Writer: Matteo Casali and Brian Azzarello
Layouts: Giuseppe Camuncoli
Pencils and Finishes: Jim Lee
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Between Batman Europa and Captain America White, the end of 2015 is becoming a haven for long waited projects. After being announced in 2004, originally solicited in 2011, this series finally hit the stands this week, almost under the radar (that’s for me, this book has been advertised heavily in DC books). I was excited when it was initially solicited, but was going into this issue unsure what to think.
Casali and Azzarello create an interesting story that sees Batman going to Europe, hence the title, in search of information and cure for a virus that’s afflicting him. With the presence of the Joker being clear, Batman jumps to the natural confusion, but the truth is much stranger, leading to a team up between the two archfoes. What I really enjoyed about this issue was the classic Batman feel in the story. Casali and Azzarello are hammering home the Detective aspect of Batman, which I really miss in the current New 52 title, which is much more horror based. In a newer DC world, the nostalgia for the heroes that I loved getting into comics is very real. That being said, with the New 52 Batman existing now, and the relationship he has with the Joker, this teamup is a little hard to believe. People that really get invested in current continuity might struggle with this, but for me, it wasn’t too much of a distraction. This is very similar, in my opinion, to Mark Waid’s first Captain America run where we see Steve and The Red Skull teaming up. Every time you see the two together, not fighting, it’s just plain weird. With Batman’s character, the drive to get to the bottom of the mystery, and to save himself, give us a believable reason to grab onto. Also, it’s not hard to see that these two will inevitably come to blows.
The art is what distinguishes this series from other Batman stories, or what I suspected it was suppose to. With Camuncoli on layouts, and a watercoloring color style, my expectations were a little high for this. When I got into the issue and it looked more or less like classic Jim Lee Batman, I was a little disappointed. While Jim Lee art is always beautiful, I was hoping this would be a different look at Batman, one that would be more than just different coloring styles. When it comes down to it, I found myself wanting more Camuncoli. Also, even though the watercoloring colors are unique, it looked more like a digital attempt at watercolor rather than actual watercolors. I know doing actually watercolors isn’t realistic, and digital is necessary, but we are seeing how you can get in line with real watercolors in Dustin Nguyen’s work on Descender. Really, I just want this to go even further in art experimentation, and I can understand why a mainstream book like this wouldn’t necessarily want that. That art is still very good, and if you like Jim Lee, you’ll eat this right up. To top it all off, we get to see Batman in the old costume, which put a huge grin on my face for the whole issue.
Batman Europa proved to be of a time when it was originally solicited, but in todays comics world, this is a nice change of pace. While not perfect, Batman fans should pick this issue up. With different artists for the different issues, I’ll be back
4 Killer Crocs out of 5