Batman Noir: Eduardo Risso: The Deluxe Edition, hit stores June 4th.
This collected edition celebrates the creative team of Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso’s work on Batman.
This hardcover collection includes the backup story “Scars” from Gotham Knights #8, Batman issues 620-625 titled “Broken City”, Batman: Knight of Vengeance issues 1-3, and Azzarello’s and Risso’s Batman story contained in the anthology series Wednesday Comics in issues 1-12.
It is important to note that this edition has black and white artwork in order to show Risso’s original work before the colorist contributed to it.
The collection leads off with the backup story from Gotham Knights #8. The basis of the story is that Batman is talking to Victor Zsasz, a ruthless murderer, after he has taken more victims. They discuss power, and disagree on how it is gained. This is a short story, and the majority of it is a brief conversation. While Azzarello does raise intriguing questions about the nature of power, it is Risso who shines in this story. The crime scene looks truly gruesome, but given Risso’s cartoony style it is never hard to look at. Also, he draws one of the best versions of Victor Zsasz there is. Not only does he look menacing, but he also looks weathered from years of violence and self mutilation.
Next in the book is Batman: Broken City. This is my personal favorite from the collection. In Broken City, the gruesome murder of a pregnant women, has captivated the headlines, and Batman is determined to find the killer who he believes is her brother, a low level criminal who has recently disappeared.
Batman, disgusted by this crime and its aftermath, attempts to play both the police, and the criminal underworld in pursuit of Lupo. However, these quick and bold decisions by Batman are not necessarily the right ones, and terrible consequences are felt by those caught in the crossfire.
There is genuine substance in its subject matter, and Azzarello’s view of Batman is not of a perfect person, but someone who is flawed and impulsive, and is capable of making terrible mistakes in the high stakes world of Gotham City. I really enjoyed reading Broken City and thought both the writing and the art was exceptional.
The next story in the collection is Batman: Knight of Vengeance. In this story, in an altered timeline, Bruce’s parents survive the attack in Crime Alley. Thomas Wayne decides to become Batman after the attack. The story follows his pursuit of the Joker who has kidnapped Harvey Dent’s kids.
This story is good but in my opinion does not reach the heights that Broken City reached. The story is much less dialogue driven and much more action driven than Broken City, and with less words to read, it can be read a lot faster than Broken City.
Also, while Risso’s art is great as always, he does not shine as much as he did in Broken City, this is primarily because a good chunk of the story takes place out in the suburbs where Wayne Manor is located, and Risso really shines when he draws stories in rundown cities, not in rich suburbs.
I do not want it to come across that I did not like this story because I did. However, I loved Broken City, its gritty atmosphere, and its hardboiled storyline. Knight of Vengeance is a solid story, and while it unique on many levels given the the alternative timeline, the shocking violence, and new identities for iconic characters, altered timeline stories are not new to comics, and while this story is well told, it feels conventional. Also, the ending is wrapped up in a very clear and clean way, which is not typical for Azzarelo, who many times has endings that are open to interpretation. There was far less dialogue, and I was disappointed about that because I really enjoy hearing Azzarello’s characters talk.
The next story was the Batman story included in Wednesday Comics, the series that payed homage to the old days of anthology series, and bigger page size. This story revolved around the murder of a prolific investment banker. Batman faces the challenges of solving who did the crime. The two prime suspects being his irresponsible son who is highly indebted to bookmakers, and his young trophy wife.
This is basically another short story running at twelve pages. The Wednesday Comics page sizes were much bigger and allowed for more panels. This edition has normal sized pages but the same number of panels, leading to smaller artwork and print. Therefore, it is harder to read the dialogue and enjoy the artwork. This story is good but not great. It is short and conventional. Wednesday Comics as a whole was more of a fun project that payed tribute to a time gone by, it probably was not meant to produce any new classics.
Overall I really enjoyed this collection. All of the stories were enjoyable. “Scars” and Broken City stood out as stronger stories than Knight of Vengeance and the Batman story in Wednesday Comics, but a big reason for that is because the first two stories are great, and the other two are good. In conclusion, this is a great hardcover that collects the Batman work of a great creative team. Azzarello and Risso brought Batman to a gritty and hardboiled place like other creators, especially the great Frank Miller have, but these stories are original while succeeding the hardboiled Batman stories that came before.