Joker: Year of the Villain #1 Review - He's Not Crazy, He's Evil
• John Carpenter - Anthony Burch (Writers) • Philip Tan (Pencils)
• Jay David Ramos (Colors) • Philip Tan and Jay David Ramos (Cover Artists)
I've mostly ignored DC Comics: Year of the Villain event. I wasn't all that plugged into Scott Snyder's Justice League. It seems to spin directly out of that series. Long story short, it was a huge financial investment and I've been burned too often by Marvel's line-wide events to jump back on that train.
The only reason I picked this one-shot up was that John Carpenter's (The Thing, Halloween, Big Trouble Little China) name was attached. I'm also a big fan of The Joker. Despite my reservations about the event, this book was a no-brainer.
Joker: Year of a Villain on a surface-level feels uncomfortably similar to Brian Azzarello's Joker Graphic Novel that was released in 2008. In that series, Joker took a liking to one of his henchmen, and over the course of the novel, we see the henchman's gradual descent into madness.
Where the Joker Graphic Novel was grounded in reality and felt like an unofficial sequel to the Nolan movies. This One-Shot feels a lot more comic booky. Joker takes a liking to one of his henchmen here as well. During a robbery, they find a Batman and Robin costume and begin playing the role of hero in Joker's own depraved way.
I don't believe that John and Anthony are directly ripping off Brian's story but the echos cannot be ignored. If the Batman & Robin cosplay aspects of the comic weren't there we'd basically be looking at the same story down to the ending.
The art of Philip Tan is great. The sight of the twisted Joker Batman and Robin is a gem and Gotham also looks great throughout the story. This issue highlights the unpredictable aspects of the character in the art direction as well as the script.
This take on Joker is equal parts creepy and uncomfortably funny. It's also very familiar if you've consumed as much Joker related material as I have lately. By the end of the story our narrator makes the connection that Joker isn't crazy at all, he's just evil. He also makes the connection that he's crazy but he's not evil which is a key distinction between the two men.
This One-Shot highlights why Joker is such an attractive subject for writers. He's an agent of chaos that challenges everyone around him. If you want to see how far you can push a character's buttons, put them next to the Joker. I'm not sure how this one-shot connects to the 'Year of the Villain" event but it is a great self-contained story and would have been better served without the association.
Even if you're suffering from event fatigue like I am I think you can still enjoy Joker: Year of the Villain #1. I'd definitely like to see John Carpenters take on more heroes and villains within the DC Universe. I just hope that next time he steps further out of the box than he does here.