Subway Shorts – Charmed

A European talent debuts his first work for DC Comics with the part one of a two-part story that has the Joker causing trouble not just for the Caped Crusader but also for Bruce Wayne – who has some troubles of his own – in Batman: The Dark Prince Charming.

Batman: The Dark Prince Charming 1
Written and Drawn by Enrico Marini

In his introduction to the graphic novel, Marini said he had hoped to do a noir story for his next comics work, and then an offer to write Batman fell in his lap. But Marini wasn’t given a slot on one of the regular, monthly Bat-books. Instead, he has an oversized two-volume story that debuted its first issue this week.

While Marini is afforded the opportunity to tell his own story, to design Batman, Gotham City and all its inhabitants in his image, he doesn’t go very far outside the box when it comes to the book’s antagonist, but the first half of the story presented here is well-told and beautifully drawn.

The story revolves around Bruce Wayne being accused of having an illegitimate daughter with a waitress he had some fun with almost a decade prior.After an initial confrontation with her coming up to Wayne Manor went poorly, the waitress upped her demands from a couple million dollars all the way to $100 million. Still probably a drop in the bucket for the billionaire playboy, but still, being sued for paternity is never a good look. Plus, how would Damian feel about all of a sudden having a younger sister?

The waitress goes public with her accusations, which also makes the gossip shows in Gotham City, which was being watched by the Joker and his main squeeze, Harley Quinn. Joker is still smarting from being beaten by Batman – again – and losing Harley’s birthday present. So, he gets a brilliant idea. Kidnap Bruce Wayne’s alleged daughter. Make him pay through the nose so he can give Harley a birthday present.

The Joker takes a great big truck and slams it into the car that belongs to the waitress’ attorney. The attorney is killed instantly, the waitress is taken to the hospital with severe injuries and the Joker takes the 8-year-old daughter. It sends Batman into a rage, as he searches out the Clown Prince of Crimes’ known associates, including his old henchmen and even Killer Croc, who he beats up in an alley only to find out that Croc knows nothing.

Marini’s story built to one hell of a climax for the first of two books covering his story. The tone changed on more than one occasion from the dark and gritty Batman vs. Joker to lighter moments with Batman and members of the Gotham City Police Department, especially CommissionerJim Gordon.

It’s true, he does. But not because of Marini’s art, because that is spectacular. I just don’t need Commissioner Gordon using a vape pen. Thankfully, he ends up tossing it off the roof of the GCPD. When Batman tells you you look ridiculous, you listen to him.

I really enjoyed this book, and I am excited for the second volume, which doesn’t come out until some time early next year, but I’m really not wild about the price tag. I paid $12.99 for the book – digitally – for 63 pages, some of which were used up by the front and back covers and some other interior stuff, which brings the page count to less than 3 times the size of a regular twice-monthly Rebirth titles, at four times the price. At least when you buy a physical copy, it’s a hardcover volume. Still kind of short on story length, though…Marini’s art is probably worth it, honestly.