Shiny Shelf

Batman #620

By Mark Clapham on 11 November 2003

After Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee’s award winning ‘Hush’, DC have decided to maintain momentum on the main Batbook by bringing in the entire team behind the Eisner-winning Vertigo title ‘100 Bullets’.

While the Loeb/Lee run was a sort of ‘Ultimate Batman’, a classic Batman-as-superhero story with an elaborate plot and a dozen or so villains, Azzarello and Risso’s story, ‘Broken City’, is a different kind of comic. Whereas ‘Hush’ was all special effects, bangs and flashes and other fireworks, ‘Broken City’ is like a punch in the ribs. While not as hardcore or adult as ‘100 Bullets’, this is still a violent crime comic. Batman has always been as much detective as superhero, and this is an equally valid approach to the character.

Eduardo Risso’s eye for distinctive architecture runs wild in the streets of Gotham, from the rain-lashed docks to overbearing apartment blocks. In an alleyway Batman interrogates Killer Croc, stringing him up and smashing his teeth out. It’s brutal, and instantly highlights the change in tone. While Jim Lee’s Croc was a mutated monster, distorted into a rippling beast, Risso draws Croc as an overweight criminal with a skin problem. Superhero comics exist in a heightened world of heroes and villains, but Azzarello and Risso are moving in a different direction, pulling everything into the gutter. Their Croc is a debased child killer, while their Batman is a pulp hero, a hard man who does the right thing in a world of unrelenting corruption.

The dialogue is crisp, with Batman exchanging sharp innuendos with a gangster’s girlfriend (in true pulp fashion, he’s incorruptible even in the face of a typically seductive Risso-drawn femme fatale). As Batman pursues his prey, the intensity builds to a climax that is both typical of this team, and cuts to the essence of the Batman character.

Smart work all round. If they keep it up, Azzarello and Risso could easily match the popularity of the almost universally worshipped ‘Hush’. And if that turns more fanboys on to the joys of ‘100 Bullets’, that’s a bonus.

Click on the links to buy ‘100 Bullets’ Volume One, Volume Two, Volume Three, Volume Four, Volume Five and Volume Six from

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By Mark Clapham

Mark Clapham is a Devon-based writer and editor. You can find out more about him at the egotistically named

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