Reviews

Review – Year of the Villain: The Joker (DC Comics)

Year of the Villian: Joker (DC Comics) cover art (detail) by Philip Tan & Marc Deering
Year of the Villain: The Joker
Overall
7.5/10
7.5/10
  • Writing - 7/10
    7/10
  • Art - 8/10
    8/10
  • Overall - 7.5/10
    7.5/10
Sending
User Review
4 (1 vote)

Summary

Writers: John Carpenter & Anthony Burch
Pencils: Philip Tan
Inks: Marc Deering, Jonathan Glapion, Danny Miki & Tan
Colors: Jay David Ramos
Letters: Gabriela Downie
Maturity Rating: Teen +
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: October 9th, 2019

The Joker’s escaped and Batman is nowhere to be found. When crime loses its punchline, will the Joker find humor through the eyes and cowl of his “vanquished” foe?

In Love and Insanity – Year of the Villain: The Joker

You see, there were these two guys in a lunatic asylum. One is a master of horror, a true weaver of nightmares. A man whose very name conjures images of white-hot terror. The other is a self-proclaimed “Clown Prince of Crime”, a beast, and the living embodiment of all things evil. So one night, they decide that they have a new story to tell, that they need to break their rusty cages—that they need each other. The Master did what he does best: he wrote. The clown entered the Master’s mind like some sick sordid muse, infecting him with inspiration. What came out was a twisted tale of love and longing, wrapped up in complete and utter insanity. They call their story Year of the Villain: The Joker. 

Writing

Year of the Villian Joker (DC Comics) cover art by Philip Tan & Marc Deering
Year of the Villian: The Joker (DC Comics) cover art by Philip Tan & Marc Deering

I’m not going to bore you with quoting John Carpenter‘s resume; I’d be doing him a disservice. Even if I were bold enough to attempt such a feat, how do you begin to sum up a canon of work that has influenced and inspired entire generations of filmmakers? He’s the legendary director and composer behind films like The Thing, Christine, and of course his magnum opus—Halloween

In Year of the Villain: The Joker, all hope is lost. Batman is nowhere to be found and Gotham City is under the tyrannical rule of Bane. After escaping the clutches of Arkham Asylum yet again, Joker, along with his henchman “The Six of Hearts”, begin wreaking havoc across Gotham. Only something’s different this time, it’s not quite the same. Without Batman, crime has no punchline—it isn’t funny anymore. 

“The Joker is sane. He’s evil, not crazy. I’m crazy, not evil…”

Throughout the story, Carpenter does a masterful job representing the Joker’s two biggest personalities—the clown and the psychopath. He delves deep into the very fabric of Joker’s makeup, touching upon one of the more recent and controversial elements of Bat-lore. Mainly, that The Joker “loves” and is in many ways “in love with” Batman. Not the man behind the mask, but the idea that Batman represents.

Batman and the Joker are like yin and yang: complementary entities, not opposites. Absolute good cannot exist except in contrast to absolute evil. They need each other and the Joker understands this. For example, the point of Joker “putting on the Halloween costume cape and cowl”, is that it bestows upon him the cathartic opportunity to “see the world through the eyes of Batman”. To “become” him, if only to be closer to him. This, however, isn’t enough—it doesn’t give the Joker what he so desperately needs. In his own sick way, Joker believes it is part of his “purpose” to be punished for his evil acts. Like any true masochist, he likes it when it hurts. If Batman isn’t here to give him that satisfaction, then he needs to fill the void in other, more “creative” ways. 

Art

Philip Tan is just one of those artists that make me wish I had more adjectives in my lexicon. His cover expertly portrays the Joker in full tuxedo, happily cradling a human skull. A well-thought homage to both Alex Ross and Greg Capullo, Tan even takes it a step further by conjuring images of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Just like The Prince of Denmark reflected upon the futility of existence as he stared into the skull of Yorick, the Joker lovingly paints a smile in blood over the mouth of the rotting cranium held carefully in his hands.

Tan’s pages treat readers to a completely immersive visual-sensory “descent into madness”. The artwork constantly tests and presses the very boundaries of existence—of what is and what is not real. Through the eyes and scope of “The Six of Hearts”, we get a first-hand account of his slipping sanity. The layout and design elements only add to the book’s lucidity.

Conclusion

There was positively no way that I was going to let a “Joker story” written by one of the greatest horror masters of all time slip by unread. Couple that with an October release and you’re just pulling at my Halloween heartstrings. As far as one-shots go, this was a surefire favorite. John Carpenter is…well…he’s John-freaking-Carpenter. I don’t know what else there is to say. It lives up to the hype and more. After reading Year of the Villain: The Joker I am beyond intrigued at what he’d be capable of producing, were he to be given full creative control of the characters. Set the man up with a six-issue mini-series deal on DC: Black Label and turn him loose, I say. 


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Jordan Claes

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