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The Joker has been around almost as long as Batman and as such there are thousands of pages of stories featuring him. Some of the tales are easy to remember because of the sheer power of the writing. KILLING JOKE is obviously one of them, his part in Dark Knight Returns is also a stand out. In Joker Brian Azzarello has raised the bar. Along with artists Lee Bermejo and Mick Gray Azzarello has told a story that will be remembered for ages to come.
We are seeing the story through the eyes of Jonny Frost, a hood who has decided he needs to work for the Joker. Jonny is there when Joker gets out of Arkham Asylum (found to be sane?!!) and he follows the Joker on wild ride to take back what is his, or at least what he perceives to be his. Encounters with some of Batman’s most famous foes are part of the path, but these are not the villains on the cartoons. Killer Croc is a bad ass gangster from the hood, Penguin is a money man scared of his own shadow. Riddler
Is a punk kid who is the ultimate hustler, and Two Face is a man used to getting his own way with delusions of grandeur. The coolest reworking for me was Harley Quinn who has become a demented sociopath blindly loyal to Joker.
As Joker works his way through the city leaving a trail of chaos in his wake it becomes easy to want to feel sympathetic for Jonny who seems in over his head, but he knows what he wants and it seems to be going out in a blaze of glory will do him just fine, as long as the ride is interesting.
This book looks at the joker in ways I don’t remember seeing him, truly disturbed and yet strangely vulnerable as well. He quite simply doesn’t see what he is doing is wrong, or at least he doesn’t care.
Joker is full of detailed artwork that is simply beautiful and a story that is layered and rich, and marks a new high in Azzarello’s already impressive career.