Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Andrea Sorrentino
Colors: Jordie Bellaire
Letters: Steve Wands
Cover by Andrea Sorrentino
Variant Cover by Kaare Andrews
I have to be honest from the very beginning and tell you right up front I was very disappointed with the first book of this series from DC Black Label. I figured with what I had seen from the Batman: Damned series and the Harleen series that a series on the Joker would be out of this world. But it wasn’t.
Sadly, the disappointment began with receiving the book itself and just kept going downhill from there.
Every comic book I have gotten from DC Black Label so far has been high quality with thick, oversized pages and nice glossy finishes, impeccable artwork and superior writing. The covers of each book immediately draw the eye to the book itself and almost possess you to buy it, just by their cover art.
This book is thin and flimsy unlike the other books in the Black Label series. The cover art is plain in comparison to the rest of DC Black Label covers as well. The paper seems to be of lower quality in general as is the finish on the paper after the work has been done.
Next, you open the book and immediately the artwork looks very elementary in comparison to the other Black Label artists’ work. And the depiction of the Joker is ridiculously tame. They make him look like a normal guy wearing lipstick. It just doesn’t seem like what we are used to as the Joker.
Then, the writing. Or lack thereof. However, you want to put it. It was simple and basic and repetitive. Oh my god, so repetitive. All the Joker seems to talk about is being happy and wanting things to be beautiful, happy and beautiful, beautiful and happy. Over and over and over again. It’s positively annoying. By the third or fourth time I began to silently ask myself, “Is there going to be a quiz at the end of this or something? How many times do we need to be told Joker wants it happy and beautiful?” Beyond that, the writer wastes an entire two page spread on the children’s story one of the characters is reading to his son at bedtime. No, I’m not kidding, I’m being very serious…two…full…pages. Of a children’s book.
Now, the doctor that is reading this children’s book to his kid is the same doctor that, in THIS SERIES, is currently talking with the Joker at Arkham. This is apparently the doctor that comes along AFTER Dr. Harleen Quinzel, after she fell in love with Joker and helped him escape. The authorities at the hospital look at that as “losing” one of their doctors and are determined not to let it happen again.
But, Dr. Ben Arnell thinks, just like every other doctor to ever talk to the Joker, that he is on the verge of a breakthrough. (A breakthrough to what? Observing the mind from totally crazy to completely psychotic? Lofty aspirations, let me tell ya. “Hi there Mr. Joker sir, yes, now I know for a fact you’re a complete nutjob but, my goal here is to find out just how whacky of a nutjob you REALLY are, if any of it is an act AND if you are truly aware of how crazy you are on ANY level at all. Would you like to converse with me and tell me all the deep, dark, horrible and personal things you’ve never told anyone ever in your life? Me. A perfect stranger to you?” I swear, I just have to shake my head at the ignorance of that approach.)
Still, Ben is warned. He has two more weeks and then he will be moving on to work with another subject. Ben is not pleased with this information.
So, there you have it. No action. No witty banter. No amazing artwork to stun you and distract you from the fact that the story so far could have been written in probably five pages. No prison breaks. No love stories. Nothing.
Just the Joker and his lipstick, his love for happiness and beauty and this Dr. Arnell, who seems to think he’s going to have better luck getting through to the funny man than Dr. Quinzel did. Awfully arrogant, don’t you think? We’ll see how it works out for him.