I’m always amused when people say The Joker is their favorite comic book villain. Really? Which one?
Since 1940, The Joker has been a merry prankster, a vicious sociopath, and a gangster. The Joker has been depicted as a chaotic force unleashed on Gotham and a cunning criminal. He’s killed a Robin, paralyzed Batgirl, and tried to trademark “Laughing Fish.”
In Brian Azzarello’s Joker, the story is told from Jonny Frost’s perspective. Frost volunteers to pick up Joker when he’s released from Arkham Asylum. Frost is showing his respect to Joker, but getting close to Joker also means living the life Frost thinks he deserves. In an interesting character moment, Joker immediately sizes Frost up as the type of guy who has a shovel in his trunk.
Outside Arkham, Joker finds his criminal empire divided among his lackeys. The majority of the book follows Joker’s reclamation of his empire and the brutal elimination of those who showed him disrespect — with Frost along as gunman and driver.
With his scarred smile, it’s easy to connect Azzarello’s Joker with Heath Ledger’s, but I don’t believe that’s the intent here. Instead, Azzarello has taken Batman’s rogues gallery and presented a realistic take on how Gotham’s underworld would work.
Drawn (overdrawn?) by Lee Bermejo, Killer Croc is a hulking brute with a skin disorder, not a human/reptile hybrid. The Riddler sports a tattooed glam look, not the Matthew Lesko suit. (Note to Mimi, you won’t be happy with this Harley Quinn.) These aren’t monsters or costumed villains, they’re criminals operating out of dives surrounded by alcohol, drugs, and violence.
One of our librarians has fond memories of walking into a comic book store and seeing Mike Mignola (Hellboy) sitting at a table at a mostly unattended signing.
Those days are gone. If you want to see talent, it’s rare that they’ll show up at a comic book store. No, you’ll probably have to travel to a convention and fork over dollars before you can see your favorite artist or writer — especially if you want something signed.
That’s why it’s so cool that Brad Meltzer is going to be at the Hagen Ranch Road Library on Saturday, April 18 from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. for free.
He will be plugging his New York Times Bestseller Book of Lies, a novel about the murder of Superman creator Jerry Siegel’s father.
Tickets for speaker available beginning April 6. Two tickets per person. Limited seating available for this free presentation. Call 561-894-7500 for more details.
I was doing my daily survey of the catalog to see what new graphic novels have arrived and I found a collection of graphic novel audiobook thingies!
If you follow this link, you’ll find the following DC graphic novel adaptations:
JLA: Batman: The Stone King
JLA: Superman: The Never-Ending Battle
Now these aren’t straight-up readings. They are dramatizations with a full voice-cast and music/sound effects — described (cheesily) as “A Movie in your Mind.”
I just checked out JLA: Batman: The Stone King and I’ll report on it later.
And the work which has become a genre unto itself shall be called: Bat-manga! Or something like that.
There’s no denying that Batman gets the manga love and that was even before Batman Begins turned the Dark Knight into a ninja. First Kia Asamiya’s absolutely gorgeous Batman: Child of Dreams was brought over to the US. Then Chip Kidd unearthed 40 year old Batman manga in Bat-manga!: The Secret History of Batman in Japan. Now, DC has released the collected Batman: Death Mask, a manga by Yoshinori Natsume commissioned for western audiences.
A pre-Batman Bruce Wayne encounters a cursed Oni mask in Japan while perfecting his martial arts training. This encounter forces Bruce to focus on the purpose of The Batman — spirit of vengeance or guardian of Gotham?
20 years later the mask reappears in Bruce’s life and is connected to a string of serial killings. Can Batman exorcise the demons of his past and — more importantly — break a cycle of vengeance which extends back for centuries?
Put a hold on Batman: Death Mask.