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(Let me just restate that working at a book store has it’s big advantages. Borrowing books for free? Win Win Baby.)
After many months of waiting, the most anticipated Graphic Novel has come out. Now they have been advertising this thing forever! I mean some have even claimed it is one of, if not, the best Batman story ever done. Now it’s waaay to early to say something alone those lines, but they are not far off. What Azzarello does in this book not only makes the Joker terrifying, but practically redefines him.
Basically this Elseworlds tale, I mean seperate story (Yeah this feels so different from most Batman canon I will say this is a ‘What If?’ type of tale) tries to pick into the mind of Joker. Now I was a little wry of this because we dont actually go into the mind of the clown, but of his new henchman Johnny Frost. For the most part this aspect works because just the idea of being a Joker henchmen or being around the Joker is not a fun time. Azzarello makes Joker have so many mood swings it really is hard to tell what we are getting with each page. Now the look and feel of this Joker is reminiscant of ‘The Dark Knight’ but considering this was written well before concepts of him was released for the film….this is an original Joker.
Because this is an Azzarello tale, this gets violent and dark quick. Lot’s of swearing, lots of blood spilled, and lots of drugs taken. I like the idea that Joker does take drugs, whether it’s for helping his condition or making him worse for it. The looks for the characters are striking too (basically this is why I call this an Elseworlds-like tale) I mean when we first see people like Killer Croc, Penguin, and Riddler….it’s a bit jarring to get use to them. They are so represented differently then the norm but Azzarello makes them work within his own universe. He does a great job setting up the tension with the inevitable Batman showdown. I mean for almost page one Joker knows what the final result of this tale will be, but we are shown how shadowy or mysterious Batman really is. But once we get down to the showdown it really is great, Batman is only in 10 pages overall. His presence however, stays within the entire story.
As for the art, well it really is good but I do have a problem with some of it. Basically it’s the inkers, I dont understand why we have two of them here. Bermejo’s art is perfect for this tale, making it look gritty and gruesome. The violence never goes too over the top and his backgrounds of the city are just gorgeous. Although it’s Azzarello who writes how these characters act and look; Bermejo’s new take on Croc or Riddler is great to see. (Maybe a template for Batman 3?) However, we have yet another inker and it definitely doesnt feel smooth within these transitions. Mike Gray’s inks are too realistic and when we go from page to page or even panel to panel…it can be jarring to see the difference. Overall it doesnt hurt the however look of the story, but it would’ve been nice to stay with once artist and inker. By the way, both guy’s take on Batman is so beautiful; I want either men working on Batman issues or Detective Comics in the future.
So yes this is definitely worth your time. It might not be as deep as Alan Moore’s take on Joker, or a character peice like The Dark Knight Returns….it’s just well, different. It’s violent but fun as well with so many great new views of Batman’s rouge gallery. It might not actually focus within the mind of Joker, but you’ll definitely get a more better take on what makes this guy tick….and that’s what makes this more scary then anything.
Art: 4 - Very Good