Batman: Damned #2 – Brian Azzarello, Writer; Lee Bermejo, Artist
Ray – 3/10
Corrina: I’ve No Idea What This Is Supposed To Be
Ray: It’s been a long time since the first issue of Batman: Damned debuted, and the Black Label line has been hit with heavy delays since. The first issue was a fascinating look at a darker Batman who had been haunted by supernatural forces his whole life. Batman: Damned #2 is something different entirely, a jumbled mess of cartoonish reinventions of supernatural and Batman characters and a Batman who seems like a combination of Frank Miller’s and Azzarello’s Flashpoint Batman. The issue opens with Batman and Constantine continuing their team-up after last issue’s rescue. There’s a lack of Bat-wang this issue, but things are no less strange, starting with a visit to an underground magic club. There, Batman encounters the series’ version of Etrigan – a supernatural, scarred rapper who seems to be channeling demonic forces in his rap. After Batman gets ambushed by “J. Blood”’s stereotypical fans, he’s bailed out by Deadman possessing someone and escorting him to safety.
It only gets stranger from there, with flashbacks to the shockingly broken Wayne family Bruce grew up in and the return of the Joker – which is completely unexplained. First, he was dead and that’s a big mystery, now he’s back and blowing up Gotham. While evacuating a burning building, Batman encounters a version of the Spectre as a drug-addled homeless man, but the series truly takes a turn for the bizarre when Harley Quinn shows up. But this isn’t any Harley Quinn we know – it’s a manic, scarred serial killer with her lips stitched together. She seems sexually obsessed with Batman, tries to sexually assault him, and then he seemingly kills her, influenced by his childhood demon friend.
Mature Readers lines can go two ways, and right now this first Black Label book, unfortunately, seems to be going in the worst way possible – a dark-and-edgy cartoon of a story with little point but to be as shocking as possible. Far from this brilliant creative team’s best work.
Corrina: From the first issue, I thought there was a promise of a good story, as Gotham by Midnight did a terrific job of delving into supernatural Gotham.
But I don’t know what this issue is doing, what it’s trying to say, or what story it’s trying to tell, other than maybe Batman is insane? Gotham is insane? I can’t say I enjoyed it or didn’t enjoy it because I have no idea what it is.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.