Over the years we’ve seen a surprising number of Batman story arcs that are drenched in horror. We’re talking books that are flat out gruesome, unforgiving and often frightening. Those books aren’t superhero books. They’re not aimed at young teens. These are brutal works of fiction, designed to appeal the much older crowd, eager to peel the superhero’s layers away to see something much deeper and darker. And that works for guys like myself, deep into my 30s with kids of my own. I know when to appreciate a book for myself and when to recommend a piece to my offspring. Batman: Joker’s Daughter is certainly a book that belongs far from the grasp of the kiddies.
Marguerite Bennett crafts a compelling tale that brings a new villain, with the genetic code of a classic rogue to the masses. The Joker’s Daughter is as schizophrenic as her daddy, and in this book she makes a complete transition from head case wannabe to murdering nemesis of the Bat. She’s morbid. She’s savage. She’s got jokes. She’s everything the Joker is and has been. She’s not watered down, or softened up to appeal to children. No. In this book, this little lady is deeply disconcerting and worthy of Batman’s time and attention. Even if he is a step ahead.
I won’t rush to break the story down. It’s a short book. It introduces one legendary figure to what could one day also be a legendary figure of the comic world. They tangle. Batman does what he does, and this woman does what Joker does, with conviction.
When it comes to DC, Batman has always been a runaway favorite for me. Always. There’s something magnetic about the Dark Knight. The mystery that always surrounds him inspires awe. Even in the somewhat rare, or less popular books, like Batman: Joker’s Daughter, a brilliant piece that has eluded me for some time.
I’m glad I picked this one up. Bennett is an excellent writer. Meghan Hetrick, who illustrates, is also razor sharp. Together they’re a special duo who could do huge things with this character. We’ll see where the future leads us.
Order it here.
Remember when Jay Garrick was The Flash? It was about 75 years ago, unless they brought the man back into the realm of The Flash, in which case I missed the memo. Memo missed or not, I did get my hands on the bulk of the original flash run that kicked off in 1940, and while it is admittedly quite dated, it’s loaded with charm.
Gardner Fox penned the first Flash story while Harry Lampert provided the smooth artwork that helped spring The Flash from the page. It was a stellar duo, and the inaugural issue was a serious winner outlining just how Jay obtained his powers of speed. Just a reminder: He spent an evening inhaling the fumes of the gas element of hard water.
Interestingly enough, in the early days Jay Garrick made no attempt at hiding his superhuman speed, in fact, he used it to become a football star and score with the girl of his dreams, Joan. But it isn’t long before the local crime spree catches Jay’s eye, and that’s the moment he decides it’s time to don the wings of Mercury and become The Flash, hero to the city.
We’re also introduced to The Faultless Four in the first issue. A group of evil geniuses who plan to steal a weapon that Joan’s father has developed, the group of course come up short when faced with the powers of The Flash.
When all is said and done the foolishness of the Faultless Four leads to their permanent demise, The Flash saves Joan’s father and, of course wins her affection. Feel good story? No doubt about it!
A fine read if ever there was one, Joker’s Asylum 1: The Joker sees the titular character hijack a televised game show. As you would expect, if you lose the Joker’s game, you don’t go home empty handed, you go home in a body bag.
What separates this book from many others is the moral battle between two television techs. We bear witness to an awesome feud as these two share completely opposing views. On one hand we’ve got a heartless bastard of an exec who wants the Joker show to be televised, because it’s got viewership through the roof, and on the other side of this quarrel we’ve got a sensible woman who doesn’t care to see innocent human beings slaughtered
In a way, this relationship acts as a mirror to the relationship shared by the Joker and his longtime nemesis Batman. And that multi-layered story approach (there’s a superb twist to the tale, which I won’t spoil) is brilliant. Hats go off to Arvid Nelson, who pens this engrossing tale.
We never truly get an explosive battle between The Bat and The Joker, but it’s not necessary, and it’s now what this one is about. The first book in the Joker’s Asylum run is a social statement of the grandest kind, and if you read the book, thinking out each of the Joker’s steps, you may just find yourself feeling slightly appalled at all of us “normal” folk.
Again, nothing but respect Nelson, and Alex Sanchez gets a warm e-embrace from me, having crafted a schizophrenic image that fits the Joker to perfection.
This is must read material!
The book opens with a look at Batman tangling with the Scarecrow, who’d recently escaped the confines of Arkham Asylum. It’s a strong opener that allows Kelley Jones to flex some sinister artwork, but he Scarecrow debacle is little more than a Launchpad for something greater, and far more hazardous.
Hell is slowly breaking loose in Gotham, and as it turns out, Scarecrow didn’t slip from Arkham alone. The Axeman also joined in on the psyche ward break. The Axeman has also rounded up a slew of local thugs. Caught in an ambush, Batman devours enough slugs to turn Bear Grylls into a babbling mess.
And while the book winds down with a group of petty crooks celebrating the death of Batman, we the reader know the chaos has only just begun. Batman: Gotham After Midnight promises the caped crusader will toe the line with plenty of familiar faces. Can he prevail and continue his reign over Gotham is a different question.
Steve Niles brings some great humor to this story. But the beauty comes in Niles’ overall balance, because there’s a clear edge to the book that draws the reader in immediately. And, I can’t spend my time praising Niles alone. Kelley Jones also deserves a wealth of praise, as this is a Batman that while familiar, also sports a few (minor) atypical physical traits. Jones plays off of Niles’ narrative wonderfully, and if the first book of this 12-issue arc doesn’t leave you eager for more, you may want to check your pulse.
I’ve piled the praise on heavily, but I should note that I prefer the profoundly dark Batman books (thing The Long Halloween, and sharper tales of that nature) to those that could appeal to the younger comic book reader out there. There’s nothing wrong with Niles’ story, it’s just a little bit… lighter than I’d prefer. Regardless, this is a strong enough book to warrant a strong rating.