Batman Damned #1 brings you into a cold world to begin this 3 issue story. Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo combine their talents together to give us a daring, beautiful, and dark tale.
The Joker is dead. Batman has no memory of what has happened. There is only one person around for Batman to work with to discover the truth behind the mystery. John Constantine and Batman have crossed paths many times. Though one would not consider the two of them to be a match made in heaven, they do, however, share a multitude of similarities.
Batman Damned #1 leads us into a dark story, which clearly is working hard to get its name up there with the most iconic Batman stories. The Art by Lee Bermejo itself makes this book intriguing. Nevermind the death of the most famous comic book villain ever, or learning that Thomas Wayne may not have been the great man we all once thought.
Falling is a theme played throughout the issue. Whether it is Batman, and young Bruce falling/nearly falling off a bridge, or Thomas Wayne seemingly falling from grace. John Constantine narrates throughout the issue, which is done in white lettering on the panel with no bubble. Resembling a similar tone to Grant Morrison’s Arkham Asylum.
The Joker is dead. Batman seems terrified at the thought that he could have been the murderer. What would that do to Bruce? We get to see all of this take place from the point of view of Constantine.
Batman has a history of being a dark character. Combine that with the demons that lay with John Constantine, Batman Damned #1 gives us a hint of a horror aspect. Not to mention the appearance of Deadman, which drawn by Bermejo looks spectacular. Throughout the issue, Bruce, both young and present, deal with a dark presence. This presence takes the shape of a young girl who looks absolutely horrifying.
At one point when Bruce is asking his computer where a body that was found in the river is, it replies with “unknown.” Bruce questions the answering stating, “A body just doesn’t disappear.” Which he then asks the computer to check again.
A dark voice then comes in and tells Bruce to check his head. The dark bubble used is the same as the creepy girl seen in the issue. It is also interesting to think about what it said. “Maybe check your head.” Does Bruce know what happened and is in denial?
More Questions Than Answers
The series starts with an immediate dark tone and message with Batman Damned #1. Azzarello and Bermejo work together to bring us an intense mystery. The book makes you think and makes you beg to know who killed The Joker, Why, and why Batman can’t remember.
With John Constantine playing a major role in the series, we get appearances from other magic based characters such as Zatanna and Deadman. Though neither seems to have major roles in the first issue it will be interesting to see if they come into play more down the line.
Lee Bermejo is easily the most impressive part of Batman Damned #1. With his dark, realistic style, it matches seamlessly with Azzarello’s storytelling. The world Bermejo creates feels very much alive. He creates an atmosphere that makes the reader feel like they are right there in the panel.
The art by Bermejo makes this issue worth the $6.99 alone. Showing all the pain Bruce is in physically as well as mentally. Not to mention that last page which is absolutely spectacular, and if you can’t appreciate it when you see it, well… Sorry.
Final Thoughts On Batman Damned #1
DC Comics kicks off its DC Black Label with a bang. The team of Azzarello and Bermejo clearly want to make a statement about this issue. Will this story end up in the ranks with Arkham Asylum, Dark Knight Returns, or Killing Joke? That is yet to be determined. The first issue of this series does a great job not giving too much away and yet keeping you even more interested to dive into issue 2. So many questions need to be answered.
We will see if any get answered in the next issue. Batman Damned #1 is a solid start to this 3-issue series. If you end up buying this book, whatever you do, don’t skip to the last page. Trust me, it’ll be worth the wait.