and not himself. We quickly learn he’s sick and his computer system has a virus. The clues direct him to Berlin and the issue kicks into gear from there.
Why does this comic book matter?
Jim Lee draws this comic, which is a huge deal since he doesn’t draw often and his famous work on Hush is without a doubt one of the prettiest Batman books there is. While Lee most likely won’t be penciling the entire series we also have mastermind writer Brian Azzarello and Catwoman maestro Matteo Casali writing this story. Call me crazy but that sounds like a good combo. Plus everything I said in the intro!
A mysterious opening.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Much like Superman, Batman is pretty powerful and never really pushed to his limits that often. He is here though, as a virus has infected him. This sets the stakes very high. Add in the fact that he’s a fish out of water in Europe and we have ourselves a story where Batman is fighting for his life and has to think quick to succeed.
Joker also gets a good amount of play in this issue, and while he’s spouting his usual madness it’s going to be interesting to see how he and Batman move on from this issue.
Since this is an opening issue much of it breaks down to getting our characters from point A to point B and waiting on the next chapter. There are some interesting elements introduced, like Batman’s familiarity with Gotham which of course lends to the fish out of water element once he does make it to Berlin. There’s also an interesting promise of this story hopping around Europe with the cliffhanger.
Jim Lee’s art looks good, but don’t expect his hyper realistic style here. I’m not sure but the coloring by Alex Sinclair looks almost like watercolors. This tends to give the images a washed out look which helps you forget not every panel is as detailed as Jim Lee is known for. There are some fantastic panels though and Joker looks positively mad here.
That’s kinda gross right?
It can’t be perfect can it?
Seeing as this is mostly setup, the first half of the issue feels like it’s biding its time to fill pages. This is in part because there are scenes we’ve seen countless times before, such as Alfred and Bruce figuring out the bad guys’ motives and locations. Once that’s over and done with there are about three pages of romanticizing Berlin. I get the theme of this series is all about Europa, but it reads like it was stuffed in just because.
Is It Good?
A good start to an interesting miniseries that should be on any fan’s radar who adores Joker.