Thursday, June 9, 2016

Batman: Europa #1 Director's Cut Review

Same Old Song and Dance

Written by: Matteo Casali and Brian Azzarello
Art by: Giuseppe Camuncoli, Jim Lee and Pat Brosseau
Cover Price: $5.99
Release Date: June 1, 2016

I did not review Batman: Europa for our site when it originally came out.  That honor went to Jody and to say he wasn't thrilled about by the time the series ended is a bit of an understatement.  Eric and myself did talk about this issue on our podcast and I wasn't a big fan then, but I figured I'd clear my head of it all and review this Director's Cut edition to see if maybe I rushed to judgment originally.  I mean, DC must think pretty highly of it to come out with a Director's Cut edition, right?  Either that or they are trying to milk this cow until it can't be miked no more.  Well, which one is it?  Let's find out...

As the issue starts, Batman is hurting and through his monologue narration we get the idea that this is the end result of yet another fight with the Joker.  If you already read Europa, you know what's going on, but there is still a surprise for you here...the art.

Nothing new is added, just taken away.  The issue is pretty much Jim Lee's pencils and it does change things quite a bit.  I have no idea how each of you will react to it, but I actually prefer it this way.  It gives it a grittier look that fits the narrative better.  Here is an example of the difference below to help you decide for yourself.

The issue continues with Batman telling us a bit of what Gotham is... and yes, even though this story predates anything that Scotty Snyder did with the character, I still rolled my eyes a bit.  If you love Batman monologuing, you will find a lot to like in this issue.

One thing I like is seeing Batman's Rogues Gallery and we get Killer Croc next.  It's a brutal fight that is here mainly to show that Batman is not right.  He says that Croc "smells it" and even though the Dark Knight eventually wins the battle, he heads back home to see what is going on.  Is it just me or is it odd for Batman to say he's "coming down with something"?  Batman doesn't get colds, does he?

When he gets back to the Cave, Bruce finds out he isn't the only thing sick...the Batcomputer has a virus.  While I was really hoping it all came down to a little, "When Batman's away, Alfred will play" type of Internet activity, it seems that the computer and Bruce himself, are infected with the Colossus Virus.  A virus that will kill Bruce in one week if he doesn't find a cure.

The World's Greatest Detective is on the case and it leads him to Berlin.  Seriously, if you thought that Batman likes to wax poetic about Gotham, one thing is clear after reading this issue...Batman is indeed a jelly doughnut. He stops his love affair with the city for a moment to follow a local piece of shit to where local pieces of shit get together and finds...a whole lot of jokerized dead pieces of shit!

After some more sweet nothings about Berlin (get a room!), Batman presses the flesh and eventually finds the Joker.  After a little back and forth involving words, gunshots and punches, we find out that the Joker isn't behind the Colossus Virus...he has it too.

The issue ends with a very forced and hurried introduction to the third person in this crazy, sick trinity...Nina the computer hacker.  It seems that she was hired to hack into the Batcomputer and that will lead us to the next issue and Prague.

I will say it again, just having Jim Lee's pencils here gives the art a grittiness that the original issue didn't have.  Unfortunately, it doesn't change the pacing issues of the story.  Matteo Casali and Brian Azzarello seem intent to show off their knowledge of Berlin and then have to hurry to finish up the issue.  I would have rather had more development for Nina than learn about the Hill of the Berlin Planetarium.  Just saying.

This being a Director's Cut, we also get the full script and while it's always cool to see that, I don't think this is a script that deserved this much attention.  Still, I had an okay time looking through it and even went back to the comic a couple times to see how the finished product compared.  Your mileage will vary depending on how much you liked the series and this issue, but I don't think what we get here is worth another $5.99 to have.

Bits and Pieces:

I don't think this Director's Cut of Batman: Europa is going to change many opinions that readers had of the original, but if you enjoyed the original and are a completist, here it is.  The big difference is on the art side of things and having just Jim Lee's pencils gives it more of a gritty feel that I liked, but in the end, this is still the same story, plagued by the same pacing issues that we got before.


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