Batman: The Dark Prince Charming by Enrico Marini: Frustratingly Formulaic and Depressingly Disappointing – Comic Review

🎶 I’m teasing Mr Wayne…
Just teasing Mr Wayne…
What a glooorious feeling…
I’m batty again…🎶

Batman: The Dark Prince Charming by Enrico Marini is a superhero, psychological crime thriller graphic novel about a mother and her young daughter after they appear on Bruce Wayne’s doorstop one day with shocking news. When the kid is abducted by The Joker, Batman must venture deep into Gotham’s underworld in order to track and rescue her before she falls further victim to The Joker’s twisted schemes. However, the deeper that the Bats plunges, the more secrets arise to slap him in the face. Secrets that shall connect the two arch-enemies to a peculiar little girl in quite unexpected ways.

I’ve been on a real Batman kick recently with respect to my comic reading and the premise for this sounded interesting, so I checked out the digital copy from the library. I think my expectations were set a little too high because, even though it had elements I enjoyed in the moments of reading, it ended up being a colossal let down by its finale.

A couple of things that stood out the most to me include the artwork and the unique interpretations of the characters, specifically The Joker, Harley Quinn, and Bats/Bruce Wayne. Catwoman seems to be the only individual who remained mostly as one would expect her to be, sassy and sexy and divinely wicked with curiosity.

Harley Quinn has a more dominant personality in this story and doesn’t really seem too keen on taking The Joker’s bullshite. In some respects, it was actually refreshing to watch Quinn stand her ground as her beau became flustered at the prospects of making her upset rather than it being the other way around. However, because of the terrible writing. this cool concept ends up falling short in the bigger picture.

With respect to The Joker and Bruce Wayne/Batman, I ended up not liking their interpretations as much. One of the main reasons that I adore Gotham’s most terrifying prankster of torment is because he is brilliant and doesn’t take shite from anyone. No matter how impulsive his plans can seem to be on the surface, they are actually meticulously schemed in the long-run, and because of that it’s insanely difficult to pin down what The Joker will do next. But in this graphic novel, The Joker is construed as being a bit of a dumbass in the most annoying of ways. He’s obsessed with pleasing Harley Quin to the point where he acts so out of character that he becomes extremely predictable and rather blasé. Batman also has sequences of out-of-character behaviour that doesn’t feel justified or relative within the confines of the tale. So their different elucidations end up feeling more of an obnoxious device for shock value rather than an element of cohesive craftsmanship story wise.

In order for unique or original character perceptions to really have an impact, one needs a plot that stands out, and that is truly where The Dark Prince Charming fails. Everything about the plot is excruciatingly formulaic and vastly unoriginal. If there was a big twist or some other dynamics to help add a bit of spice to this tortuously typical crime narrative, then the special takes on the characters would’ve had an opportunity to shine brightly and offer a thrillingly new and thought-provoking alter-ego situation. Instead, it’s a flat and one-dimensional heist and hostage piece in a nutshell with nothing of substance in-between.

If there’s anything that I did appreciate with all of my heart, then it’s the artwork. Marini’s artistic style is the epitome of graphic storytelling. It’s wonderfully vivid with clear, detailed drawings that combine dark and vibrant palettes with techniques of contemporary technology and the simplistic panels and traditional textual designs found in old school comics. There’s nothing really experimental about it. It’s a straightforward, picturesque complement to the plain and straightforward tale, which is told mostly via inner monologues and some splashes of dialogue.

All in all, Batman: The Dark Prince Charming was a humongous disappointment for me and as it stands, I DO NOT RECOMMEND this. I strongly feel there are much better written narratives out there that can express and examine the complicated nuances between the relationship that Batman and The Joker share, and how their actions inadvertently impact their motives for doing what they do. A complex and contemplative tale shall not be found here, and while sometimes it’s nice to keep things basic, it only works when it’s written well, something the graphic novel desperately lacks.

Publication Date: November 2018
Publisher: DC Comics (978-1401283322)
Genre: Comics, Superhero, Crime Thriller
Page Count: 144
Content Warnings: Child abduction. Graphic violence (gun and melee). Graphic blood. Graphic depiction of car accident. Death. Sexual innuendo.
GoodReads: Batman: The Dark Prince Charming by Enrico Marini

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