***This article contains spoilers for Batman: Damned #1. You have been warned***
Unless you are living in the Bat Cave, you already know what we get to see in the pages of the new Batman mini-series. Apparently, Dick Grayson isn’t the only…nope…I better stop before I get the entire website in trouble.
Anyway, if you bought Batman: Damned #1 (November 2018) because of the controversy, you likely have one of the hottest books of 2018 in your collection. I just hope you haven’t already sent it away to be graded without reading it.
Batman: Damned is beautiful and has a really interesting take on the Dark Knight.
This book is the vanguard of Dc’s new Black Label imprint, where they will be telling more adult-themed stories that are outside of current DC continuity. They also tagged some superstar creators to work on these books, like Frank Miller, Scott Snyder, John Romita, Jr., Sue DeConnick, Phil Jimenez, John Ridley, and many more. They are going to work with some of DC’s most iconic characters like Superman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern.
Doing stories that are out of continuity is nothing new at DC. Superman had numerous “imaginary stories” starting in the 40s and lasting into the 80s, but particularly through the 50s and 60s. DC also created the Elseworlds imprint in the late 80s to carry stories like this.
It seems not having to worry about how it affects the characters from that point forward really offers freedom for these amazing writers and artists to do whatever they want.
Some of DC’s best stories have been outside of continuity:
Batman: Gotham by Gaslight #1 (1989);
Superman: Red Son (2003);
Kingdom Come (1996);
Batman: The Killing Joke (1988);
Justice League of America: The Nail (1998);
The Golden Age (1993-1994);
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (1986).
The list goes on and on.
We will have to see if Batman: Damned will ever be included on that list, but it is certainly off to a good start. Lee Bermejo’s art is gorgeous. His take on Batman’s costume is so realistic, you can almost smell the leather and feel the fabric. In addition, his representation of Deadman and what it looks like when he possesses someone is unlike anything you have ever seen.
Brian Azzarello’s story more than holds its own with the beauty of the art. On the surface, this will be a detective story as the Dark Knight tries to figure out who killed the Joker, but it is so much more. We see a Batman that isn’t indestructible. He is beaten, he is bloody, and he is doubting his own sanity. How can a man that is always in control handle blacking out and losing time? It seems this story will get worse for Batman before it gets better.
In addition, the choice to tell the story through the filter of John Constantine as the narrator is so much fun. He is irreverent, self-deprecating, and unflappable. His inclusion (and Deadman) obviously tips us off to something way out of the ordinary going on here, but it should be a fun ride to figure out exactly what.
If you can find a copy of Batman: Damned #1, especially at the cover price, buy it. Not just because it is going to be worth more than you paid for it, but because it is an excellent comic book. It’s currently on the Hot Comic List for Fall 2018.
by Rob Otto