Ricky Church reviews Batman by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso…
This deluxe edition hardcover from the award-winning team of writer Brian Azzarello and artist Eduardo Risso collects the six-issue Batman epic “Broken City,” an examination of the Dark Knight and the city he protects. While hunting the murderer of a small boy’s parents, Batman is caught up in his own investigation and ruminations, only to fall prey to a deadly new pair of killers who have been stalking him. Collects BATMAN #620-625, FLASHPOINT: BATMAN—KNIGHT OF VENGEANCE #1-3 and stories from WEDNESDAY COMICS #1-12 and BATMAN: GOTHAM KNIGHTS #8.
Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso are a team that is beloved by fans for their Eisner Award winning series 100 Bullets as well as their various Batman stories. DC has collected the latter into one deluxe hardcover collection, Batman by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso, for fans to enjoy. Collected in this book are the fan-favourite stories Batman: Broken City, Batman: Knight of Vengeance and some short stories from Gotham Knights and Wednesday Comics.
Batman is one of the few superheroes that can swing between the ultra-fantasy of comics and the gritty realism of a crime noir. Azzarello has shown he can balance between these aspects of Gotham City very well, crafting a particularly compelling and dark tale for Batman. Azzarello captures the essence of the noir genre very well, showcasing Batman’s detective skills just as much, if not more so, than his fighting skills.
Of the stories in the collection, Broken City is perhaps the real draw. The story features Batman tracking down a man who killed his sister, but comes across several of Gotham’s most notorious figures in his investigation. It’s a gritty story that focuses on the dark underbelly of Gotham and explores how Batman’s complicated relationship with the city. Azzarello utilizes the villains in a great way as well, particularly the Ventriloquist. It is cool to see Azzarello mine from the mafia and mob-like characters rather than the traditional supervillians.
The second draw of the book is the Flashpoint tie-in Knight of Vengeance. When The Flash foolhardily went back in time, he altered several aspects of the timeline. One resulted in Bruce Wayne being shot in the alley instead of Thomas and Martha, leading Thomas to become a ruthless Batman in his quest against crime. It’s a great look at what could have happened with the Wayne family and how the Batman ‘curse’ seems inevitable no matter the outcome.
The other two short stories see Batman confronting the serial killer Zsasz in Gotham Knights and investigating the death of a socialite in Wednesday Comics. Both stories show off Batman’s deductive capabilities very well, particularly how he views Zsasz’s point of view. Again, in such a gritty story, Azzarello finds the potential to look at the positive aspects of Batman and his presence in Gotham.
The stories are very Frank Miller-esque, both in story and artwork. Risso’s art compliments Azzarello’s stories, creating some dark imagery and a moody atmosphere to go along with it. His art is great to look at in Broken City and Knight of Vengeance, but one of the best additions to the book is the all black and white Gotham Knights. The black and white format, combined with the deluxe size of the book, really lets readers pour over Risso’s art.
The presentation of the book is great. As said, the deluxe size really lets readers examine Risso’s artwork and get a closer look at the images. The only real drawback in the Wednesday Comics story that’s a bit difficult to read because of the tiny panels and lettering. Overall, though, the book’s deluxe presentation is worthy of the deluxe size and there’s very little gutter loss of any kind. Fans of Azzarello and Risso will enjoy getting all their Batman stories in one nice, oversized collection that perfectly captures the essence of Batman.