I had really high hopes for this series but I can’t completely say that I was disappointed. Europa is one of those books that focused more on symbolism to tell the narrative. Azzarello is capable of telling a compelling tale, i.e. 100 Bullets and Batman Knight of Vengeance. As much as I loved his Joker GN from 2008, sometimes I wish he could have gone a little deeper. I wasn’t a big fan of the idea of Joker being a threat simply because he existed. I wanted something more concrete.
That is Europa. Read it as a story that focuses on the characters as literary devices driving the narrative.
Okay, with that out of my way, let’s get on with Europa #4.
SPOLERS: It turns out that the big bad was Bane (alliteration ahoy!) and he did this to prove that Batman and Joker could not exist without the other. Frankly, I wasn’t expecting to see Bane mastermind this. I also didn’t know he was a shipper. LOL!
I thought it was cool that we saw Bane out of costume for a few seconds. I liked that there was commentary about being seen in plain sight out of war gear and how that exploited our detective’s weakness.
I was really hoping that my theory of each city representing an aspect of their relationship.
Berlin: The divide
Prague: The change (Topsy Turvy as represented by Masopust)
Paris: Joker’s city. It’s emphasis on arts and culture which is a contrast to industrialized cities.
Rome: My original theory was that we would get some sort of ‘reconciliation’. I wasn’t expecting Batman and Joker to walk down the boulevard holding hands while sharing a gelato though that would have been nice.
I did notice something else. During the battle with Bane, Batman and Joker say the same thing.
[‘I play a hunch….’]
They say it to themselves rather than out loud. I thought this was intriguing because this showed that Bats and Joker both know that they have roles to play. Joker is having too munch fun eloping in Europe with ‘his friend’ and Bats being a dark do gooder can’t let the other die even if it means saving other people’s lives.
They both say ‘I play a hunch’ before they tell Bane what to do.
Batman barks at him to not kill Joker. Joker counters it. This personal quote from the both of them is proof that they both know that they are locked in this twisted game. Batman could technically let Bane finish the Joker. His hands, like Pontius Pilate’s are clean. However, him know that he could have inadvertently stopped Joker from being killed is too much. They both say what is ‘expected’ of them. Bane of course thinks that this ‘natural’. He gets ‘comfortable’. Batman tries to fight him. Joker tells him to kill him. Nothing new here (to Bane) that is. There is one little problem: They all know that if one dies, the other does too.
And this is the part where Batman calls on his winged allies in the city using a special echolocation device to confuse Bane. Then we have the obligatory battle at the Coliseum and our two main characters realize that the cure….was each other!
I admit, as selfish as this sounds, I was hoping we would get a kiss. I am not talking about a peck on the cheek. I am talking about a kiss on the lips between the two of them. This would have been a great reference to the Roman kiss. Heck, even a reference to the Judas kiss would have been fantastic. Italy, like the US has a significant religious population.
We already have Joker kissing Grundy on the cheek in a kid’s cartoon called Monster Mayhem. When are we going to see these two? I do firmly believe that Azzarello proposed it but DC nixed it. A friend also agreed. Azz was the one who had them in kissing in Knight of Vengeance #3.
I noticed that over at Marvel, they are not shy about teasing Spidey/Deadpool. Ever since KoV/DotF/Endgame, Batman and Joker is pretty much the pink elephant in the room. It’s only a matter of time before the powers at be acknowledge this. To be fair, they kind of did with KoV even though technically it was Marthe Wayne’s Joker to Thomas Wayne’s Batman, I will still happily take it.
Even Joker was up to it. Note how he grabs Batman’s chin. This is someone who was totally down for that. Joker winking is proof of this. 🙂