Batman Dark Prince Charming comes in a nice hardcover package – a bit small for the hardcover treatment and at a bit of a steep price point at $12.99 for what looks like a thin book. It doesn’t help the book comes shrink-wrapped so if you’re not in the know in having researched it, you are gambling on the quality of the book. Marini being the only creator listed on the front was confusing to me too, as I didn’t know who that was going in. The cover art really doesn’t do the story justice either, with a very un-exciting look of a Batman mid-shot pictured above. Not sure why they went with that as it probably harms the book sales rather than helps it.
Enrico Marini is an Italian artist and writer who does the full duty from start to finish on the comic, as he’s done on several others published through a French press. It’s something we don’t see often in the comics world and so it’s intriguing by itself, but what’s inside is some beauty nearly unparalleled in comics.
His art style is one of my favorites. It’s that hyper-detailed pencil-to-colors look where you don’t get the broad strokes of the ink covering up the original drawings save for where the artist chooses to for the art’s sake. I personally think it makes for a very fresh looking quality. It’s one Tomas Giorello used on the first 3 issues of X-O Manowar, another Italian artist, and I wonder if their styles come from their training over there. Either way, once I saw the art, I was immediately in for this book. Even if the story was non-existent in this book, I would have probably liked to flip through the panels just to get a glimpse at Marini’s drawings. They’re that good.
Story wise, we have a standard Frank Miller-esque dark Gotham with a Joker who is kidnapping children, a Bruce Wayne who’s getting hit up for a paternity allegation, and a Batman on an obsessive mission to find the Joker and save the day. What I like about this that I don’t see in the current Batman ongoing — which is where I think the Miller-esque Batman has gone a bit too far – is Batman doesn’t sit around whining about how he’s lonely or how he’s sad and how he doesn’t feel he’s making a difference. He’s being a hyper-driven Detective here by every means possible, and so it’s more fitting with the character. We get some nice cameos from Killer Croc and Catwoman (who is stunningly drawn).
Other than that, it’s a standard Batman v. Joker fare. Joker is out of control insane, and leaving a trail in some ways to toy with Batman. He acts a bit shocking throughout – this is very dark, close to R-Rated in its content. I usually don’t like that in a comic, but it fits here decently. I wouldn’t say the story is mind-blowingly different in any regard to other stories I’ve read, but it IS classic Batman. It feels right, and that’s what’s important.
It is half a story as this is a part 2. So you are committing to $12.99 x 2 to get the full story here. But on the flip side, it’s clear the amount of art quality and time they took toward making this book, I’m all in on it and I’m waiting for more. Marini’s art has me wowed and I’m itching for the conclusion.