Batman: Damned #3 is published by DC Comics and was the kick off title for their new Black Label imprint. It is written by Brian Azzarello with art by Lee Bermejo.
Batman: Damned is labeled as a “quasi-sequel” to the 2008 graphic novel, Joker, which is also written by Brian Azzarello with art by Lee Bermejo. I really enjoyed Joker, and I’m a fan of several other Brain Azzarello works, so all signs pointed to this limited series being a great start for this new imprint.
Yet I found myself disappointed as Issue #1 turned in to #2 and #3, then suddenly it was over and I wasn’t really sure what happened. I even went back and read all 3 back to back looking for something I missed. Maybe I should have re-read Joker and then all three issues, maybe I just don’t get it, but it didn’t feel like the sequel or ending we deserved. Maybe I’m even being more critical because I know what Azzarello and Bermejo can do as a team and this just didn’t meet the standards they set for themselves.
Was it bad? No. No, I’m not saying that at all. “Bad” is not the word I would use. But it was lackluster and fell short of my expectations. There were so many good moments where I thought, “Here. Here it is. This is where things are going to really come together and bring us where we’re going” – but then we weren’t brought anywhere except to this familiar bridge where Joker, Batman, and Jonny Frost (from Joker) may or may not have all died at some point? I’m also not sure why Constantine, Swamp Thing, and Deadman needed to be there. I mean, Constantine at least did some stuff I guess, but Deadman mostly swapped from body and body and just generally looked creepy and said vague hints. Swamp Thing was around for like 4 pages, saved Batman from being buried alive – not sure how that one happened either, I guess we assume Harley did it since she drugged him, but why? – insulted Constantine, and then he was gone so that was kind of pointless.
What is even happening with Enchantress and Bruce’s past? There’s just so many questions I have about these characters and how they factor in. Nothing was explained. It just ended.
All mysterious as if there was some meaning I should have derived from seeing Bruce Wayne’s parents being terrible people and Enchantress skulking around speaking in riddles. Was it neat? Yes. Was it creepy? You bet. Was the art eerie, dark, and perfect for the tale? Definitely. Was it interesting? Absolutely. Then it was over.
OVERALL SCORE: 6 / 10
Despite my criticisms, Batman: Damned is still a story I think you should read if you like darker Batman stories and if you liked Joker (if you haven’t, you should 100% read Joker). While you shouldn’t expect it to live up to Joker or to be mind-blowing, you can expect it to be an interesting, thought-provoking, read. Just be ready for those thoughts to never reach a satisfying conclusion.