Editor(s): Erika Rothberg and Alex Galer.
Writer(s): So many!
Illustrator(s): So many!
Publisher: DC Comics.
Format: Hardcover – Deluxe Edition.
Release Date: May 19th, 2020.
Genre(s): Comics, Science-Fiction.
My Overall Rating: ★★★★☆.
The Joker. There isn’t much more that needs to be said before your mind pulls all the threads and connects all the dots to bring you to dread Gotham’s Clown Prince of Crime. Unlike any villain to have ever been drawn and brought to life, this agent of chaos is by far the most despicable and troubling soul to wander the streets as he continuously presents Batman with nightmares to deal with. It is odd to be celebrating such a character’s existence when everything he does is unethical and morally unacceptable. He is after all the reincarnation of evil and the face of anarchy. However, such a character remains beloved not for what he does but what he represents, for what he brings to the table in the discussions on good and evil. Despite the nightmarish vision of various writers and artists of this character, he remains the unequivocally quintessential ingredient to a world in search of balance. You simply don’t have one without the other.
What is The Joker: 80 Years of the Clown Prince of Crime about? This beautiful hardcover deluxe edition celebrates the 80 years of stories featuring the world’s greatest comic book villain known as the Joker. Collecting over 400 pages of sinister plotting by Batman’s archenemy, this graphic novel presents a myriad of iterations of the Jester of Genocide from critically-acclaimed writers and artists ever since his first appearance in Batman #1. With a stark exploration of the character’s evolution within popular culture, the comic book industry, and in our own understanding of the villain’s raison d’être, this volume also features reflections by comics legends such as Dan DiDio, Steve Englehart, Paul Dini, Jeph Loeb, and Scott Snyder, as well as commentaries by true crime journalist Billy Jensen and the unmatched voice actor Mark Hamill.
It is in itself difficult to truly summarize the Joker’s history within one sturdy volume. Similar to Batman, his legacy has been within the hands of countless writers who have all offered a unique take on the character. But how is that possible? Shouldn’t such a personage be the same from one story to another? Not necessarily. He is a character that never has the same modus operandi whenever he’s out of Arkham Asylum and wreaking havoc on Gotham, a character that enjoys being the center of attention as he unveils to the world the joys of killing through gags, gimmicks, and deception, a character that toys with life with no regards to the consequences. It is in the beauty of this incongruity that resides in the character’s essence. Throughout the past 80 years, the Joker has seen various transformations, only to get darker and grimmer, like a blade being sharpened to its peak perfection, and it is throughout these versions of the Joker that his unknown origins, his meticulousness in disrupting order, and his iconic and memorable laugh that we understand that he’s a character born and bred in darkness, one that you simply won’t understand as he serves up his killing jokes.
With the commentaries by various individuals allowing us to get insights on the character’s history and the impact that the Joker had on them, this volume is also a visual treat for those wishing to speed through his transformation across 80 years. It is near impossible to not recognize the character—whether it’s his costume displaying his purple and green fixation, his maniacal smile and almost mythological laugh, or his unparalleled mannerism filled with clever puns and cynicism—the Joker remains an awe-inspiring character design that dares to fuse ridicule with insanity. Every single one of his appearances today is marked with capitulation as he brings fear in all before the show even begins. His action denotes an incredible lack of remorse and it’s through his demeanor that you know you’re facing a monster hidden among humans. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, his character always has a new joke for you hidden in his sleeves.
The Joker: 80 Years of the Clown Prince of Crime is a stunning and splendid commemorative collection of stories featuring an iota of the Harlequin of Hate’s most iconic moments in his terrifying saga.