It should’ve been one of the happiest days in Gotham City history. The Clowned Prince of Gotham is finally dead. The constant worry and concern that Batman has for his city, regarding the ill will of the Joker, should now be laid to rest. So why is Batman upset? Why is he so concerned about what happened? And why is it that John Constantine is the one saving Batman?
See, Batman got too wounded, too injured while on the same bridge where the Joker fell to his death. His memory failed him and he cannot remember the events that took place. As he’s being rushed to the hospital in the back of an ambulance, he wakes up. After smashing the ambulance, he escapes and passes out from too much blood loss and pain. Who turns up? Why none other than our favorite Supernatural fighting member of the Justice League Dark, John Constantine! And John’s having way too much fun messing with Batman’s injured/fragile brain right now.
John returns Batman to his hotel room and waits for Bats to come back to the land of the living. Batman wakes up just in time to hear the shattering news, news that should’ve made him elated to hear. He even watches the video feed of emergency services pulling the Jokers lifeless body from the river. Batman has to see for himself. So while still injured, he flees his rescuer and heads down to the riverside. The one question on his brain…”Did I kill the Joker?” What a terrible thought for Dark Knight. His mantra or code of no killing may have just been broken, and he cannot remember the slightest thing about it.As the story progresses, Batman is haunted by memories of his past. His memories are too garbled, and his mind is putting people in wrong memories. He envisions himself drowning, and when he gets his head above water, who’s there but his parents to encourage him. This theme of messed up memories continues throughout the story, eluding to the fact that Batman’s memory is quite messed up. But why was he even in the river in the first place?
It gets even more interesting when Enchantress shows up in some of Bruce’s memories. She’s got a message for him, one that he may not be ready to receive. But one that she is going to tell him anyways. How will this story play out? Did Batman kill the Joker? Is this the final straw that will see our favorite Dark Knight lose his mind and end up crazier than the Clowned Prince of Gotham? The story ends with us our hero meeting up with John Constantine in a chapel, where someone has desecrated the the Crucifix, and painted “HAHA” all over it?
Batman Damned is as dark a Batman story as I’ve read, really keeping to the DC Dark Label. I can’t remember reading much darker, except for maybe Metal. Brian Azzarell and Lee Bermejo may be on to something here. The artwork, the dark story, the confusion, the wonder, it’s all very captivating and leaves me wanting more. The story is one that I’m excited to continue. Did Batman really mean to kill his greatest villain? Is the Joker really dead? Or is this some ploy to drive Batman crazy? I look forward to Book Two, which comes out in November.
I give 4 out of 5 Couch Cushions