BATMAN DAMNED 1: bloody good mystery launches DC Black Label in a vivid horror-noir style spawned from writer Brian Azzarello and artist Lee Bermejo.
Who killed the ghastly corpse that is retrieved and found to be the Joker?
Who mortally wounded Batman? And why can’t he remember what happened?
BATMAN DAMNED 1: there is a buzz with this book!
The art by Bermejo is masterful in the bleak view of Gotham and the Dark Knight and the hyper-action sequences that flow and dance off the page, like a great swordfight.
The world, from gambling on dark street corners to bashing medical staff for an escape route, is very much alive.
And just look at Bermejo’s BATMAN DAMNED 1 cover!
I thought Jim Lee and Alex Sinclair’s pentagram-backed caped crusader, and a lot of emphasis on a particularly badass-looking cape, was stunning (and it is).
But then I saw the steam coming off of the battered cowl in Bermejo’s Batman, and I realized the lunatic-like bloody expression beneath that cowl was worn and scraped, and either grimacing or . . . smiling!
Was Batman smiling like the Joker?
The depiction of a militarized Batman by Bermejo is iconic.
The Rambo-like Bat Belt and its dangling straps with rings for hooking weapons and tech to the beaten leather-like material and the many buckles on the worn army boots give a fierce edge to the amnesiac Batman.
And the talented scribe Azzarello crafts an ingenious and twisted tale of mystery, horror, and Bat-lore that shoots from page to page, impact to impact, whether it is physical blows, or mental, or emotional ones.
His Batman has to deal with a supernatural influence, a hole in his memory, and the detective case of a lifetime.
But there are also the wrinkles and the deeply hidden crevices in the world where metaphors for Satanism and Christianity, for the Gothic towering over Gotham and the strange creatures crouching in Bruce Wayne’s past and present shadows.
The DC Black Label launch title BATMAN DAMNED 1 is incredibly enticing for the adult comic book reader with a dark side.
The oversized format is incredible to behold in and of itself.
BATMAN DAMNED 1 is ad free and chock full of gorgeously detailed and gritty oversized pages.
This book should not be approached by the faint of heart or the Puritanical among us.
Get yours from your LCS – Red Shirt Comics got me – before they are gone forever!
“BATMAN DAMNED 1: Bloody Good Mystery Launches DC Black Label” was written by R.J. Huneke
“Graphic Novel Peepland ’s Bloodstained Mystery Oozes 80’s NYC” by R.J. Huneke is the last part in a series unveiling both a New York Comic Con interview with the creators as well as a review of the gritty Hard Case Crime graphic novel TPB that was released on August 1, 2017.
Peepland is a page-turner that leaves delicious grime under your fingernails!
The book by Christa Faust (Author), Gary Phillips (co-author), and Andrea Camerini (Illustrator) is 128 pages of mayhem in 1980’s Manhattan.*
Peepland’s beauty lies in the eerily entangled corruption that clings to a New York murder merging 40’s gangster noir with 80’s NYC for a historically bound bloodbath.
The protagonist is a complex and intriguing character, a peep booth worker named Roxy Belle, and she is an unwilling participant in the murder mystery at the thick of the plot.
She has the kindness, craftiness, and nastiness (including willing to do some pee porn promos for a favor or two) to make this tale sexy, thrilling and innovative.
Such insight into the underworld living upworld in the heart of 80’s Midtown is the brainchild of Christa Faust and the help of her editor and the founder of Hard Case Crime Charles Ardai who partnered with Titan Comics for the comic book.
We were fortunate to receive an interview at New York Comic Con 2016 with none other than these two talented people.
R.H.: “How do you get the female perspective from a peepbooth?”
C.F.: “I grew up in the city . . . I have a vagina and I once worked in the peepbooths. So double-chromosome easy-peasy; write what you know.”
That is simple enough.
As a pornographer’s latest tape is bestowed upon Roxy during her shift, she goes home and finds a surprising strangling at the end of the video that is spit out of her VCR.
Later she learns that after dropping off the tape and fleeing her booth, porno filmmaker Dirty Dick is snuffed out in the subway.
Someone is erasing that video.
Roxy does not know who the murderer is or why they are wiping out anyone tied to the flick.
But what is a very well connected real estate mogul’s son to do when he might be implicated?
The world crafted in Peepland is its own badass character.
The writing is top-notch and with the art matches the stunning clarity with which the greasy alleys and shadows contrast the neon lights of Times Square in the 80’s. The air is stuffy with exhaust and cigarette smoke, and the bangs of gunshots go off at random twists and quakes as the plot unfolds.
The white versus black racism, even in New York, is palpably disgusting, and accurately adds an unease that was felt in the city at the time.
This affects the story and the poor characters caught within, for none are wholly unscathed in such a story as this.
You may be thinking: where do NYC’s punk haircuts, perms, and thongs (hiked way over the hips!) get off attempting to spawn a noir crime thriller sans the razor-sharp suits, tommy guns, and fedoras?
Well this book perfectly merges the 40’s noir age of gangster to the 1980’s NYC.
The web of crime and organized crime outfits, from the smallest pimps, hookers, peep booth operators to the corrupt cops, either detectives on the take from a Mafioso or detectives trying to sell out to the highest bidder mirror, in a kind if circus-mirror-way that works, the Al Capone days of Chicago.
The long gone New York age is brought to life again.
Is the Mayor’s office in on it? . . . Maybe . . .
It becomes quickly apparent that noir was meant for the mid-1980’s New York City era and Faust delivers it in spades.
R.H.: “What was your inspiration for PEEPLAND?”
C.F.: “It was mostly just because . . . you know being a fellow New Yorker it’s so different now.”
R.H.: “The way that is was, the city.”
C.F.: “That’s never coming back . . . and I wanted to tell that story [of NYC] in a visual medium, because you can tell people what it was like, but if you can show them, it’s more visceral, it’s grittier, it’s more true.”
And the tale of Peepland could not be more ‘’visceral’ and pointed, as cops use any excuse to grab an African American male, a minor, and accuse him of rape and murder of the white victim in the park.
The depth of the corruption is staggering in its ferocity, as is the massive body count stemming from constant plot twists, from blowjobs turned wrong to shocking melees enveloping any and all characters in a variety of guns and knives as only the 80’s could do it.
R.H.: “What I loved is that the historicism is there. I love the 80’s perms [for example].”
And at this point Charles breaks in.
C.A.: “This person,” he says with a smile and playfully accusing point to Christa, ‘was the police person, policing in acronyms.”
C.F.: “I was the G-string Nazi – I was like ‘hike that aaaall the way up to be here,” she says pointing to high over her hip.
C.A.: “What were the buildings, what were the posters, what were [the] hairstyles, ads, shoes . . . what were the characters?”
Yes, the “Thriller” jacket is present and yes there were peep booths, and XXX video stores by the dozen in Times Square during the 80’s.
If you do not believe the history, view the photographs Christa includes at the end of the graphic novel.
Without giving away too much, this tale spins faster and harder building up and up and up to a furious conclusion coinciding with the countdown on New Year’s Eve at The Deuce, Times Square.
Ask your local comic shop if they have the hardcover trade graphic novel, or grab one here.
Nothing expected happens in Peepland, and it is truly wicked and wonderful.