One of the best Batman and Joker team ups I’ve read in years, Batman: Europa gets almost everything right. Batman and Joker are both infected with a mysterious virus, and must work together to track down the cure. Europa takes us to various major cities in Europe, and there’s some great historical discussion from both characters’ perspectives. The situation between the two is definitely symbiotic, and authors Matteo Casali and Brian Azzarello balance them very well with done key moments of frenemies fun. The artwork is a collaborative effort, but between Jim Lee‘s godlike prowess and Giuseppe Camuncolli’s ethereal attention to detail, the illustrations throughout this collection are a show-stopper. Absolutely a beautiful book.
Warning: Spoilers Ahead!
As a Joker fan dissatisfied with the character’s current portrayal in comics but a major fan of Batman: The Animated Series and The Dark Knight (2009) portrayals, I found this Joker delightful. He’s funny but murderous, intelligent and ruthless. He can hold his own. In some cases, Batman is delusional from the virus leaving Joker to long-sufferingly put up with his constant insults. I’m here for the banter and watching them actually work and plan together, and the book does a terrific job!
Batman in this is a bit too much of a jerk to our Clown Prince for no reason on several occasions. It’s a bit jarring because you’d expect Batman would be glad to open the door a little toward a Joker reform. I guess I prefer my Batman more compassionate towards the mentally ill. There’s always a chance to change, even for the Joker (not really, DC is making too much money, but certainly from a character perspective). But, because these team ups are so rare, I’ll take what I can get.
Unfortunately, the ending is abrupt. For me, the story isn’t over until Batman drops Joker at Arkham– the guy’s just too clever for me to believe there are no further complications. Bane doesn’t seem in character, though I do like his logic. He’s not wrong, he just comes out of nowhere and goes down fast.
Overall, this is a good story with an art style that reflects the characters’ mental and physical state. It’s dynamic and beautiful to look at. The story stagnates occasionally as we get a history lesson at each new location, but I didn’t find that troublesome. Definitely worth adding to my Joker collection.
This was a miniseries ten years in the making. Hopefully it demonstrates that fans want more content featuring these two teaming up and actually getting something done.