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Batman #23.1 (Joker)

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By Andy Kubert and Andy Clarke

Let’s get this out of the way right now – the Joker does not need an origin story.  We don’t need to know how he was led down the path to evil.  The character is far more interesting (and terrifying) when he is shrouded in mystery and causes chaos just for the giggles.  With that being said, Andy Kubert makes a valiant attempt at shedding light on the Joker’s past, but it manages to fall flat.

The story is not without its merits – there are parts that are funny and parts that are sinisterly entertaining, but Joker’s character seems off.  In some scenes, he’s that crazy Joker that we all know and love, but when you turn the page, he is acting completely out of character.  Kubert is trying to show a side of Joker that perhaps we haven’t seen, but it goes against the core of who he is.  Joker doesn’t go into random depressions about his childhood, he knows that life can be a cruel mistress and he embraces her like a lover.

His backstory is so cliché that it’s painful.  He was abused by his aunt/guardian and the other children picked on him – stop me if you’ve heard this one before.  So not only do we not need a Joker backstory, but when DC decides to give one to New 52 Joker, it couldn’t be more stock.

At least the art is decent.  Andy Clarke uses a different style for the childhood flashbacks and even fuses both styles together when the story calls for it, making the scenes much more enjoyable.  The way he draws Joker is irritating at first, but it really grows on you.  Some of it looks like he’s trying to emulate Capullo’s work, but he does a fine job nonetheless.

With Villains Month now upon us, DC has graced us with the Clown Prince of Crime right out of the gate.  Unfortunately, the final product leaves us feeling angry and a little jilted.  Hopefully, one of these other 900 3D cover books will take this bad taste out of my mouth.

Batman

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