Happy Horrorthon! 2008 – Barack Obama was becoming a household name, I still had some hair, and Heath Ledger’s Joker brought the absolute evil of clowns to the silver screen. I understand that some of you might think that the comic Joker is not a horror comic, but guys it’s got a clown right there on the cover; they are ALL trying to kill you. IT COUNTS!
Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo sought to bring Ledger’s Joker into a comic form and dig a little deeper into the psychology of Joker and why someone would follow him. The story is narrated by Jonny Frost – a small time gangster- who wanted to be big. Jonny figures that he himself is not larger than life, but by being near bright evil, he too could shine like the moon does with the earth. He picks the Joker.
Christopher Nolan described the Joker as an absolute. He is an id of Corruption and destruction. In this story, the Joker has gotten out of Arkham….again. SIDE NOTE: what’s with Gotham?! They must have the single party liberal governing that we have in Seattle because you’d think they’d have a Three Strikes Rule or the Death Penalty by now. I mean, why let the Joker continue to keep breathing? I get how Batman has this weird code- he wears rubber, cape, lives in a cave, and is all kinds of weirdo, but why do the rest of Gotham’s citizens have it? Do they not vote? Do they have only one ballot choice? So, the Joker meets Jonny Frost the second that he leaves Arkham and Jonny works as a toady and hanger on for the majority of the book.
Jonny narrates the Joker’s return to power as he reaps through the underworld, but he burns most of his possessions down and kills all of his own henchmen and even shoots Jonny at the end. Really, the story depicted the Joker as a force of Anti-Creation. While it was a deeper dive into this Super Villain, it left me wanting because it was told through the lens of this mediocrity Jonny Frost. It says Joker right there on the cover so you’d think it would be all about the Clown Prince of Crime, but instead it was this tangential view of him. I would’ve been more captivated by a story just about the Joker without a go-between.
The story was strong and depicting LOTS AND LOTS of gore. In fact, the Joker kills more people than the Spanish Flu. He’s Lucifer and Death combined to cause havoc. In the end, we get the obvious conclusion that he’s just this disease of evil and that Batman is really just a treatment, but not a cure. It seems that Gotham’s real disease is a soft on crime public policy.