Monday, March 30, 2009

From My Comic Pile: Joker

Every month I get a small delivery from my favourite comic shop - Destination Venus in Harrogate - contaning that months releases. Typically I take every isue of Daredevil, Batman, Witchblade and any number of limited series or one-shots such as at the moment Mirrors Edge from Wildstorm, Epilogue from IDW and Gotham After Midnight from DC. Once I finish my monthlies I read from my stack of trade paperbacks/hardcovers until the next box arrives.

Over the weekend I read the Joker grahic novel written by Brian Azzarello and illustrated by Lee Bermejo and published late 2008 by DC.

Now, with the popularity of the Batman Begins and Dark Knight one of my regrets has been that the monthly Batman title hasn't particularly reflected the Batman from the films. This seemed a real shame to me that at a time when interest in the character couldn't have been greater the monthly wasn't really an easy 'stepping on' point for new or occasional readers.

Joker, however, is very much the character from the film. Imagine, if you can, Joker being released from Arkham Asylum after years of incarceration to find his 'territory' - the gangs of Gotham, the illegal trade, has been divided up amongst various smaller criminal gangs. As Joker attempts to regain his business and standing in the criminal underworld we see clashes with The Penguin, Two-face and finally The Batman.

The story is written from the perspective of one of Jokers gang members - Jonny Frost. Frost goes from initially being afraid of his boss, through relishing the notoriety that goes with being Jokers right-hand man, to regretting the association when his ex-wife becomes caught up in one of Jokers random killing sprees.

I enjoyed the way the supporting characters were portrayed - particularly Killer-Croc. Traditionally Killer-Croc is seen as half crocodile, half man but he's seen here as a beefy thug who's 'scaly' appearance is caused by very bad skin.

The artwork from Bermejo is superb - it's dark and moody to reflect the often violent circumstances the characters find themselves in without being difficult to follow.

In summary, 128 pages of great story and artwork - highly recommended.