I woke up one morning and had a dream... Could I own every single issue of Detective Comics, Batman and all of the other subtitles in the Gotham universe?
Insane? Stupid? Inspired?
This can only end in obsession and financial chaos.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Favourites: 'Broken City'

Behold 'Broken City' by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso (published in Batman 620-625).

The weird thing about this story is that it really is about as different to any other Batman story that I've probably read. From what I've picked up on the net, this is one of those self-contained Bat-stories that exists with very little continuity therefore making it easier for lapsed readers to jump back onto the title. However, the story, themes and tone makes it less typical than your average Batman story.

As a story, the creators tick all the boxes that are to be expected in this type of work. 'Killing Joke' reference. Sure. Alley-way muggings? Yessir. Brooding near/on stone gargoyles? Yip. Frank Miller noir-feel? Definitely. Rogues gallery? Numerous cameos. Do we get new villains? Pretty cool ones, actually. Murder Investigation? Oh certainly. Plot twist? Big style.

The thing is here, its that 'Broken City' is missing a lot of crucial things that actually add to the overall average appeal of the standard book, and that's why I love it. For example, it is very rare that Bruce Wayne/Batman is written as nihilistic and violent in his representation here. The furthering of the nastiness of this Darkest Knight is helped by the removal of Alfred (who usually earths the Bruce Wayne side of the persona) and Commissioner Gordon (that allows legitmacy and limits upon the Batman's vigilante persona). In 'Broken City' this Batman is damn-nearly out of control: A proper loose cannon in a city of genuine nastiness. A bullying, brooding, border-line nut-job that uses his fists quicker than he uses his brain.

I suppose the major difference of 'Broken City' from standard Gotham fare is the tone of the piece. It is probably the nastiest, most violent, humour-less, depressing Batman story that I've yet to read in the Batman books. I would even go as far to say that the only thing that stops this being an outright Vertigo imprint story is that there is no swearing. The nodded influence of 'Killing Joke' and Frank Miller exists here, not as a cute homage, but to herald these other works as a 'Flashpoint' that could've taken the character on a more mature path. That different path, as the story's conclusion suggests, could have been an acknowledgement that the younger reader may be more mature than they had previously been given credit for, therefore allowing a different breed of Batman to be published.

'Broken City' really is strange anomaly to be published as a Batman story, and because it is so odd I loved it.