THE JOKER: YEAR OF THE VILLAIN #1 Review by Mance Fine

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SYNOPSIS: In the Year of the Villain, what’s a Clown Prince of Crime to do when the world has started to accept doing bad as the only way to live? Out-bad everyone else, of course! The Joker is on a mission to get his mojo back and prove to the world that there is no greater villainy than the kind that leaves you laughing.  This special one-shot is co-written by legendary film auteur John Carpenter (The Thing, Halloween) and Anthony Burch (the Borderlines video games), making for a Joker comic that’s twisted in ways you never imagined!

Don’t get me wrong, I have very much enjoyed many of the large, universe-altering DC events over the years that involved The Dark Knight. While I prefer a good Batman or Bat-family story to the “Batman-in-space” stories, I have thoroughly enjoyed events like Infinite Crisis, Dark Knights: Metal, and The Batman Who Laughs.

All are fantastic additions to the melting pot that is the lore of The Batman. That said, I would be lying if I said a bit of fatigue hasn’t set in when it comes to Year of the Villain and the larger story surrounding the Legion of Doom, Perpetua, and Lex Luthor’s role in all of this.

But, especially after being enamored with Juaquin Phoenix’s riveting portrayal of my favorite antagonist of all time, I am inclined to giving all things Joker a chance.

The Joker: Year of the Villain #1 taught me a valuable lesson; always keep an open mind, and don’t write something off based on your assumptions.

There were no forced cameos, no holographic Lex, no crazy cosmic-Perpetua-madness. Nope, just a good ol’ fashioned tale where The Clown Prince of Crime embarks on a madness-fueled adventure with another vulnerable and unsuspecting cohort. This issue, written by famed horror director John Carpenter and co-writer Anthony Burch, and drawn in haunting fashion by Philip Tan, is another fantastic addition to the lore of the Harlequin of Hate.

After escaping the asylum, we see The Joker adopt a “sidekick” who idolizes him the way many of us look up to The Dark Knight. This Joker truly is like a dog chasing a car; every decision is sporadic, every result is violent. As we follow The Joker and his friend through their romp around Gotham, we see them go for snacks, embark on a vigilante crusade as the dynamic duo, and we even see that the Joker was kind and thoughtful enough to provide some much-needed family therapy for his lone friend.

Sound a little too good to be true? Go pick up the issue for details.

Fans of Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo’s Joker will certainly identify with the Joker/henchman dynamic. In some ways, the plot of the comic was a slight retread of a story told by James Tynion IV in Batman Annual #3 that was released back in 2014 as a tie-in to Scott Snyder’s Endgame arc, where The Joker finds his “best friend”.

I think the moral of all of these stories is that anyone who idolizes the Joker and thinks that they are his number one guy might find themselves sharing the fate of Bob the Goon from all those years ago. Or, in certain cases, The Joker can find a way to make you wish you shared Bob’s fate. The only certainty is that anyone who manages to survive their initial encounter with The Joker won’t make it for long (unless you look like Margot Robbie.)

If you are a fan of the character, of good art, and of a simple, intriguing, contained story (which seems to be of greater value each day in the comic world), go pick this book up. It’s fantastic! – Mance Fine

GRADE: A