Batman: Europa #1 Review
(This review contains light spoilers for "Batman: Europa" #1. You've been warned.
"Batman: Europa" is a brand new (though long, LONG awaited), stand alone 4-issue mini-series that gets back to basics. This is a story that is bound to appeal to Batman fans of almost every era, with a great original story by Matteo Casali and Brian Azzarello and beautiful art by Giuseppe Camuncoli, Jim Lee, and Alex Sinclair. Sinclair's color is one of the highlights of the book, with stark contrast between dark and light tones, which lends to Europa's overall tone.
"Europa" opens with a flash forward to a fight between Batman and Joker, both beaten and battered and on the verge of death. This certainly isn't the first time we've seen these two in this condition, but how they got to this is the real meat of the book. The story really begins a couple pages later, with a fight between Batman and Killer Croc, which isn't going as easily as usual for Batman. He notes feeling winded and that the fight feels harder than usual. Shortly after discovering the Bat-computer has been infected with a virus, Bruce and Alfed discover that Bruce has also been infected by a virus – one that will kill him in exactly one week. Batman follows a lead to Berlin and runs into Joker hunting down the same lead. Instead of this being a typical Joker plot, it turns out Batman and Joker are both infected with the same virus, which leads to one hell of a team-up.
The Batman/Joker dynamic is one that's been done dozens of different ways by loads of great writers. But having Batman and Joker team-up adds an element of fun in the mix that I wasn't expected. Granted, Joker needs to always be kept at arm's length, but it's interesting to see the hero and villain's goal intersect for a chance. Self-preservation brings together two of comics greatest enemies in a way I've never seen before. This book is going to take Batman through different cities in Europe, removing him from his typical stomping grounds of Gotham. Removing Batman from his comfort zone and teaming him up with his greatest enemy adds a vulnerability to the hero that could lead to some great character beats.
The art in “Batman: Europa” is the probably the best to pick this book up. Batman and Joker have their classic looks, something we haven't seen in a very long time. Joker is back in his purple suit and Batman is wearing his undies on the outside. Each page is filled with very large panels, which adds a great sense of scope and scale. There are a few splash pages in the book that I'd be willing to have framed and hanging on my wall, they're THAT good. This may very well be the best looking book DC currently has on the shelf and I know full well that saying that includes Snyder and Capulo's main Batman title.
If you have to pick up one superhero book this week, make it Batman: Europa. It's a story told with a classic comic book mentality that's bound to make any Batman fan happy. Personally, I can't wait for what's bound to be a beautiful hardcover version.