Batman: Broken Cities by Brian Azzarello

Title: Batman: Broken Cities.
Writer(s): Brian Azzarello.
Artist(s): Eduardo Risso.
Colourist(s): Patricia Mulvihill.
Letterer: Clem Robins.
Publisher: DC Comics.

: Hardcover.
Release Date: June 1st 2004.
Pages: 144.
Genre(s): Comics, Superheroes, Science-Fiction.
ISBN13: 9781401201333.
My Overall Rating:

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.


The city within which you’re born can have immeasurable effects on who you become in your life. As you evolve within this ecosystem that you rarely control, it brings forth a series of uncontrollable circumstances and obstacles, leaving you at its mercy as you try to figure out what kind of person you will grow to become. Sometimes, it’s never a silky and smooth road but a devastating and troubling journey, leaving behind a series of unforgettable scars and forging within those who dare remain resilient a psychological strength that one can only fancy in their wildest dreams. From the award-winning creative team behind 100 Bullets, writer Brian Azzarello and artist Eduardo Risso team up for a story arc collecting Batman #620-625 to deliver their tense and dramatic take on Gotham City and its grasp on its residents.

What is Batman: Broken Cities about? The death of a girl in a Gotham landfill brings Batman to investigate this case to apprehend the murderer before more victims fall to this unknown predator. As he scopes out the dark and ominous streets of this merciless city he has made home, the realization that another child is left kneeling in the blood of his murdered parents surges terrible memories from the depths of his own mind, bringing him to wonder what the city has become, and what he has turned into. While clues are scarce, Batman has to peruse the isles using nothing more than his own detective skills to figure out who the suspects are, sending him down a treacherous trail filled with villainous figures who most certainly have nothing to gain from helping the very person who wants to send them to Arkham.

“And if it is God that rains down on Gotham, then it’s surely the Devil that reigns in Arkham.”

— Brian Azzarello

Written with a hard-boiled detective story’s edge, this mystery sends Batman on an introspective journey where he both reflects on what the city does to the people who inhabit it and what it has turned him into as its Caped Crusader. From Killer Croc to the Joker, Batman finds himself face to face with numerous archenemies who all want a piece of him but none willing to give him what he needs to catch the killer. Tinged in dark humour, embracing a one-dimensional portrayal of the Dark Knight, and plunged into a world of bland characters, writer Brian Azzarello barely achieves an original and poignant narrative and largely bets on artist Eduardo Risso’s unique artistic style to capture a shadowy, sketchy, and sinister world where nothing can be taken at face value.

Heavily focused on shadows, a dusk-centric colour pallet, and a gritty focus on darker emotions and physical traits, artist Eduardo Risso strives within Batman’s world as he brings out his iconic impressionistic art. The overindulgent approach of a fist-first inclined Dark Knight through writer Brian Azzarello’s unimpressive characterization of Batman does give Risso plenty of room to fully portray the bluntness and bloodiness of numerous of his encounters but highlights very little of the character’s motley of strengths. The hyper-sexualized depiction of the few women in the story, women who bring nothing more to the story than neglectful visual stimulation, also works against the story, a story that loses itself in its slow pace, tedious investigation, and ineffective finale. While there might be an interesting premise to work within beneath the unimpressive execution, it all lies in the dust, hidden away behind a writer’s tired reinvention of Batman’s lore.

Batman: Broken Cities is a forgettable grim noir exploring the dark recesses of Gotham City’s underbelly and the Dark Knight’s diverse rogues’ gallery.



17 thoughts on “Batman: Broken Cities by Brian Azzarello

  1. Doesn’t sound very appealing. How do you go through book after book of uninspired stuff like this? I know you don’t read all crap, but it “feels” that way in terms of what you’ve been getting recently.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Do you watch the Superhero Cafe on youtube by HISHE? I read your “It’s Batman!” in the same tone of voice that Batman on there says “Because I’m Batman”.

        I just looked through your devilreads profile and I can understand now. You do go through a lot of stuff!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah no, another disappointing Batman story. And I like 100 Bullets, though I’ve not quite finished it yet. Perhaps they’re far better with their own creations than with those of others. Given when this was written I wonder if they were trying to turn Batman into a 100 Bullets type story and it just didn’t work?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I haven’t finished 100 Bullets either. Waiting on the second omnibus to come out so I can go ahead and finish it up. And yep, it does feel like there was an attempt at turning it into a 100 Bullets type of story but it wouldn’t have been possible considering how 100 Bullets is structured. I’m sure mega-fans of the creative team will enjoy what these two give us in this Batman story though. I’ve seen worse stories after all! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I was raised with the mantra that too much of anything isn’t healthy. Moderation is what I prefer to live by, so when I meet someone who’s very keen on one thing, I feel somewhat puzzled. With you – how can you go through SO much Batman-related stuff? Do you not get bored? It’s admirable on a certain level.

    The beginning about growing up in a certain town and wondering what you will become – I never felt comfortable where I grew up. I’ve moved a couple of times since and I feel good but then I meet people who were born and raised where I now live and they are shocked I haven’t been here or there. The city they live in is a part of their identity. So weird.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is indeed much better to indulge things with moderation and if you look at it from a couple of steps backward, you’ll notice that I don’t ONLY read Batman stuff back-to-back and it’s what allows me to explore more of everything and anything related to the character. I don’t even really mind the bad stuff since it allows me to better appreciate the good once I land on those.

      I find it so fascinating how we create an attachment to our environment, to the people within it, to cultures, traditions, and customs. It has so much impact on who we end up becoming, especially when we are convinced that where we are is home and nothing else could ever be better for us.

      Liked by 2 people

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