Batman: Damned #3 is published by DC Comics under the DC Black Label imprint which consists of both original limited series and reprints of books previously published under other imprints, presenting traditional DC Universe characters for a mature audience. Written by Brian Azzarello with art by Lee Bermejo, this issue concludes the supernatural tale surrounding the Joker and who killed him.
From the first panel to the last, this issue strives to show Batman in a position that he eternally attempts to avoid, being out of control. Whether it is control of his body, his senses, or his very mind, the story pushes to take Batman beyond the point where his vaunted mind and training can handle. And in this endeavor, it succeeds, though not without some other struggles along the way.
The biggest struggle I had with this story is born out of the success of its primary goal. By reducing Batman to a character so completely out of his element and being incapable of contributing to the plot himself, the story feels like he, along with the reader, is simply along for the ride. Batman goes from scene to scene as other characters talk cryptically to him and slowly unravel the mystery surrounding him. Even in the few actual moments where Batman might have acted, someone else does the job in his stead. This passive journey leads to an ending which tries to be shocking but instead comes off more like the end to a Twilight Zone episode.
The place where the writing shines in this issue is with Constantine. I have only the most passing of previous knowledge of the character, but after reading Batman: Damned #3 I am tempted to read any story that involves Batman having to put up with him. He is just irreverent enough to keep the book from becoming a total slog, while not pushing it so far as to break the atmosphere the overall story and art strives to create.
Bermejo’s art is the strongest point in the book as it’s dark images accentuates the tone and themes superbly. Every character feels real, keeping the book grounded, with a story like this needs, even with some appearances of characters that have had portrayals ranging from interesting to downright hooky.
The use of color, particularly red, is handled masterfully as well. The intensity of the colors amp-up with tension in the panels bringing the reader into the scene as much as it is capable of doing. Lending a greater sense of gravitas to the moments that further augment the story. However, even though the visual skill and nuance are readily apparent, it too fails to elevate the story past its petering ending.
As the first series to come out of the DC Black Label I would’ve hoped for a stronger start. Instead, Batman: Damned, the series and this issue, can only be described as coming in with a wang and out with a whimper.
Batman: Damned #3 is available now wherever comic books are sold.
Batman: Damned #3
this issue, can only be described as coming in with a wang and out with a whimper.