Batman #142 is written by Chip Zdarsky and published by DC. Pencils are by Giuseppe Camuncoli & Andrea Sorrentino, inks by Sorrentino & Stefano Nesi and colours by Alejandro Sanchez & Dave Stewart. Letters are by Clayton Cowles. Main cover art (left) is by Camuncoli, Nesi and Tomeu Morey.
Batman #142 is available now, in print and in digital platforms where all good comics books are sold.
The tragic “death” of the leader of the Red Hood Gang in a vat of chemicals has become the subject of myth… but what is the heartbreaking and gruesome tale of the monster who walked away from that violent birth? And how does it affect Batman’s distant future? “The Joker Year One” begins here!
Chip Zdarsky is swinging for the fences again this week with the latest issue of Batman. For the next three weeks the title goes weekly as Dzarsky unveils his “Year One” storyline for the Clown Prince of Crime. But can adding context to one of the most (purposely) complex histories in comics really pay off It’s difficult to say after just one issue. But with Zdarsky at the helm “The Joker: Year One” looks set to be a wild ride.
Batman #142’s narrative jumps around. A lot. Certain moments are punctuated by the change in artist with Sorrentino taking us to (presumably) the near-future and Camuncoli to the past. The book opens with what appears to be an older Batman, drawn by Sorrentino, dissecting the body of a seemingly deceased Joker. Inside he finds a red pill constructed of the same material that the Red Hood helmet was made from. Narratively speaking this is Batman’s point-of-view and it seems like he has a sense of urgency to his work. He makes a passing reference to what Joker had told him “all those year ago during that prison confession” tying the story back to the cliffhanger ending of last month’s issue.
Then it’s over to Camuncoli for the artwork as we jump back in both Batman and Joker’s pasts. This is where things begin to get wonky in the best way possible. As Camuncoli begins with a purple-gloved Batman taking a swing at Joker the narrative switches perspectives. Joker is in control now. But what could Zdarsky be communicating to us with this change in perspective? Joker has never been a reliable narrator in any medium. Hearing his story in his own words can only mean this is the version of events he wants us to hear. Whether there is any truth to it remains to be seen. But for now Zdarsky is certainly leading us down a fascinating path.
Moving forwards Batman #142 touches on a bunch of plot threads across DC history. From The Killing Joke to Three Jokers and even Zdarksy’s own Batman: The Knight are vital elements to what the writer is cooking here. We move through each of these with Zdarsky and Camuncoli, with momentary pauses to return to Sorrentino’s vision of the future. Though it’s never clear exactly when the Sorrentino scenes are taking place. Presumably context will quickly arrive in next week’s issue otherwise it could become confusing.
One thing is abundantly clear through Joker’s version of his story. His perception that his own identity was born out of a previous lack of one. Reaching back to Red Hood’s fateful tussle with Batman and his emergence from the chemical VAT there’s a clear lack of identity and the beginnings of the journey to finding it. That journey partly comprises of some rationale behind the Three Jokers principal. But primarily we’re setting the scene for something more ominous in the future and how it ties back to who Joker is as a person.
It’s a bold move by Zdarsky to tackle this story. But if this issue is anything to go by then it’s certainly going to be robust and well executed. The real standout here is Sorrentino’s artwork. As the audience grapples to find meaning in the (purposely) chaotic narrative it’s the books incredible approach to visuals which is the selling point.
Batman #142 is an fascinating glimpse in to the mind of The Joker. Is he a reliable narrator? Perhaps not. But are we in for a wild ride? Absolutely. Zdarsky, Sorrentino and Camuncoli are a dynamite trio to explore this previously forbidden part of DC history.