By Matteo Casali, Brian Azzarello, Jim Lee, Giuseppe Camuncoli & Alex Sinclair
Right off the bat, seeing Jim Lee return to art duties on a Dark Knight title is a sight for sore eyes, even if it’s only for one issue. Matteo Casali and Brian Azzarello have crafted a story where Batman is infected with a lethal virus and must travel across Europe (thus Europa) to find the mastermind behind this dangerous game. Of course, what great Batman story doesn’t have the Clown Prince of Crime making an appearance? Joker weaves his way into this tale and will no doubt provide interesting dynamics to the mini-series.
Yes, the premise does seem a bit gimmicky to have Batman touring overseas, but Casali and Azzarello seem to have created a decent plot to wrap around it. They are able to make fascinating allusions to the foreign cities and Batman. It’s a great exploration considering how linked Bruce is to Gotham and this writing team does a nice job of integrating it into the overall story. Also, the bond and interactions between Joker and Batman also change, so again some new avenues can be traversed to delve further into their relationship. There’s definitely a lot of material and concepts that can be used for another great caped crusader narrative and these two seem to start things off right.
Giuseppe Camuncoli designed the layouts for this issue and will be the primary artist in issue two, but, let’s be honest, the real highlight is Jim Lee. As current co-publisher for DC and renowned comic book artist, Lee has the run of the mill, so something drew him to this project. It has even more significance considering the mark he left with Jeph Loeb on Batman: Hush. Surprisingly, his long-time inker Scott Williams is not collaborating this time, but his usual colorist Alex Sinlcair is. Without refined inking the artwork in this comic has an unusually intriguing look. It’s a great way to see Jim Lee’s style in another light. Every pose/depiction of Batman is perfect. Very few artists absolutely nail the physical presence of the titular character. Sinclair obviously knows how to color this work and makes sure that nothing is covered up and the intended tone or setting is delivered to the audience. All around just wonderful artwork.
This is definitely a solid book. The writing and artwork mesh well together and are well done. Whether the rest of the series will follow suit or not is left to be seen, but let’s hope it does. It will be difficult to follow in Lee’s footsteps, but maybe the other three artists will bring their own talents that will complement the story. In the meantime, check out this premiere issue of Batman: Europa.