Amazon arrival day is like Christmas. You place the order, pay and forget that you made it on purpose just so you can have that feeling of surprise when it arrives. This week’s package contained something very interesting, a hardcover copy of Brian Azzarello’s The Joker.
The hardcover book is simply a work of art. From what I can gather from the story, it picks up after the Dark Knight. In Azzarello’s mind the Joker was admitted to Arkahm Asylum after Batman apprehended him in the latest film. Harvey Dent survived the fall and has since built his own crime empire in the depths of Gotham City.
Story wise this book is a bit iffy. The writing is definitely not Allen Moore-like, but it’s not your average Archie comic either. The Joker lands somewhere in between because from the very beginning you already know that some of the major characters have already been established. One of the more interesting components of the book is Azzarello’s take on some of the other rogues such as the Riddler and Penguin. The story follows the Joker’s rise back to the top of the crime pile in Gotham after he convinces doctors at Arkahm that he is simply “insane” and not dangerous. Using the narrator and central character of Johnny, The Joker is a deep character story into the mind and insanity of the dark clown prince.
Artistically this is one of the most beautiful books I’ve read in a while. Using a non-traditional painting method, illustrator Lee Bermejo captures the backdrop of Gotham City perfectly. With no hard edges and a consistent “leaking” feeling throughout, readers get a sense that Gotham is slowly making a transition of metropolitan powerhouse to rotting sewer. The character design is also very impressive. Azzarello and Bermejo go to the extremes with Joker as they really play up his ear-to-ear scars and his movie-inspired wardrobe.
One warning though, if you’re looking for a story about Batman and his relationship with Joker, you’re better off picking up The Killing Joke or Death In The Family – The Joker is a story about the Joker and nothing more.
Definitely worth the Amazon order.