comic books

Batman: Europa #1 Review: Worth the read?

batman europa #1 review

Introducing the next new Batman title, Batman: Europa! Yes we already have a million Bat-titles, but in the mind of DC there’s always room for more (I am saying this as a big fan of Batman though). So let’s look into the issue and see if this Bat-title is worth the read or not.

Non-spoiler thoughts first: Well what a creative team! With names like Brian Azzarello and Jim Lee there’s a lot to expect from this book. This is a mini-series that has been essentially 10 years in the making. It was announced in 2004, was supposed to come out in 2011, but eventually found its way to us in November 2015. The basic premise is a Batman/Joker road-trip around Europe. The pair of them have to work together to figure out who infected them with a deadly virus and why. They have one week to live, so they have to work fast.

Sure the premise is interesting, but based off the first issue it’s nothing to get overly excited about just yet. Perhaps waiting until the whole mini-series is out will be the best thing to do, to see if there is a pay-off worth reading. When you have Snyder absolutely killing it over at the main Batman title, and Johns giving us a really interesting Batman arc in Justice League, this title needs to be just as good to work off that $5 price tag. Right now I’m not seeing anything spectacular, other than a fun story. I have yet to see any deep character work we often get in Snyder’s Batman books, but this is still the first issue. So overall it was a fun issue with an interesting premise, but nothing to get overly excited for just yet.

Okay spoilers for Batman: Europa #1 follow.

It’s interesting that over in the Justice League books we have an invincible Bat-God running around, and in this book we have a weak Batman, with a one week limit. Those two extremes are an interesting comparison.

So the story opens up to Batman and Joker dying, showered in each other’s blood. It’s a familiar image we’ve seen many times before. Of course with Lee’s art the pages look good, with a sketchy water-colour look. It helps set the tone of the book. It’s nothing like Azzarello’s Joker, which had quite the dark, edgy feel to it. This book looks and feels lighter in tone. 

batman europa #1 review

That opens up the mystery, how did they get there? We then see Batman fighting Killer Croc. However it’s slightly harder than usual for him. He’s weaker, and Alfred delivers him the bad news. Batman’s been infected with a virus, Colossus, and it looks like he only has one week to live. This was information brought to him courtesy of a computer virus, which leads him to Berlin.

A city that was once at war and chaos, but has evolved from that. Order is restored again. In Berlin, from war and chaos birthed order, but the reminder of the past is still there. Azzarello uses Berlin as a discussion for Batman and Joker. The duality of the city is representative of the pair of them, and their new adventure. “History forced them together”, as the story acknowledges the confrontation between the Joker and Batman has happened time and time again, the cycle continues, history repeats itself, almost as if there is some other being forcing this to happen.

batman europa #1 review

Eventually Batman finds Joker holed up with Nina, the hacker who put the virus in the Batcave. From their conversation we find out that a third-party hired Nina to give the virus to a bunch of different people. And now the Joker and Batman have to work together to find out who did it and why. 

So that sets up the mystery of Batman: Europa, it’s a Europe adventure for these two.

As this is a mini-series, we should expect the story to be well-paced and conclusive. Hopefully we get an interesting, tight story. Right now I’m not feeling overly invested in this Batman story. Maybe it’s because at the same time I get to read a story of an amnesic Bruce and Jim Gordon Batman, or a story about Bat-God floating around on the Mobius chair, but this story isn’t standing out to me right now.

batman europa #1 review joker

What makes it different? What makes it unique compared to the other Bat stories? Why is it compelling? Clearly it’s different. A different setting compared to the normal dark and gritty Gotham we’re used to, Joker and Batman teaming up. And to fit with the Europe theme, European artists have been used. But is it enough to make me want to rush out to get it every month? Not really. 

Of course this is me making grand assumptions based off the first issue, which is slightly unfair. The greater mystery might be a lot more interesting and compelling. It might have a lot more of a character exploration of Batman and Joker, and the intricacies of their relationship. I hope it does end up that way, and with Azzarello writing the story it’s easy to expect great things.

Overall Batman: Europa #1 was a fun issue, but didn’t offer anything overly exciting just yet. If you’re going to tell another Batman and Joker story, you have to make it different and exciting. Hopefully from this mini-series comes an awesome story that is worth buying in trade. Right now however, I’m not seeing it. 7/10.
Batman: Europa #1
Written by: Brian Azzarello & Matteo Casali
Art by: Jim Lee, Gabriele Dell'Otto & Giuseppe Camuncoli
DC Comics
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