HAHAHA! - Joker '12
History and experience has showed us what to expect from a good Joker story and ironically that is unpredictability. We all know that the sadistic clown will always fill his fair share of body bags and send a whole city howling in fear but what has really defined the character throughout his long and illustrious career are the pantomime moments. The Joker at heart is an exhibitionist, an extroverted actor playing to a brainwashed audience and we all know his favourite co-star/plaything is the Batman.
The erratic and eccentric charm the character brings to a story is superlative and almost impossible to imitate. The final, piercing joke in Alan Moore’s “The Killing Joke” and the stunning, psychological interrogation scene in Christopher Nolan’s masterfully directed “The Dark Knight”, are just instances of the addictive ether the character carries in his stories. Now, Scott Snyder has finally decided it’s his turn to tell a joke and he faithfully honours these momentous stories while at the same time tries to create something historic of his own.
The pacing of the issue is perfect, building a haunting suspense all the way to the final page thanks to spectacular art from Greg Capullo. Nothing this man does is conventional and this series is all the better for it. An expert at using space and varying angles, it feels as if he is directing a classic horror movie rather than drawing a comic. The first few pages involving the Gotham Precinct pulse with a haunting, ambiance and you feel your heart-rate rise in anticipation of what's to come. There is one panel in particular, our first snippet of the Joker, which just presents us with his foot stepping out of a van. It might sound quite insignificant but the use of warm lighting makes it an incredibly vivid and haunting image when you know whose wearing the shoes.
While not exposition heavy, some of the set up towards the middle of the issue seemed a little forced. This story arc will be crossing over into the majority of the Bat books so naturally we had to get a primer into “the family” that will be affected. It’s a minor quarrel but it did disrupt the initial dark and brooding tone.
Snyder is well versed in all things Batman and he seems to have captured the Joker’s voice well despite what little we saw of him. He’s as psychotic as ever and with the cliffhanger last page, his intentions are clear. There is undoubtedly a sense of occasion building in this new story but with the Joker planning the party, anything is possible. It’s a jam, packed first issue to this new story arc, littered with inklings of the famous old runs. Joker’s finally got his face back; where do we go from here? Who knows - but the implications will surely be huge.
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