- Written by: Jeff Lemire
- Art by: Andrea Sorrentino
- Colours by: Jordie Bellaire
- Letters by: Steve Wands
If you’re a DC Comics fan, then I’m sure by now you’ve seen plenty of characters in plenty of stories who all try to analyse and cure the man that is Joker. Every writer in the industry has their ideas of who could try this seemingly impossible task, and how, whilst every reader probably knows that it is in fact, near-impossible. It would take away a lot of what makes the Joker so special, and whilst we’ve seen glimpses of this in stories such as Dark Knight Returns (at least he snaps back into his old self), having the Joker rehabilitated into your average citizen again would be a strange day indeed.
Joker has killed so many people, and tortured many more both physically and mentally. Most of the time when he commits these acts of torture though, he’s broken out of Arkham to do it, but what makes Joker such a great villain, is the fact that he doesn’t need to even leave his cell constantly in order to torment people, as Doctor Ben Arnell, the latest psychotherapist to tackle Jokers case, soon finds out.
Ben soon realises some disturbing truths about what the Jokers been up to, and whilst he insists that he doesn’t take his work home with him, he discovers that it is easier said than done.
The art in this book is less cartoon than your average comic, as Andrea Sorrentino brings the characters to life with realism art that makes this story even more disturbing as we see each twisted expression on the Jokers face, along with each fearful and disturbed expression on Doctor Arnell’s face.
The colour palette for the most part is dull and dreary which sets the tone of the plot, whilst the cell that holds the Joker is bright, but there is a heavy use of shadowing on Jokers face in many of the panels, to implicate that he is hiding something.
There is a panel I really like the look of in the beginning of the story as Joker tells Ben about the people who can’t understand his view on life, and so we are treated to a panel that shows Batman punching Joker, but the panel forms the word ‘PUNCH!’ which is a great nod to the good old days of the silly and more queer version of Batman from 1966, when Adam West played the caped crusader, and titles like ‘Pow’ and ‘Wham’ would appear every time they hit an opponent, but this panel also keeps in tone with the books seriousness, making it a nice design amongst the usual panels and pages.
I was also taken back by the sudden change of tone when Ben Arnell reads a story to his son. The book he reads portrays itself as a kids book but the contents are anything but kid friendly and it genuinely made me laugh when I turned the page. I don’t want to spoil any of the plot so I’ve used my not-so-great skills on MS Paint to take out the words, but I had to show you these two pages that just baffled me for a moment when I turned the pages of this otherwise serious book, and it’s disturbing plot.
I personally would love a whole book about Mr. Smiles seen on the right page holding the chainsaw, because as adorable as this all looks, the story is not at all! It reminded me a little of a show called Happy Tree Friends, which again sounds adorable and kid friendly but DO NOT let your child watch that.
I loved this first book and cannot wait to buy the other two parts to it, which are all available now in, I’m just behind on my book buying.
The work done for DC Black Label is some of the best work I have seen in comics and I can’t wait to see what the future holds, both for this story in particular, and the label itself. These books are aimed at a more mature audience and you can tell that from the way it reads. It’s still got it’s moments that you know you get from almost every comic, but overall you it feels different in a way I can’t properly explain. The more mature tone really comes through the writing and the art.
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