Writer(s): Brian Azzarello.
Penciller(s): Lee Bermejo.
Inker(s): Mick Gray & Lee Bermejo.
Colourist(s): Patricia Mulvihill.
Letterer(s): Robert Clark.
Publisher: DC Black Label.
Release Date: July 9th, 2019 (first published November 4th, 2008).
Genre(s): Comics, Science-Fiction.
My Overall Rating: ★★★★★.
It’s one thing to know someone by their reputation but it’s another to see what they are about for yourself. One’s imagination is enough to perpetually reinforce our image of a person to the point where we believe what we tell ourselves despite what reality has to say. The Joker is one of those individuals whose reputation precedes him and the mere mention of his name sparks a fury of preconceptions regarding him, whether it’s what he’s accomplished as a deranged killer or what he’s capable of accomplishing when you least expect it. Thanks to the phenomenal creative team of writer Brian Azzarello and artist Lee Bermejo—the same duo that has given fans Luthor, Before Watchmen: Rorschach, and Damned—we’re offered the chance to tag along on an unforgettable ride brimming of crude violence, lust, sexuality, and manipulation, as we watch the Joker reestablish himself as the craziest lunatic in town.
What is Joker about? The Clown Prince of Gotham has somehow completed his time in Arkham Asylum and mysteriously exits the madhouse with no one to pick him up for the next chapter of his life. Unfortunately, Jonny Frost is the unlucky dedicated driver and becomes Joker’s personal chauffeur. Where things will go from there is unknown to all but the Dark Knight’s archnemesis has a plan brewing in his mind and it begins with visiting the crimelords of Gotham City who have disappointed him during his absence. This beloved miniseries thus follows a low-level thug into a night filled with vice, evil, and madness, a night allowing him to become someone he never thought of becoming, but also to enter the deranged mind of an erratic psychopath.
Writer Brian Azarello and artist Lee Bermejo stun the world with one of the most harrowing interpretations of the Joker that will later give way to the stand-alone sequel entitled Damned. Loyal to the familiar persona associated with the villain, they flawlessly bring to life a character prone to insanity, comedy, brutality, and deception. This is perfectly executed and perceived through the eyes of a narrator who starts off insignificant and gradually becomes a trusted insider to the Joker’s life. Where the creative team behind this miniseries especially outshine themselves is in the exquisite relationship built between this thug and the clown. The level of intimacy that is allowed in their bond is almost palpable and it brings the reader to embrace the raw brutality and the irrational behaviour that is unmistakably associated with the Clown Prince of Gotham.
It would be a mistake not to mention the awe-inspiring artwork that only artist Lee Bermejo is capable of delivering with his prodigious talents. His visual design for the Joker is bewildering and immediately captures the incrusted evil within the villain. With darker shades and heavy use of shadows that insert a grim and suffocating atmosphere to the narrative, he’s able to capture the corruption that leaks through the streets of Gotham. With the help of inker Mick Gray and colourist Patricia Mulvihill, this creative team was able to give fans a tour of what it really means to be mad. This story wasn’t just about capturing the essence of an iconic villain within a city that lives and dies on fear but to simulate the chocking sensation that comes from stepping into a world where evil reigns over the rich and the poor, where who you are isn’t about what you’ve done but what you do.
Joker is a striking and sublime classic masterpiece diving deep into the disturbing psyche of a psychopath and unearthing the very definition of insanity.
Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!