Comic Review - Batman: Europa
Batman and Joker have both been poisoned by an fatal unknown virus and have just days to find a cure, their fates seemingly intertwined, forcing unimaginable pairing of the two. Their search brings them across the Atlantic to Europe as they race against their failing bodies to heal themselves.
I was intrigued by the high-concept offered by Batman: Europa, a four-part miniseries that concluded today. There were a lot of elements to play with -- the unlikely duo of Batman being forced to work with The Joker in addition to both of those players dropped in a fish-out-of-water setting. The result fails to deliver on the promise of the premise. Neither the pairing, nor the setting really added much to the already decades long relationship between the two characters.
As Batman and Joker bounce across Europe with stops in Prague, Paris, and Rome, each city serves as little more than an obvious metaphor for some well-known bat themes. Take Rome, for example, where Batman remarks that it's amazing not just how far back the city's history goes, but also how deep it goes. In Rome, you can't dig a metro line or sewer tunnel without unearthing another bit of history. Much like the bat cave resting beneath Gotham. A bit heavy-handed, but when you only have four issues to work with, you have to be I suppose.
The setting also serves as stand in for the relationship between hero and villain as represented in the story. After finally discovering and confronting the main villain who poisoned Batsy and Jokey, the world's greatest detective realizes that they have had the cure all along. Once again, the deeper you look, the more you find. In this case, it's each other. Batman's blood cures The Joker, and Joker's will heal Batman. A bit of a groaner, if you ask me.
Of course, the theme being that the two can't live without the other. For Batman to exist, Joker must. Vice versa. But we know this already. This theme has been explored many times already and has become an accepted truth between the characters.
And now it has played itself out across Europe too.
And not much has changed.
See you back in Gotham.
A note on the artwork: it's stunning work across all four issues. It's highly-stylized and dark, and messy, and elegant. The art far outshines the story and does a far better job of conveying the thematic elements of the narrative.
Batman: Europa - 2 out of 5 Psychos Traipsing Across the European Continent