Batman: Broken City

Sometimes a comic’s story is just okay, but the atmosphere the story creates is so engaging that you can’t help but love it.  Batman: Broken City is one such comic.  The story itself wasn’t bad by any means, but it also wasn’t my favorite ever.  It was a decent, fairly self-contained story that featured an interesting cast of characters.

In this particular storyline, Batman is investigating the brutal death of a low-level criminal’s sister named Liz.

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Batman knows Killer Croc is the one who murdered her. What he doesn’t know is who hired Croc to do so.  All signs point towards the victim’s brother, Angel Lupo, and Batman makes it his own personal crusade to find him.

Featuring run-ins with Croc, Penguin, and The Ventriloquist, this Batman comic takes its reader on a roller coaster ride of a mystery.  As the story deepens, we learn that Liz had been pregnant.  Upset by this news, Batman delves deeper into the case in order to get to the truth.  He is surprised to learn that it wasn’t Angel, but Angel’s girlfriend, who had Liz murdered.  Knowing Angel’s protective nature and how angry he would be that Liz was pregnant, she had Liz killed to protect Angel’s own life.

This wound up being fruitless however, as the father of Liz’s baby turned out to be a rather surprising person, who decided to take out his anger on Angel.

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Arnold Wesker, The Ventriloquist, had a relationship with Liz and, believing Angel to be the murderer, killed the brother in a fit of rage.  What’s more, Arnold actually asserted himself in this comic, throwing his dummy on the ground and telling him to shut up.

This was a surprising turn of events, and brought a brand new angle to the Ventriloquist character.  Not much is said of his character after this point, but it’s exciting to think Arnold may be shedding the Ventriloquist persona, only because it would be a huge step for him.  I’m intrigued by this change, and am curious to see if it lasts.

Batman solves the mystery, so by the end of the comic the case is neatly wrapped up.  It’s a decent story, even if I wasn’t particularly invested in some of the players, especially Angel Lupo.  Still, this comic’s strength lies in the atmosphere it creates.

This is a dark and brooding Batman comic to its core.  The pages are dark or washed out, and Batman spends much of the time in silence, intimidating his opponents while battling his own inner demons.

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His fearsome appearance is only heightened by his personality, and it suits Batman perfectly.  It can be difficult to strike the perfect balance between terrifying presence and haunted past, yet here it’s done quite well.  I feel for Batman and his lifelong pain while still understanding how strong he can be.

Overall this was a well-written comic.  With the exception of the change to Arnold Wesker’s personality, there weren’t any major changes to the status quo to be found here.  Batman simply solves another mystery while continuing to deal with the internal struggle of having witnessed his parents being murdered.  It’s a story that’s been repeated time and time again within the pages of Batman, and yet here at least is an interpretation that emphasizes some of the darker thoughts Bruce undoubtedly would have had while showing how he fights through the pain to bring justice to a corrupt world.  It’s an even darker side of Batman that I enjoy reading about, and hope appears in future trades.

-Jess

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