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Thursday October 30, 2008 10:24 pm

Review of “Joker” by Brian Azzarello

Posted by David Torres Categories:


I was excited when I first heard Brian Azzarello was writing a graphic novel that featured the Joker.  A graphic novel is a little out of my price range, but with the Joker I was all in.

The Joker is my favorite Batman villain.  He is the most interesting; the most fun; the one villain you know that when he makes an appearance in a Batman story the stakes are much higher for those who may get caught up in the mayhem.

DC first announced this story a few months back – before “Dark Knight” hit the theaters.  Some artwork accompanied the story and we saw that the artist, Lee Bermejo, was drawing the Joker like we see him in “Dark Knight” with the scars on the corners of his mouth to make a devious grin.  Bermejo said he came up with the look prior to Dark Knight, but that’s not important.  What’s important is if the story delivers and I’m afraid it doesn’t.

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If I had to sum up this review in one sentence I would say that “it was okay”; entertaining, but by no means a classic.  This world that Azzarello and Bermejo have painted is nothing like the regular DC world where these characters exist.  Some believe that this is actually a sequel to “Dark Knight,” but the creators have confirmed that it is not.  You almost get the feeling that if these characters did exist in reality, this is more of what they would look like and act.

The story is narrated by a small-time crook named Jonny Frost who decides to pick the Joker up from Arkham Asylum as h e’s being released.  I enjoy stories where the narrator is a part of the story, but not the main star.  Azzarello does not do a good job of making this character interesting to me.  I neither care nor hate the character – he’s just there.  I don’t even understand why the Joker would care about him either, as Jonny becomes almost like a right-hand man to the Joker.

The main plot has the Joker trying to get his territory in Gotham back after having been in Arkham for sometime.  In the story, we also see other Bat rogues such as Harley Quinn, Two-Face, Killer Croc, and the Riddler.  I’m not crazy about the creator interpretations of these classic characters – particularly Killer Croc.  Croc doesn’t look like a lizard man.  He looks more like a big black guy with some scales on him.  The Riddler looks like a drugged out, crippled pimp.

However, the artwork was great.  Bermejo is a very good artist and it’s still a nice book to flip through and look at even though I don’t care for the story all that much.  Batman does make an appearance in the book, but by that time I really didn’t care. 

I still think Alan Moore’s “The Killing Joke” is the best Joker story ever.  I was hoping this would be something I could put next to “The Killing Joke” on my shelf of favorites.  Sadly, it will be something I just keep on my shelf “because” and not revisit.



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