Cover by Jason Fabok
Written by Andy Kubert
Art by Andy Clarke
Coloured by Blond
BEWARE OF SPOILERS
Villains month kicked off in massive style last week with the release of ‘Forever Evil’ #1 but we also got the first wave of .1 issues including the ridiculously anticipated ‘Batman’ #23.1 featuring The Joker.
Little was known about the story almost right up until the release but many have been hoping and wishing for an epic story in the space of one issue. Sadly many have been disappointed by the story held within the pretty damn cool 3D cover.
Let’s start with the good points: the cover is really cool. The 3D effect is a great gimmick for villains month, okay it would get a bit annoying if all comics were like this, but for DC’s regular events month it’s a great addition and lined up together all these issues are going to look pretty cool.
The art in the book itself, by Andy Clarke is also pretty good. The flash back moments (we’ll get to those in a minute) are dark and shadowy. They reflect the childlike nature of The Joker in general but as this is a supposed look back at his childhood it matches the content even more than usual. The present day artwork is the usual high class one would expect from Clarke although there are a couple of panels where Joker’s chin becomes a little elongated and he loses a little of his usual charm.
The two page spread showing The Joker raising and training Jackanapes does feature a stunningly menacing portrait which is almost reminiscent of the style of the ‘Arkham’ game franchise.
As I said lets start with the good points you’re probably expecting me to move on to the bad points but actually I think bad is too strong of a word. The let down in this issue is the story but only in that it isn’t the psychological insight in to The Joker that many would have expected. There’s been some outrage thrown at Kubert by critics for the fact that this story doesn’t explicitly say that it’s one of the many figments of imagination that Joker passes off as his back story. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read that one of the cardinal rules of ‘Batman’ is not to give The Joker a back story.
Okay it isn’t outright said that this isn’t a true backstory but it also isn’t anywhere stated that it is. The flashback elements are a little graphic and would certainly fit with pushing any child towards the man that he grows up to be.
The Jackanapes elements of the story are clearly a setup for what is to follow in the pages of ‘Batman’ as teased by the ending which is a shame because it lowers this book from a portrait of one of the greatest villains in comic history to a tie-in.
This is the first of the villains issues that I have read and I hope that others aren’t used as simple setups to stories that are taking place elsewhere in the DC Universe.
A good read, but not a great read.