BATMAN: EUROPA by Brian Azzarello

I wish there were more solid ‘one off’ comic story lines currently in production. With the continuous abundance of attention-worthy ongoing story arcs, it’s very easy to fall behind. Once you’re behind in one of those story arcs, or late in starting one, you’re almost better off waiting for the trade paper volume to be released. BATMAN EUROPA is one of those rare one offs that also happened to have an enormous amount of anticipation built up thanks to its long gestation. So… was the wait worth it? (spoilers below)

 

BATMAN: EUROPA written by Brian Azzarello

 

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Batman and Joker are infected with a unique virus called ‘Colossus’ which was specifically created to attack the two. The only way they can survive is to follow the trail of its creation all the way to an unknown villain out to kill both characters. Clues take them to the oldest cities Europe has to offer. EUROPA is interesting because each of the four issues features a different artist like Batman superstar Jim Lee. Having different artists isn’t anything new for comics, however, in this case every issue has a drastically different style which creates a memorable experience. The third issue is the only one that was abstract enough to seem out of place. Unfortunately, the story lacked the strength that could have taken those art styles to a magnificent level. The fact that it took place in Europe is sadly inconsequential; it could have happened pretty much anywhere without any solid reason for the setting other than an excuse to shake up the style in scenery.

 

I did have a “whaaaat!!” moment when Bane was revealed to be the central antagonist. Bane, after all, is a brilliant tactician with the maniacal drive and chemical accessibility to successfully pull off this plot. Even though it made sense (from knowing the character), I followed the surprise with a “what??” moment because of the total lack of clues to Bane’s involvement prior to the final issue. The climax would have been a tad more… climactic… if readers were given proper breadcrumbs to follow. This story was clearly meant to further explore the depths of the Batman/Joker dynamic more than give a rounded experience. I suppose it accomplished that purpose in some ways.

 

The revelation that the way to cure Colossus was in each other’s blood was interesting. Then the realization that it only took ingesting a small amount of their infected counterpart’s blood made it a tad odd… and uncomfortably unsanitary. My favorite part actually came from this weird development – it was a great scene having Batman truly consider letting himself die knowing it meant Joker would also die. That great moment was somewhat lessened by Joker’s cheap shot to get the cure.

 

All in all, EUROPA is worth a read for fans of the Bat. Getting a lackluster finale after four months of buildup doesn’t detract from the truly impressive visuals. Look for it in trade paper; I’m sure it will be far more impressive as a collected edition.

 

My rating of BATMAN: EUROPA is 6.5 out of 10.

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