Friday, April 14, 2017

JOKER by Brian Azzarello

Brian Azzarello's graphic novel tells a gang war story set in Gotham City and focuses on The Joker after some dumbass at Arkham Asylum granted him an early release and he just strolls out of there of his own accord. The story is told through the eyes of a two-bit, low-level hood named Jonny Frost, who's the only one with the balls and ambition to pick up The Joker on his release and join him on a rampage through the Gotham City underworld to re-stake his claim.

The stand-out element in this scuzzy, grungy little crime book is a now infamous depiction of the Crown Prince of Crime, with the longer hair, the wrinkled, scarred face, and the ragged Glasgow Smile cut through his cheeks. Reportedly, early drafts of this depiction were used as reference for Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight and it's Heath Ledger version of the villain, which popularized the look. And within these pages, backed by Lee Bermejo's artwork, it's pretty freaky to look at.

And the story is pretty good too, as we see Joker bumping heads with other baddies for a change and it's interesting to see him through the eyes of criminals rather than the good guys this time. And the tension really ramps up as Jonny begins to see just how unhinged and unpredictable and downright insane The Joker is, and how it's a huge mistake to believe that you can simply be "friends" with a man like that. The Joker is possibly one of the greatest villain characters ever created in any medium, and this book does him justice.


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