The Joker takes a friend out for a wild night on the town in Joker: Year of the Villain, out this week from DC Comics.
Written by Anthony Burch and horror legend John Carpenter, this is a story more like what I would expect from a movie titled Joker. Philip Tan appears to channel Neal Adams in this wicked tale of spiraling madness. Inks are handled by Marc Deering, Danny Miki, Jonathan Glapion, and Philip Tan. Jay David Ramos colors a Gotham descending into chaos. Gabriela Downie has the busiest lettering job this year in comics.
Carpenter is known across the globe for his work in horror with movies like Halloween and The Thing, so getting him on board for a Joker story is something I’ve been looking forward to since it was announced. With his reputation I have to admit I was expected some more grotesque panels and terrifying visuals, but this issue is fantastic none the less.
Tan’s art in this issue has the feel of older bronze age books back when Neal Adams was creating Batman villains. Using heavier more apparent line work that gives the impression that everything is moving in a blur.
Downie steals the show in this one. A letterer you say? Yes, a letterer. The panels separated by laughing, that appears inconsistent and scribbled just like if the Joker had written it, is the most creative way to letter his maniacal laughter that I can recall. I’m surprised, and not surprised, that I can’t think of another Joker story that has used the same technique for panels, mostly because it looks like it took forever. It is also used at appropriate times in the story, so it doesn’t get overdone and annoying.
Even though I have a really hard time believing the Joker would just sit back and let Bane rule over Gotham, I feel that Burch and Carpenter really captured what he would be up to in a city without Batman. He would be lost, running around with no real sense of purpose, and just trying to get the attention he received when Batman watched over the city. Ignoring the Joker might just lead to the destruction of the City of Bane.
If you are a Joker fan that was disappointed by the movie, this one-shot is actually true to the character. Towards the end of the movie I expected Phoenix’s character to bump into the real Joker. I was really hoping that one of the guys that pulled him out of the cop car was going to take their mask off and you’d see the scars from ear to ear. It would’ve been more of a character study on the people Joker attracts, and be a much better explanation of the evil that is Joker. This is that story told by a horror mastermind in John Carpenter.
As a Joker collector, I’ve never felt he was crazy or mentally ill. Joker is evil. He knows what he is doing and in his mind he is constantly operating with a win-win mentality. If his plan succeeds and he kills tons of people or Batman finally snaps and kills him, then he wins, as the Batman Who Laughs has taught us. If Batman stops the plan and throws him back in the asylum, he just gets to kill some guards when he escapes again. Joker is an unstoppable force and to stop him you must allow him to win.
Bane needs to stay on his toes if he expects to keep control of Gotham while the Joker is on the loose.
What did you think of Joker: Year of the Villain? What did you think of Joaquin Phoenix and the Joker movie? Let us know in the comments below.