Following on from the previous edition of The Dark Tales of The Dark Knight in which we viewed the first case tackled by the Dynamic Duo in the New 52, this time we shall look at Batman taking time out from his native Gotham to travel across the pond and face down a terror threat in Britain in An American Batman In London! (Detective Comics 590)
The traditional home of The Dark Knight tends to be seen as the dark streets of Gotham. However, Batman can also blend in perfectly with the streets of London which is what happens in this story. Following on the trail of a group of extremist terrorists who killed several veterans in Gotham, Batman journeys to Britain to track down their ring leader, the Ambassador for Syraqui and bring him to justice.
An American Batman in London deals with several key issues. The first of these is international terrorism. Set during the height of the Cold War and not long after the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union, the tale focuses on the impact of the terrorism. Batman’s own horrified reaction to the terrorist is to hunt them down and bring them to justice. However, this raises the question- is Batman at all different from these terrorists? He strikes terror into his opponents, he uses methods outside the law and he is motivated by a belief that some may find bizarre. Of course, the key difference between Batman and the terrorists is that he doesn’t kill and that he never attempts to force his own ideology onto others. This leads onto the second main point of the comic; are we responsible for the actions of the terrorists?
When confronting the Ambassador, Batman attempts to figure out why he would order such attacks and why his attitude to the deaths of innocents seems so blasé. The Ambassador merely points out that does not America “bomb other countries, do not Americans attack and destroy?” He then raises the point that because of the West’s view that its way is best, they forced Eastern countries to fight back with terror because “fear is all we have left”. Batman, after he manages to foil the terrorist plot, is left considering whether what the Ambassador said was true. It is a chilling thought and the writer of the story Alan Grant gives no easy answers to the questions posed by the Ambassador’s remarks.
The artwork by Norm Breyfogle is brilliantly done. Breyfogle creates a murky and dark London backdrop for Batman to stride around so that he doesn’t seem too out of place. Breyfogle also excels at reactions shots, particularly Batman, Commissioner Gordon and the Ambassador of Syraqui.
An American Batman in London is a fantastic story that manages to raise some important questions about Western Democracy’s interference with the East as well as ideas about justice. A truly profound work I’d recommend that you give it a go.
Next Time: Lovers and Madmen!