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Review: Batman Europa #4

Batman Europa #4“The last tango”

Better late than never. This review I mean, not the comic. I had such high hopes for this story and with every new issue it waned tremendously. The concept was so brilliant: Force The Batman and his greatest nemesis The Joker to work together to save each other’s lives. It should have been a rocket ride of insanity down the river Styx. Instead it was a very poor attempt at a costumed Abbott and Costello.

To no one’s surprise it was Batman who played the straight edged foil to Joker’s serrated zaniness. At first glance it seemed like a magically pairing made in darkness but after that first stellar issue (once Jim Lee left the art chores) it all unraveled quickly.

In a nutshell, both Batman and the Joker have been poisoned by the deadly Colossus Virus that is ravaging their bodies at an alarmingly increasing rate. This in turn forces the pair to travel the globe and frantically search for a cure for their salvation. There you’re all caught up. (No, seriously you are. Not much has happened in this series)

So in between their deadly backpackery through Europe, at each stop they get closer to the one behind it all. The source of all their torment. Was it worth the wait? Is this their darkest hour?

This is where I just about threw my hands up in protest. I saw the only saving grace for this faltering tale, was the reveal of the evil mastermind behind this chaos. The reveal of this scheme should have been a master of mechanization, someone who really takes both Batman and the Joker to the limit. Instead we got neither. I stated in a previous review that this was a chance to either elevate an underappreciated member of Batman’s rogues gallery or create a new supervillain altogether. That wasn’t the case. The revelation was so underwhelming and seemed shoehorned. I have no urge to go back and read previous issues but I suspect if I did, there won’t be any real clues to who was behind it all. It was almost as if they just went with the notion of using one of the most overused (albeit popular) villains they could. Now even if I could get behind this man torturing the Dark Knight, his reasoning for including the Joker was just lame. Plus don’t even get me started on the poison resolution as it was plain idiotic. It was cliché and trite and just lacked imagination. The other downside was that they dispatched with their “monumental” foe with barely any difficulty. I mean both Batman and Joker are at the brink of death and they are able to make such short work of the mysterious adversary. It felt very Saturday morning cartoonish. It seemed like it only ended so quick because their was no more issues to come and the creative team had parameters they needed to adhere to.

At this point you’re probably wondering if there was anything redeeming or that I enjoyed about this issue. Well I can say that I didn’t mind the art as much as I did the previous two issues. It was less scratchy and more stylized this time around. Again I’m a big fan of Giuseppe Camuncoli (See his monthly work on Amazing Spider-Man, it’s great) but this interpretive painting style just doesn’t suit him well here. The writing, I am saddened to say I have been very disappointed by Brian Azzarello, who tends to do great work but this just wasn’t his game this time around.

Overall: A very exciting premise with a lot of promise and it just missed the mark with every arrow it had in its quiver. If you want to see a story where Batman and the Joker are uneasy allies, play Arkham Knight for your favorite video game console. It is done far better and Mark Hamill even voices the Joker. Always a win in that case. So while I think it’s great we get out of continuity Batman tales from time to time, this is one that should have never made if off the cave floor. Guano for me. Next time Bat-Fans…

Story: Brian Azzarello Art: Giuseppe Camuncoli
Story: 4.5 Art: 6 Overall: 5.5 Recommendation: Pass

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