Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Brian Azzarello's Batman: Broken City

Here I sit at the comic book store having done it again:

Defended the 100 Bullets team of writer Brian Azzarello and artist Eduardo Risso Batman: Broken City arc, creators of 100 Bullets.

100 Bullets is the ish! Densely written and richly illustrated with the twists and turns that have come to symbolize what has become the new comic book noir.

Of course, these two should have been perfect for the world of Batman.

When Broken City was released fans were up in arms over the "off-model" portrayals of nearly every character in the book.

"Hey, that doesn't look like Killer Croc!"

"Where's Alfred?"

"Where's Robin?"

"Where's The Batmobile?"

I've always wondered whether or not we were reading the same book. Probably not, because the bulk of us, we were never on the same page.

Do I think you're stupid? No, not all. I don't know you well enough to say that of you. All I can do is tell you what I got out of Broken City.

And here it is:

Batman: Broken City was, I believe, conceived as a "true" Batman story. Now, when I say true Batman, I mean The Batman that first appeared in 1939. The guy who would snap a man's damned neck just to get through a window. The man who would throw a man named Dr. Death back into a burning room just for the sheer sake of irony.

That guy was an effin hoot! That guy was a true dark knight. Crazy, unpredictable and the type of guy you now only see in reprints.

The Batman of 1939, an amazing SEVENTY years ago.

Someone a writer like Azzarello could sink his teeth into. The type of guy who bareknuckle brawled a man down and at the end of the night, wiggled the loose tooth out of his skull his own damn self.

The type of man who at the time had no need of an Alfred.

A man who looked like he could go toe-to-toe with a former crocodile wrestler turned gangster and not have to take him down with a well-tossed Batarang.

A man who silently dwells upon the rooftops, shunning the attention and bluster that something called a Batmobile may bring to his attention.

This is a man fit for a Broken City.

This was the Batman of 1939 and The Batman that Azzarello wanted to write. Nothing more, nothing less.

Taken as on its own, I believe that makes it a fine story. Was it dense?


Was it the story that it could have been?

Really. Who knows. It's the story that we got and I liked it.

Perhaps, Broken City's biggest sin was its scheduling.

Broken City never and I mean NEVER should have been the numerical follow-up story to writer Jeph Loeb and artist Jim Lee's ultra-superheroic/Bruckheimer-esque Batman:Hush.

The shift was just too jarring. In the space of one month, the Batman fan base was asked to shift their thinking from big to biting.

Broken City should have run in Detective Comics.

Lee and Loeb's run was very much like a wine tasting with nothing but big, powerful, colorful bolds.

"BOOM!" Here's Catwoman, drink up! Here's The Joker, feel the fruity notes! Hey, look, it's Superman! You didn't know box wine could be this good, huh? Is everybody happy?!?"

It was superhero comics at their absolute best and I was positively giddy from the head rush and did not want to come down.

Now, one month later, pallette cleansed, they ask me to do somthing different. Take a flight.

Still giddy from the wine tasting, I wanna just down it all but, no...

Whiskey is dark, cold and on the rocks.

Whiskey bites.

Whiskey burns.

Whiskey is for adults.

Whiskey... is best served straight.

Whiskey demands that you take your time and consider it.


samax said...

i'll take Broken City over Hush any day!
Loeb writes cute little stories... kinda like the 50 Cent of comics. designed to be popular, but only REALLY good sporadically.

he dazzles you by working with only the BEST illustrators on the planet.

anyways, Broken City should have been released as an OGN. dropped on us all at once... only for fans prepared to drop $14.99 on a pure sequential genius. not for the faint of heart.

Benhatt said...

Well spoken D -

I love Broken City. Should God ever look down on me kindly enough and let me write Batman I swear that Little Boy and Fatman are coming back strong. It kills me that no one has touched those two characters.

Julian Lytle said...

I hate alcohol but I love this comic. I haven't read the Joker Hardcover yet but I did notice that Killer Croc is the same in it after flipping through it. I would buy a Batman book from these two, and maybe put Morrison and J.H. Williams III on batman and I would be a diehard batman buyer.

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Eyz said...

I'm glad this out-of-stock book got a second printing!
I just got it today.

Fantastic read.

And also, pretty neat blog you got going on here ;)
I guess I'll stick around.