Publisher/Year: DC, 1994
Artist: Kelly Jones
Writer: Doug Moench
The second in the Elseworlds vampiric Batman series, this stunning tale is the ultimate test of the Batman's vow never to take a life. What happens when he can no longer control his appetite for blood?
The ending might leave some readers shocked but it's well worth it, and appropriate for the story. Those who might take issue with the final pages might do well to remember that in a sense, Batman has changed fundamentally from what he once was and is some other sort of being altogether. In short, don't look a gift horse in the mouth. If you can get past the not-so-shocking but still juicy ending, you'll realize that Doug Moench has served up a wonderfully written dark fantasy that takes the Batman mythos right to the edge and over it without once appearing ungraceful or faltering even a little bit. As Elseworlds stories go, it's damn near perfect in the way it is completely unafraid to dance up close and personal with some rather disturbing images and yet never loses the feel of being a completely accurate Batman story.
The Batman's mystique is so pervasive and ubiquitous that it lends itself to a number of gothic, iconic images, none more so than that of the ultimate creature of the night, the vampire. The thought of combining the two images in the heart and soul of a man who is himself one of the greatest of hunters is a thought almost too delicious too contemplate. The treatment alone, no matter how awful, would have been worth a look. Moench wrote a story that struggled under the weight of the idea in the first volume, Red Rain, but has found its stride from the first page to the last in Bloodstorm. Moench has the bit in his teeth with this story and doesn't intend to let the reader off easy.
The atmosphere is very Blade-like as Batman becomes both a truer version of what he is, a creature of the night, and a more tortured human being because of his conscience. The inner struggle quickly becomes an outer one as Batman has to grapple with whether or not he is inflicting evil upon his city simply by existing.
This existential quandary is the heart of the action: the Joker has taken over the legions of the undead and is forming an army to, naturally, wipe out the Batman, as if to prove the theory that Batman creates chaos by being who he is, as opposed to stopping it, which is the vow his life is founded on. At some point the hard question has to be asked, and the answer won't be easy for a fighter like him.
Another familiar face, Catwoman, plays an important role as a beautiful were-cat who aids the Batman. Her role is unhappily cut short. This comic has the feel of a monthly title to it. She truly fills out the role of helper in the manner she might originally have if Batman, when they first met, had ever allowed her to fight by his side. There are no Robins in the universe, so the role of teammate falls to the woman who almost had the job in the first place, and it fits her like a furry purple glove.
Kelly Jones, of Sandman fame, turns in beautiful gothic art that commands the eye at every page. John Beatty adds stark touches with a heavy hand on the lines, creating brooding, splendid images that carry the mood of the story perfectly. It's a must have for all Batman fans.