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Batman: Broken City
Words by Brian Azzarello - Art by Eduardo Risso - Published by DC Comics (US), Titan Books (UK) - First published 2004 - Originally published as Batman 620-625
Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso are already an award-winning team, responsible for the creation of and continued success of 100 Bullets. For Broken City they took over six issues in the run of the regular Batman monthly comic book - reproduced in this volume for posterity - and have pulled Batman and Gotham deeper into the shadows.
The story is a knockout. There are no grand superhero battles to be had here - instead we follow Batman's street-level work as he hunts for a small time killer he develops a particular interest in bringing to justice. Although there are a number of recognisable villains in the story, including Croc, Penguin and Joker, Azzarello underplays them to perfection, drawing out their human elements and suggesting that, as with Batman himself, there's little of the super about these villains. Azzarello also brings out Batman's unlawful tendencies to the maximum - the master detective resorts to significantly more brutal methods of finding information than dusting for fingerprints or covert surveillance.
Risso's art could hardly be more complimentary. His Gotham is a dark and broody city, hiding its grizzly secrets in its shadows; his Batman grim and business-like; and his supporting cast of Gotham's underworld look like they could easily step out of any dark alley, not just one in superhero comics's world of rent-a-freaks.
This is an everyday Batman taken to his logical conclusion, a real-world populated by characters that seem little more than a step away from exaggerated reality. With its noir imagery, its stark violence, its sharp dialogue, and its dark and deeply bitter plot, Batman fans can barely hope for anything more.
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