Batman: Damned by Brian Azzarello
(3-issue comic series)
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Without a doubt the most interesting part of Batman: Damned 3-part over sized comic series is the 'Batwang' seen in Book 1. Yep, I was stoked (and still love, regardless of the controversy) that we finally saw a man with no clothes on in the Batman universe. And boy is he yummy. Add in the hot sexual version of Harley Quinn we get in book 2 and I can't help but be a huge fan of the art and lack of clothing in all genders. In fact all the stars I give this series are for sexy, gritty art.
DC Black Label
Intended to be a line of comics that are intentionally put together for adults, DC's Black Label started off strong with White Knight. These books are marketed as very dark, gory, sexual and meant to show-off the real grit of the DC Universe. It gives the opportunity for DC to explore all sorts of themes that can't be looked at in their monthly lines (more geared at teens).
On the heels of the superbly done White Knight Black Label; I was super excited about Damned. Too bad the art is by far the best part. Oh, and the Batwang I mentioned earlier is just icing on the cake really. It's perhaps interesting to note that in White Knight we see naked, nipple pointing Harley Quinn and no readers or fans protested; but put naked Batman's naked mushroom cap and suddenly the world has ended. *eye roll*
As a bi-sexual woman I would love to see comics get a little more fair when it comes to the sexualization of each gender. I don't want the women in more clothing; but instead let's remove some of the clothing on the men. It's worth noting here, the Batwang page is darkened in this compilation edition and so you won't get the full art like in the original first print issue of the comic. (side note: this fact just proves how sexist the comic industry is. And reinforces that the fanboys, a.k.a. a bunch of wussy men, whined enough that DC pulled the glorious nakedness of Batman).
Format & Font
I read a lot of comics and so the size of the standard modern day comic is very comfortable to me. Damned is printed in a much wider page that felt awkward. I also don't like how much floppier the pages are (even though they are a good heavy stock). I just see more opportunity to damage or hurt the artwork/pages in any format (besides electronic) that this is printed in.
And what is up with the font at times? It's hard to read, awkward and just annoying. I know it's Batman's thoughts or inner dialogue to himself but it's really obnoxious in the way it's presented. It's not necessary to put the words in some crazy hard to read font in order to get the feel of the deepness or darkness of the narrative. I'd much prefer being able to easily read the narrative and have the words be portray the ambiance than have it be difficult to read. I realize the font is meant to match the illustration style of this series; but for me it's just trying too hard.
Given the hype and controversy surrounding this series, it's a real let down. While I love the moment in Book 2 when Harley bears her heart out to Batman over Joker's demise and how much she misses him; there's really nothing else here. We have little to no new character development, are given annoying Constantine who just confuses the story more (as he tends to), and Zatanna shows for no apparent reason I can tell. And don't even start me on how the angel statues in Book 3 are a poor rip-off of Doctor Who's Weeping Angels. I would speculate on the Enchantress looking character that is unnamed in book 3 but I literally have no clue (and don't really care that much) given her small role in the story.
While I'll certainly keep this series in my collection as it features Harley AND a bat-penis; I just can't imagine coming back to it very often to really read it. Unless of course the next Black Label comic builds on this. Although I really hope it doesn't because I'm not loving the end (which felt so anti-climatic to me) and was just typical annoying DC being incapable of leaving anyone dead in their universe. Given the grit and adult content I feel like the least we could get is some continuity in keeping dead characters dead. But then they'd have to come up with amazing new characters and the reality is that we all just read about our faves.
My overall recommendation is flip through this one at the library or your local shop to see the art and then move onto something else. Or go read (or re-read) Batman: White Knight; the best mini-series DC has put out in the past couple years.
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