Comic Vine Review


Batman #23.1 - Time to Monkey Shine Review


The Joker gets the spotlight and we (maybe) get a look into his past. Is it a look we want or need to see?

The Good

You can't have a month focused on DC villains and not have the Joker around. We may not know the current status of the Joker in the New 52 but this issue gives us a chance to journey back to an earlier time in his career.

Andy Kubert makes a bold decision (assuming it his and not editorial's) and shows us some scenes from Joker's childhood. If these books are supposed to focus on the villains, seeing their story makes sense. It's interesting, but being it's about the Joker, is it something we can fully believe?

Andy Clarke is on hand for the art. It's been great seeing Clarke doing some of the backups in this series and we finally get to see him do a full issue. Everyone seems to have a different take on Joker and it's fascinating to see how he approaches the character. Whereas the Joker can sometimes be a two-dimensional character, Clarke actually manages to give us some expressions other than the usual borderline insanity we always see. That almost makes his depiction scarier than others we've seen.

The Bad

Joker wants to start a family. We see a flashback story where he takes a baby gorilla from the zoo and "raises" him to be a partner in crime. It is a pretty wacky thing, something Joker would be capable of.

What it comes down to is we don't need to see Joker's origin. It's possible this is just a fractured memory, similar to the possibility in THE KILLING JOKE. I don't want or need to be sympathetic with Joker. He's a pure villain, that's all I need from him. Am I supposed to feel bad that he might have had a torturous childhood? No thanks.

This story doesn't really add much to Joker's mythos either. When all the Villains Month issues are raised in price due to the special covers. Even at the regular price, it's an okay story with some good art.

The Verdict

This is going to be a tricky month when it comes to the Villains Month titles. Many of the titles feature origins or flashback stories. It makes perfect sense the first BATMAN villains book would focus on Joker. The problem is, you don't really feel this story adds a lot to his character. We don't need or want to see Joker's childhood, if the flashback scenes can even be trusted. Joker with a gorilla is a fascinating idea but it just didn't feel crucial in any way. What bumped up my enjoyment for this issue was seeing Andy Clarke's art for an entire issue rather than just a backup story.

It's possible the wacky and...odd nature of the story was intentional because we're talking about the Joker. Maybe I'm missing the point. With so many Villains Month titles fighting for our dollars this month, this was a little disappointing.

56 CommentsRefresh
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Avatar image for nappystr8
Posted By nappystr8

I finally read this issue and I can't believe all the hate it's getting. I thought it was a brilliant black comedy that is everything I was wanting and expecting out of these villains month issues. Easily my favorite. When I first started reading I thought I was reading a tragic origin story, but by the second or third page when his aunt started bleaching his face and talking about Colombian neckties, I thought it was hilariously and abundantly clear that this was just a complete Joker delusion brought about by his own warped mind interpreting the sight of mother and son apes. I doubt he ever experienced abuse or even had an aunt, it's just something his head thought up to absolve him of his behavior. Similar to how he claimed that he loved Jackanapes like a son, when clearly at the end of the issue, he was completely unmoved by his death.

Avatar image for herx
Posted By Herx

Last Wednesday I picked up 5 dc villains month titles (not including forever evil), and as I read them in alphabetical order this was on the top of my pile. It really left me with a bad taste, making me wonder if my other 4 villain month titles were going to be this, for a lack of a better word, Bad. Luckily they were not (Twoface, Dessad, Darkseid and deadshot). But it makes me wonder why do this with joker?

Avatar image for deadpool25mm
Posted By deadpool25mm

The Cover: 5/5 (Awesome Cover)
Story: To be honest... didnt feel the Joker at all. felt like reading about a clown and gorilla. But its nice to see Andy Kubert writeing a comic, and I wish him luck :) !
Art:5/5 (Realy nice)

Avatar image for cyborg6971
Posted By Cyborg6971

So does anyone know how this will work for Batman subscriptions? Do I get this one, which sounds pathetic. Or will I get nothing this month?

Avatar image for aweekingeekdom
Edited By AWeekInGeekdom

This wasn't really an "origin", more of a fractured memory of something that MAY or MAY NOT have happened. At least I thought it was a pretty nice self-contained story, i liked the ending though. It wasn't the best compared to other things.

Avatar image for kaiklown
Posted By kaiklown

The only good part was turning the comic over to see an Arkham Origins ad in 3d so thats cool.

Avatar image for jaelbaez
Posted By JaelBaez

I didn't like this issue, but I hardly think this re-writes anything, so I don't think people should be freaking out. This doesn't actually replace Joker's origin, it just adds unnecessary details. So yeah, he lived in a super abusive could just be one of many things that happened before he fell into the vat of chemicals (actual origin) and became the Clown Prince of Crime we all know and love. I thought the thing about his aunt scrubbing his face with bleach was more foreshadowing and allusion than anything else. But let's say this is actually the entirety of his new origin (which I see NO reason for believing this), let's remember that this is the Joker narrating all of it, and we all know he is arguably comic's most unreliable narrator. So to all my fellow comic book lovers afraid that this is 100% of the new origin...fear not, the issue never made it clear that this DIRECTLY turned him into the Joker. I think the point was just to offer us a glimpse at his childhood (a badly written glimpse IMHO). I didn't like this issue because of how unnecessary it was. I mainly found it unnecessary because the issue juxtaposed this glimpse into his past with that ridiculous (IMHO) Jackanapes story set in the present day. I just didn't care.

Avatar image for the_titan_lord
Posted By The_Titan_Lord

Just read this issue last night. Not that much interesting. I did a little bit bored reading it.

Avatar image for v_scarlotte_rose
Posted By V_Scarlotte_Rose

I was quite surprised with this issue, as with The Joker being generally regarded as Batmans main villain, I would have expected his villain issue to be something brilliant, but for me, it's not.

The story seemed a little too "wacky" even for The Joker, came across as kind of pointless, and in contrast to what some other peoples opinions, I wasn't really that impressed with the art. I've read a couple of issues with Andy Clarkes art that looked better than this to me, though I can't say I'm a fan of them either.

Realistically, I'd probably have to give it 2/5.

Avatar image for kingsciarrillo
Posted By KingSciarrillo

This issue was interesting, to say the least. The art was amazing though.

Avatar image for thetimestreamer
Posted By theTimeStreamer

garbage. waste of good paper.

Avatar image for wilbertus
Edited By Wilbertus

Ok, so I went out to buy and read it today. I don't know if it is because everyone is so negative on here and my expectations dropped substantially, but I actually really liked this comic.

I feel like it entirely depends on what you are expecting. If you are looking for a dark and realistic Joker, then you will be very disappointed. If you are looking for a whacky Joker story that is fun, quick and easy, then this is a great comic!

Read my review for a more elaborated version.

Avatar image for mulder15
Edited By Mulder15

@g_man: For a Joker story it works. It's nice to see Joker as how he should be rather then how he was in Death of the Family.

Avatar image for detective38
Posted By detective38

This issue sucked if I want an origin story for joker id reread killing joke not this garbage 1/5 stars

Avatar image for weenman1
Posted By weenman1

terrible origin for Jackanapes

Avatar image for gmanfromheck
Posted By gmanfromheck

@mulder15: Not sure if this question was to me/the review or in general. I did mention twice that whether or not there was any validity to the "memories" was in question. Bottom line, for me, it wasn't an interesting story. Not worth $3.99 or even the $2.99. It's a wacky enough scenario. Just not something I needed to read when there are so many other better comics out this week. I just really liked Clarke's art.

Avatar image for angelo2113
Edited By Angelo2113

I'm surprised many are taking The Joker's "origin story" seriously, especially when it's coming from him. He's the freaking Joker. I think the only concrete evidence that we have of his origin in the New 52 is when he falls into the A.C.E. chemicals.

Avatar image for angelo2113
Posted By Angelo2113
@mulder15 said:

I really wonder why you thought that the flashback was a definite origin.......any Joker flashback is just a symptom of Joker's psychosis. TKJ was composed of Joker flashbacks. Does that make it a definite origin?

That's exactly how I saw it. The "flashbacks" reminded me of The Joker's "origins" in The Dark Knight when he asked people "Do you want to know how I get these scars?" and gave completely different stories. This was pretty much similar to that and he created his own flashbacks to fit his insanity and the inspiration for his next crime spree.

Avatar image for peppeyhare
Posted By PeppeyHare

Picked it up just for cover. Wasn't very good

Avatar image for tomtomiii
Posted By tomtomiii

Wow, I am really bummed to hear this sucked. I even had my shop pull a 3D cover for me. Maybe I should have them put it back :/

Avatar image for captainhoopla
Edited By CaptainHoopla

I'm happy to see I'm not the only one disappointed with this. The art is solid but that's about it, 2/5 for me. When I finished this, the only thing I could think of was, wow, what a waisted opportunity to write a good Joker one-shot.

Avatar image for themantisshrimp
Posted By TheMantisShrimp

I thought it was a fairly good issue. The flash backs didn't come off to much like an origin rather a day or two of jokers past. Plus the wackiness is great.

Avatar image for illo_29
Posted By ILLO_29

This was not the best comic book written, it was pretty bad actually. Andy Kubert needs to stick to pencils and leave the writing up to someone else.

Avatar image for vaccine
Edited By Vaccine

The origins of the villains that I have read so far have been really....meh. Joker's story was kinda disappointing. I expected something more. Maybe it was just me and my ridiculous high expectations for Villain's month.

Avatar image for lifeofvibe
Edited By lifeofvibe
Avatar image for rulerofthisuniverse
Posted By RulerOfThisUniverse

That's disappointing. I'm still buying it, though...cause it's The Joker.

Avatar image for fabo_puertorican
Posted By fabo_puertorican

This issue was just plain boring. For some reason I knew it was going to be, but I ignored my instinct and bought it just because it was The Joker. Boy, what a waste of 3.99. Hopefully, Kubert does a better job in Damian's story.

Avatar image for mulder15
Posted By Mulder15

I really wonder why you thought that the flashback was a definite origin.......any Joker flashback is just a symptom of Joker's psychosis. TKJ was composed of Joker flashbacks. Does that make it a definite origin?

Avatar image for darknightspideyfanboy
Posted By darknightspideyfanboy

@bloxxeh: im right now wondering if this is batman 666 universe where Damian become batman cause this writer will be doing mini series about it also the gorilla is from that universe as well

Avatar image for bloxxeh
Posted By Bloxxeh
Avatar image for darknightspideyfanboy
Posted By darknightspideyfanboy
Avatar image for bloxxeh
Posted By Bloxxeh

Did Snyder write this?

Avatar image for manwithoutshame
Posted By manwithoutshame

I thought it was funny.

Avatar image for wilbertus
Edited By Wilbertus

I was really excited about this one, as Joker is one of my favourite villains. I am disappointed to read this review, but happy to read it before I went to my comics shop.

I find it interesting how everyone does away with the idea of a Joker origin so easily. Nearly every villain (at least Batman villains, I may not know too much about others) has an interesting origin story that fits the character and that makes the character that much more interesting.

I, for one, really like origin stories and their retelling. For example, I really enjoyed Scott Snyder's version of Mr Freeze. To me, origin stories are never definite (like nothing really is in comics) so I don't mind if writers tweak them or even completely reinvent them. It is just an interpretation and better to try and come up with something fresh and interesting with the possibility of creating a masterpiece or producing absolute garbage, than to stick with one idea for decades.

Thus, I don't mind if they write an origin story for the Joker. I enjoy Joker's origin stories, also because they are so diverse and because people seem to emphasize the fact that an origin story is only a certain interpretation much more for the Joker than for many other characters. As Joker once said himself: "If I am going to have a past, I prefer it to be multiple choice."

Hence, I am fine with them doing a Joker origin story and I won't throw it out just because it is that. However, the story itself needs to be solid, creative and entertaining. So the fact that it is an origin story also doesn't mean that I automatically approve of it.

What I get from the review is that the main flaw is the fact that they attempted to create a new origin for the Joker, not that the story itself is bad. Is the story really that bad?

Maybe I should just read it and judge for myself.

Avatar image for g_money_christmas
Posted By G_Money_Christmas

Why wasn't this up until after I bought comics today?!?!?! Now I bought a crap comic apparently! I should have gotten the Justice League or JLA one

Avatar image for booster_bronze
Edited By Booster_Bronze

I'm usually a details-oriented type person, and whenever I see a character, I almost NEED to see their origin. The ONLY exception I have to this rule is The Joker. I accept his "multiple choice" origin because it fits so well with his insanity. I kind of get some of Kubert's throwbacks to the past and how it affects who Joker becomes (such as the bleached skin and the lipstick around his Aunt's mouth), but I prefer the origin-less Joker model myself.

I also found the story ridiculous, but not in a good Joker kind of way. Seeing a Gorilla dressed up as a commando was just stupid.

Avatar image for longbowhunter
Posted By longbowhunter

I was gonna pick this up because I'm an Andy Clarke fan, but this sounds stupid. Oh well there's $4 I can put towards something else.

Avatar image for blackdog2009
Edited By Blackdog2009

Great art. Terrible story.

Avatar image for saoakden
Edited By saoakden

Hmm interesting.

Avatar image for mucklefluga
Edited By Mucklefluga

I was also quite disappointed when i got home and read this, the art is still great tho.

Avatar image for jacobin_wisdom
Posted By Jacobin_Wisdom

I don't view this as an "origin". Truth be told, I'm glad they didn't tell us where Joker is or what he's plotting to be wasted on a one-shot month theme.

Avatar image for MadeinBangladesh
Posted By MadeinBangladesh

Well My shop didnt have Joker 23.1 so it's a good thing I didnt waste $ on this.

Avatar image for enigmalantern
Posted By EnigmaLantern

I think the special cover gives it a +1 on the rating, but that would apply to almost any other comic book so..meh. I fully agree though, the Joker shouldn't have a so called "backstory" or "origin".

For me, the fact that we know almost nothing about Joker's past and that he's such a messed up freak who constantly challenges Batman is the reason why I LOVE him. Doing a backstory/origin just messes that up for me, personally.

Avatar image for cobra88king8
Posted By cobra88king8

I really wish this issue had somehow teased at his return or shown what he did during his year long absence or where he went after the end of Death of the Family. This just felt like a oneshot they told because they needed something for a Joker villains month book because you can't not have one

Avatar image for darknightspideyfanboy
Posted By darknightspideyfanboy

@g_man: isnt the monkey from 666 universe ?

Avatar image for anthonygiu
Posted By anthonygiu

That's pretty disappointing. I'm going to check it out but it's kind of a bummer that it didn't get a good review.

Avatar image for the_mast
Edited By The Mast

I'm just not gonna read it.

Avatar image for gmanfromheck
Posted By gmanfromheck
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