You see this issue on the shelf and you say to yourself, “Another Joker story?!”
You already have the Clown Prince of Crime showing up in every other Bat-title thanks to the Death of the Family crossover and now we have two issues in a row of Legends of the Dark Knight with the Joker. Is this how it’s always going to be? Every new creative team is just going to do another Joker story because he’s one of the most popular characters and one everyone loves to write? WRONG.
A couple pages into this and we actually see that this issue is perfectly timed. Right when the market is absolutely over-saturated with the Joker we have this lovely little commentary on Batman’s war on crime by 30 Days of Night creator Steve Niles and Ultimate Six artist Trevor Hairsine. As always the Joker keeps walking out the revolving door of Arkham Asylum only this time we see how Batman is getting sick and tired of it. But it’s not just the Joker, is it? All of the rogues escape time and time again! It’s a never ending cycle of misery and Batman sees that. It’s wearing him down and he begins to question whether or not he’s had any positive effect on this city at all.
That’s when the red telephone rings. That’s right, the red telephone from the 1960’s Batman TV series and from then on things get rather touching. Prepare to have your heartstrings pulled, Bat-fans. You’re about to experience that oh-so-rare Batman comic with heart. To pull this off it takes plenty of Alfred and a deep focus not only on Bruce Wayne rather than Batman, but a close look at the citizens of Gotham as well. The all too often nameless extras we see cowering in the background are given names, personalities, lives. You witness, along with Batman, exactly what it is he’s been fighting for all along. Your hope is restored with his. It’s not just the epic battles with super villains that make Batman great, it’s the human element.
This is a beautifully drawn and written Batman comic. It thrills at the start, warmed my heart throughout, and made me laugh in the end. Like all the Legends of the Dark Knight issues so far it’s also a nice done-in-one story that takes place outside of New 52 continuity so anyone can pick it up and enjoy. Letters to Batman is itself a love letter to the character and I highly recommend you all read it. It’s the most well written I’ve seen Alfred in any comic book this year.