GRAPHIC NOVELS

Batman: Damned

DC. Sept. 2019. 176p. ISBN 9781401291402. $26.99. Rated: Mature. SUPERHEROES
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Batman finds himself embroiled in a supernatural horror-tinged mystery with his soul and sanity on the line in this adults-only adventure by Azzarello (Wonder Woman by Brian Azzarello & Cliff Chiang Omnibus) and Bermejo (Batman: Noel). After waking up in the back of an ambulance, a severely wounded Batman escapes and sets out to discover why he has no memory of the preceding evening—a quest that becomes urgent after it’s discovered that the Joker has been murdered and the Dark Knight is the prime suspect. To make matters stranger, Batman find himself haunted by the Enchantress, a sinister witch with access to his most traumatic memories. Charismatic con man and sorcerer John Constantine claims our hero is being targeted by an occult conspiracy and seems eager to help but even more interested in delivering insults and cryptic clues than providing actual advice—and if the Joker’s really dead, who’s going around desecrating churches, dressed just like him?
VERDICT Bermejo’s richly painted vision of Gotham City is brilliantly gritty and terrifying, and Azzarello’s script is ambitious and complex if occasionally hard to follow, as mood and tone tend to trump narrative drive.

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